Sunday Classic / 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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24 thoughts on “Sunday Classic / Rosa Parks Fished Streamers

      • Yea, and that pretty much sums up everything important in my life…………All I need to live is a dry fly setup. Certainly you jest? Or……….it’s the only thing you got going. Like I said, you’re on my nerves, get a life.

  1. Louis, I am with you on all counts except for one, “streamer face mangling”.

    Go fish a western river where folks have been streamer fishing for the last month. The fish faces look like hamburger. No question in my mind that a size 16 barbless soft hackle does less damage to a fish mouth than a size 4 streamer that some dude strip-struck like he had a take from a barracuda.

    We are trying to catch trout and return them with all parts intact. I enjoy catching fish with the jaw still pointing the the same general direction as god intended.

    • Thank you for revealing the dirty little secret of the streamer slinger. “Strip-setting on a barracuda” sums it up perfectly Tim. It’s all part of the 21st century warrior approach to fishing that has been marketed in print ads and through videos. Soon we’ll be seeing grip-and-grim game faces with eye-black, filed teeth, and fish warrior tattoos.

  2. Ill never see the inside of a drift boat; I couldn’t afford the plane ticket to meet one.
    Talking about the “etiquette” of a game for the Simms and Hardy Men’s Club is lost on me. I hear it, but I’m back to Pabst beer and craft store feathers afterwards.
    For what its worth, I catch more with subsurface flies, like streamers, even if I don’t know the “rules.”
    And that’s fine with me.
    Now, where did I put that sewing thread?

  3. People talk bullshit long enough some think it’s true so,
    Blah blah blah fish any way you want that’s legal and stop crying about it. 🙂

  4. When I first started fly fishing a couple of years ago, I had no idea that the “I’m better than you because of the way I fish” ideas were so rampant. For someone just starting to enter the sport, I do have to say it makes some of you guys look bad. The elitist ideals prove nothing other than that most of you think much too highly of yourselves and your chosen method of fishing. I love streamer fishing for the same reasons Louis does, but I also love dry fly fishing, and choose one over the other based upon the conditions and my own preference at the time. Both are fun, effective, and legal ways to catch fish, so get off of each other for a while and just enjoy fishing for once. I can imagine some of your faces when I set the hook on a bass with my 7′ 6″ medium heavy flipping stick with 50 lb. braid and a surgically sharpened 4/0 heavy wire flipping hook tied with a snell knot.

  5. Hi Louis-
    I’ve been swimming with fishes for nearly fifty years. Streamers can and DO scare fish. Freshwater and salt, warm water and cold. Fish do NOT like a streamer swimming at them. Fish sometimes don’t even like a streamer swimming past them. What they DO like is a streamer swimming away from them. Another thing that fish tend to not like is leader flash. As a streamer sinks then darts up and forward with the strip it causes the leader to bend and straighten quickly. Under lots of conditions this creates a nice bright spark and I’ve seen hundreds of fish that were otherwise interested in said streamer bolt from the flash. Use mud or magic marker to tone down the flash, but you’ll never totally get rid of it. The best rule for fishing streamers has nothing to do with fishing from fore or aft, but how you throw. Never (okay almost never) throw straight up or down stream, your fly will be swimming at the trout. Cast across current or parallel to structure or shadows.

  6. Now that winter is finally settling in here in the northeast, I was wondering if you guys could do a winter tactics blog post (Streamers, midges, BWO, etc.)? I know you have done them before, but having one now would be very timely. I also usually only hear about midging during the winter, but know that streamers can be a good option also, so perhaps you guys could recommend your favorite streamer patterns for the depths of winter?

  7. I absolutely love this post. It is too true and is getting on my nerves now that you really mention it. My parents spin fish a lot too and I get stuck in the back of the boat with my fly rod a lot too in that case. Great post

  8. Fishing is fishing. Dry fly guys use dry flies, and streamer guys are going to toss streamers. In my eyes, the greatest angler is the one who introduces younger generations to the sport of fishing, and is willing to try anything new. One day can be an outstanding time to throw streamers, and the next day the BWO’s are coming up like mad. Why not be versatile and try it all?!

  9. Louis,

    Thanks for giving us great topics to debate on G & G. Something to have fun with during the winter days.

    Having differing opinions on these topics is a positive, not a negative. I enjoy throwing my two cents in on the more controversial topics, as I did here. I streamer fish too but have some concerns about ripping up fish faces with some of the Mega- streamers. This is just my quirk…I hate catching a beautiful trout with a messed up jaw. That’s why I am one and done fishing the San Juan River… those fish look like losers from an Ultimate Fighting Championship tournament. But it is just my opinion and does not mean I do not respect others who love chucking big streamers.

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