20 years experience

Streamer Fishing
Tips - Part 1

Better Angles For More Big Trout


Streamer Fishing - Better Angles For More Trout

It’s not uncommon for anglers to wonder if they should start at the back of the pool and work their way up river, or should the start at the head of the pool and work their way down when streamer fishing? Knowing the direction to fish and many other things can improve your streamer fishing success. These are just some of the things I cover during the advanced streamer lessons and on guided trips along with a few other tips.

The Rivers: Not all rivers are the same and not all spots are the same. In Ontario some rivers are wide open bigger rivers but most are on the smaller side and have heavy cover. Depending on the river and depending on the spot you may be required to fish up river or down river.

Fly Fishing on the Nottawasaga River

Fishing Down River: A wide open river with little obstructions and lots of distance could easily be fished downwards while staying far enough away from the trout that you don’t spook them.

There is no doubt about it that going down river is also is easier then constantly pushing up through heavy current which tires you out faster. Going down river may mean moving faster and cover more water easier.

But going down river could also mean you may be kicking mud in the trout’s face or severely dirtying up the river below you that they cant see your fly, both of which can shut the big trout down.

Going Up River: In smaller rivers where you have limited back cast room and trout are more easily spooked it may be best to stay behind the fish and work your way up river. But going up river is often more difficult and louder because you’re pushing up river and splashing more which could spook the fish if you’re not able to cast far enough or are at a bad angle and to close to the trout. 

Specialty Casts: Being self taught and learning how to fish streamers on so many different and difficult rivers, I learned to adapt to each spot and I use so many variations of cast that most of the time it’s just so natural to me now that I don’t think about my casts, even in difficult situations, I just do it, I change casts and directions and angles quickly, and most of the time I don’t even realize I’m using these alternative casts. It’s not until the rod is in a clients hand that I have to stop and think and say ” in order to get your fly there, you have to do your cast like this or like that”. Using specialty casts like the hook cast can make or break your day and that’s just one of the casts that I use. A hook cast can put your fly at the right angle to entice a strike and it can also allow you to get your fly into spots that a roll cast or straight cast just couldn’t do. Hook casts make casting with no back cast room a possibility. Regardless if you fish up stream or down stream as long as you fish streamers this is a very important cast and learning how to not only hook it on the forward presentation cast but also on the back cast can pay off with big results. In the 33 years that I’ve been fly fishing, I’ve never even seen a guy hook cast on the back cast, yet I’m doing it all the time. Most of the time if I’m fishing a smaller river and I’m fishing up river I almost always use a variation of a hook cast, not only to get my fly to the spot but the get a better retrieve and to get a better presentation that will trigger a strike.

Angler Fishing Up River

Angles: Knowing what angle to cast on is also very important and something that I see a lot of anglers doing wrong. Casting on the right angle can allow you to stay farther from the trout, get a better and longer cast, false cast less, and give you a better over-all presentation, all of which means more big trout.

Lots More to Effective Streamer Fishing Then Most Realize: Most anglers believe streamer fishing is as easy as cast it out, and then strip it back in and then repeat. If this was true, why do I see the vast majority of guys getting very little results. Good streamer fishing is very technical and there is a lot to it. The best streamer anglers produce the most and biggest trout on a regular basis because the know what is really involved. If you’re new to streamer fishing and you want to improve your game below is a list of about 44 things you should consider when streamer fishing. If these are things you haven’t considered yet, then you’re missing trout.


  • Water clarity and knowing which retrieves to use under different clarity conditions is important.
  • Where should you focus your efforts, big fish aren’t always where you think.
  • Eliminate dead water. Know what’s productive and what’s not.
  • How many false casts are to many, are you wasting time and not fishing effectively because you’re false casting to much? Learn the one cast method using my bounce the line method and start catching way more fish.
  • How long should you spend on each spot, what’s to fast and what’s to slow?
  • Proper hand grip for power casting big streamers is important.
  • Should you strip your fly as soon as it hits the water or give it some time to sink a bit before you start striping in the line. Can you even strip immediately or are you struggling to grab the line once the fly hits the water? My fly line is in the proper position waiting for me to strip as or before my streamer even hits the water.
  • Swing or pendulum cast, do you know how and when to use these casts?
  • Back hand presentation cast, how to do it well and when to do it and why to do it, actually what is it?
  • Wide loops or tight casts, which is best, which is safest, and why?
  • Accuracy is important but to many guys blow a pool or run because they’re snagging the far bank or the logs. There’s a simple solution that will put you on the edge every time and not snag up.
  • Oops, you’re snagged on that log on the far side, or you snagged the rock on the bottom, do you know how to get it out easily 90 percent of the time? There is a way.
  • How long should your streamer leader be?
  • How thin should your leader be, what pound test is acceptable. how light is to light and how heavy is to heavy?
  • Do you need a tapered leader?
  • Do you need a sinking leader?
  • Should you use weighted or none weighted streamer flies?
  • Are weighted fly lines or non weighted fly lines best on our rivers?
  • Does fly line matter, I use Airflo lines for a good reason?
  • I use 5 or 6 different stripping methods for different presentations at different times and for different reason. how many do you know and do you know when to use each method?
  • What’s the best rods for streamer fishing, does it matter?
  • Fast or slow retrieves, erratic or smooth, what’s best and when.
  • What to do to increase you strike percentage.
  • What do you do when a fish strikes and misses
  • How do you know what color to use. I use 5 standard colors and a few multi colors
  • How often should you change your flies.
  • Should you use big streamers or small streamers and how big is too big?
  • How deep should your streamer be?
  • How to tell what the mood of the fish is?
  • Are some days better for streamer fishing?
  • Can streamer fishing improve your nymphing and dry fly fishing? Yes it can!
  • How to approach and spot and what’s the best angle that you should be casting.
  • Did you know certain angles will produce more strikes.
  • Should you mend your fly line at all?
  • Did you know how your fly lands can determine if a fish will eat it or not.
  • How fast should your streamer be moving?
  • I cover the water 3 times faster then the average angler and make a quarter of the casts meaning I’m less fatigues and catching more fish. Are you covering the water as efficiently as you can?
  • The dangle retrieve allows me to get my fly in hard to fish spots meaning more fish.
  • Did you know that changing your retrieves can mean more fish.
  • Do you strip your fly straight up the river, do you strip it straight down river, or maybe stripping it across is best, or should you fan cast it to cover more water. In the vast majority of cases only one of those methods is actually best.
  • How many casts should you make before it’s to many?
  • Did you know that it’s common for big fish move at certain times of the day and paying attention to where you see your fish can tell you what mood they’re in.
  • What does it mean if you don’t see a fish in a spot? Is there fish there, or not?
  • Did you know big trout are so predictable that I have told customers exactly where they will be at certain times of the day, streamer fishing can help you find these big fish.

During guided trips and our Advanced streamer lesson I go over and answer all of these questions. Most guys are amazed at how much they learn on some they though was so simple.

Ontario river fishing lessons


Have you ever wanted to know what the guides know? Now you can!

Anglers ask me all the time about what rods and reels and other gear that I recommend, or they ask me about my best flies, or my best methods or even which rivers are good to fish. I build a website that cover’s all of that and more . . . . . You should checkout our sister site where I tell you exactly what gear you need and i give you free tips and tricks to help you catch more fish. Check out www.ontariotroutandsteelhead.com


Head Guide / Owner