If you want to build a tally on the river this winter you should nymph it, however sometimes to get that eat you simply need to cover ground, and what better way to hit maximum water each and every cast and get noticed than by swinging a streamer. Swinging streamers gets me going, and can be accomplished on either a single, or two handed rig. Unlike other forms of fly fishing where I feel presentation is of higher importance than pattern, over the cooler months the fly you choose is often crucial in getting often docile fish to bite.
Fresh run fish are on! They’re moving, they’re full of energy, and they’re willing to eat your fly. However, they are still cautious wild fish so don’t reach straight for the flash, particularly on brighter days. These fish are ready to eat and you are likely to raise less suspicion and get more eats on a more natural pattern. Once fish have been in the river a while they tend to become disinterested, docile and harder to catch so now is the time to bring in the bling to catch their attention and make them snap.
Don’t go too big, too soon. Not all fish will snap out of aggression and so you must instead ‘feed the fish’. If fish can locate tiny size 18 nymphs in turbulent water then they sure as anything can see your size 8 - 10 swinging across the stream. However sometimes bigger is better, especially in discoloured or fuller flows where you need presence, or when you need to pull a fish out from cover.
I’m a fan of more natural colours in keeping with the river for most scenarios, and so olives, browns and black feature strongly in my streamer box. However, purple, orange, red and chartreuse are all powerful triggers and are my go-to’s when the fish just won’t play ball.
Sometimes you just gotta get noticed and materials that glisten, shine or reflect the light are essential, especially on low light days in my opinion. However, don’t go too flashy too soon as you’re more likely to scare a fish swinging bling than with a dull, natural pattern.
It’s important to remember that not every fish will want a big, bright, flashy streamer. In fact, not many do and so my winter selection often revolves around smaller, more natural coloured buggers and similar patterns. In saying that, some days you just need to be seen and if they can see it, they could chase it and the more fish that chase, the more you will hit. Luckily we have many, many dozens of options within our Manic Fly Collection so here are a few thoughts on kitting out that winter swing box.
The Usual Suspects:
These are the natural patterns that raise no eyebrows, but take the lions share of my winter fish count…
Olive Woolly Bugger
GTB Slim Shady
Dore’s Mr Glister
Made To Swing:
Stinger style flies are designed to swing and have two main benefits over longer shank hooks. 1: the hook is out the back of the fly, right at the tail and so eats from behind are better converted and 2: a short shank hook can be used on a rather long fly and so the fish can’t use the longer shank to lever the hook hold so you simply lose less fish.
Angeli’s Foxy Swinger
Chou’s Fortune Cookie
Sometimes you just gotta go big and flashy. Hold onto your hats and perfect your chuck‘n’duck casts because these are eye catching lunkers you need in your box.
AJ’s Prom dress
Berry’s Fish Movers