Rosa Parks Fished Streamers

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Look Who Didn’t Eat A Dry Fly Photo by Louis Cahill

Stand up with me here streamer guys, you know what I’m talking about!

First of all I am in no way making light of Ms. Parks courageous acts or life of service. She is on my list of personal heroes and that list is pretty damn short. If you don’t know who she is, you should! That said, like Rosa, I’m getting pretty fucking tired of the back of the bus.

Stand up with me here streamer guys, you know what I’m talking about. Every time I get in a drift boat with a streamer rod I get stuck in the back of the boat. (I’m not picking on you here BW, everybody does it.) There’s always one of your buddies who pipes up with, “I sure would like the chance to catch one on a dry before you scare the hell out of ’em with that thing.”

I have a couple of problems with this horse shit. The first being, streamers do not spook fish. If they do, explain to me why fish eat them. Not just big fish, I routinely catch fish barely bigger than my streamer.

The primary reason that streamers do not spook fish is that fish are not afraid of things that are under water. Ask anyone who has snorkeled. If fish don’t spook at the sight of a person under water a fly isn’t going to phase them. I know one guide on the Snake River who, in the fall, prefers to have a streamer fisherman in the bow and a guy throwing hoppers in the back. His theory is that the streamer gets the fish worked up and ready to eat. It works, too.

I’ll say it again, streamers do not spook fish!

Secondly, it’s just a matter of etiquette. I put my time in on the oars like everybody else. When you get off the sticks, you go to the bow. That’s how it works, that’s your reward.

What the dry fly guy in the bow doesn’t get is that I’m making about ten times as many casts as he is. I’m working with a huge amount of line at my feet, getting hung up in the plugs or around the seat, getting grit all over it from the floor that cuts my fingers when I strip. That deck in the front of the boat was made for streamer fisherman. It’s for holding line, not your beer. Don’t even get me started on trying to get the oarsman to position the boat for a streamer guy. That’s never going to happen.

All that aside, here’s what really chaps my ass. Here’s what’s really going on. It’s not about me spooking fish or etiquette. Just like Rosa, I’m being treated like a second class citizen. I’m fishing from the back of the boat because the dry fly guys think they are better than me. They think that God handed down the #20 Elk Hair Caddis to them and my four inch streamer and I are a perversion and should only be allowed in Massachusetts. They think I’m doing it wrong.

If you’ve been reading my ravings for long, you already know that this kind of snobbery makes me crazy. I don’t know what it is about a fly rod that makes some people feel like they have to tell everyone else how to fish but it happens with amazing regularity. I get it, you’ve put a lot of time in learning how to fish and you feel like you have it figured out but here’s the thing, there’s more than one way to fish and none of them is the “right way.”

I love streamers and I make no apologies for it. The visual aspect of streamer fishing can’t be beat. To me, there is nothing better than watching a big trout rocket out of the shadows to chase down my streamer. I love to watch them come up from behind, then veer off and come back to broadside my fly. I like seeing their aggressive nature come to the surface. I love knowing that the fish I’m catching is a predator, not a timid insectivore.

Most of all I love knowing that I made that fish eat. That the action I put into the fly drove him crazy and he had to have it. It’s an engaging way to fish. I take nothing away from the art of fishing dry flies. It’s a beautiful thing and I do plenty of it but sometimes I just need the thrill I get from the streamer. I love it and I just don’t see how anyone can have a problem with that.

So, if your buddy wants to throw streamers don’t judge him for it. Let him fish like his heart tells him. Don’t dismiss him. There is an art to fishing streamers too. Watch someone who’s good at it for a while. You might be surprised that you learn something and there’s no better place to see the action than from the back of the boat. So, remember Rosa and give the streamer guy the bow once in a while.

Let Otis Taylor tell you about it.

Louis Cahill
Gink & Gasoline
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31 thoughts on “Rosa Parks Fished Streamers

  1. Again, not to make light of MLK and the civil rights movement, but I have a dream that one day, a fisherman will not be judged by whether his fly sinks or floats…..

  2. Anyone who’s throwing meat gets to pick where they want to sit in my boat. Front, back, hell you can sit in the rowers seat for all I care. If you’re throwing streamers over dries that’s all I need to know about you. Right on Louis!

  3. Finally, someone tells it like it should be!! I am not sure why bank pounding seems to be a second class or “meat” fishing, but when I tagged that bow that was the size of a steely on an articulated bow river bugger, yes it was on the Bow too, I really don’t give a shot! Rock on Louis!

  4. While my neck of the woods doesn’t see drift boats too often, people are often afraid to use streamers in a chuck-n-duck world. I’ll be throwing the biggest, ugliest likely articulated streamers I can find this Friday, and hopefully it will scare away anyone with thought of low-holing me. The only scaring of fish my streamers will be doing is all the baitfish who think that my streamer is going to eat them.

  5. FUCKIN RIGHTON!!!!!!!!!!!!! YAAHOOOOOO I do it everyday out on the water!!!!! ITS FUCKIN RAD!!! Gets the blood Flowing !!!! Fuck yea!!! TRUTH!!!! Stoked and thanks

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