Streamer Fishing – Hands on the Line at All Times

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Notice the large distance your hand has to travel to get back to the fly line. Photo: Louis Cahill

Streamer fishing is a great way to catch both numbers and trophy class fish, but it doesn’t come without some negatives.

One of the biggest negatives with streamer fishing is you don’t always get solid hookups every time a fish eats your streamer. One of the biggest contributors to this is when a fish slams your streamer in between strikes and you’re caught off guard. Sometimes, the timing is so bad there’s nothing you can do about it, while other times, it’s 100% the anglers fault due to lolly-gagging around with their stripping hand. To minimize the chance of you missing streamer strikes in between strips, make a point to always bring your stripping hand back to your fly line as quickly as possible after each strip. This will make sure you’re in the ready position to quickly set the hook, even during unexpected strikes. On a recent musky fishing trip, I missed the biggest fish of the trip because of this. Pay attention to this concept next time you’re streamer fishing. You’ll be surprised the amount of time you don’t have your stripping hand in contact with your fly line while fishing them. It will take a while to break the habit of lolly-gagging, but if you’re disciplined and make a point to mentally tell yourself to bring your stripping hand back fast, muscle memory will take over quickly. As time passes, you’ll see your strike to hook up ratio drastically increase.

Keep it Reel,

Kent Klewein
Gink & Gasoline
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7 thoughts on “Streamer Fishing – Hands on the Line at All Times

  1. Very useful advise, as I found out on several recent occasions where after a long fishless period, a pike grabbed my streamer between strips while I was scratching my proverbial behind with my stripping hand. Stuff like this especially happens when the fishing is a bit slow, and you curse yourself afterwards for not paying attention.

    • Dan, not to speak for them, but I think they are implying “hands on” to all forms of fishing. It’s just with streamer fishing a lot of stripping is done with the fly line. The simplest way to manage fly line is to use two hands. The bigger the fish the more hands you’ll need and you will increase or decrease you chances 50% by using or loosing your 2nd hand.

      Another reason why I musky fish…a mouth as hard as concrete requires two hands and some bill dance to seat a hook properly. Unlike those soft pudgy fat kid like mouths of a trout.

  2. “You guys. You lollygag the ball around the infield. You lollygag your way down to first. You lollygag in and out of the dugout. You know what that makes you? Larry!”


    As in baseball, so too in fly fishing.

    Apologies to Bull Durham

  3. Strip setting has worked well for me over the years. Ive missed alot more fish trying to do the bass set of raising the rod tip up. Most of the time when fishing big streamers you want to keep them moving as much as possible so you should have the line in your hand pretty much all of the time anyhow. Even when drifting one through a hole I still keep the line in my hand close to the reel ready to strip set.

  4. Strip setting is the way to go, BUT The fly won’t move until all slack is out of the line. Don’t use rod to activate the fly! Keep rod tip straight down the line,and as close to water as possible. In clear water you can watch fish hit the fly on the sink in between strips and never feel it. With straight line to fly and line trapped under rod hand the fish often hooks itself (well maybe not pike,musky)

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