Fall streamer season is here! With a recent drop in temperatures, big browns across the state are noticing that it is time to start chowing down on some bigger meals. But, before we all start swapping out our dry flies for a single hook or double articulated streamers let's go over some key takeaways for rigging up for streamers this fall.
When you are deciding which leader you should go with when tossing streamers, remember the context of how you will be fishing. Typically when you are fishing streamers you are tossing your fly super tight to the opposing riverbanks where jagged rocks, broken logs, and shrubs typically find a home. While fishing for streamers you also may find yourself trying to strip your fly tight to a downed log, submerged rocks, or other various rough objects in the water. Since your leader will inevitably run across one of these objects -If not all of them- in the water it is best to go with a leader that is highly abrasion-resistant such as Fluorocarbon. While both Monofilament and Fluorocarbon have their place in an anglers fly box, the best option for the angler fishing streamers is Fluorocarbon. Compared to monofilament, Fluorocarbon has a greater density which provides the angler with a stiffer, more durable leader that will absorb more nicks, scratches, or other abrasions you may come across while fishing streamers. Another benefit to using Fluorocarbon when fishing streamers is the leaders' ability to sink (due to its high density) and get down deep compared to monofilament.
When it comes to tippet, just like your leader you are going to want something strong, and highly abrasion-resistant, for this reason, we should be once again looking at Fluorocarbon options. When rigging up your tippet section you are going to watch to choose between 0X-3X tippet. I know for some new to the sport of fly fishing the sizes 0X and 3X may seem taboo but, remember this. When you are fishing streamers you are trying to induce a reactionary strike, you are trying to get your fly into that trout's feeding zone, strip it across their face, and BAM, have that fish snap at your fly within one or two strips from the bank. The fishing taking your fly on a streamer is not exactly examining your fly as close as they would a dry fly or nymph, these trout are seeing a big flashy object moving past them and they want to eat it since they will not be examining your fly as much as they typically would, that means that you can get away will using larger tippet diameters as well. By using a larger diameter tippet you are also giving yourself the insurance that the fish that snaps at your fly will not break off. The last thing any angler wants is the feeling of a big trout slamming down on their streamer only to have it break off on the hook set.
When you are fishing for streamers you typically have two fly line options, however, I have found that that using a floating line will do just fine in a majority of scenarios. Compared to sinking lines, floating lines are easier to cast and are a bit more versatile if you choose to switch from streamers to hoppers or nymphs in the middle of the day. If you want to have two rods and reels with you when you head out to the water then by all means be my guest. However, over the years I have found that by just taking one rod with me I spend less time worrying about where the other rod is, or if it is ready and more time fishing.
Now that you have all of your fluorocarbon leaders and tippet choices picked out, it is time to attach your tippet to your leader. I like many other anglers out there prefer to fish my streamers with a short distance of tippet. This will provide more of a connection to you and your streamer and in turn, allow for a faster retrieve from the banks. Typically, if you are using a floating line it is best practice to have a distance of 9' from streamer to fly line. That's pretty short. Typically you may be using a short 7'5" leader and making the rest of the length up with your fluorocarbon tippet. If you happen to be using a sinking line you can get away with 2'-4' of heavy tippet off your fly line, this is because you want your fly to sit as low in the water column as possible. There is an argument to be made that fishing a longer line of tippet means less time for a fish to detect your fly line but, that is a topic for another time.
When you are deciding which knots to choose when rigging up your tippet to your fly there are three knots you need to have memorized. The Improved Clinch, the Palomar, and The Loop knot. When it comes to which is the general favorite, the Loop knot reigns supreme. By adding a loop you will see an increased action from your fly in the water, a faster sink rate, and if you happen to be fishing in deep pools you will find that a loop knot is great for jigging up and across those deep holes.
When we look at streamer fishing as a whole, it kinda goes against everything we have been taught about in the world of fly fishing, there isn't really any focus on delicate presentation, sometimes you are using heavier tippets and when it comes to hook set, you better be sure to strip set. For me and many others fishing for big browns on streamers is something to look forward to every year. The takes are aggressive, the foliage is popping and the general vibe is more laid back. Sometimes, the goal is to fish as large and obnoxious a streamer as possible, just for the enjoyment of the potential eat. Before I go ill let yall in a little secret, if you are looking to up your streamer game one of the best ways to do so is by using Swivels. By using these bad boys you will increase the longevity of your fly line and increase the strength of your overall rigging system. These little tools are overlooked by many anglers but trust me when I tell you fishing with swivels on your streamer setup is an absolute game-changer, and won't impede your casting. If you are looking for specifics, Scientific Anglers #25 and #40 are my go-to picks. If yall have any questions regarding streamer choice this time of year feel free to come into the shop and ask what some of our favorites are. As always, if you would like to discuss anything mentioned today or want some suggestions in further detail, don't hesitate to swing by the shop, give us a call. We're happy to answer any and all questions related to Streamer fishing you may have!