Saturday, August 28, 2010

Big Time

Articulated Rattlesnake

Many anglers would agree that a common denominator in the big fish game is the size of your bait. There are of course exceptions to this rule, as plenty of large fish are caught every season on small nymphs and even dry flies. But it you want to tip the odds in your favor, it pays to go big.

I read once that there is an evolution in fly fisherman. We start simply wanting to catch a fish. To just experience the small pleasure of success by actually putting everything together and hooking and landing a fish on a fly. As our skills increase and we become more proficient, our goal becomes to catch a lot of fish. This is the middle section of the "bell curve" and where the vast majority of anglers find themselves. Some anglers never (and quite happily) progress beyond this point and are content with catching lots of small to medium fish.

Then there are the hunters. The anglers who have become almost mechanically efficient at fooling fish with a fly. Like the big predatory fish that they hunt, these anglers doggedly seek the largest fish they can find, and willingly forgo many fish in the process in pursuit of a trophy.

SDungeon- Crayfish Edition

Fall fishing is a great time to focus your efforts on catching a "trophy" trout. Most salmonids, with the exception of rainbows- which are spring spawners, are getting ready to procreate. Bruiser male browns, brookies, and salmon move into the shallows and take on their handsome fall colors while getting mean and aggressive as they start feeling randy with thoughts of fresh eggs to fertilize.

Streamer fishing is synonymous with autumn angling. Traditionally many famous fall patterns involve bright, almost gaudy colors, that likely imitate the bright colors of another spawning male, which is often enough to draw a strike- usually out of pure aggression.

SDungeon- Sculpin Edition

These days, with a myriad of new materials and tying techniques, the game is changing as patterns continue to evolve. One of the coolest evolutions in fly design are "articulated streamers"- these are big patterns, that range from 3 to 6 inches in length. The movement is multi-directional, up, down, and side to side. In other words, lots of trigger points, and realistic movements. These are sort of the fly fishing version of the venerable Jointed Rapalas or soft plastic swim baits. These are not simply "tandem" hooked flies. Traditional tandem streamers are designed to ride straight (for trolling). These pattern's are designed to wiggle and move. If you are a traditionalist, you may turn your nose up at this sort of thing- and it will definately get you kicked out of the "dry fly only" club (gee... bummer). This is definitely new school stuff here.

SDungeon- Fall Fish (Chub) Edition

These patterns are best handled on a stout 6 weight or 7 weight. Personally, I prefer a 7. Rigged with either a full-sink line or 24' Streamer-tip in the 200 to 250 grain range and you are in the game. I like a short leader which consists of the following:
  • 12" 25 lb Maxima
  • 12" 15 lb Maxima connected by a blood knot
  • 35 lb SPRO Micro Swivel
  • 18" 2x Flourocarbon
  • Attach the fly with "no slip" loop knot
The SPRO swivels prevent twisting in the tippet when casting these large, air resistant patterns.

"Galloup's Peeler"- Tied on a Gamakatsu Offset Worm Hook
(not articulated- but a cool fly)

Swimmy Jimmy- Yellow Perch Edition 

A few years ago I read Kelly Galloup and Bob Linsenmen's book Modern Streamers for Trophy Trout: New Techniques, Tactics, and Patterns  and it literally revolutionized the way I approached and thought about streamer angling. To sum it up in a nutshell: throw big flies, use sinking lines on beefy tippets, and retrieve the fly down and across the current (no swing here).

If you want to take your streamer game to a new level in pursuit if big fish, it is definitely worth checking out.

To load up on some new articulated streamers check out Kelly's fly shop at:

Have fun out there!


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