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Ten Top 'How to' Trout Streamer Fishing Tips for beginners for River Fishing.

Start small, grow your confidence!

If totally new to streamer fishing, consider starting with a smaller streamer like the Conehead Woolly Bugger to gain experience and most importantly, confidence. You can target the general trout population with these size flies and can then work up in size to the larger articulated streamers like Boyne Bugger/ Mary Banger. We recommend you do this via smaller articulated streamers like the Mini Peanut Envy.

Fish a short Stout Leader

Fish a heavier shorter leader and stronger larger diameter tippet to help cast streamers. We use 0.35mm diameter tippet in a very strong abrasion resistant fluorocarbon. The leader is critical to being able to cast the big flies easily. We start with a 4-5ft leader for small flies and shorten again for larger flies. Line shyness is not a factor. The nature of the method is that fish are not afforded the opportunity to inspect your setup. They see something wounded, dying or fleeing and make a split second decision to react!

Use a sinking Fly Line

We recommend the use of a sinking fly line. Both an intermediate and a full sinker are useful for the majority of your streamer fishing.  Dredging the bottom is a common misconception in streamer fishing. The line should assist with getting the fly through the surface quickly so that it fishes immediately. Many times fish take the fly as soon as its in the water.

Use Polarised Glasses

Use quality polarised glasses when streamer fishing. Not only as vital eye protection but to allow you determine the action of your fly and the see the reactions of the fish. It is super exciting and essential. Predatory fish are structure oriented, use the glasses to help you find features, color changes and other structure that might hold the fish you are looking for. You will see fish follow and attack your streamer. This visual feedback is essential to the enjoyment of the method. Bright lenses are best in the low light conditions so often condusive to good streamer fishing.

Learn to cast properly

Learning to double haul and generating line speed is essential to the enjoyment of streamer fishing. Go and see a good instructor, they will get you hauling quickly, a lesson isn’t much more expensive that a new fly line and is a serious investment in your fish catching abilities. There is a myth that the Belgian/oval cast is good for this type of fishing. It is mostly useless for streamer fishing!

Work your Fly like you mean it!

Work your streamer. Start stripping! Make that fly move like it is wounded or trying to flee. Impart life to it through stripping with the line hand and using your rod tip if you wish. Adjust your cadence to the water speed, conditions and streamer size. Experiment and change your retrieves and angle of presentation. If you become mechanical and repetitive you will loose out on a lot of encounters with fish. Be absolutely confident in what you are doing and always imagine there are eyes on your fly! Make it happen rather than hope that it will happen!


Be prepared

When casting and delivering the fly don’t let go of the fly line! Fish often take immediately and you will miss them if not in control. Keep the rod tip low to the water and have no slack line. Keep the line running through a finger on your rod holding hand to be in complete control while stripping with the other. Be ready to strip strike when the fish hits the fly. Don’t lift the rod to set the hook!

Strip Strike

When you get a hit on your streamer fly, you can strip strike by pulling hard back with the stripping hand while keeping the rod pointed at the fish. Striking can take a bit of practice and experience. Not all hits will convert to hooked fish and some days the trout will all hook themselves! When the fish is hooked even then use low rod angles to play the fish as allowing the fish to flap about on the surface will almost certainly result in the loss of the fish!

Keep on the move

Move! Hit and run! Search the location with your streamer and move on! Explore the water. There is no point in covering the same spot 10 times hoping for a different outcome. Hit spots that you have encountered fish in before. Streamer fishing allows you to cover a lot of water, quickly, plan accordingly.

Change it up

If a particular streamer type or colour is not getting any attention, change something! Try switching from light to dark and vice versa and if not try a streamer that gives a different action. Different things trigger fish to strike at different times of day, year, water conditions etc. Keep experimenting, there are no hard and fast rules. Take a look at the Streamer Intro Pack for inspiration


Let us know your thoughts on starting out with Streamer fishing in the comments below

Comments (5)

Nice one TC

Hoping to start streamer river fishing soon,is this the same advice,for fishing large stocked lake rainbows,great tips,

These tactics will work on stocked rainbows. I presume it is a stocked rainbow fishery/still water. Bear in mind it is a stillwater and not a river and likely have good clarity and no current, so strip accordingly, usually fast.Especially if a larger streamer. Make them react! Also be prepared for a take from the moment your streamer hits the water all the way through the retrieve to the bank. Little tip is to stand back from the bank/waters edge when retrieving as you may get followed and hit right on the margin sometimes. Please bear in mind any relevant fishery/house rules with regard to single hooks, barbless etc

I just listened to your podcast with Pete Tyjas, what rod weight and length do you use? Do you offer a guide service?

Keith McDonnell

Hi Jim,
Apologies for delayed reply. I missed your comment. I use a 10ft 6 or 7 weight fly rod. Unfortunately I don’t run a guide service. best wishes Keith

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