A streamer fly pattern is a fly fishing lure designed to be actively fished beneath the water's surface within the water column itself. Unlike dry flies
, and wet flies
, which are intended to imitate a range of aquatic insects, streamers are most commonly tied and used to imitate a range of small, medium, and large sized bait fish. There are many species of bait fish, but common examples are mullet, anchovy, and bunker in saltwater or juvenile trout or sculpin in freshwater.
Streamers are generally fished in both freshwater and saltwater by casting the fly, allowing it to dive, and then using the stripping hand to retrieve 3- to 7-inch sections of fly line with strategic pauses in between successive strips. This technique, simply called "stripping," helps the angler imitate the movements of a real bait fish in its natural subsurface habitat. Timing between strips, depth within the water column, and length of stripped fly line are all factors in in the streamer fishing technique of stripping. Various combinations of these factors can be used to achieve different movements and results depending on water conditions, target species, and the type of bait fish the angler is imitating.
In modern fly fishing there are several styles or types of streamer flies to consider when tying and fishing. There major and most commonly encountered styles or types are: classic streamer patterns, bugger-type streamers, Clouser-style streamers, bunny leeches, and Muddler-type streamers.
Matching depth in the water column as well as the general coloration and length of the local bait fish at a given destination are very important elements to fly fishing with streamers successfully. Due to the generally "hidden" or unseen nature of many bait fish, some research on local bait fish can improve a fly fisher's chances drastically. Elements included in many successful streamer fly designs are contrasting color, materials that move well underwater, realistic sizing, added weight, eyes, and the clever incorporation of flash or translucence.
Common fly tying materials
incorporated in streamer fly patterns are natural and synthetic fibers with the ability to shed and repel water. These fibers are generally long to effectively imitate the length and slender shapes of most bait fish. Yak hair, buck tail fibers are popular natural streamer materials while a wide range of synthetic fly tying fibers are now available to fly tyers constructing streamer flies.
Feathers are also commonly employed in streamer fly construction. The length of natural feathers is helpful in achieving the length needed in imitating bait fish. Flashy synthetic materials are popular among fly tyers who want to add length, movement, and shine to their streamer patterns. Rabbit fur, ram's wool, and calf tail fibers are also commonly included in streamer fly recipes. Synthetic materials such as lead dumbbell eyes, plastic doll eyes, and braided Mylar tubing, and epoxy have recently gained popularity among the modern world's more creative fly tyers, especially among those tying for saltwater target species.
Of importance to remember, the fly line is the delivery vehicle for the fly. When streamer fishing, commonly the angler is casting a larger fly that is weighted. This added fly weight requires a fly line with increased mass in order to properly deliver the fly to the mark. In most conditions a #6 fly rod has the line mass to deliver weighted streamers and the rod butt-strength to land the larger trout that react best to streamers. Our favorite streamer fly rod is the Loop Cross S1 690
. With this rod, casting streamers feels more like casting a dry fly.