I really struggled to catch fish as a young fly fisherman until I stumbled across this tip, and literally overnight I began catching fish and developing confidence in my fly fishing abilities. So what made the difference? I started fishing small streamers instead of just the typical nymphs and wet flies. Why would such a simple change make such a huge difference? There are several reasons, and first we need to take a look at why we have the different styles of flies to really understand why small streamers are so deadly.
Streamers are tied to look like a minnow, sculpin, leech, or crayfish. All of those things move around in the water considerably. A nymphon the other hand look like a small insect, which is generally at the mercy of the current. That means nymphs need to be fished drifting in the current, with no outside movement from your rod, line, or leader. That is an extremely difficult thing to do for a beginner, as you will probably be experiencing some sort of drag that will cause that fly to look unnatural to the trout. Small streamers give you the best of both worlds, as they can imitate a small baitfish or a large nymph. This gives you several advantages over nymphs or large streamers, especially as a beginner.
First of all, it doesn’t matter how you fish a small streamer. If it is dead drifting in the current it will look like a nymph. If you get some drag that causes the fly to move a little, it looks like a dying batifish. As you strip the fly back in for your next cast, it looks like a swimming baitfish. This means the entire time the fly is in the water you have a reasonable expectation to catch a fish. I can’t tell you how many fish I can have right at my feet stripping in a small streamer. This will really shorten the learning curve as you attempt to perfect your drag free drift. Small streamers are also great because they are general attractor flies, meaning they can look like a lot of different things. Whatever the fish may be feeding on, there is a decent probability that a small streamer will look like food to a trout. Small streamers also represent a bit of a larger food source, which will sometimes entice larger trout to bite.
Wooly Boogers are without a doubt the most popular small streamer for trout. Micky Fins and other classic hair wing streamers work well, as do the small olive and black leech patterns that have gained a lot of popularity in recent years. To purchase your flies join the Monthly Fly team and sign up for the Match the Hatch Subscription. Keep you eyes open for our new store for Monthly Fly members, opening soon!