Trouts Journal

Streamer School: Part 2- Rods, Lines & Rigging

Ivan Orsic / Oct 31, 2015

Earlier this month, during Part 1 of this 3 part series devoted to Streamer fishing, we discussed how to pick the right streamer to fish based on water clarity, prevailing conditions, and fish size. If you've ever found yourself confused by this topic and didn't get a chance to read part 1 click here.

So now we've arrived at the river, assessed the situation and determined which Streamer we'll start fishing....but now what? In this second installment, we'll discuss rigging, fly rods, fly lines and leader/tippet selection to help ensure you're properly outfitted to fish your chosen Streamer.

We'll start with the topic of fly rods, which seems to be a common topic with our customers around the shop. People often come in "lookin' for a good Streamer rod"...and while many rods on the market will work for Streamer fishing, the ones specifically designed for this application are not only a joy to fish, but can definitely save your arm/shoulder if throwin' meat will be the plan for the majority of your day. When I think of a good streamer rod for fishing around the Rocky Mountains, it's almost always going to be a 6wt- particularly for my walk/wade fishing. When it comes to float fishing, I've found myself spending more and more time with a 7wt for my Streamer applications. The reason I make the differentiation between wading and float fishing is because- as anyone who has float fished before will certainly agree- things can come up on you fast when you're floating. I find the 7wt can be beneficial because of the additional power it provides for making casts where time is of the essence. This is especially true when fishing a sinking line- which we'll discuss below. Depending on the river you'll be fishing, a 9 foot, 5wt-8wt rod will be the range your want to search out. The key with any good Streamer rod, regardless of the line weight it's intended to cast, will be the stiffness. You're going to want a rod that has a good backbone and this almost always means a medium-fast to fast action rod. A rod with a solid backbone will serve two main purposes: 1) It will aide in your casting by having more power to cast heavier, wind resistant Streamers and 2) will allow you to put the brakes on a hard charging fish much more efficiently. If you've been thinking about getting a Streamer rod (which will also work great for your carp/bass fishing I might add), we have a wide range of rods here at the shop and should be able to offer several options to meet most any budget.

As far as fly lines go for streamer fishing, both floating and sinking lines will have their time and place, however don't feel like you have to have both. If you are going to just have one line for Streamer fishing, stick with a floating line. Sinking lines, in my opinion, shine the most when float fishing due to their ability to get a fly down in a hurry, make a few quick strips, pick it all up and re-cast. This can be especially effective during float fishing since you don't have time on your side- like you do when wade fishing- to pick apart a likely looking spot. A weight-forward floating line with a good taper will get you by in the majority of situations and simply adding a little extra weight (if necessary) will almost always be suffient in getting your fly into the strike zone.

When it comes to picking your leaders and tippet for Streamer fishing, flourocarbon should be your go-to. Flourocarbon is much more abrasian resistant than monofilament and has a stronger strength:diameter ratio. More often than not, you'll be throwing your Streamers into and around rock gardens, snags, fallen logs, and other nasty areas that could hold a large trout. Many times your strike will come on the first or second strip of your retrieve and you can guarantee that fish will be making it a priority to get back into his hiding place as quickly as possible, making having an abrasian resistant line all the more important. The only exception I'll make to this rule is when using Maxima monofiliamant. This stuff is incredibly tough and works great for streamer fishing. I think most folks would agree fishing a heavier monofilament leader, paired with a good flourocarbon tippet will get you by in most any situations.

As far as size of your tippet goes, leave the 5x at home. Depending on the river you're fishing, 0x-3x will be what you want to use, and use the heaviest you believe you can get away with. When streamer fishing, your goal is to get a reactionary strike out of the fish where you make a cast into a likely holding area and (typically) immediately begin retrieving the fly back to you. This doesn't give the trout much time to look your offering over or decide whether he can actually see the tippet itself- which is exactly what you want. You want to get that predatory reaction. Heavier tippet will have not only the advantage of being more durable against snags, rocks, and other similar places that could break your lighter tippet, it will also help ensure you don't break the fish off on your hooksets, which can get pretty violent sometimes. I can tell you from experience, one of the worst feelings in fly-fishing is without a doubt picking a good location to cast to, making a great presentation, instantly get a jarring strike, only to have that large fish break you off on the inital hookset.

Lastly, we'll discuss leader/tippet length and knots for Streamer fishing. From a leader/tippet length standpoint for floating lines, I basically never exceed 9 feet from my fly line to Streamer. Oftentimes 5-7 feet is plenty. For sinking lines, you need even less. 2-4 feet of leader is plenty and this will always just be a straight piece of heavy tippet. For knots, I recommend experimenting with 3 different ones until you find something you have confidence in. The Improved Clinch, the Palomar and the Loop Knot are all very easy to tie and will work great. I find myself preferring the loop knot more and more due to the free-swinging action it gives my flies. I also believe the loop knot helps your flies sink the fastest which can be especially important on a day where the fish are preferring their Streamer on a jigging retrieve (as opposed to the classic 'strip straight back to you' retrieve......don't worry though, we'll discuss retrieval methods and presentation next week). While I can assure you we'll have some knot tying videos up on our website soon, for now Youtube is a great resource for knot tying videos.

Getting a good and dependable Streamer set up shouldn't be hard or confusing. A little bit stiffer rod, and a little bit heavier (and possibly shorter) leader should be all you need to enjoy a day of slinging meat.

As always, if you would like to discuss any of the above mentioned suggestions in further detail, don't hesitate to swing by the shop, give us a call or comment here. We're happy to answer any and all questions related to Streamer fishing you may have!

From the Trouts Archives. Original post date: 10/16/14. Author: Kyle Wilkinson

Ready For Part 3 - Click Here

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