Streamer Fishing for Steelhead and Trout

Ard

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These are links to writings I stored on my forum blog. Streamer fishing equates to steelhead fishing and for many it is that time of year. I am not telling you that I am an expert but I would go as far as saying I have done a lot of it.

The articles are in no specific order, they are posted as I locate them so you'll have to click and look to see if it is of interest.

A Guy Fishes Streamers and Gets Skunked

Streamers Where & When Part 1

Streamers Where & When Part 2

Streamers Where & When Part 3

More About Streamers 1

More About Streamers 2

Top things off with a video


That should do as a primer, like I said I don't claim to be an expert but I did take the time to write down things in an effort to help others and that's what I linked up here :)

It seems there are a few more, these 2 explain what the video was aiming at. There are also some exquisite drawings in one of them :)

Fishing / Controlling The Submerged Fly

Getting It Down

Knowing What the Fly is Doing

Some of this may be redundant but I thought to add everything into this one thread.
 
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ivory arrow

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Thanks for sharing. I happened to stumble across your video on YouTube and I said “Hey, I know that guy!”

I am going to be getting more familiar with streamers. I had my first real successful trip with streamers today, and I am hooked.



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Ard

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Hi.

Although the technique varies for small stream fishing the streamers are extremely effective on small streams also. I lived in Colorado for a while and visited family there often for almost 20 years so I'm familiar with the streams and rivers there to some extent. I used feather wing flies there and caught some pretty nice trout from some pretty small flows. Honestly, other than occasions when I chose to use dry flies the streamers are what I've fished everywhere from coast to coast. It isn't like dries or drifting nymphs under a bobber but it can produce the ones that don't go for the other stuff...…….
 

DonW

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Ard,
Thanks so much just finished reading the blogs, watched video yesterday, learned more about how to fish a streamer from you than all other sources I have ever read/watched. Now to go tie some feathered streamers. Looking forward to your book being published.
 

Ard

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Don you are a very kind man and I thank you most sincerely for posting your thoughts. I have written for years at what I believe may be a book before I die. I don't know if anyone will ever read it but I do hope to leave a story behind.

If what little I put here has helped you I have been rewarded.

Ard
 

smoke33

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Ard, I read all the articles and watched the video. Very informative and I gained a lot of new knowledge. You look much younger than I was expecting!


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Ard

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Funny but I thought I looked old in that video :)

I still wish I had shaved at least but I had been fishing that whole week and it showed. I really appreciate it when someone steps up like you and Don before you have and tells me that these things I've tried to share make sense. Whether we are seeking trout, salmon, steelhead or bass, if we are in a river using a submerged fly it's all the same at least it has been for me.

Thanks again and I'm happy to be of help.

Ard
 

duker

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Ard, as usual for you this is graduate school-level instruction. These are invaluable. You should make this a "sticky".

Are you seriously writing a book?! Cuz if you are I'll put in my order right now.

Scott
 

Ard

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Hi Scott & thank you too,

Over the years here (some years in particular) I received many private messages, even some comments on blog posts from people who said "you should write a book". As time went on these comments may have accrued to perhaps as many as 30 or 40 people. I'm not a guy to let things go to his head or to develop some heightened ego level over a compliment but if you hear the same one often enough you might begin to think people are seeing something that you don't.

I was energized by the encouraging and kind words from people so I decided I could do this. I tried a How to fish book. I worked on it for months before scrapping it, there are so many how to fish books that the redundancy of yet another was a psychological blockade for me. I still have all the text of course but the 'how to' book idea was shelved.

Then a fellow PM'ed me after reading stories I'd written here and on Salmon Fly the online magazine and he said I should consider a book of short stories...…………….. So I started a story book but soon decided that there seemed to be enough stories being published and that idea found itself on the shelf beside my how to fish efforts.

Time passed as it has a way of doing, then two winters ago I began what I considered a synthesis type of work. This being one long story from the start to the finish or whatever point I'm actually at in my lifelong education as a fly fisherman. Stories, some even entertaining but each points to what I took from the experiences. So each winter I try to quit splitting wood or shoveling snow for a couple weeks and settle in at that cabin I've worked so hard on for years and I try to write some more. What is it really? I think it's a story about how to learn to fish or at least how I've learned to do it. Maybe some inferences about what I found along the way other than catching fish, the things that really lasted and made me the person I think I am.The hope I have would be that it wouldn't be boring and that people may actually sit it down at the end and feel they got something other than entertainment from it.

It's harder than I ever imagined, I already have a layout editor and a publishing cost quote just in case I ever finish. There is still another trip needed back to Pennsylvania where the story starts for some more photography. I'd be the happiest guy on the planet if ever I can hold one in my hand and of course have it edited for e-book layout also for all the Kindle people :)

It's another winter and soon the rivers will be solid enough for me to reach the cabin, yet another chance to focus for awhile I hope.
 

ivory arrow

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Good luck writing your book Ard. It’s a lot of work to be sure.

The only advice I would give you is to write what you want to read. Don’t write it for unknown people. Write it for yourself.


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flytie09

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Good luck with your book writing Ard. It would be a hoot to share one’s knowledge, stories and thoughts for others to enjoy and learn something from that at the end you could actually hold in your own hands.

I’ll admit I had to read your streamer tactic posts a couple times and watch your video 3 times before the method you described clicked.

The leader system just seemed like a lot of steps. But in the end...... I now see what you’re trying to do. I understand the pitfalls you’re trying to avoid. You’ve certainly put a lot of thought over a long period of time into your system.

ft09
 

Ard

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I’ll admit I had to read your streamer tactic posts a couple times and watch your video 3 times before the method you described clicked.

The leader system just seemed like a lot of steps. But in the end...... I now see what you’re trying to do. I understand the pitfalls you’re trying to avoid. You’ve certainly put a lot of thought over a long period of time into your system.

ft09
Cell phones do strange things, I managed to log on from the cabin yesterday and when I did this post showed as current??

So...….. it's not what I'm trying to do Mike, I do it and it works. Somehow I manage to get deep enough to catch salmon, trout, steelhead, whatever I'm after and I lose very few flies to the bottom. The written version has a couple fine drawings :) that help the minds eye to get the idea and I thought it would help.

The whole system works for me because I like those long belly lines. At this time of year I'm using 4 1/2 foot of Z-12 which is approximately 54 grains of sink tip looped to the standard 6' of heavy mono with a 30" tippet and un-weighted fly. The line and leader cast just right and I'm catching so things are great :)
 

okaloosa

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Cell phones do strange things, I managed to log on from the cabin yesterday and when I did this post showed as current??

So...….. it's not what I'm trying to do Mike, I do it and it works. Somehow I manage to get deep enough to catch salmon, trout, steelhead, whatever I'm after and I lose very few flies to the bottom. The written version has a couple fine drawings :) that help the minds eye to get the idea and I thought it would help.

The whole system works for me because I like those long belly lines. At this time of year I'm using 4 1/2 foot of Z-12 which is approximately 54 grains of sink tip looped to the standard 6' of heavy mono with a 30" tippet and un-weighted fly. The line and leader cast just right and I'm catching so things are great :)
that is almost 9 feet of leader with a high rate sink tip....why such a long leader/tippet?
 

Ard

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Actually the complete leader _ mini head rig is closer to 13 feet but .... This configuration is used on rods ranging in length from 11 1/2 foot to 14 feet. If I were using a single hand 9 foot rod I would rig my leader as follows: 4 feet of 40 pound mono (that's the butt section) 3 feet of Z-9 (this is a mini head with black braided loops on each end and is attached to the butt) finally a tippet of at least 30 inches connected to the end of the mini head via loop to loop (handshake knot)

The shorter length works well on shorter rods. The angler must test how it feels and casts and then make adjustments in their technique to accommodate the new head / leader rigging. I use this formula with rods and lines as light as 5 weight for streamer fishing.

The whole concept is that due to the fact that you have monofilament attached directly to your floating fly line with the small sink tip positioned some 4 to 6 feet away the sink tip sinks freely without trying to pull the floating line under with it.

The result is that your mini head (sink tip) and tippet / fly are able to sink quickly and in a fashion that can be described as being more level or horizontal to the river bottom because nothing is being held to the surface by your floating line. Of course the mono butt is attached to your line but it sinks freelly allowing the mini head to reach maximum depth quickly.

If you think of it: when a sink tip is connected direct to a floating line or head the entire length of sink tip wants to sink. This pulls the front section of the floating line under to some extent. The result is a connection from floating portion to the fly which is in what can best be described as being at an angle due to its connection direct to the floating line.

I've been fishing this way since 1994 and although it isn't for everyone in the cases where anglers fully understood the concept and became line control orientated streamer fishers those people like and use the approach.

A quick glance at my 'About Me' thing on the forum profile would demonstrate that I fell for streamer fishing a long time ago. It was a mystery, something spoke of by many but practiced by few. I found it to be the perfect means for a guy that enjoyed puzzles to spend his time on the streams. Being able to experiment with approach and presentation as well as studying where I often found the larger fish. It was fun and when I moved here 15 years ago it proved to be invaluable because this fishing is all streamer fishing. he only learning curve I faced in Alaska was how to deal with bigger species of fish on a daily basis.

All I meant to do was to explain why the leaders seem long........ As usual I rambled a bit.
 

okaloosa

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Ard, its not like I haven't already watched your video twice, but its been a while and I forgot about that mono between the line and sink tip...but it makes sense.
one thing I dont understand is why you do so many downstream mends once you achieved full depth and the fly is directly across stream from you. I prefer just to keep a tight line so
I can feel the take...doesnt the mending downstream interfere with the "feel" of the swing? keep in mind I only single hand streamer fish since my rivers are narrower.
YouTube
 

Ard

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This may be another fairly long reply so bear with me...….

A long time ago on a sunny afternoon when I had not caught a single fish I had a really pretty Gray Ghost streamer on my line. I think everyone has had moments of boredom while fishing and in those times may have decided to play around a little. That day I decided to step up onto a pretty good size mid channel boulder and have a look around. The rock was only about a foot or less above the water but with my height I had a birds eye view of everything from bank to bank.

I could not see a fish and that water was pretty clear so I figured this to be a pretty good reason for the lack of action. Curious I made a medium length cast wanting to see what that fancy streamer looked like under water and under tension from the line. What I could see was that when the fly landed and was dead drift it looked pretty much like any other type of debris that might be floating in the stream. However, when it came under some tension and was given speed by the bowing fly line being pulled by the current the fly slicked down and looked more like a tiny fish. That was only the tip of the iceberg as they say.

I stayed on that rock and although it had been well over ten years since I had read Tom McNally's book Fly Fishing I remembered all that stuff about mending line while streamer - dry or nymph fishing. I decided to see with my own eyes what happened (how a streamer reacted) when you mended line. And so it began, I saw that when the fly landed it began to sink and that when you made that initial upstream mend the fly reacted by sweeping right back to the surface which effectively canceled out any sinking for depth achieved. That really made an impression on me and it stuck. Way back then I learned by seeing that an early upstream mend made as the fly struck the water would allow it to sink and that any subsequent mending should be subtle flips on the back of the floating line.

I didn't stop there, I did about every type of mend - rod tip manipulation and twitch you can imagine and due to the clear water and my position was able to see and imbed in my mind exactly how a streamer reacted to what I did with rod and line. I had never seen this before. I just cast them out, made an upstream mend (way too late) and then stood there holding the rod waiting for some charitable fish to grab my fly. Without meaning and disrespect to anglers I believe that what I just said (wrote) describes a very high percent of streamer fishing done today.

One big takeaway from that day on the rock was that what I had witnessed was in fact a 'constant', it will happen whether you can see they fly or not. It will happen regardless of the flies depth be it 6" under the surface or 4 foot down the reaction of the fly to what I do with rod and line will be the same. It should be noted that when that fly is deep and attached to a leader like I make and use there is a delayed reaction time between my directives with rod and line mends and the result being realized at the fly. This delay is not a huge thing and I can't tell you an exact duration but my common sense tells me it exists.

So, the down stream mends? They are actually being made in a very gentle fashion and the energy of the mends is being restricted to the rear portion of my floating line. They are not really 'stack mends' but are made with somewhat the same intent. That intent being to allow the fly to travel in an arc across the channel at a constant depth and speed. The downstream attitude of the slack line being added to the swing is meant to lengthen the arc of the swing, to keep the radius of that arc wide until the fly reaches a point downstream from my position where it will make a button hook type turn and then climb toward the surface as the trailing leader seeks to reach the same level as the floating line. Sometimes this is when a grab from a fish happens but I get most at about the half way point in most cast / swing combos. I attribute the halfway thing to the fact that I know these places I fish or that I'm able to figure them out on new waters. With either the knowledge from having fished there before or simply applying what I know about the fish and their habitat preferences I position myself accordingly before casting. It is that choice of position that is very helpful. Whenever possible I try to but the prime mid channel holding water where I will be passing my fly through about half way through my presentation and a decent or good bucket directly downstream to steer the fly to at the very end of the arc.

Not all locations are created equal and I can't always find exactly what I want in a river channel or stream. That is when I learn things. Sometimes I learn that certain types of water hold few or no fish. Other times I learn that there are macro pockets existing in what looks to be unsuitable areas of the river and that they are holding spots for fish. Some buckets / holding spots are impossible to miss but that tends to invite every single person who ever fished the river to try them. That means the fish, maybe the big fish who lives there has seen it all. Every probable mistake an angler can make that will help to condition a fish, to teach it what to ignore and when to lay low or hide. For those places and fish there are 2 possible routs for success; one is luck and the other is a flawless presentation that will make your streamer look like a living animal moving naturally through the water. I'm big on option #2 and don't rely on luck at all.

I'll hit the post "Post Quick Reply" button now :)
 
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