It’s that time of year again when the weather cools and we start pulling out our bigger streamer rods. While I wouldn’t consider myself an expert on the subject, I definitely throw a lot of streamers so here’s a list of some stuff that I’ve found helpful for fishing them.
As far as what line to use, if you can dedicate a reel or a spool for streamer fishing the Rio Big Nasty Sink Tip or the Streamer Tip are both good options. These lines with integrated sink tips have short aggressive front tapers that allow you to turnover bigger, heavier flies. They also come in different weight sink tips. Something with 1.5 to 2 inches per second sink rate is a good line for a shallower river like the Gallatin, and a 6 to 7 ips is great for a river like the Yellowstone. If you can’t afford to dedicate a reel for streamer fishing the Rio VersiLeaders are also a great option, and you can simply attach the sink tips to your floating line.
I never throw streamers with anything smaller than 1x tippet, and usually use 15lb 0x. Fish really aren’t going to be line shy when they are chasing a streamer, and you need something stronger for the takes you will get when there is already tension on the line. If you are dead drifting them under an indicator you might want to size down to 2x but I wouldn’t go any lighter than that. I also like to tie my streamers on with a loop knot that allows the fly to move more freely in the water and gives it a little more action.
As far as choosing streamers go, I’m a firm believer that the pattern doesn’t make as much of a difference as the color does. While some patterns definitely work better than others, I really only fish a few different patterns most of the time that I will tie up in a variety of colors. A good way to select a color for a given day is darker patterns on darker days and brighter colors on bright sunny days. Although sometimes I’ve found white flies to work well on cloudy days or black flies to work well on sunny days, it’s usually a good starting point. Start on one end of the color spectrum and go the other until you find something that works. I usually change colors pretty quickly if I’m not getting any hits or chases.
One thing that will make a difference in patterns is the materials they’re tied with. If you are fishing any of the streamers with dear hair heads like sex dungeons, you will definitely want a heavier sink tip or more weight to get the fly down than you would need with something tied out of marabou.
There are a lot of different ways to fish streamers, and on any given day one way can work better than the other. I usually like to strip them in but dead drifting and swinging flies can also work really well. Play around with how fast and the way you retrieve your fly until you figure out what works.
Hopefully some of this is helpful for you if you’re new to fishing streamers or haven’t done it much. Like I said take it with a grain of salt because I’m not an expert.
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