3 Ways to Add Action to Your Streamers
Updated: Nov 3, 2020
Streamer fishing is a pretty easy way to catch fish, right? After all, you just have to tie on a fly, cast it out, and strip it back in! It depends on the type of streamer, species, and conditions at hand, but many times you have to go beyond the basics to enjoy consistent success. There's a reason why some anglers seem to always catch more fish than others—it's the little things that can make the difference. You can definitely get bit on streamers by keeping things simple, but as with many things in life...
...there's often more to it than that!
For a lot of the streamer fishing I do, I want the fly to be as animated and "free" underwater as possible. In a nutshell, I simply want to try my best to make that fly look alive— either scared or injured. This can be important even when fishing slower during times of overly warm or cold water.
Try these 3 easy ways to make your streamers look even more enticing...
Stripping Method- A modest, smooth strip can work well when retrieving something like a Woolly Bugger, but for streamers that are meant to solely imitate baitfish, a little more "spice" in the retrieve is often necessary to interest more strikes. I find this to be even more crucial when tossing a fly that is comprised of mostly stiffer fibers that already lacks a lot of built-in action. YOU have to create the action.
Using a sharper stripping action really gets a streamer going and makes it dart like a scared or injured baitfish. The line can be sharply pulled when the strip begins, or you can start slower and speed up to a sharp jolt at the end of the motion. It can also be highly productive to mix up these styles along with different stripping lengths and various pause intervals. Make the fly look erratic, not robotic!
Try a Loop Knot- Compared to tying directly to a hook's eye, a loop knot gives a streamer a better ability to dart and swing more fluidly. My favorite loop knot is one borrowed from the conventional fishing side of things: the Rapala Knot. I previously did an easy-to-follow tutorial on tying this knot right here.
Use the Rod Tip- While stripping a fly, I prefer to point the rod tip directly at the fly line's path for all or most of the retrieve. This gives the most direct connection with the least slack and allows for the best hook-setting ability. Of course, this is not always possible. Sometimes you have to retrieve the fly at an angle to the rod tip.
No matter if the retrieve is straight-on or angled, the rod tip can be twitched or flicked upwards or to either side to make the streamer swim and dart more aggressively. With that said, my favorite time to do this is with some angle on the line and it's towards the end of a retrieve. With a lot of line out, I don't feel as "connected" to the fly if I'm moving the rod around and the weight of all the line drag out in the water can create a lot of load on the rod tip. As the fly gets close and there's far less line drag weight, I sometimes use rod tip twitches low and to the side to finish off my retrieve. Strikes are also easier to both feel and see in close.
This is also a great way to extend the end of a retrieve if you've run out of fly line to strip and want to catch that fish that may have followed the fly all the way in. With basically just the leader outside of the guides and the rod tip low, you can stop stripping and sweep the rod tip to the side and back while imparting twitches with the tip. This gives you a few extra feet of "retrieve" without having to strip the end of the fly line into the guides. Twitching a fly with the tip at short range gives it a great darting or swimming action—I've caught untold numbers of fish including stripers, carp, bass, trout, and snook while doing it!