Journey Through Fly Part 9: Streamer Flies

By The Angler

Fishing or rather sports fishing is often said to be like going to school. We all start out in kindergarten? Do you remember your kindergarten days? Fishing; using a stick for rod, thread for line, and hook? Baits were usually earthworms back then. That was bait fishing in a very basic style. Of course some used a tin can as a spool to hold lines and they fish without a stick.

Then we got ourselves a fishing rod with a spinning reel. Bait fishing just got upgraded. We started fishing further out into lakes, ponds, and even rivers. This is like primary school. From bottom fishing some we upgrade further and went on to secondary school. This is when we decided to go the artificial way; fishing with lures, spoons, softbaits, etc. 

We certainly prefer growth, more challenges, and so we climbed into college level with baitcasting. Here we cast with baitcasting reels (round and low profile baitcasting reels). Our rods now have triggers, and they come with smaller guides. Accuracy casting and speed of cast becomes the key ingredient. This means that we get our baits (artificial baits) right to the fish or close enough for it to react.

Now, comes university level fishing where we start dabbling into a style of fishing that is a lot more art and science than all other styles of fishing. This here is fly fishing. For anglers who are used to fishing soft baits, and plastic lures; streamer fishing or fishing with streamer flies is the closest resemblance to what we are used to. The casting is different but streamers are fished somewhat similarly to lures and certain types of softbaits.

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A streamer fly that looks like a baitfish when in water.

What Am I Babbling About?

Valid question that some of you may be asking. Streamers, also categorized as a WET FLY, are flies that are generally fished under the surface of water. What I meant is that streamers are tied to resemble small baitfish or other aquatic prey such as crayfish or leeches . There are also streamers that ‘pop’ on the water surface just like a conventional popper lure to resemble injured baitfish.

Take a look at some of the softbaits and hard lures that we use. For example, there are minnows of which resembles baitfish. There are crawfish, crayfish, shrimps, leeches, etc. in the softbait category; many of which are what streamers actually mimic. Again; poppers. Familiar indeed to many a lure angler. That said, perhaps the best transition or the best step into the world of fly fishing can very well be to fish streamers or baitfish imitations.

How Do You Fish Them?

I will not go into casting here as the casting techniques are generally the same with all flies. The manipulation or movement of the streamers is what I am getting at. Streamers can be stripped or in lure casting terms; retrieved. They can go like strip, pause, strip pause, and so on. They can also go like strip, strip, pause, strip, strip pause, and so on. Of course you can also strip, strip, strip, pause… Similar to lure retrieving.

There are also similarities to manipulating softbaits. Streamers can be cast upstream and allowed to follow the current downstream before stripping them back. We do this with softbaits too. We do cast our softbaits such as grubs or leeches upstream and allow them to go with the currents before retrieving them back.  

Where Do We Fish With Streamers?

Streamers can be fished in all types of water. The good thing about streamers is that they can be fished in waters that are murky or not so clear (since they are fished like lures). Like lures, streamers too do get hit out of reflex or as a reaction bite from fish. I am sure most of you lure and softbait anglers are getting ideas in your heads now, reading this.

It does make sense for anglers who are just stepping into the world of fly fishing and want to catch your first fish on fly, to give streamers a go. They can be fished on sinking as well as floating lines with the addition of lead wire tied onto the hook shanks to allow streamers to sink faster or deeper. Do also note that streamers do not have bibs like diving lures do and thus pressure from flowing waters will bring you streamer to the surface. However with today’s wide selection of fly tying material, you are able to buy small plastic lips which can be tied on to your fly. We will go further into all of these technicalities in future issues. Stay tuned.

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