Hucking Streamers on the Fryingpan
As we all know, fly fishing the world-famous Fryingpan River can be an incredible experience. It’s a well known tailwater fishery with rainbow and brown trout that have their bellies full of mysis shrimp along with all the other amazing bug life that makes up the fishes diet. The dry fly fishing is the main attraction for those who venture up the river to chase down the trout that frequently are sipping midges and BWOs in the surface film. There is an overlooked method of fishing that can provide intense hook-ups and a very visual way to fish the Fryingpan. Streamer fishing can be a great way to spend a day on the river. No more 6x or 7x tippets and size 22 flies. We’re talking heavy tippets, short leaders and big meaty flies.
As with other fly fishing techniques, there’s a method to the madness of throwing streamers. I prefer a 5wt or 6wt rod with a little more back bone to them. Having a heavier rod will help you turn over those bigger flies while casting. Don’t be afraid to cut down your leaders as well. Leaders that are in the range of 4 to 6 feet in length (commonly referred to as shorty or pocket water leaders), in addition to the tippet material will make up your complete streamer leader. Your tippet sizes are determined based upon the fishing conditions at hand. Ideally, I like to fish 2x through 4x tippets on the Pan, though heavier tippet sizes can be appropriate on overcast or cloudy days. However, if there’s high sun in your picture, knock down the size of your tippet to be along the lighter end of the spectrum at 3x or 4x.
When it comes down to fly selection we all have favorites that find their place in our own boxes. As with other styles of flies, there are a variety of patterns that work, some more eye catching than others. A few go-to flies to start with include: Barr’s Conehead Slumpbuster in natural, black and olive, sizes 4 thru 8. Sand’s Stinging Sculpin in natural, black and olive, size 8 and Mini Sculpin in natural and black, sizes 4 thru 8.
The key here is to fish patterns that represent the food source that you’re trying to imitate, in this case juvenile trout and sculpins. What is a sculpin? A sculpin is a bottom dwelling, reclusive fish that inhabit most trout streams, with large flat heads, ranging in size from 1” to 4” long. These fish will be found underneath rocks and logs, in shallower, quick water. Sculpins can be a favorite food source for a big brown trout lurking for a hearty meal, or in some cases, brown trout will become territorial over a section of river and will attack any other smaller trout or sculpin that swims through that “owned” piece of water. These territorial trout are often larger than most and are referred to as “sculpin killers”.
Techniques to fishing streamers can be broken down simple to understand. Let me paint a picture for you on what you’re going to be looking for in the water that you’ll be fishing. Generally, what you’ll be looking for is pocket water (ie: behind boulders, logs and back eddies, runs and seams). The best point on a stretch of river to start your fishing is at the head or top of a run and work your way down, making casts across the current and slightly down stream of your position. It’s always good to create motion on your fly while it swings through the current. Motion can be made by pulling in line using your free hand (known as your stripping hand) or by simply twitching the tip of your rod. Play around with the speed of your retrieve. Often times, the retrieval speed can be the difference maker in hook ups. Don’t forget to cover water, making 5-10 casts per each run or pocket. Catch a few fish and then move on to the next piece of water.
The tug is the drug! Streamer fishing can be a very exciting avenue in the world of fly fishing. I hope this guide to fishing streamers opens up new doors and teaches you some new tricks that will keep you fishing for a lifetime.
Words by Travis Lyons
Photographs courtesy of Kirk Webb, Scott Spooner and Taylor Creek Fly Shop
Reprinted from "Fly on the Wall"