Brown trout are carnivorous by nature, and fly fishing with streamers that simulate baitfish will yield some excellent results.
Streamer fishing is typically the domain of the Stillwater angler in the United Kingdom. Streamers, on the other hand, can deliver fantastic results on rivers in the appropriate conditions.
Streamer fly fishing on rivers is not for everyone, and it does not replace classic fly fishing techniques such as dry fly fishing, wet fly fishing, nymphing, and so on.
I’ve caught some gorgeous brown trout on rivers when casting streamers, but my first choice would be to fly dry flies, wets, or nymphs.
Fly fishing using streamers, in my opinion, is another tool in your arsenal that may help you avoid a blank day when other techniques fail to catch trout.
how to fish streamers on rivers is worth having in your back pocket.
I’ve caught some beautiful brown trout streamer fly fishing on flooded rivers, which were unfishable using traditional fly fishing techniques.
Maybe, it will help you catch a specimen brown trout.
What fishing tackle is needed for fly fishing with streamers?
Best fly rod for streamer fishing
My fly rod preference for streamer fishing is a medium-tip action 10 ft 7 weight. However, a rod ranging from 9 to 10 ft and 6 to 7 weight would suffice. The rod must be strong enough to cast a huge streamer fly.
line is screaming off the spool…
you’ll be thankful for that extra backing capacity.
Fly line choice:
For fishing flooded rivers, I typically use Di5 to get the flies close to the riverbed quickly and sometimes a Di8 for deep (>10ft) flooded pools. However, a floating line tipped with a 5 to 7ft sinking polyleader will suffice when the river is at its summer level.
Leaders and tippets for streamer fly fishing
Trout will often hit streamers hard.
Therefore, use at least a 7 lb fluorocarbon tippet during the day and scale up to 10 lbs when fishing at night. I use Airflo Sightfree G3 tippet, but many other options are available.
You wouldn’t want to lose a specimen brown trout due to line breakage
To the end of the sinking line or polyleader, I add a 3-4ft length of tippet. That allows you to change the streamer a few times while keeping it in the desired fishing zone based on the line selected.
Streamer fly patterns
Streamer fly patterns imitate small fish that large trout eat, e.g. fry, minnows, or baitfish. Fly patterns vary in size from small Wooly Buggers (ca. 2 cm long) to complex articulated flies (ca. 10 cm long), but I rarely fish anything longer than 5 cm.
On the Welsh Dee and River Eden, I have caught plenty of brown trout when the river is in flood on the following selection of streamer flies:
Techniques for fly fishing with streamers for trout
At the beginning and end of the trout season, rivers are often flooded and unfishable using traditional fly fishing techniques. Therefore, about ten years ago, I began streamer fishing for trout so that I could go fishing irrespective of the river condition.
Streamer fishing when the river is in flood & coloured
Faced with a flooded river, I seek out pools that have areas of slower-flowing water and back eddies where small fish are likely to shelter.
Examples of pools for streamer fishing on the Welsh Dee at Llangollen when the river is in flood (>0.9m Manley Hall gauge) include:
- Dee Farm,
- Duncan’s Pool,
- Horseshoe Falls Pool,
- Cottage Pool.
(Note, the links give an idea of what types of pools to look for on the river you plan to go streamer fly fishing.)
I use a 10ft 7wt rod with a fast-sinking Di5 line on flooded rivers. However, I scale up to a Di8 line for trout lying in deep pools (ca. 10+ ft deep). Attached to the end of the fly line is a 4 ft length of 10lb fluorocarbon (Airflo Sightfree G3).
In coloured high water, use a large streamer pattern, up to the maximum size permitted in the rules on the beat you are fishing.
This procedure effectively fishes all the river in front of you before moving downriver a few meters to repeat the process until you reach the end of the pool.
Streamer fishing when the river is running clear & near its summer level.
When the water is clear, I only go trout fly fishing with streamers if traditional fly fishing techniques have failed.
In this situation, I fish streamers using either a sink-tip line or a floating line tipped with a sinking polyleader and 5ft of 7lb fluorocarbon. The latter approach is my preference because it’s easy to change the sinking rate of the polyleader to fish pools of different depths.
To mitigate being smashed by big brown trout at dusk, switch to fishing a 10 lb fluorocarbon tippet.
Early in the season, when fly life is less prolific hungry brown trout will often aggressively take the big streamers as they compete for scarce food supplies. In summer, however, I tend to use smaller streamer fly patterns.
My technique for fishing streamers for trout in clear water is to cast the fly upriver into any likely deep water lie, hold the rod high to allow the fly to sink, then add downstream mend in the line, lower the rod, and strip the fly back through the pool.
Repeating that process by varying the casting angle and speed of retrieve on fishing through the pool.
Streamer and nymph fly fishing method
Another approach to fishing streamers through deep pools is fishing a small heavy streamer pattern on the point of a French Leader set-up and a small nymph on a dropper about 18 inches above the streamer on a 6 lbs fluorocarbon tippet.
Begin at the pool tail and fish upriver using streamers tied on jig hooks, which minimise fouling on the riverbed.
Cast the flies upriver, allow them to sink to the riverbed and guide the streamer downriver slightly faster than the current; that imitates a small fish chasing the nymph…
you are trying to induce that competitive instinct of trout!
Ensure you have a loop of line off the reel because takes with this approach can be savage. After setting the hook, let the trout take some line until you know its size.
I’ve found that upside-down streamers or streamers tied on jig hooks are the best flies for high water conditions.
Streamer fishing at dusk & dawn in shallow water
Trout become less cautious when it becomes dark and move into shallower water to feed on small fish and fry, especially in the summer months. Therefore, this is a great time to spend fly fishing with streamers for trout.
When the light begins to fail on the Welsh Dee, I’ve caught some lovely brown trout fishing streamers in the long shallow glides and pool tails, which earlier in the day seemed devoid of trout.
In the evening, I fish large streamer fly patterns on a floating line tipped with a 5ft floating or intermediate polyleader and a 3ft tippet of 10lb fluorocarbon.
Typically, I cast the flies directly across to the far bank and allow them to swing around in the current to the dangle with a very slow retrieve. If that doesn’t work, try experimenting with different casting angles and speeds of retrieve.
If you are interested in fly fishing with streamers for trout there are some excellent day ticket beats on the Welsh Dee.
It’s exciting streamer fishing for brown trout on the Welsh Dee. I love those aggressive takes and the sound of the…
reel singing as a Big Trout tears off downriver.
I hope this article has inspired you to have a go at fly fishing with streamers. It is definitely worth a go because you’re likely to hook a trophy brown.