Friday, December 30, 2016

A Re-Spin on Streamers

A Re-Spin on Streamers
(Adapted from Fly Tyer Magazine Spring 2011 & “Tomorrow’s Fish”)

Like most of us, I came to trout fishing as a spin fisherman.  I don’t hang my head to that fact & am proud of my youthful years hunting trout.  I learned to trout fish in ultra-lite fashion, where 5x mainline & 7x tippet bearing a #16 hook was the norm.  I learned to read water as a spin fisherman. I learned the feeding habits of trout and how to identify feeding lies and lanes as a spin fisherman.  They were good years, and provided a strong foundation to build on as a fly fisherman.  During those years my fly fishing was mainly panfish and small bass with store-bought Gaines & Betts poppers.  Little did I realize then, that it would end up being one of my passions through most of my adult life.
One of the other things that spin fishing taught me was a very effective and minimalist approach to spinners. Early on, my father gave me some very usable advice while I was admiring the spinner wall in a local sporting goods shop.  He informed me that there were really only 3 requirements for spinners when fishing for trout. They were in order:
  1. A basic Silver spinner
  2. A basic Gold spinner
  3. A Hammered Copper Spinner
These requirements usually took the form of a CP or Swiss Swing, or the classic Colorado spinner. And the copper was filled with a Rooster Tail or a Mepps.  But a good spin fisherman with ½ dozen of each of the 3 groups could expect to limit out in any water and under most any conditions. And to his credit, I found his advice to be correct over the years.
Fast forward 35 years.  I am looking at my boxes for the season, and come to my streamer box. As a young fly fisherman coming to speed in the fly fishing world of the Pacific Northwest, I was drawn to chasing the runs of steelhead, salmon, and my favorite of all the Coastal Cutthroat trout. I like the Cutts most of all because they are aggressive feeders and make no bones about what they intended to eat once their mind was made up. A fish created perfectly for fishing streamers.  Streamers then meant anything that would work. From Muddlers to Leeches, and classics like the Black-Nosed Dace & Wooly-bugger, my boxes were filled with them.  But as often is the case with fly tyers there is always a search for the “better fly”, or the perfect pattern so-to-speak.  So I was always trying to tweak patterns, or mimic the fry or smolt that I found in the local waters.  Sometimes they would out fish the classics, and other times they would go by the wayside. Now 20 years after 1st chasing Coastal Cutthroat I was looking at my fly box, and realized once again, that my father was right. It was staring me right in the face as perfectly as my classic-styled bucktail streamers were aligned in my box.  Oddly enough, there were only 3 that I still tied regularly and fished each season.  They were in Order:
  1. The Northwest Jack
  2. The FC Minnow
  3. The Tioga Shiner
Well, it is now 41 years later,  and while my thoughts on this topic remain unchanged, my choice of patterns have changed slightly. For the past 15 years of fishing primarily Pennsylvania and New Jersey waters, here are the 3 patterns that now fill my box.

1- The Northwest Jack
2- The Firehole
3- The Lost Penny

I like to fish streamers for trout in down-and-across fashion, methodically working my way downstream. I prefer a 5-6 weight glass rod. Gone are the sink tips, replaced by an aggressive taper WF floating line. Leader configuration is a 5’ Furled mono leader with a mini-barrel swivel and 4 feet of 5X  Fluorocarbon.
The years of tying and fishing streamers had by complete chance brought together a trio of bucktails that not only were tied years apart, but were tied to target 3 completely different waters.  Yet in the end, they combine for an unbeatable trio of trout streamers for most any water or water condition. Now, years later, those patterns are adjusted a bit, but the important aspects remain the same. Folks often repeat the phrase “All I really needed to know about life I learned in Kindergarten”.  Well, I guess I can say that “All I really needed to know about Streamers, I learned at the age of 10 in a bait shop”.  Funny how things work out, and how slow we are at times to grasp early advice.

Northwest Jack
Hook: 7x Daiichi #2370 Streamer Hook #4-8
Thread: Black 6/0 Uni-Thread
Tail: Moose Body Hair
Rib: Medium Gold Ultra-Wire
Body: Silver Mylar
Throat: Red-dyed Tippet
Wing: Black Bucktail over Blue Super Hair

Hook: 7x Daiichi #2370 Streamer Hook #4-8
Thread: Black 6/0 Uni-Thread
Tail: Moose Body Hair
Rib: Medium Gold Ultra-Wire
Body: Gold Mylar
Wing: Olive  Bucktail over Red Bucktail

Lost  Penny
Hook: 7x Daiichi #2370 Streamer Hook #4-8
Thread: Black 6/0 Uni-Thread
Tail: Moose Body Hair
Rib: Medium Copper Ultra-Wire
Body: Copper Mylar
Wing: Brown  Bucktail over Peach Super Hair (Barred with a Black Copic Pen)

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