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Three Steps to Streamer Success

Taking trout on flies in the cold waters of early spring is like trying to get an overfed fat man to take yet another morsel.
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He doesn't really want it, but if it's
tempting enough -- and he doesn't have
to move far -- he'll gobble it down. If
the fat guy is a trout, a streamer fly
can get his attention.



In early-season streamer time, the water
will be high and cold or low and cold,
depending on the prevailing weather. The
cold temperatures will keep trout on or
near the bottom, moving little. But they'll
move if a sizable fly is delivered in
a way that tempts them to take it. Your
goal is reduced to just two things: Get
your fly on or very near the bottom, and
fish it slowly enough so trout don't need
to chase it.



Step
1: Up the Creek


Small waters, so cramped that you can't
position yourself to cast across their
pools, must be approached from either
upstream or downstream. Upstream is better.
Most foothill and mountain creeks have
well-defined stair-step pools; the majority
of their trout, and almost always the
largest trout, hang under current tongues
at the heads of these pools.



Rig
to fish small pools with a floating 4-
or 5-weight line, a 3X leader the length
of the rod, and a size 8, 10, or 12 weighted
streamer. My favorite is a Lead-Eyed Woolly
Bugger in olive or black. Whatever streamer
you use must sink the instant it lands.




Take a position at the foot of a pool.
If you're after lots of fish and not concerned
about size, fan your casts upstream from
the lower end of the pool, covering the
tailout, the edges, and the main current
slot. Extend your final casts to place
the fly right where the water enters the
pool. Retrieve line a bit faster than
the current escorts the fly.




If you're aft that one largest trout
in the pool, calculate so the first cast
will catch it. Make the cast straight
up the current line, over the deepest
water, directly to the head of the pool.
Let the heavy fly sink. Retrieve downstream
just fast enough to keep the fly out of
trouble with the bottom. The streamer
will nod and bob its way along, and that
one big trout will be first to see the
fly.






Step
2: Averaging It Out


Trout streams of average size, defined
as being about a cast across, should be
fished with a fast-sinking-tip line in
5- or 6-weight. Shorten the 3X leader
to 6 or 7 feet. Choose a streamer that
is more a swimming type than a bottom
bouncer. A weighted size 6, 8, or 10 Mickey
Finn, Muddler, or Black Marabou Muddler
should work well.




In average-size water, you might discover
yourself casting streamers over riffles,
runs, and bend pools where currents create
depths against the far bank. In such cases,
take up your first position 10 to 20 feet
downstream from the head of the water
you want to fish. Refrain from wading
until you've covered the water near you;
it has just as much potential to hold
trout as the water across the pool.




Cover all of the water with a fan of casts,
starting in close and casting slightly
upstream. Work subsequent casts both farther
out and then slowly downstream. After
each cast, give the line a few feet of
free drift to sink the fly. Then take
up the slack to bring your rod tip into
closer contact with the fly. Make upstream
mends to drop the fly deeper and slow
its swing.




Most hits will happen at one of two times:
first, when the fly swings out of slow
water at the edges and inserts itself
under the central current; second, when
the fly swings back out of this central
current slot and crosses the seam into
the slow water alongside it. If you drop
your rod tip, toss some slack, or make
a mend at one of these two moments, the
streamer will hesitate. This makes it
look like something easy to eat.



Step
3: Bigger Can Be Better


If you fish a large river, one too big
to cover any stretch of water from a single
casting position, the largest trout of
the year become possible. Choose a line
that will take your streamer right to
the bottom. Use a Cortland Quick Descent
175, a Teeney 200, or similar line on
a rod strong enough to propel it, meaning
a 7- or 8-weight. Stub the 1X leader to
4 to 6 feet, and use heavily weighted
size 2, 4, and 6 streamers in either swimming
or bottom-bouncing styles.




Take a position at the upper end of the
stretch you desire to fish. Make your


initial casts short, either slightly upstream
or downstream from straight across. You'll
have to search for the casting angle that
delivers the fly to the bottom in the depth
and current speed you're fishing.



Give that fast-sinking line a few feet
of drif water at the edges and inserts itself
under the central current; second, when
the fly swings back out of this central
current slot and crosses the seam into
the slow water alongside it. If you drop
your rod tip, toss some slack, or make
a mend at one of these two moments, the
streamer will hesitate. This makes it
look like something easy to eat.



Step
3: Bigger Can Be Better


If you fish a large river, one too big
to cover any stretch of water from a single
casting position, the largest trout of
the year become possible. Choose a line
that will take your streamer right to
the bottom. Use a Cortland Quick Descent
175, a Teeney 200, or similar line on
a rod strong enough to propel it, meaning
a 7- or 8-weight. Stub the 1X leader to
4 to 6 feet, and use heavily weighted
size 2, 4, and 6 streamers in either swimming
or bottom-bouncing styles.




Take a position at the upper end of the
stretch you desire to fish. Make your


initial casts short, either slightly upstream
or downstream from straight across. You'll
have to search for the casting angle that
delivers the fly to the bottom in the depth
and current speed you're fishing.



Give that fast-sinking line a few feet
of drif

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