What is steamers fly fishing?

Streamer fly fishing is a fly fishing technique that uses a submerged fly called a streamer. A streamer is constructed to mimic a "bait-fish," or a smaller fish, such as sculpin and minnows, that larger fish usually like to feed on.

Streamer fly fishing may also take larger fish such as leeches, crayfish, and other aquatic morsels to dine on. Fly sizes can vary significantly from small to simple woolly buggers, all the way to complex articulated flies that stretch your hand size.

Since they are fished with active recovery, fishing streamers are typically fished more carefully than the conventional dry-fly or nymph rig. This implies that, in order to draw the flyback for another cast, their movement is mostly caused by the angler stripping in line.

Why use a streamer?

The main explanation is clear when it comes to addressing why to use a streamer flies as opposed to a different fly setup: big fish need plenty of protein to live, and when given the opportunity, they will attack big flies. For a multitude of reasons, such as hunger, territorialism, or just plain instinct, violent fish will sometimes target meaty snacks.

Streamers are also a fantastic way, in a smaller time period, to cover a huge volume of water. An angler can cover entire pools in an effective and sometimes competitive way with the use of certain cast and retrieve methods described here.

How to fly fish with streamers?

Streamer fishing can be one of the most exciting methods of fly fishing streamers, as when a fish decides to take the fly, it is very involved and usually produces violent strikes. Each angler will recall their first feeling or see their streamer attacking a determined fish.

This isn't just about starving fish! One of the most beneficial elements of fly fishing with streamers vs floating nymphs and tossing dry is that it is a perfect way to capture fish that do not feed aggressively.

In predatory fish such as trout, bass, and other big underwater games, streamer fishing often triggers reactionary strikes. A reactionary strike is when a hunkered down fish passes through your fly glides, and the fish swipes at it, not out of a desire to eat it, but out of pure primal instinct.

The best places to target streamers are protected places such as under banks, behind large rocks, and around submerged logs or trees; as well as in the seams of the currents, and in deep pockets of water.

Look for cover: All fish, regardless of their size, have predators. Fish are naturally attracted to cover and defence, whether they are birds, humans, or even larger water-dwelling animals. Places such as underwater debris (i.e. trees) serve as a great hiding place, not only for fish to hide from predators but to wait and lurk for prey to swim by.

Where to do streamer fishing?

Fish the seam

 For any angler's awareness of the river, testing the seam is important. The seam is the water's invisible line where two current speeds cross, thus providing a small pocket where fish can hang out and conserve energy. They also function as underwater drive-through lanes where fish can sit in the slow-moving water and wait for food to be washed right down into their mouths, such as insects or wondering minnows.

Fish deep

This is the golden rule of the Streamers fishery; when fished in deep water, they do the best.  If you're looking for a pocket of water where you can't see the bottom, there are likely to be two things:

  • The visibility is low, and they can't eat it if the fish can't see the fly, and
  • There are big hungry fish down there.

In order to serve as attractors to the fish, most streamers are made with flashy components. They are more likely than microscopic nymphs to be seen as they flash through the muddy water. Not to mention, fingerlings are not the fish that lurk at the bottom of those large ponds. No, they're big old bully fish waiting for their way to a REAL meal... and the big fat streamer is probably going to look pretty delectable.

How to cast a streamer?

Anglers spend their lives trying to perfect a cast of precision and grace. Ideally, in an elegant and gentle setting, we imagine tightly held loops floating through the air that land the fly perfectly on the water. With streamer fishing, however, your casting will have to change to match the fly's weight.

When casting a streamer, you're trying to fish right upstream of the hole or current. The method of casting will vary depending on the weight of your fly. For example, the standard overhead, double haul cast would suffice when using a smaller (size 16-10), but when using a bigger, heavier fly (usually with the addition of extra weights such as split shot), finding the right cast calls for some imagination.

With conventional casting, the force pushing the fly to the water is the weight of the line. Now that the fly is much heavier than the line, the angler must accommodate to the change of force distribution. When casting heavy streamers, things to note are:

Pick your Target

 Pick a spot where the fly is going to land before you make a cast of any kind. The best bet is always slightly upstream, as it will give the maximum flight time in the water as well as time to sink.

Load up

It doesn't even have to be a reverse cast. There will be enough force to send the streamer flying as long as tension is on the fly before the drive.

It only takes a swing or two. The weight of the fly will sail through the air with ease riding the inertia of the load up, no matter how far your target is, with enough line free.


Finish with the rod tip high. Make sure to finish with the rod tip in the air at the end of the cast (approx 120 degrees). This encourages the fly to travel deeper and helps it to land in the water more smoothly, as a way of not spooking fish. Most significantly, make sure to reach within 4-5 inches of the far bank regardless of the fly. This will ensure that all the water you are fishing is covered, as well as attract the attention of large fish lurking beneath overhanging ledges.

How to fish a streamer?

Fishing streamers are a way for anglers to be really creative about how they have chosen to fish. Here, once the fly is in the water, we will go through the rudimentary rules to obey, but remember, there is still space for own touch to be added.

Get down

As we said before, if there is one golden rule of fishing streamers, it's that bottom is key. Under a tumultuous river, there will still be calmer water further below... this is where the big fish are going to hang out. They can save resources, as well as benefit from the oxygen-rich cold water, by lurking in the deep. This makes them do less work to find the fly by getting the fly down to their level, and in return, they'll be more likely to strike at it.

Mend it

Toss downstream mend on it after the fly has been in the water for around 2-3 seconds. This will allow the current to pull the fly in an organic fashion down the side of the opposite bank. Any fish lurking under banks or checking out the sidewalls for incoming meals should be drawn out.

Rod tip Down

Tilt your rod tip down to as low as it can get as soon as the fly starts its way downstream (even placing an inch or two in the water is suggested). The closer the tip is to the water, when we are stripping in line, the more normal the fly may appear. This will also allow the streamer during its retrieval to remain deeper.

Little strips

Start stripping in line once the fly is well sunk and hits the top of the pool you are aiming and depending upon the water circumstances. Usually, thin 4-6′′ strips will get the job done. Some anglers often like to add a little wiggle to the rod here in order to produce intermittent motion that drives fish crazy. Inline, continue to strip until the fly is about to approach the end of its drift.

Let is Swing

The fly will begin swinging across the pool back to the shore at the end of the drift. This time is the time when most strikes are likely to happen. Continue to perform small, but fast, strips and watch the line straighten out through the pool as you maintain tension on the line.

What the fish see during this time is their intention to start accelerating/fleeing. This is the moment for fish, now or never, and they almost always choose now. We don't want to miss it if the fish strikes, continue to shake the line sporadically as well as retain tension.

Begin to jig

If the fly has completed its swing, for the next throw, several anglers will make the error of bringing it in right away. This is, halfway through the game, removing your streamer. Start wider strips and "jig" the fly until you are about parallel with your shoreline.

By offering gentle tugs on the rod to insinuate a lurching baitfish/leach, this can be achieved. Continue this with occasional stops (this technique can really be applied to every part of the streamer fishing process) to show the fly as an injured animal until your fly has made its way up the bank and back to us.

Modify Cast

Now, with mild moderation, repeat all the process above. Switch up micro variables such as where your fly is initially put, how long it drifts dead, and how quick your recovery is.

Fishing streamers on still water: These fishing rivers have been protected by the above, but the same laws apply to fish for still water, such as lakes. Just remember to cast out as far as you can while fishing for still water and let the fly sink as far as it can go.

Work the streamer back in sporadic strips on the recovery, then. So, offer a 3-second break in-between to add some life to the fly for every six strips. Don't stop working the fly until it's almost at your feet, because we never know when a fish will decide to strike at last!

Tips for streamer fishing

Ditch the leader

Streamer fishing is about power, as are all other streamer fly fishing tips. While a long leader can be an advantage to the dry fly fisherman attempting to regulate his high-floating dun imitation drag, it is the streamer fisherman's bane.

In spite of this well-established reality, walk into any fly shop, and you will find extruded, tapered streamer leaders topping 9 feet in length and we have found no shortage of "streamer leader" recipes that require four different monofilament line sizes to produce a 6-8 foot concoction or other similar nonsense.

Screw around

Undoubtedly, the most widely used streamer fishing techniques are the stripped retrieve and the down-and-across swing. And for a good reason: they are unbelievably efficient. But swimming prey is complex, which streamers are built to mimic.

Unlike nymphs bouncing helplessly around the rocky bottom of a sea, emergers mired in the surface film and duns floating a top the current are mostly free to do as they please. Baitfish, sculpins and so on. This implies that they can head upstream or downstream, swim feverishly to avoid predators or dart around near the bottom looking for things to eat.


The argument is that the bases are not filled by one or two streamer fishing techniques. Three or four aren't there either. Experimenting— and doing so avidly— when fishing for streamers pays big dividends. Try different retrieves and different drifts to show the fly from different angles and at different speeds. Only mess around.


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