“Streamer Kings” by Steve Culton: inside tips on how to catch big trout on streamers

“Streamer Kings — Three Big-Fly Gurus Explain How To Catch More (And Larger) Trout Using Meaty Patterns” first appeared in the Jan/Feb 2018 issue of American Angler. For this piece, I interviewed George Daniel, Chad Johnson, and Tommy Lynch. The result is a masterclass on streamer fishing. Many thanks to George, Chad, and Tommy for sharing their expertise. So…what’s a good, all purpose streamer rod? How important is color? If you could fish only one streamer for trophy trout, what would it be? For these answers and more, click on the pdf link below.

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Somebody was ringing the dinner bell…

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Steve Culton’s Countermeasure featured in On The Water’s “Guide Flies”

The Countermeasure, my favorite smallmouth bass bug, is the featured pattern in Tony Lolli’s “Guide Flies” column. It’s in the current (April 2020) issue of On The Water. Here’s a link to my original post on the Countermeasure. For bonus material, you’ve got a photo of the column and a pdf. Please support fishing magazines and writers by reading and subscribing. Without readers like you, we are nothing.

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Best of 2018 #4: the high water payoff

I literally waited two years for that September day: a heavy rainfall spike in the Farmington flow, a drop to a certain height, water still off-color, and (hopefully) big browns on the hunt. The plan was simple: pound the banks with streamers. She rolled on the fly, a yellow Zoo Cougar, moments after it hit the water, and I knew right away she was something special. A worthy opponent, and my largest Farmington brown of 2018.

We should probably measure this one in pounds rather than inches.

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Late Farmington River Report 10/15/18: olives, caddis, and cold & wet

I guided Mark and Sandy on Monday and we made the command decision to go for bigger, wild fish. That meant certain areas of the permanent TMA, and our method was streamers. The water was medium/high at 535 cfs, a few leaves, and the air was raw, with showers that came and went. We managed to bump a few brutes, but no hooksets. We fished four different spots. One of them saw a decent caddis (14-16) hatch with a few tiny BWOs in the mix. Even in the high water, there were a few risers on the caddis. We ended the day with some nymphing. In all the wetness, the camera never made it out of its sheath, so we’ll post sexy trout photos next time. Well done Mark and Sandy in some less than optimal conditions.

Maybe you were one of our streamer love tappers?

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Farmington River Report 10/1/18: That dull thud

Two-and-a-half hours mid-day yesterday, dedicated to the streamer cause. River was still up (670 cfs in the permanent C&R), very lightly stained, and cool (didn’t get a water temp). I hit three spots and found fish willing to jump on in two. Two of the pools had an intense caddis hatch window, about 15 minutes, and the fish were on the emergers, although most of what I saw rising was small. Fished the full sink integrated line with both yellow Zoo Cougars and a cone-head white/chartreuse bugger; all fish came on the latter fly. Gadzooks, the river was crowded for a Monday in October! Didn’t see anyone else hook up, so I took what I could get on this slow day.

Cast, mend, a short swing, a strip, and I felt that old familiar dull thud of a streamer hit. This Survivor Strain brown looks small; in reality, it was mid-teens class and a strong fighter. Taken on the cone head bugger.

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The Countermeasure: a smallmouth bass and trout bug

The Countermeasure is a riff on a bunch of proven patterns. It’s basically a Deep Threat in crayfish colors with a deer hair collar and head tied Zoo Cougar style. Bite triggers abound: a seductive Zonker-like tail; hints of flash; flowing soft hackles; dangly legs; bulky head. It’s a surface and film fly that you can land with a loud splat!, then swing, wake, strip, and/or dangle. (I’ve had smallies try to pick it out of the air.) There’s really no wrong way to fish it.  It shines on a floating line, but it also ventures into neutrally buoyant territory if you use it with a full sink line.

I’ve been field testing the Countermeasure for three years now, and rarely disappoints. There are times when the smallmouth can’t keep away from it, and will bull rush it the moment it hits the water. And did I mention it’s a killer pattern for those big malevolent Farmington river browns?

The Countermeasure smallmouth bass and trout bug

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Hook: Daiichi 2220 size 4
Thread: UTC Rusty Brown 140
Tail: 8 strands green Krystal flash on both sides of the shank; next, a crawfish orange rabbit strip, fur side down, leather section 2″ long
Body: Rusty brown Ice Dub palmered with fiery brown schlappen
Legs: Golden yellow/pearl flake Barred Crazy Legs, 3 on each side
Collar: Rusty brown deer hair, top of shank only, extending to hook point
Head: Rusty brown deer hair, moderately packed, trimmed flat
Fly length is 4″

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A closer look at the head, viewed from above. It’s not a super-tight pack; two pencil-sized clumps of hair spun on the shank usually do it. I start shaping it with a razor blade by trimming the bottom flat, then the top at gentle upwards angle. Scissors do the rest. 

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It took me a long time to come up with a name that I liked. Then, few weeks ago, I was watching The Hunt For Red October for the millionth time, and I saw the Dallas release these brilliantly devised gadgets that churned and boiled and made the torpedo think they were the intended target. Then I thought about how the smallies would rather kill than critique this bug. And there it was. So, Red October fans, repeat after me: “Release Countermeasures, on my mark!”

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The Countermeasure Rogues’ Gallery:

Housy smallmouth, August 2016

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Housy smallmouth, August 2016

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Farmington River brown, August 2017

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Housy smallmouth, July 2018

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Housy smallmouth, July 2019

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Big tailwater brown, August 2019

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