How many times have you heard the phrase “don’t stop moving your streamer”, when streamer fishing? It’s an interesting phrase and there is it a lot of truth to it for a lot of situations. However, there are always “exceptions to the rule” as multiple other scenarios might play out in your fly fishing career where you’re going to want to stop moving the fly to have success.
Spring streamer fishing season in Northern Michigan is just around the corner so let’s dive into some of the situations that might play out for you while stripping streamers on Michigan Rivers. Like most things in fly fishing, there’s always an exception to the rule. No matter how rare the exception, a fly fisherman should always be willing to experiment when traditional tactics aren’t producing.
Now let’s break down the “don’t stop moving your streamer” phrase based on species. To be a really good streamer fisherman you need to have a well rounded streamer game. Meaning you better be able to fish for multiple species, i.e you want to become the Bo Jackson of fly anglers. Trust me, having as many experiences as possible is going to make you a better angler even if the only thing you want to catch is Brown Trout.
Trout especially, Brown Trout, are prime targets to a streamer presentation. During the spring one of the most important factors to pay attention to is water temperature. For example, if water temps are still in the 30’s stopping your streamer pattern can be really effective. I’ve had some of my best streamer days on cold rainy days while barely moving the fly, almost vertically jigging the fly back to the boat. Keep in mind how water temps can affect trout behavior and then change your presentation to match the conditions. When jigging the fly it’s important to stay in contact with your presentation as the bites are usually soft. Make sure to maintain control of your slack line and keep your rod tip low when not moving the fly. Use flies like Russ Maddin’s Circus Peanut or a variety of conehead patterns that sink faster. I really like Tungsten cones in this situation as they sink really fast.
Another factor to keep in mind when stripping your streamer is the kill shot. Brown trout love to swirl or hit your fly on the constant-strip retrieve. Having the ability to stop after the swirl can lead to success . One our Hawkins Outfitters Guide, Jeff Topp likes to say;
If a trout misses the bait for sure pause it/stop the fly. If you see them swiping at it half heartedly trying to “kill it” and if they don’t bite it on the stop they will most likely eat it when the fly takes off again. Trout will bite on a steady retrieve but the twitch and pause seems to bring more bites for me.
As with most predators Brown Trout are keying in on the weak and helpless. in other words don’t be the fastest minnow in the group. Stopping your fly on occasion near structure or even in the middle of your retrieve can bring you surprising results. An example of this can be observed with how native baitfish move in their environment. Sculpins often tend to use a few quick bursts to propel themselves several feet and then they’ll quickly settle to the stream bottom and remain motionless. Fly anglers should keep this in mind when they’re fishing sculpin patterns. Don’t be afraid to stop your sculpin pattern! Read more