Streamers for Small Streams

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By Jason Tucker

Small stream fishing often conjures to mind light rods and lines, small dry flies, an easy, pleasant day on the creek casting to small trout.

It indeed can be that, and most of my small stream fishing consists of this. But I firmly believe every small stream out there holds bigger fish, and more of them, than you think.  One of the best ways to find out is with streamers.

Researchers have shown that as brown trout reach the twenty-inch mark they become largely piscivorous (fish eating). This means if you want to catch them, you need to throw streamers.

Streamer fishing has changed a lot since the days of hair wing flies and Grey Ghosts. If you have fly fished for any amount of time you have heard of or read “Modern Streamers for Trophy Trout” by Kelly Galloup and Bob Linsenman. Streamer enthusiasts today pound the banks with articulated monsters measuring five to as much as twelve inches long. This is great for bigger rivers but a bit of overkill for small streams. You’ll want to scale your efforts to the water you’re fishing. Still, streamer fishing small streams can be a very enjoyable way to fish them, and a great way to find out the true potential of the stream.

MY STREAMER BOX FOR SMALL STREAMS CONTAINS THE FOLLOWING:

Muddler Minnow size 4-10

Cone Head Madonna/Zuddler size 4 in barred yellow, olive, black and white

Black Dace size 6-10

Mickey Finn size 6-10

Zoo Cougars size 6 in yellow and white

As I said I try to scale my streamers to the water I’m fishing. It would be rare for me to tie on a size two streamer. Most of the forage fish in a stream are going to be closer to the size of traditional hair-wing streamers like Mickey Finns and black-nosed dace. In a lot of small stream situations, I prefer the stealthier presentation of hair-wing streamers to the loud splat of bigger, heavier streamers advocated in “Modern Streamers”. Trout in small streams are well aware of everything going on in the water. That splat can be what sends them on the run.

BY FAR MY FAVORITE STREAMER FOR SMALL STREAMS IS A MUDDLER MINNOW.

It is a great sculpin imitator, and all the streams I fish both North and South are chock full of them. Trout eat them with abandon. Even big fish will roll out for a size eight Muddler. If you want an enjoyable day seeing and catching lots of fish, tie on a Muddler minnow and go to town. I find that original versions work better than marabou or conehead versions. Sculpins hug the bottom normally, and when trout see a muddler swimming up high, they think something is wrong, triggering a response. That’s my theory and I’m sticking with it.

My second choice is the conehead Madonna, which to my untrained eye is nearly identical to a Zuddler. It’s another sculpin stand-in; a great pattern with lots of action and a good profile. It has some “plop” to it, but not so much that it will spook fish in normal or high-water situations, and it’s a great pattern for finding bigger fish in the system.

After that I like the Mickey Finn and black-nosed dace. They are tried and true classic patterns that brook trout especially go for. Black-nosed dace are forage minnows, and very common in small streams. The yellow and red of Mickey Finns is also very effective. I always try to keep these in my box.

Lastly, if I suspect that water holds bigger fish, I’ll tie on a zoo cougar. Their disadvantage is that they’ll float even when saturated. Because of that you need a sink-tip, or a split shot a foot above it. For that to work you need enough room in the water to allow it to sink, work it, and hopefully get a reaction. If the stream is too small you may not even get the streamer down before it’s out of the hole. But on the right piece of small stream you may see a fish following that scares you.

There are dozens of other great streamer patterns out there, from marabou streamers to various flash minnows to woolly bugger variations. If you have a favorite, take it out and give it a try. These are just my go-to patterns, and I try to keep things simple.

PRESENTATION

Fishing all flies revolves around three words- presentation, presentation, and presentation. It’s no less true with streamers, though

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How to Stop the Dreaded Fly Fishing Birds Nest

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Does this look familiar?

Just about every angler has created this tangled artwork at some point, some more than others. I’m pretty good at untangling knots because I get more practice than the average angler from my guiding, but even this one required me to break out a fresh leader and completely re-rig. If you find yourself untangling knots more than you’re fishing, try fixing the problem by following these five helpful tips.

1. Watch your forward cast and backcast when false casting.
“In the film A River Runs Through It”, Jerry Siem (one of the casting stuntmen) never watched his backcast. It’s important to note that his fly casting skill level ranks among the best in the world, which allowed him to get away without doing this. It’s also pertinent to point out he was casting a single dry fly in the movie scene, not a tandem nymph rig with split-shot and a strike indicator. Could he have made the same casts in the movie with a tandem nymph rig without tangles, of course he could, but that doesn’t mean every other angler out there should try to mimic him. The majority of the best casters in the world watch their backcast, especially when they’re fly fishing in areas where casting room is limited. Your first step to limiting the number of tangles you create on the river is to watch your forward and backcast diligently. Your timing will be better, you’ll find you won’t need to make as many false casts, and you’ll keep your flies out of the trees and bushes.

2. Cast with grace, not with power and muscle.
Many fly anglers out there cast their fly rod much harder than they need to. So hard in many cases, that they end up overloading the rod and also get a out of control sling shot effect with their flies. Let your fly rod do the work by executing a smooth pick up of the fly line starting at the 8 o’clock position (rod tip close to the water), then begin loading the rod by smoothly accelerating the fly rod between ten o’clock and 12 o’clock. Make sure you’re stopping your rod quickly for both your forward cast and backcast, not slowing down to a stop. This will have your fly rod stopping at its fastest point at the end of the casting stroke, which will transfer your power effectively from the fly rod down through your fly line. Focusing on these casting mechanics will help you cast more graceful, and you’ll find it much easier to keep your fly rod traveling in a straight line path, and that will allow you to form efficient loops. Slow down and don’t rush your cast either. Left Kreh, is one of the best fly casters in the world at demonstrating how to make a graceful cast to get the most power out of a fly rod. If you want to see what I’m talking about just search him on YouTube.

3. Make sure you’re pausing long enough in between casts.
So you’ve managed to accomplish the first two steps with ease, but as you work out more fly line that’s needed for longer presentations, you begin to feel your fly cast falling apart. Chances are, if this is happening to you, it’s because you’re not lengthening your pause between casts as you work out more fly line

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Dickey’s Tarpon Muddler

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Watch the tying video

IS THERE ANYTHING MORE SATISFYING THAN CATCHING A FISH ON A FLY THAT YOU TIED YOURSELF? WHAT ABOUT WHEN THAT FISH IS A BIG, LAID UP TARPON?
Where going to spend a little time helping you do just that. A couple of my good friends are going to share some of their favorite saltwater patterns with you. Joel Dickey is going to kick it off with this great pattern of his. Dickey’s Tarpon Muddler.

This is a fly that Joel uses with great results for laid up tarpon and for rolling tarpon in the early morning. It’s a simple tie that uses some sexy materials and some traditional techniques. It has a great profile and an enticing action.

Watch the video and learn to tie Dickey’s Tarpon Muddler. It might just put you on the fish of a lifetime.

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Chard’s Snapping Shrimp

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Watch the tying video!

IT’S TIME TO GO TO THE BAHAMAS AND CATCH BONEFISH!

Seriously, I’m going to the Bahamas tomorrow morning for the first week of the G&G Andros South bonefish trip. I can’t wait. And in the box of flies I’m taking along there is a healthy handful of Bruce Chard’s Snapping Shrimp patterns.

This is one of the first bonefish flies I learned to tie and it’s a s productive now as it was then. It’s a versatile little fly that takes almost no time to tie and catches bonefish on any flat in the Bahamas. And plenty of other places I’m sure.

It may be too late for you to go to South Andros with me tomorrow, but it’s not too late to tie some Snapping Shrimp for your next trip.

Watch the video and learn to tie Chard’s Snapping Shrimp.

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New Leader and Tippet Material From Umpqua: Video

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New nylon, fluorocarbon and fluorocarbon ultra material from Umpqua sports hidden tech.

Can fish see your leader? This new leader and tippet material has up to 5 different coatings to make it less visible in the water. Updated materials promise better knot strength and a handy size guide helps you choose the right tippet for your fly.

CHECK OUT THE VIDEO FOR ALL OF THE DETAILS.

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There’s No Such Thing As A Bad Perm

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Funny Ass Video!

YOU KNOW WHAT THEY SAY. THERE ARE NO SMALL PERMS.

Just perms, and big perms. Happy perms and happy clouds. If you can’t catch perms, you can always drink.

Here’s Bob Ross to teach you how!
http://vimeo.com/32582348

The Bob Ross Drinking Game

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Three Tips for Casting in the Wind

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By Bruce Chard

WHEN YOU’RE FLY FISHING IN SALTWATER THERE IS ALMOST ALWAYS WIND.

Saltwater fly fishing demands your A-game. Your presentations have to be spot on and when the wind is howling, it will test your angling mettle. If you’re new to the game, it’s intimidating but having and practicing the right skills can give you the confidence you need to deliver.

Here are three tips that will help you tame the wind
Make tight loops

Having the ability to form tight loops while casting in the salt will help in many ways.
Tight Loops help:

•Control line in the air for better accuracy
•Increase line speed
•Reduce slack in the line during casting and presentation
•Increase distance
•Fight the wind
•Lay your leader and fly out straight with no slack

Whether you are wading or in the skiff, a tight loop is vital to success in the salt. To form a tight loop you need to do the following:

•Keep your rod tip traveling

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Reece’s Fusion Nymph

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Watch the Video!

Bob Reece

Wire body nymphs sink quickly but their rigid structure produces no added movement.

Dubbed nymph bodies provide excellent movement but do not sink quickly and lack durability. Reece’s Fusion nymph combines these elements, allowing it to sink quickly, display enhanced movement and sport excellent durability.

Versatility of application and ease of creation are appealing payoffs for the investment of time at the vise. The process and materials used to create this pattern, check both of the above mentioned boxes. With the variety of available colors of Ultra Wire, Ostrich Herl and Ice Dub, the color combinations for this fly are nearly endless. The size range is also highly flexible. By adjusting the wire diameter and portion of the herl used, this nymph can be tied from a size twenty up to a size six. A size twenty, for example, would be tied using extra small Ultra Wire and the fine tip portion of the herl. Conversely, a size six would incorporate large Ultra Wire and the widest portion of the herl, found from mid stem down to the base. The optional inclusion of various sizes of MFC Sexi-Floss for rubber legs, can be used to increase the already present element of movement. Over the past three years this pattern in its plethora of sizes and color combinations has brought fish to net on numerous still waters, freestones and even the highly pressured tailwaters of Cheesman canyon, Gray’s Reef and the Miracle mile. Its applications are not limited to trout. It has proved itself as an effective pattern for other species ranging from grayling to pan fish.

With regard to process, the simplicity of this patterns makes for an easy creation for tiers at all skill levels. Its fundamental steps of construction are frequently used in the creation of other patterns and should become part of the repertoire of any aspiring tiers. Due to the small number of steps, the overall time for creation is minimal. This serves as another benefit in a world of constant busyness and demands for our free time.

There are several rigging options for this pattern depending on the type of water that is being fished. When using the Fusion on still waters, I rig it as the bottom fly on a suspended nymph rig under an indicator. This same set up is also applicable on moving water. Additionally the Fusion nymph makes for a great dropper in the widely used dry dropper rigging. It’s important to note that the high density of its construction requires a large foam terrestrial to float it in its larger sizes. If used as a dropper below a traditional dry fly, the Fusion nymph size should fall into the sixteen to twenty range. Moving beyond more traditional setups, this patterns serves as a solid foundation at the bottom of a tight line rig. In an even more atypical setup, I’ve had great success trailing this bug two feet behind a small streamer pattern in clear water conditions.

Watch this video and learn to tie Reece’s Fusion Nymph

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Tying On The Road

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When Kent and I hit the road for a Gink and Gasoline outing, among the pile of rods, waders, cameras and Cliff Bars there’s always a canvas tool bag stuffed to the gills with feathers and fur. It’s generally a ridiculous amount of materials. Way more that we could ever use. Everything we need to tie a thread midge or a streamer that looks like something Elton John wore in the 70s.

I don’t care how well you plan for a trip you always need just one more of that hot fly. Maybe there’s an unexpected hatch or maybe a sudden inspiration. In any case that bag of feathers has saved more than one trip.

I’ll never forget a subfreezing night we spent in a fish camp on the White River in Arkansas tying shad patterns. We would tie a fly, bundle up and scramble out to the river to try it out

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2020 Bonefish School Update

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By Louis Cahill

The most rewarding part of my job, by a measure, is working with anglers to help them become effective and self-reliant saltwater anglers.

It’s become a kind of calling and every year it gets better. I guess what I mean is, I get better at it. My Bonefish 101 presentation gets better every year and moving the school to Bair’s lodge has been a huge upgrade, but it also feels like I’m getting a little extra help. The fishing on South Andros has been the best I can remember for the last several years. That certainly makes my job better.

The icing on the cake is the amazing group of returning anglers. The trip is so much fun that folks just want to do it year after year. That makes the experience fantastic for everyone but it does leave me with fewer open spots to offer for new anglers. I’m doing my best to expand the program to accommodate everyone who wants to join, but I always seem to have to turn a few folks away.

So, here’s some good news.

Although this eye condition I’ve been fighting will be with me for some time, I’m back on my feet and feeling confident about the future. I had held back on summer dates for the Bonefish School in case I was not up to it. I’m now confident that I am, so it’s full steam ahead for this summer.

JUNE 6-13 2020 WILL BE THE SUMMER BONEFISH SCHOOL AT BAIR’S LODGE.

The full week trip cost you $4299. That’s a huge savings over the normal rate of $6395! It’s also the last I can offer that great price. Next years school goes up to $4495. Several anglers have already jumped on this deal so spaces are going quickly. Shoot me an email to hookups@ginkandgasoline.com if you are interested.

THE JANUARY 2021 BONEFISH SCHOOL IS ON THE BOOKS FOR JAN 9-16, 16-23 & 23-30. 

Rebookings from this year were strong and several anglers have decided to do multiple weeks, so there are only a handful of spots available. I know that makes it tough and I apologize. This trip is just very popular. If you’re interested, get in touch and let’s get you in before it’s all gone.

Let me add a heart felt thank you to all of you who have made the Bonefish School such a huge success, and to each of you who have supported me and Gink and Gasoline through this extremely challenging year. I don’t know if I could have done it without you. I mean that.

I hope you can join me in the beautiful Bahamas this season!

Email hookups@ginkandgasoline.com for more info.

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