I first tried my hand at streamer fishing during the summer of 2011. At first it felt awkward after years of nothing but dry flies and nymphs, but it quickly became one of my favorite types of fishing after experiencing “the tug.” It really is the drug, as they say.
In 2018 I streamer fished more than I ever have, and it definitely paid off since it rained almost non-stop with generators on full blast at the Watauga and South Holston most of the year. The skies were typically overcast and the water stayed on the murky side – perfect for streamers.
While floating I always keep my eye downstream to anticipate when I need to cast to target where I think the trout are sitting. I make my cast about 10 feet ahead to give the streamer time to sink and make sure it’s at the perfect spot for the swing.
Here’s what I look for before making a cast:
- Eddies – Eddies are slow moving bodies of water that lie behind rocks and other structures that obstruct the current. Cast far back into the eddy and pull the streamer across and into the current.
- River bends – Cast at the bank (hit it if you have to, but beware of trees) and pull across the bend.
- Low lying trees – Trout sit underneath these to sip bugs falling out from them.
- Depth Changes – Cast into the shallow water and pull it across the deeper water. Big trout sit and feed on prey coming off the shelf.
- Redington Crosswater 9 ft 8 wt
- Redington Crosswater 7/8/9 wt reel
- Scientific Angler Sonar Sink Tip 8 wt line (4″ per second sink)
- Cuthroat Streamer Leader with approx. 4′ of 3x OR 4x tippet (Depending on water conditions – If it’s murky I use 3x but if its clear I’ll use 4x)
- My go-to streamer for the Watauga and South Holston is an olive sculpin
Boat control is a very important part of streamer fishing. Having an experienced oarsman to keep the boat at a proper angle (I prefer to be slightly angled with the front of the boat to the bank so I can cast behind the boat and get a better swing,) an appropriate distance from the bank, and slightly slower than the speed of water is just as important as your fishing and casting techniques.
Most of my success in streamer fishing has been made on the swing followed by a 6-inch strip, meaning I cast my streamer out, throw out a big mend, let it drift while keeping the line tight, and strip it in at the end of the drift. Depending on the time of day and water conditions I vary the speed, but this is usually trial-and-error until I figure out how aggressive the trout are eating.
Thanks for reading and tight lines!