You can create a small but versatile streamer box with a mix of slim flies and bulky flies, from size 12 up to size 4, in light and dark colours, with a scattering of bright ones. Most should be weighted—I favour bead-, cone- and dumbbell-headed streamers, which let you judge the weight at a glance, and give the fly a jigging motion.
Slimmer, subtler flies, such as Woolly Buggers and traditional bucktails (directly above), are best for slow or clear water. Bulky flies with hefty bodies and heads, on the other hand, are ideal for faster, dirtier water because they give off big sonic and visual signals. For smaller flies in this category, the Muddler Minnow and Thunder Creek series are hard to beat. Moving up in size, try modern classics such as the Sculpzilla (top of page) and Zoo Cougar, and full-course meals such as the Galloup’s Sex Dungeon and Peanut Envy.
A standard 4- or 5-weight outfit is plenty on small water. Fishing bigger rivers and heavier flies requires a 6- or even 7-weight rod and a weight-forward line. Using a floating line keeps your options open, and you can add weight as needed. For dedicated streamer fishing in water that’s fast or deeper than four feet, however, you need a sinking or sink-tip line (above). Getting the fly deep and maintaining control requires a leader that many anglers will find uncomfortably short. For a floating line, that’s four to five feet of straight eight- to 12-pound mono, and just three feet for a sinking line. Now, on to three never-fail techniques…