You don’t have to fish streamers if you head out to the Yellowstone River this weekend, but you might as well. There’s no better time of year to catch trout on streamers, and there’s always that chance that you’ll hook into one of the river’s monsters. Whether you’re floating or wading, streamers can be a fun and productive technique. Not that you can’t catch plenty of fish on nymphs or even dries in the fall. But why not give your arm a workout and try casting and stripping some baitfish imitations?
When the Yellowstone River hasn’t been too muddy (and it should be fine this weekend), we’ve had good reports lately regarding the effectiveness of various streamer patterns. Sparkle Minnows in a variety of colors have been especially productive. But just about any pattern with good movement has a fighting chance of attracting strikes. Some streamers that we like a lot include Beldar Rubberlegs, Space Invaders, Baby Gongas, Hansen’s Meal Tickets, and J. J. Specials. These are all relatively small streamers that can be fished effectively with a 5- or 6-weight setup.
Trophy hunting? Give a big articulated pattern a try. You’ll probably want to break out your 7- or 8-weight rod, and perhaps your sink-tip or sinking line. You’re not likely to catch a ton of trout, but the ones you do catch…. Silvey’s Sculpin Leeches, Bottoms-Ups, Boogieman – there are a bunch of effective large streamers out there these days. Regardless of the size of patterns that you’re throwing, be sure to have a variety of colors. If you’re not at least getting a few chases, switch to something in a different color. Olives, blacks, browns, whites, all can have their good days. In stained water or on cloudy days, I’ll usually start out with a darker color, with the lighter colors coming out of the box first on bright, sunny days with clear water. But trial and error is the name of the game.
For a few tips on the basics of swinging streamers (while wade fishing, usually) see the video below. For some more advanced tips, read Sweetwater guide Beau Peavey’s post from a little while back. See you out on the Yellowstone River this weekend!