4 Ways To Up Your Streamer Game This Fall

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By Kyle Wilkinson

While fishing streamers can certainly be a productive way to put fish in the net year round,

there is no doubt that “streamer fishing” and “fall” go together like peanut butter and jelly (or if you’re like me, chicken fried steak and Coors). I know I’m not the only person who has recently spent a hot summer day dreaming of how good it will feel to need a few extra layers of clothing and a 6-weight in the months to come.

As many of you know, I talk to a lot of anglers, both in the shop and guiding. Whether it be a beginner/intermediate or more advanced angler, streamer fishing seems to get in a lot of people’s heads and in my opinion, causes a lot more confusion than is necessary. I tell these folks in simplest terms, it’s really not that complicated. You just have to do it. And more importantly, commit to it. This is where I think many people struggle — the ‘committing’ part. They don’t realize that a different mindset is required to become a proficient streamer angler, that you have to work your butt off, making countless casts, fully prepared to go hours without a strike.

I pride myself in my streamer fishing abilities but I’d be lying if I said there still weren’t times on the river where I find myself getting a little too worked up between the ears. There’s no way around it — some days are just a flat-out grind. On the flip side though, not every day is like that and if you fish streamers enough you’re going to find yourself on the river one day where the fish are in the mood to chase down your offering and give you explosive eat after explosive eat. If you’ve ever had one of those days then you know what I’m talking about. I’d also be willing to bet those days are some of your best on-water memories to date.

SO, TO GET WHERE I’M GOING WITH THIS, IF YOU’VE GOT IT IN YOUR HEAD THAT THIS FALL YOU’RE GOING TO IMPROVE YOUR STREAMER GAME, HERE ARE FOUR SUGGESTIONS ON HOW TO MAKE THAT HAPPEN.

Keep On Movin’– Everything listed below is built on this foundation. When streamer fishing, you HAVE to cover a lot of water. There’s no way around it. If you’re wade fishing, this means possibly logging many miles on your boots that day. You know that run you love to nymph and have found yourself spending hours in before? Be prepared

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What is more important, presentation or fly choice?

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A few years ago, I was lucky enough to have the honor to participate in a podcast interview for askaboutflyfishing.com. It was an hour long conversation over the phone, with me spending most of that time talking about trout tactics on my home waters. Just as we were wrapping up the interview, the host Roger Maves, hit me with the mother of all fly fishing questions…..

What’s more important Kent, presentation or fly pattern choice?

I pondered for a few moments, before I gave a him a reply to the question that covered my butt. If I remember correctly, it was something along the lines of, “well, you have to get the fly to the fish no matter what to have a chance at catching fish, but there are many times, when I’ve seen fly pattern choice the true deciding factor in whether you find success on the water.”

Since that podcast, I’ve been asked that same question by clients more times than I can remember. It’s kind of a joke to me at this point, and that’s because I feel the question is really a loaded question.

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Leave Your Cowboy Hat at Home

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By Bob Reece

In Cheyenne, Wyoming we host Frontier Days, the world’s largest outdoor rodeo. 

That folks, is a great time and place to wear a cowboy hat.  On the other hand, spotting and stalking fish in glassy water is not.  Whether on still or moving water, the clothing that you wear can have an impact on the success of your fishing day.  This is especially true when stalking fishing in water with high levels of clarity.  In both my personal and guide days on the water I’ve seen this impact fish-to-net success. 

While I guide entirely on still waters, many of those days are spent spotting and stalking fish with clients.  During those experiences, two different people stand out in my mind.   One arrived in a fluorescent pink sweatshirt.  To start the day off, we fished indicators.  With the morning dry fly activity, we began to slowly move down the shoreline in search of rising fish.  As soon as I told her we would be trying this method, she removed the sweatshirt and wore a drab colored under shirt. 

The other client wore a bright white cowboy hat.

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Horsehair Worms 

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By Dan Frasier

You’re actually fishing worms

Tall waiving grass alive with thousands of hoppers and a stiff breeze. No setting can more quickly raise a flyfisherman’s heart rate. The promise of errant leaps by the insects causing aggressive and splashy rises by the fish can make the tying fingers of any sport trembly. So we look for conditions that are right. An abundance of hoppers or crickets is a good start, but often times we look for a little wind. Something to coax the crunchy fish snacks within striking distance of the fish. 

But what if the wind wasn’t what was causing the hoppers to hit the water? Enter the horsehair worm; Spinochordodes tellinii to be more exact. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spinochordodes_tellinii) The life cycle of this aquatic worm is fascinating. The larvae are found in the moist edges of bodies of water. There they are ingested by grasshoppers and crickets. The larvae then mature inside the insect; leaching nutrients out of the host and into its own skin. As it matures, the worm will molt many times, eventually growing to be up to 4 times the length of its host.

Now the worm has a problem. In order to mate it must find other horsehair worms and it must be in water. Here’s where things get weird. The worm, still inside the hopper, begins to release a protein called WnT, among others that are believed to mimic neurotransmitters in the brain. In other words, they start to take over the thoughts of the hoppers. Apparently one of the thoughts that the worm plants in the insect goes something like this. “Hey… you know what would be really fun right now? A cannonball into that stream!!” 

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Sunday Classic / Some Days It’s All About the Twitch

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Some days trout need more than just a well placed fly in their field of vision and a drag-free drift to persuade them to eat. When you’re working water that you’re certain holds trout, and a standard drag-free drift isn’t getting the job done, try imparting subtle movement on your fly/flies to trigger bites. The best way to execute this is by using well timed rod tip twitches, during the drift, when your fly is moving through high percentage trout holding water. Done properly, it will give your fly that extra “alive and life-like appeal” and that often will give trout the green light that your fly is a natural and not an impostor.

Last week, I had the honor of fly fishing with Rob Parkins (WY & ID veteran guide) and Zack Dalton (Farbanks Sales Manager) on the South Fork of the Snake River during an epic salmonfly hatch.

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Saturday Shoutout / Oregon Done

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50 fish in 50 states, like George Thorogood with a fly rod.

I had the pleasure of fishing with Neil and Chris Thomas on the Deschutes. You couldn’t ask for a nicer or more enthusiastic couple of folks to share a run with. Neil and Chris have set a goal for themselves to catch a fish on the fly in each of the 50 states in the next 5 years. I knew they were doing it right when they took on the task of catching an Oregon steelhead on a swung fly as one of their first outings.

I didn’t know until later that Neil is chronicling the adventure online. He sent me a link to the post about the Deschutes trip and it’s really good. I love that it is such an authentic and organic endeavor. Just a great couple, having a blast catching fish on the fly. I look forward to following along, and I look forward to seeing them when they make it to Georgia!

Enjoy, Oregon Done

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New Winston Fly Rods for 2018: Video

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2018 Brings two new offerings from R.L. Winston, the Pure and the Salt Air.

These new rods hit both ends of the fly fishing spectrum. The Pure is a new offering for small stream, light line anglers. It replaces the B3LS and is available in 2 weight through 5 weight, with an impressive line up of three 3 weights and five 4 weights, ranging from 5’9” to 9’. The Pure is a medium action rod that’s light and well balanced. 

The Salt Air is an impressive offering for flats anglers. It’s incredibly light and responsive with great feel. I had not cast the rod when we shot this video, but it didn’t take me long to get it out to the casting pond. I was very impressed. It’s smooth, accurate and has plenty of gas for the long cast. Maybe the most impressive thing is the amount of line it will pick up off the water and still make a clean cast. The Salt Air is simply dynamite.

Check out this video for the details on the new Winston Pure and Salt Air.

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Fight the urge….

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By Jesse Lowry

I grew up with a bait caster in my hand, fishing for bass with my dad since I was knee-high to a grasshopper.

Even after I started fly fishing for trout in my teens, I never really crossed bass fishing with fly fishing, save for practicing my casting with a 5 weight and little poppers; which can be a ton of fun catching smallies and blue gill. 

But when it came to largemouth bass fishing, me and dad were always out “hog hunting”. Two feet of water, tight to the shoreline, downed trees, logs, weed beds, heavy structure. We were after 6-8 pound fish (hogs by Canadian Standards), using 30-pound braid, stiff-as-a-board rods, and a reel that may as well have been made by Warn Winches. It was tournament style fishing and in my mind it was definitely not the place for a flimsy fly rod. 

Then fly fishing found the internet and its endless streaming of everything. I realized there were fly rods bigger than my “heavy duty” 6 weight (we didn’t exactly have a local fly shop back then, other than some smaller local shops near the few trout streams in southern Ontario 5 hours away). For the first time, I saw someone fly fishing for peacock bass in the same type of structure we targeted bass with our traditional gear. After that I thought to myself, man… I could do that here no problem. Unfortunately I was in my mid 20s, about the time that life started to get in the way of fishing. My fishing time was precious, I wanted to catch, not fish. After about an hour with a fly rod and no “real luck” (anything over 2 pounds) I would get frustrated and pick up my trusty bait caster with a Yamasenko and typically boat a few “hogs” within the next hour. 

(Authors note: Yamasenko’s are trophy largemouth crack in up here in Ontario, they can’t resist them. )

This year life has changed a bit, but by no means do I have more free time to fish. I just had my first child, a little girl named River, I’m still working 50 hours a week at a desk in Toronto, and have started building a home/fishing lodge in BC. However, I decided this year to make a conscious effort not to pick up a bait caster when I’m on the bass boat. Not because a fly rod is a more effective way to catch bass. In my opinion it’s not, and no matter how good I get on the fly, for me it never will be (not with that kind of attitude, you’re probably thinking). But fly fishing for bass sure is a hell of a lot more fun! When you hook into a good fish on a fly rod it’s far more rewarding than the 20 second fight on heavy traditional gear. 

A few weekends ago was a real test.

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Don’t Keep Staring in One Place if You’re Seeing Nada

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My recent trip to the Bahamas, fly fishing for bonefish, I got a chance to work out a bunch of kinks in my flats fishing.

From the help of my buddies, the helpful staff on hand and the fantastic bahamian guides, I eventually got to the point where I could respectfully hold my own on the flats. Despite me being in paradise there were a few times during the trip when I found myself hanging my head. The first problem I had was letting my mind get in the way of my fishing. That was to be expected though, since I’m most comfortable on the cold water streams and rivers, and it had been several years since I’d last chased the grey ghost on the flats. When I trout fish, I don’t have to think about my casts much these days and my confidence is through the roof. This is because I do it day in and day out. Take me to saltwater though, where I only make a few trips a year, and my confidence drops and the first couple days I find myself constantly battling my inner thoughts and nerves. I’m sure many of you out there no where I’m coming from. Anytime you’re lacking confidence and dealing with nerves you’re going to fish at half your potential. And there’s no place this holds true more than standing on the bow of a skiff on the saltwater flats. Lesson learned, if you want to fish more effectively and maximize your success when fishing locations that aren’t your norm, you have to stay relaxed, keep your confidence no matter what, and learn to let the bad casts roll off your back.

My next problem I had during the trip, and the point for writing this post, was learning how to quickly spot the bonefish my guide was calling out to me. I missed countless shots during the week because

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Renzetti 2300 Traveler Vise Review

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By Bob Reece

The Renzetti 2300 Series Traveler Vise is a serious upgrade.

Years ago I was blessed to receive a phone call form an elderly lady in my community.  She knew that I was a young fly tier and fisher.  Her husband had passed away several years earlier and had left behind a life time of fly tying tools and materials.  Through her great generosity, I happened upon what has been the most valuable asset of my fly tying career. 

When I arrived at her house she guided me into the basement and toward a bedroom.  When the bedroom door opened I found myself looking at chest high boxes wall to wall.  Each box was filled with either fly tying tools or materials.  After recovering from the shock, I began the process of working through the extensive collection.   As I worked my way toward the back corner of the room, I opened a small tattered box.  Inside sat the slim silver frame of a Renzetti Traveler vise.  Never having tied on any form of quality vise, I was elated over the find.  Looking back, I could have found any brand of vise in that box.  With the fly tying experience that I now have, I’m thankful that it was a Renzetti.  

Until recently, every fly that I have constructed since has been on that vise.   Several weeks ago I moved on, to another Renzetti Traveler.  With the creation of their 2300 Series Traveler, I couldn’t help but reach for the upgrade.  

Renzetti’s are known for their buttery smooth rotary function.  This new member of the family maintains that solid reputation.  The vise structure provides three optional length positions for the jaws.  This allows the tier to make rotary adjustments as hook sizes change, ensuring that the rotational axis does not induce wobble as the vise turns. The petite but strong bobbin cradle effectively fills in for the role of side kick during rotary applications. 

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