Friday, April 15, 2011

Streamer Time

Spring means streamer fishing to me, whether its swinging for browns in the Batten Kill, swinging or trolling for landlocks and brook trout in the Rangeley region, or casting for kelts on the Miramichi.  I spend many winter hours tying streamers, and this past winter was no exception....with one exception: for a couple months I couldn't tie due to rotator cuff surgery.   But I found I could make wing assemblies for Gray Ghosts and Green Beauties, to name a couple favorites.  Unable to do much else, I made a lot of wings. (click on any pic to get a full-sized image)

I make my wing assemblies the same way Carrie Stevens is reported to have done it:  each wing "side" consists of matched chicken feathers (usually from Whiting American saddles or capes), plus a cheek of either silver pheasant or a duck species, and a jungle cock eye.  So there are a total of 8 feathers in a complete wing.  I used to use old, thick head cement as glue but have switched to Flexament for its, well, flexibility.  Just a small line of it on each feather shaft gets the job done for me. 

I'd have to say that my favorite streamer, in both casting and trolling form, is Carrie Stevens' Green Beauty.  It outfished other streamers handily last June in Maine.  And I just really like the way it looks.

Streamer afficionados will note that there's no bucktail, no golden pheasant crest and no peacock herl in my tie of this classic.  I now use Hareline's UV Minnow Belly flash for the, er, belly on the fly, and either of a couple dark flashes up between the wing that simulate the peacock herl in the original pattern.  I've had great success with this combination tied on Daiichi 2340's, The Fly Shop's TFS 300 (a great bargain!) or old faithful, the Mustad 3665A.  At Upper Dam, the brook trout and landlocks like sizes 4 and 6 quite a bit!

The Gray Ghost, maybe the most well-known of Carrie Stevens' creations, is another staple in my streamer stable (doncha just love alliteration?)  And again, I abandon the traditional belly and wing add-ons, and just use the UV minnow belly and a dark flash.

I vary the wing color.  Bob Hilyard reported, in his excellent book, Carrie Stevens, that she did too.  Apparently she didn't have a consistent source for her wing feathers, and took what she could get. 

Herbie Welche's creation, the Black Ghost, is another streamer favorite of mine.  And yes, I tinker with the original pattern on this fly too.  In place of the typical black floss body, I've started using Diamond Braid in black.  Lots 'o flash!

I've given a little change-up to the venerable Mickey Finn.  The wing is legal polar bear that I dyed using Jacquard acid dye from Dharma Trading.   The body is EZ braid; I tie a silver mylar body on before the EZ braid to give it some real smash.  The hook is a #2 Daiichi 2271.

Maybe my new best friend, I'm really happy with the looks of this streamer.  Obviously, its put together like many of the Stevens-style streamers, and I'm happy to give all the attribution I can to the streamers that have gone before.  I've merely changed up the colors and the "accutrements."  I dyed a white Whiting saddle with a Jacquard acid dye combination, and came up with the color you  see.  The "underwing" is burgundy polar bear.  My delightful (and very Irish) companion Bridget said, when she saw the chunk of polar bear and the saddle lying on the drying table, that they were great Celtic colors, and would look great together.  Who am I to argue with that??

And finally - and I can't wait to get this one wet, hopefully in the next couple weeks up on the Saranac River in Plattsburgh, New York with my new forum friend John (Hitcher on SpeyClave forum) - what I'll call my Electric Magog.  Its a flashier (you knew that was coming!) version of the Magog Smelt, an old New England favorite.  I replace the bucktail wing with legal polar bear that I dye myself, and add a little of the flash du jour to top the wing off.  This fly is tied on a Daiichi 2271 hook.

Well, those are my favorite casting streamers.  Here's a little palette of their cousins, the trollers:

And then of course, there are the spring streamers for the Miramichi...but they're another story!

Here's hoping the rivers calm down soon, I want to go streamer swinging!


  1. Nice post Gary. I'm just getting into streamers, and I really love the xl hooks. They lend something totally different to the flies that i don't know how to describe.

  2. I'm not sure if this appropriate or not, but I am looking for written directions on how to tie the Golden Eagle fly, my husband just got back from the Miramichi and loved this fly, I would love the directions to give him for his birthday.

    1. It's a pretty easy one to tie, Candie. It has an oval gold tinsel tag, black ostrich herl butt, embossed flat gold tinsel body, oval gold tinsel ribbing. That's the body.
      The wing is several strands of pearl krystal flash, then yellow deer hair or polar bear (if legal where you are). Head is black. Everyone loves that fly for spring fishing on the Miramichi! Hope this helps.