Streamers 101

With spring not far away, I’ve been thinking about where I want my blog to go. I want to continue to write about different places and trips I do but I want to help make getting into fly fishing a lot easier. I find I get a lot of the same questions from people. Fly fishing is not that hard but for some reason it scares people. What rod, what fly, what is a dry fly, what is a streamer, what is nymph? My focus this spring is to explain different flies and basic Maine entomology, to help get you started.

I will start by talking about streamers. What is streamer? A streamer is a fly that you cast on a floating or sinking line that you retrieve at different speeds depending on what you are trying to imitate. Streamers are designed to imitate bait fish, leeches, crayfish or hellgrammites. Typically streamers are tied onto a hook a 1/2” or longer with a variety of materials such as marabou, buck tail, or rabbit stripes. Some with flash some without.



Here is is a list of Maine bait fish:

How about a wooly bugger? The wooly bugger is considered a streamer and typically one of the first flies people try to fish because they catch just about anything. A wooly bugger can imitate a bait fish or a leech, so what you are trying to imitate will determine how you fish it. If you are trying to imitate a leech you aren’t going to retrieve(strip) it fast but more of a slow steady retrieve with pauses.


You will also most likely be fishing a sink tip or weighted fly because the leech is usually near the bottom of river or pond. There are a few ways to retrieve when imitating a bait fish. I usually go with a strip strip pause, strip strip pause retrieval with a sinking tip and unweighted fly. I find the pause is when the fish will eat the streamer. The fish will chase the streamers and when you pause it gives the fish time to watch your fly. Another retrieve is a steady strip, like a bait fish just swimming along. I don’t retrieve this way much but I have friends who swear by it.

Mickey Finn clouser

When fishing a streamer, there are a couple of things you need to consider, what are you trying to imitate and what type of water are you fishing? These will determine your fly and type of fly line you use.

Caught on a streamer

Everyone has their own opinion on the best streamers to use but here is my list of must have flies that I use and catch fish on.

Olive woolly bugger
Black woolly bugger
White woolly bugger
McKay Special
Black ghost
Gray ghost
Barnes special
Olive slump buster
Orange slump buster

Streamer videos