Late fall and all winter are prime time for moving big fish with large streamers. Fishing from a drift boat or raft is the best way to fish with streamers since it’s easy to cover miles of river in a day. However, wade anglers shouldn’t feel left out because there is plenty of opportunity for them.
A 6wt or 8wt are great set ups for streamer fishing. A rod with good flex is best for getting solid hook ups. A fast rod is usually what new anglers pick however a rod with good flex will make casting large streamers with sinking line much easier. The Sage Payload is a new rod we just got into the shop at a very affordable price point for Sage quality.
Sinking line is a must. Large, bulky streamers require extra weight to get down even if they are tied with heavier eyes. Trophy sized browns are mysterious, solitary creatures that stick to the bottom of the river. These big browns love articulated streamers, which have two or more pieces to their body that allow for more natural movement in the water. Floating lines won’t give articulated streamers the flare they need due to the weight of the line not allowing the articulation move correctly. In fact many famous streamer patterns were designed to be fished with sinking line. The InTouch Series from Rio is a line that we highly recommend as it’s built with RIO’s ultra-low stretch ConnectCore Technology. A series of sinking tip lines specifically built for anglers that like a balanced casting rig. A unique, fatter body section eliminates the “kick” usually associated with casting sink tip lines; while the longer front tapers ensure the line does not dump on the forward cast. Rio and Scientific Anglers both make pre-made leaders. To rebuild leaders keep some 0X or 1X leader in your back.
When it comes to reels our main concern is finding one that balances out the set up and has a large arbor spool to accommodate large volumes of line. A well balanced rod isn’t usually the lightest but it will feel light thus making you a more effective caster. The Guru S from Lamson is hard to beat for its outstanding price as well as its bullet proof construction. Spare spools are available so you can keep sinking and floating line.
The biggest roadblock to successful streamer fishing is an anglers mindset. The anglers that are constantly catching big fish have probably been working at their craft for a few years so don’t get bummed if you blank six trips in a row. Unlike boat fishing, when anglers are fishing streamers while wading they have to find the fish and bank on key areas. Large predatory trout aren’t found in many places since they prefer deep areas with cover so they hide when spooked. Large whitewater rapids with underwater boulders are great areas as they know small fish will be stunned and disorientated when they come out of the rapid making for an easy meal. Log jams and root balls are great holding areas but they can be a pain to fish since there’s so many places to snag. In this case it’s best to cast close and try to draw the fish out. An often overlooked area is stocking tubes. To make life easier for DNR agents the state has built stocking tubes in many creeks and rivers. Typically they go directly into large pools. Between the transportation from the hatchery to the river trout often get banged up. Carbon dioxide also builds up in their gills so they will need a few minutes to get fresh, oxygenated water back in their bodies. All this adds up to easy pickings for a predatory trout. We’ve heard stories at the shop about the stocking tube at Jone’s Bridge holding some giant browns as well as many Delayed Harvest streams. Ultimately, streamer fishing is a game of patience with big pay-off when you land that monster brown. Good luck out there and let us know how we can help you!