by Steve May - April 17, 2013

Streamers are an often misunderstood type of fly presentation. Yes, they are usually larger and tougher to cast than a dry fly. Many anglers, especially trout fly fishers, see streamers as last resort offerings. For me, they are a go to pattern whenever you want to find the biggest fish in the river.

But, the effort can certainly be worth it. Streamers imitate larger food items like leeches, crayfish, crabs, squid, frogs and above all baitfish. Fish find these big bites worth the effort. You just have to go prepared to work these flies properly.

Light trout gear can cast small streamers. But, if you are serious about working streamers effectively your 3 weight dry fly rod is not up to the task. I start with my 6 weight and go up. My 8 and 9 weight outfits see the bulk of my heavy streamer work. These larger rods have the ability to cast larger and bulkier flies and to handle the monsters that will attack them.

Also don’t worry too much about tippet size. If it will hold, it is probably good. I like to use 0X, but often go heavier. This is not delicate fly fishing. Get them out there with a heavier rod. To get flies down to the fish I often rely on sink tip lines, add on sinking leaders or a heavily weighted fly. An extra split shot is another common addition to the rig.

When going this heavy with fly tackle many people say, “What’s the point? why not pull out the baitcaster?”

Flies have an advantage over hard baits and plastics. They are usually lighter that casting lures. They also incorporate life giving natural and flowing synthetic materials giving your bait a look and action not possible with more traditional lures. Flowing hackles, rabbit fur and bucktail all can be combined to make some very innovative and interesting offerings. Take a walk through your local tackle store and look at the selection of hard baits. Lures that are 3-7 inches long dominate. You need tackle to efficiently throw flies in this size range.

Fly fishing with streamers also gives you a unique challenge in presenting the bait. You are basically a “puppet master” How you tug, pull and twitch the line can breathe life into the fly attached to the end of your line. It is a very “you against the fish” experience.

Many flies imitate minnows. When wet, they can be very accurate imitations. But, the real strength of a fly comes in the subtle movements that flowing materials give the fly in the water. The slightest current breathes life into many fly patterns.

Pike and musky are suckers for a slow moving yet alive looking presentation that only flies can offer. Big brown trout jump all over a giant fly invading their territory and if you have not fly fished for river smallmouth bass, you are missing one of the true highlights of all fishing. The largest growing area in fly fishing is pursuit of saltwater species from sea trout to tuna they can be caught with fly gear.

Basically, if your quarry eats minnows or other larger food items streamers are a solid fishing presentation option. So if you are looking to join in the fun and fly fish for big predatory fish, consider a suitable fly rod and some jumbo flies.

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