I was reading an article on fly fishing techniques and I was slightly disturbed at what I read. The article cited people that fish streamers as bush league fly fishers in not so many words. It went on to say that fly fishing with streamers is a bait fisher with an excessive budget and a sore shoulder at the end of the day. He compared it with lake trout fishing with a piece of corn and a float. He stated that sub surface fishing, if you want a challenge should be done with nymphs. I have primarilly fished for bass in a river and other than a few hits here and there, have had no luck with dry flies, and have not even consided using a small nympy for large bass in a large river. Keep in mind I'm new and barely know anything about the entemology of the river I fish. I just know what I catch fish on, wooly buggers and clauser minnows, which I believe are streamers. I have had some luck with poppers, but only just before first light early in the AM. I guess I shouldn't let this bother me too much because I really enjoy fishing with the streamers (however I do often end up with a sore shoulder...lol). It just disturbed me to hear this fly fishing expert speak down on my favorite and most successful fly fishing technique.
What do you folks think of this article? Streamer fishing?
Surfin... I suspect there are those who do look down on any fly fishing technique other than upstream dry fly fishing for trout. I think each of us that enjoys this sports needs to ask ourselves what is it about our sport that we so enjoy. For me, part of it is the excitement of fooling a wary wild trout with lures tied from simple feathers, presented with the simplicity of a weighted fly line, and retreived with a simple direct drive spool. The fact that this technique is often practiced while wading in the very water that the fish are holding, in pristine wilderness, solitude and unbelievable beauty makes it even more wonderful. Fishing with streamers takes some of the largest trout with regularity and the largest trout put up a wonderful fight. On the other hand, my heart still seems to skip a beat when a small trout takes a perfectly presented dry fly.
Left: Small trout taken on a flourescent parachute adams. Right: A larger trout taken on a leech.
Hmmm, there are very few experts that are writers but there are a lot of writers who fish. Just because they publish an article it doesn't necessarily make them an expert. People who write for a living have to keep coming up with different subjects to write about so they can sell the story to someone. I guarantee you this writer would have a heck of a time catching big trout in Alaska any time after Spring. He also is not a salmon fisher, or a bass fisher, or a salt water fisher. It is true that some people like to catch trout on dry flies and they will fish them even when it is not the proper fly. To me fly fishing is about catching fish and enjoying the process. I will use what ever type of fly that is working and not feel like a second class citizen. Before there were strike indicators wet fly and nymph fishing was a lot harder to learn than dry fly fishing. In those days there were not a lot of people fishing nymphs like there are today. Use your streamers and don't give this article a second thought.
Yeah don't salt water fly fisherman almost primarily use streamers? I don't think that guy would call salt water fly fisherman bush league if he actually went out and got into a half hour fight with some huge sea fish. Or if the guy went to fish a Salmon run and hooked into some huge king on a wooly bugger.
The guy sounds like an idiot!! Anyone that sits around espousing one method over another probably can't fish worth a hoot! I have met many types while out on the river and lake, most are fantastic, open minded individuals that I would proudly share my camp or run of the river with. Then there is that very small percentage that I prefer to not be around, this guy that wrote that article sounds like one of the latter. Fishing is fishing, whether it is swinging wets, tossing small dries, nymphing with 3 flies and pound of lead, or chucking streamers, it's all good!!! Find the style you enjoy, employ what is effective on a given day, and give them fish hell!!!
I also agree with Frank. I didn't read the article and I don't know the context of which it was written, however, if he is a purist about fishing upstream with a dry fly, then go for it but that is just his opinion. I rarely fish with streamers although I probably should. I just enjoy the dry fly action and this year began to learn to fish with nymphs. I hear this on the hunting forum I subscribe to, if it's legal and you don't have any moral or other reservations about something, then go fo that too. You are entitled to do it just as any fisherman is entitled to use whatever they want to catch a fish and no one can call him (or her) any less of a fisherman or any less of a hunter. To do so puts that person into a snob mentality where only what they think (notice they) is the only right way and that's simply not right!
"I fish because I love to; because I love the environs where trout are found; because trout do not lie or cheat and cannot be bought or bribed or impressed by power, but respond only to quietude and humility and endless patience...because only in the woods can I find solitude without lonliness..." Robert Traver 1964 (Judge John Voelker)
I really appreciate the feedback. It's good to know I'm not "tainting" the sport. I was out today about 6am before it was even light out. For the first time I actually saw some fish coming to the surface. Some of them looked like pretty violent strikes by what appeared to be sizable fish. I pulled out a dry fly. It was a mothy looking thing that I got at the local shop. I have caught a few small bass in another spot in the river that has a minimal current using caddis flies. I have no problem making a decent cast. Where I was struggling is I was trying to cast perpendicular across the current. It floated fine for about 10 -20 feet. Then I noticed the fly started dragging and sinking. I have heard about "mending" line and understand the concept of creating an upstream loop, but how the heck do you actually accomplish this? I know I'm asking for a casting lesson, and I'm sorry if I am looking for too much detail, but you guys are my best source of info. In the meantime, I was wondering if any of you can maybe explain the technique, or is that impossible?
Surfin... I don't know if bass take a dry fly much. I am not very good at catching bass.
The easiest way to get a good dry fly drift is to cast upstream. The fly will naturally drift back pretty much back to you in a dead drift. The problem is that this really only works in fairly slow water where you can pull in the slack so that it is easy to set the hook. The line itself may go over the fish if you cast directly upstream, so casting upstream slightly at an angle so that the line does not land over the fish is more effective. If there is a big rock with slow water and if you can cast directly behind the rock, you can get a hit almost when the fly touches down. The best place to do this for trout is right beneath a well aerated rapid going into a big slow pool.
If the fish are across the river and you cannot wade across to cast upstream then you are going to only have a very brief dead drift. On a narrow river with a long pole you can cast slightly upstream and lift the floating fly line off the water, leaving only the leader on the water, and follow the fly with your pole. On a wide river with faster water between you and the fish you can mend upstream. You do this by having leaving a tiny bit of slack line after your cast. Once the fly lands, flip the fly line upstream with the pole _without_ holding the fly line. If you hold the fly line, you will see the fly twitch. The better you mend, the longer you will get a dead drift.
On the other hand, if you leave too much slack out, it will be difficult to set the hook.
Although the drift is important, it is also important to present the fly gently so that it just softly touches down with the leader fully extended. No matter how accurate you cast, how far you cast, or how well you mend, if the presentation is not right, the fish will likely spook. If you present the fly correctly and to the right spot, you will be amazed how quickly the fish may strike. If you mess up the cast, wait until the fly is out of the hot zone before you recover the fly or you may spook the fish.
You also need to look for shadows coming up to the fly and then going away. If you get a lot of refusals or you see a lot of random surface strikes, you might want to change flies.
There's nothing Bush league or cheating about fishing streamers, in my opinion. Big fish eat big food, and other than stoneflies or cicadas, there's not really a dry fly that fits that description. You want to catch big trout, yer better off throwing baitfish imitations at them.