Fishing the Streamer -The Wide World of “Chucking Meat”

The easiest way for me to describe a streamer is a fly fishing lure made of different materials, usually feathers and fur, and is tied on a long shank hook with some sort of weighted head, bead, or barbell eyes. Most streamer patterns for trout are made to resemble a minnow or sculpin(pictured below). In my opinion, fishing a streamer, or “chucking meat”, is so enjoyable because you are targeting larger than average trout and in my mind, there are pictures of these huge carnivores just waiting for the next innocent victim to pass for an explosive attack! Also, its highly enjoyable because of the “tug”. The tug is the feeling of that carnivore aggressively grabbing the streamer with no warning. This heart shocking feeling is comparable to someone startling you when you have your eyes closed. Depending on the fish, it can almost pull the fly rod from your hands, or certainly feel that way! That is where the term “the tug is the drug” is generated. Streamer fishing to some anglers is a way of life, and is the only way to fish in some minds. Let me tell you that the thoughts in an anglers’ mind are intriguingly different than the general populations. This hobby takes up over 50% of our thoughts throughout the day, and I know that from experience.

Reading the depth of the water is the first way to effectively fish a run. Then, you need to decide which sink tip to use. This is a weighted section of line that is attached between the fly line and leader. Sink tips come in all lengths and weights, so having a large variety in your pack is ideal so you are prepared for all types of water. For deeper, faster water you will want more weight (longer, heavier tip) to get the streamer down where the pigs usually sit belly on the bottom. If you are fishing a deeper section of water, giving your line a big mend after you cast your streamer out helps your streamer sink faster. And for slower moving runs with a couple feet of depth, use lighter sink tips. A streamer is successfully fished from the bank by walking into a run, starting at the top and casting 90 degrees across the moving water and letting it swing through and down the run. Casting your streamer more down river 45 degrees, will adjust the swung bug higher into the water column. Another effective tactic is done from a drift boat or raft while drifting at the same speed as the water, the angler casts close to the bank and lets it sink to the desired depth for that particular water, and makes short strips with their line back toward the boat. This triggers the instinct in the trout to chase after the streamer and pulls those trout off the bank where they like to rest. If swinging it, and stripping it just isn’t doing the trick, you can always drift your streamer instead. You let your streamer drift down the river at the same speed as the river, also known as a dead drift. This is imitating a dead sculpin or fish and can be highly effective as well.
Jumping to another tactic that is becoming increasingly popular, is fishing with a switch rod. The name comes from the ability to use it as a normal single hand rod, and as a small version of a spey rod. The spey cast which is traditional for steelhead fishing, has been miniaturized for targeting trout. The rod is anywhere from a 9’6” 3wt to a 12’ 6wt. The switch rod has the same construction of a spey with 2 handles, one over sized cork above the reel, and one smaller section of cork below for your other hand. The cast is nearly impossible to explain in writing but in short, it’s a glorified roll cast with a half dozen components to actually accomplish the cast. Single handed rods need plenty of space behind you for your back cast, but switch rods are perfect for these tight scenarios because you can use two-hand Spey casting.
So get out there and swing, strip, or snap T some meat!
Until next time,
Fish On!
By Dustin Stetson