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Spring Streamer Tactics

May 11, 2009

– Spring fly fishing can be tricky, especially in the swollen rivers of Northern Maine. Landlocked Salmon are hands down some of the most selective feeders in our watershed, and to bring one to the boat usually requires a great deal of time and dedication, and a ton of luck. Any seasoned fly fisherman knows that the most affective streamer patterns during April and May are usually Grey Ghosts or variations of the sort. While fishing a sinking line with a size 6 or larger Ghost is a great start, I have found that making a few minor adjustments to the traditional setup can produce some pretty favorable results.

Barred Grey Ghost

Barred Grey Ghost

First and foremost, this technique requires something that most old timers would probably scold me for, but lose the sinking line. In rivers like the Fish River, although the water is high, depths are never consistent. A hard sinking line may be great for some deep sections of the river, but the numerous shallows will cause more hookups and headaches than most fishermen want.

Instead, opt for a standard floating fly line. Call me crazy, but I’ve caught more fish trolling streamers on floating line than I even have dragging sinking or sink tip rig. That’s not to say that sinking line is bad, but as far as this method is concerned it is ultimately ineffective. At the end of the fly line, attach a 9 foot tapered leader. Length is key to this setup, so save your 6 foot leaders for another day. To the end of this leader, attach 3 feet of tippet material. To the end of this tippet section, attach your streamer of choice. Typically my first streamer is the smaller one, but never smaller than a size 6. You can double up with Grey Ghosts, but offering the fish 2 different patterns is never a bad idea. I’ve used Wood Specials, Green and Black Ghosts, and a Black Nose Dace all with favorable results.

Now comes the important part. To the HOOK of this streamer, tie on another section of tippet between 3 and 4 feet long. At the end of this section attach a weighted streamer that is at least one size larger than the first streamer you tied on. I use a Grey Ghost in size 4 almost exclusively because It does the best job imitating various species of bait fish found in our local waters.
The Final Rigging should look something like this:
( 9 Foot Leader-3 Foot tippet-Size 6 Streamer-3 foot tippet-Size 4 Streamer: Total Length of 15 feet )

The extra length will allow the streamers to sit about 2 feet below the surface, which is right where you want them to be during this time of the season. The best part about this setup is that if you feel like casting, you can simply snip the tippet at the hook of the first streamer and save it for another day.

Good luck, and don’t say I’m never helpful!

Tight lines,



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2 Comments leave one →
  1. May 11, 2009 11:01 pm

    Good stuff — will have to try this. I wonder if 3 flies might work too:)

    • May 12, 2009 7:14 am

      Too many knots for me! No doubt it would, but my big pickle fingers only allow so many knots before they go numb and give up on me. Tis’ a curse.

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