The evening air in the mountains has already started to show signs of dropping. There is a slight tint in the leaves. Berries ripe for months on the branch now weigh heavily on the twigs. And river trout are starting to show their hierarchy at the top of the aquatic food chain by hunting, crushing and devouring streamer flies.
Streamer flies are in a class of their own, representing a wider variety of aquatic species that include leeches, minnows, crayfish and more. When the cool night air causes a change in attitude, savvy anglers look for drop-head lines, large shaft reels, and a minimum of 6wt. Whether they pound the banks from rafts or fish through a structure while wading, streamers move large fish in the fall.
Anglers will benefit from a good mastery of the fundamentals of casting. Streamer flies tend to be heavier and require more advanced casting skills to fish them effectively. A good double tow is a necessity for streamer fly fishing. Anglers who learn the skills necessary for good streamer fishing will experience immediate improvement with their saltwater cross-activities to hunt northern pike.
Streamer fly fishing skills easily translate into freshwater fly fishing for largemouth bass. In many parts of South Florida, streamer fishing also produces a variety of exotic species, such as peacock bass, Mayan cichlids, and snakeheads.
Anglers who are able to incorporate streamer fly fishing into their skills are more versatile anglers. Having the confidence to cover more situations with a fly will make you a better fly fisherman. Streamer fly fishing opens the doors to difficult species previously inaccessible on the fly and now become regular targets. Without good streamer skills, fly fishermen have little hope of catching a pike on the fly, a fish regularly pursued by local fly fishermen.
Streamers will produce larger medium sized trout in the fall. Fish become more aggressive and crave more protein. Streamers fill the void well. Aggressive eaters are willing to chase streamers a considerable distance before engaging. Anglers entered the illicit reaction bite streamers are guaranteed to have a banner day on the water.
Streamer flies are available in a variety of weights, from light and unweighted flies, to pearl-headed or conical-headed streamers, to hinged and weighted streamers. The price of streamer flies can be considerably higher than that of dry flies or nymphs; However, the time required to tie a banner is significant, and the amount of materials also increases. Is it worth the extra cost? You bet.
Another advantage of the articulated streamer fly is its versatility. Hinged streamers can drift in the current to mimic an injured baitfish. They can also be skinned with a swim action which brings in some of the biggest trout in the river.
An old-fashioned technique for fishing for streamers that comes from Gary LaFontaine is to throw from the boat to the shore. Apply downstream mending, pulling the fly with the current. The belief is that injured or disoriented baitfish do not have the strength to swim upstream, are dragged downstream with the current and become vulnerable.
There are a huge amount of streamer lines designed to make throwing big, heavy flies more enjoyable. Lines help anglers return their loop, preventing large hooks from getting stuck in the back, hats, or your guide. Airflo fly lines offer a short, long, shovel-head max streamer that can help cast and present your flies.
Short leaders are commonplace. The 5 inch range terminal platforms sink the flies and control the presentation. A non-slip loop knot or Lefty Kreh’s knot helps give the fly a sense of life. The looped knot allows the fly to swing more freely in the current.
Serpentine flies induce large fish to eat. While swimming in the river, the reaction of aggressive brown trout and territorial rainbows is drawn. Streamers are actively covering more water – and as the fall nights start to take the temperature of the river, the streamer bite will only get better.
Michael Salomone moved to the Eagle River Valley in 1992. He began professionally guiding fly fishing in 2002. His freelance writings have appeared in magazines and websites including: Southwest Fly Fishing, Fly Rod & Reel, Eastern Fly Fishing, On the Fly, FlyLords, Pointing Dog Journal, Upland Almanac, Echo Website, Vail Valley Anglers and more. He lives on the shore of the Eagle River with his wife, Lori; two daughters, Emily and Ella; and a pair of yellow Labrador retrievers.