“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.

StreamerKings_Culton

Somebody was ringing the dinner bell…

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

 

Farmington River Report 3/30/20: Bump. But no WHUMP!

I thought this would be a great day for streamers with the river up (615cfs in the permanent TMA) and the substantial cloud cover. ‘Twas not. I fished four marks from noon-2:30pm, and could manage only two bumps in one of them. At least the river was not the mob scene I expected — I had three runs all to myself. So, the whump will have to wait for another day. Hatch monitors, take note: lots and lots and lots of tiny (size 22-26) BWOs on the water. Thanks to everyone who took the time to say hello!

This was supposed to be a picture of a gator brown, but my quarry was most uncooperative. I’m still really surprised I didn’t get more action, at least from smaller trout. Today’s streamers were Coffey’s Sparkle Minnow (pictured below) and the Hi-Liter. This Sparkle Minnow is the size of a good shiner, one of my favorite baits from my spinning days.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

Farmington River Report 12/6/19: Dedicated to the (futile) streamer cause

I fished the permanent TMA today from noon to 2:15pm. Air temp was 37, water about the same, clouds and snow showers. The water was flowing at 340cfs. As the title says, I went all in on streamers, but never drew the protein payoff card. I hit three marks, and enjoyed the water (and my cigar, a San Lotano Pyramid) all to myself. There were bugs about (tiny BWOs, midges) and I even saw a few sporadic rises, but that dull thud on the swing and strip was sadly absent. Not much angler activity — one guy 250 yards below me at the second mark, a few hardy souls here and there, but today you pretty much had your pick of water. Fished a Coffey Sparkle Minnow, Hi-Liter, and Deep Threat, all on the full sink tip integrated line. We’ll get ’em next time.

Shooting the streamer line. I had forgotten how a few hours in the cold saps me. I’m wiped out, but looking forward to pizza night.

shooting

 

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.

DCIM100GOPROG0013068.

 

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?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

 

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.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Farmington River Report 9/19/18: Better get out the scale…

I waited two years for yesterday. A day after a heavy rain where the river would be up and off-color but still wadeable; preferably late summer or fall; some cloud cover; with most anglers opting out of fishing. Classic streamer conditions. Huck a bug at the banks, strip away, and wait for that telltale thud from a bruiser brown.

I fished three spots in the permanent TMA, and while all of them produced (including a smallie, the farthest north on the Farmy I’ve ever caught one) the action was slow. Still, I made the command decision to stay away from the recently stocked areas in the hopes of trading numbers for size, and that’s what happened. All trout to net were over 18″, including my biggest of this year.

The method: target banks with a full sink line, a longer (7-8 feet) leader and a deer hair head fly to get some neutral buoyancy going. Black is the classic stained water streamer solution, but they wanted it bright yesterday (nothing on black or olive — they were into white, yellow and chartreuse). Every day is truly different.

The type of trout you measure in pounds instead of inches, this pig was sitting six feet off the bank in a foot-and-a-half of water. Second cast, first strip, and he rolled on it. Right away I could see he was a good fish. Taken on a yellow Zoo Cougar, and a worthy opponent in a 750+cfs flow. Wonder what’s in that tummy?DCIM100GOPROG0013068.

 

 

Compleat Angler tying demo Saturday March 31 and contest closing soon

Join me at the Compleat Angler, 541 Post Road, Darien, CT, this Saturday March 31 from 10am-2pm.  We’ll focus on “Trout Flies for Local Rivers” (although there may be a smallie pattern or two thrown in). Here’s how the ad copy reads: “Join outdoor writer and guide Steve Culton as he demonstrates how to tie some of his favorite patterns for the Farmington, Housatonic, and other local rivers. There will be a little bit of everything: wets, dries, nymphs, and streamers, from traditional classics to new designs. These are all high-confidence, proven patterns, and Steve will also discuss how, when, and where he likes to fish them.” The demo is free, low/no-pressure, and a great opportunity to ask questions and talk fishing. For more info, visit the Compleat Angler’s Facebook page.

We’ll be filling some corks for sure.

Squirrel and Ginger cork

~

And don’t forget! The Super Six Hundred Followers contest closes at midnight, Saturday March 31 — so if you haven’t entered, time’s a wasting. You can find all the rules here.

 

Farmington River Report 2/15/18: Two Hours of Fun with Streamers

Some days I get so ambivalent about how and where to fish that it annoys the hell out of me. Not today. In fact, I knew last night it would be the Permanent TMA and streamers. The water was receding but still up (550cfs) and that along with heavy cloud cover suggested to me that some big browns might be on the hunt.

Spot A was a blank. One other angler was there, nymphing. He reported a blank, too. Spot B produced two fish, although I dropped the second to an incredibly bad hookset. I should have known what to look for after the first fish: no dull thud or sharp tug, but rather the sensation that the fly was hung up on the bottom, with the bottom then moving. I assumed the second fish was a rock, set with the tip, and a few seconds later the trout was off.

While I had Spot B all to myself, Spot C was a regular angler’s convention. (There were a lot of people out in the Permanent TMA today.) Everyone blanked there.

Fished the full sink integrated line and a short (<3 foot) leader.

I don’t often fish articulated streamers, but the trout liked this olive Peanut Envy today. Here’s a nice mid-teens brown.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

~

A classic Survivor Strain adipose bump.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

 

“Streamer Kings” in the Jan/Feb 2018 issue of American Angler

I usually write from my own experience, but for “Streamer Kings” I interviewed George Daniel, Chad Johnson, and Tommy Lynch. Their comments and insights compose the bulk of the article. Whether you’re new to streamers for trout or an old Mickey Finn hand like me, I’ll bet you learn something useful. On newsstands now.

JanFeb-2018-448x600