09/7/11
Insects and other foods the trout may be eating:
1.    Blue-winged Olives (Little BWOs)
2.    Mahogany Duns
3.    Little Yellow Quills (
Heptagenia Group)
4.    Little Yellow Stoneflies
5.    Needle Stoneflies
6.    Slate Drakes
7.    Sculpin, Minnows (Streamers)
8.    Grasshoppers
9.    Ants (includes Flying Ants)
10.  Beetles
11.  Craneflies

Streamer Fishing Techniques and Tips:
With the high, off color water currently in the streams of Great Smoky Mountains
National Park, it's a good time to fish streamers. I mentioned this yesterday, so today I
thought I might add more some tips and technique on streamer fishing.

Some anglers don't have a clue as to how to fish a streamer. They think just tying it
on and casting it is all that's required. Other anglers only use one technique for
fishing streamers, which usually turns out to be the down and across swing. It usually
involves stripping the fly, but few know how, when and where to strip it for the best
results. Actually, there are many different ways streamers can be fished successfully.
In this case, we are only concerned about fishing for trout you can't see, so I'm not
considering any sight casting or other clear water methods of fishing streamers.

There are a few streamer-fishing methods that, depending on the current situation,
are much better than the simple strip-and-swing method. You can actually fish most
any current situation. By that I mean you can fish a streamer in a run, riffle, flat, eddy,
pools, or along a bank as well as other types of water.

As I just mentioned, many fish the streamer like you would a wet-fly by swinging the fly
down and across. This is good if trout were positioned just about anywhere in the
stream but they usually aren't, not even under the cover of dingy water. The rainbows
will usually be holding fairly shallow and most likely in the fast water. The browns will
come out of their hiding places but they will roam around as if they were lost in open
water looking for food only when its very dingy and then very rarely. Most of the time
they will focus on feeding at the locations within the stream where baitfish, sculpin,
crawfish and other larger items of food are most likely to be concentrated.

The idea is to
control both the speed and direction of the streamer to trigger
the most strikes
. Rather than trying to cover ever inch of water within a stream, you
should focus on presenting the fly to specific lies.
You want the swing of the fly
such that it ends up right in front of a trout.

Before you cast, pick the spot you want the fly end up. You can often get the fly in a
position to fish a certain spot by just letting it dead drift into position and then start the
swing. You can alter the presentation by mending the line, letting out slack line, or
tightening the line. Do what ever is necessary to get the fly in the location you think
there's a fish. By controlling the fly in this manner, you can get it into tight places a lot
easier than you think.  

For example, you can fish a current seam in this manner, just like you were fishing a
nymph or dry fly. Cast the streamer up and across to the fast water side of the current
seam and using your rod, maneuver the fly into the seam. Strip the fly, allowing it to
drop down, strip, drop, strip, etc., right along the current seam. This works best for
rainbows at the edges of runs and riffles in the high, fast water. You can fish an entire
current seam by varying the length of the cast, starting with short cast near your
position and increasing the length of the cast each time. By the way, you can do this
both wading and from the bank. Until the water drops back down to a safe level and
speed, you should do this from the banks.

I just mentioned dead drifting the streamer to get it into position, but you can also
dead drift the streamer almost like it was a nymph. This works great from the banks.
You do not need a large clear area of bank to do this. You can do this anywhere you
can get up to the bank with just a small amount of clearance. The idea is to dead-drift
the streamer along the bank. I call it "flipping a streamer". Make a direct upstream
short cast. You only need a few feet of line out. As the fly drifts down the bank, take
up the slack to keep contact, or the "feel' of the fly. You can do this by raising your
arm and the tip of the rod to an almost straight up position. The fly should end up
almost straight under you at the mid point of the drift. Then you allow the fly to drift on
down the stream bank below your position until your rod tip is back down low and
pointed at the fly. You can twitch the fly to add action using your stripping hand. You
can let out some slack line and continue the drift if you want to but you need to
maintain contact, or the feel of the fly to detect a strike. In this situation, the water
should be off-color enough to conceal your presence.

You can do this same thing when your wading. You fish the fly just like you high-stick
a nymph but you can add all the twitches and action you want to the fly. Remember,
your trying to imitate a baitfish or sculpin. You can fish the streamer along an
undercut bank or down between the crevice of two boulders. You can high-stick the
streamer into a small pocket behind a boulder and let it drift along the current seam it
forms just like you would a nymph. Just use your non-casting hand to twitch the fly
and add action during the drift. If you keep a tight line, you won't have any trouble
detecting a strike.

When you have a eddy next to the main current, approach and cast the fly in it in an
almost directly upstream direction. Remember, the current in the eddy will be moving
in the opposite direction it normally is. Strip the fly in a fast manner against the
reverse current of the eddy. You can keep the fly almost in the same position and
alter the strips to where a fish in the eddy would be sure to see the streamer.  Most of
the time trout will be in the slow water adjacent to the eddy watching for food and then
dart in to grab it when they see it wash into the eddy. Sometimes there will be slack
water directly beneath the eddy. It doesn't necessarily have to be to the sides of the
eddy.   

Once the water drops down to where it can be safely waded, you may want to fish the
banks with a streamer. In this case, you want to cast the streamer right up tight
against the bank and then quickly strip it a few times. It isn't necessary to strip the fly
all the way back. Just four or five quick strips is enough. If a trout is holding near the
bank, it will grab the fly. You can cover much more water and increase your odds by
making a lot of cast and a few short strips as opposed to stripping the fly all the way
back to your position in the stream. By the way, keep the line through your stripping
finger and your other hand "feeling" contact with the fly anytime you are stripping the
fly. You want to avoid slack line. You want to set the hook by yanking the line with
your stripping hand (strip set the hook), not the rod.

This will probably upset some die hard fly anglers but in general, especially when
anglers are first learning to fish a streamer, someone experienced at bass fishing has
a big advantage. Most of the presentations you should make fishing a streamer are
more similar to casting and retrieving a bass lure than fly fishing. The only difference
is your using a fly rod and a fly instead of a casting rod and a lure. When you can get
the fly into the locations of the stream you want to target, and make the fly look like a
real baitfish, sculpin or crayfish (depending on the particular fly your using), you are
doing it the right way. This is completely different from most other fly fishing
presentations.

Copyright 2011 James Marsh