Big Flies, Big Fish - 5 tips for Fishing Streamers

Posted by Carl McNeil on

Or at least that's what they say.

There is nothing subtle about chucking big streamers and cone-heads, it’s time to forget about delicate presentations and bring out the big gear.

Whether you are using a single or a two handed rod here are a few tips to help launch and fish those big streamers.

Streamer wallet - 5 tips for Fishing Streamers

Go Big
Big flies call for bigger gear, a more powerful rod, heavier fly line and stronger leaders.

Loose that delicate presentation taper you’ve been fishing all summer, time to go for an aggressive weight forward fly line, shorten your leader and tie on that 8 or 10lb tippet hiding in your vest. It takes mass to cast mass, a heaver line and leader are going to help pick up those heavy flies and turn them over.

On the single handed rod - Go oval before it all goes pear shaped.
Big flies kill fly rods - (Unless they are Fiberglass fly rods

We’ve all heard that sickening “clunk” bought about by a cone-head streamer connecting with your fly rod. This impact causes stress fractures that inevitably result in broken fly rods. In order to reduce the chances of a fly collecting your rod, tilt your cast out to the side a little and cast in an oval path.  Back-cast underneath the rod tip, forward cast over the top.

Big Flies Big Fish - 5 tips for Fishing StreamersCasting slightly off shoulder and in an oval motion can really save your bacon when casting big heavy flies - most salt water fly casters do this out of necessity. 

It’s all about the retrieve.
If you’re not having much joy but there are fish around make sure you mix things up and vary your retrieve.

The Swing. 
Swinging flies across and down is the single most effective way to cover a great deal of water - it's one clear advantage of swung flies. Cast across and slightly down stream, make a mend, it’s this first mend that will help get your fly down. Make sure to allow the fly to swing all the way through before retrieving. Often, a trout following a swung fly won’t hit until the first strip or two on the retrieve.

Banging the Banks. 
Casting a streamer to the opposite bank and immediately retrieving using short quick strips can be very effective. You can control the distance of your cast by pinching off the line on the shoot. Take a couple of "measure up casts" pinch the line off and then you're good to go knowing the length on your cast is just about spot on.

Drift and Jig. 
Cast out and upstream, then mend to allow your fly to get deep. As the fly drifts below you, make a series of quick lifts of the rod tip. Doing so creates a realistic jigging action imitating a struggling baitfish. Once the fly line hangs straight downstream (the Dangle), make a few strips back and repeat. 

The Jerk & Twitch. 
Rather than sticking to long regular strips, mix it up by using short quick strips.  Add some life to the retrieve by using quick downstream twitches of the rod tip, followed by a slow strip of the line hand to take up the slack created by the ‘twitch.’

Vary the Speed.
Again - mix it up, fast retrieves, then slow. Strip stop, drift strip. 

Make sure you’re wearing a lid and shades -  Big flies in the back of the head or in the face can really wreck a day on the river. 

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1 comment

  • Nice short sharp and packed full of good info

    Shaun Ash on


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