Why streamers are often the most effective flies for catching the biggest brookies, browns, ’bows and cutties out there
In trout fishing, dry flies get the glamour, while nymphs are the usual choice of today’s technical masters. But if I could use only one fly on my home trout waters in southern Ontario, it would be a streamer. In fact, if I could use only one fly on almost any brook, brown, rainbow or cutthroat trout river across Canada, I’d still pick a streamer. Why? Although trout like eating insects, they love a juicy mouthful of meat.
Streamers are traditionally considered minnow imitations, but I think of them as any long, slim fly that mimics swimming prey, from baitfish to leeches to crayfish. In some conditions, such as the high, turbid waters of spring or after a rainstorm, streamers are the only type of fly that work. That said, streamers won’t always catch the most fish, but on any given day, and on any trout river, there are usually a few fish willing to hit one. They’re often the bigger trout, too.
Since you’re actively moving and controlling the fly, streamer fishing is fast and efficient, making it well suited for locating trout in unfamiliar waters. It’s easy, too. Instead of worrying about delicate, drag-free presentations, you basically just chuck your fly into likely looking spots to provoke a reaction strike. Here are some time-tested streamer-fishing tactics that will catch trout almost anywhere, plus a few fly pattern and gear suggestions.