How to Fly Fish with BIG streamers

Fly Fishing Tips

There’s nothing like chucking meat and watching seemingly dead water come to life, often explosively. However there is so much more than just casting and letting your fly swing about in the current so we have asked three top streamer slingers their top tips for fishing big flies in the final weeks of the season. 



Robby Cribbs -

Robby Cribbs Fly Fishing

“Big streamers are a close second place to dry flies as my favorite rig to use for trout.  The aggressive chases and eats add another element to the joy of fly fishing.  

 Here’s a few of my top tips that are key in making this technique successful…

  1. A little color in the water.  When the river is clearing but still a little dirty is the perfect condition.
  2. Bounce the bank. I like to fish from the river center either from a boat or wading. I’m putting my cast so close to the bank that half the time it bounces off the rocks and into the water.  
  3. Mend, wiggle, wiggle. This is the most important part. The streamer needs to act like prey. I try not to cast upstream to a fish with a streamer.  If you cast upstream the fly swims towards the fish and looks predatory.  Instead, fish across or down and make the fly look like it’s nervously swimming away from the fish. Thus…. cast (at the bank), mend (directing the fly up stream), wiggle, wiggle (wiggle the rod tip to make it shake while you’re stripping in line).”

Favourite set up: 

  • Rod: 9’ 6 weight fast to super fast action rod.
  • Leader: 10-12 ft leader tapered to 1x.
  • Knot: non slip loop knot.  
  • Fly: 6 inch long sex dungeon in olive or tan.

Galloups Sex Dungeon Fishing Fly

Manic Fly Collection - Galloup's Sex Dungeon Natural 


Jeff Forsee - | @aotearoaanglers

Jeff Forsee Aotearoa Anglers Fly Fishing

“I cant think of just one tip so heres a few anyway:

Lead the fish - There is nothing worse than running out of real estate when you have a hot fish chasing down your fly. In a sight fishing scenario many people will cast directly at the target (i.e. the fish) causing the fish to run in the direction of the retrieve (i.e. you) often resulting in them not being able to A) catch up to the fly before it’s all over or B) see you standing tall on the bank and spook. Cast above and beyond your target and bring the fly to the trout rather than the trout to the fly. 

Fish your feet first - We often streamer fish in less than ideal sighting conditions because the water is coloured or visibility is limited. This means the fish probably can’t see us either and we might be standing right on top of them. Rather than chucking that first cast all the way across the river, fish the 10 or 15ft in front of you first and then work your way out. Once you hit the far bank you can now work your way down and across to the bottom of the run.  

Be ready - This is in addition to fishing your feet first. Trout are very reactive and aggressive when it comes to streamers so every time the fly hits the water you are fishing and should be ready to set the hook. There’s nothing worse than flipping your streamer into the margin of the river at your feet to “get ready” for your cast to have a trout blow up on it and missing the hook set because you “weren’t fishing yet.” #petpeeve  

Watch the fly - Or at least the water where you think it is. You’ll often see a fish roll or flash in this area - this could be a miss or a refusal but gives you the information you need to make another presentation or try something different. Sometimes a streamer take can feel like it’s going to rip the rod right out of your hands, other times you feel nothing at all but if your watching you might see it and know when to set the hook. You can miss these fleeting moments if you’re staring at the clouds. 

Jeff Forsee Fly Fishing

Image: Jeff Forsee -

Feed the fish - This is in addition to watching the fly. Everyday is different and so is every fish. Sometimes every fish in the river seems to eat the fly with reckless abandon and other days they won’t bat an eyelid. It’s the in between days where this tactic is helpful - the fish that can’t make up their mind. Sometimes is a matter of seeing a fish following from a distance and pausing the retrieve in order to let them catch up. Other times it can turn into a real game of cat and mouse - speeding the retrieve and slowing the retrieve until you find what they like and what will induce the take.  

Know the water you’re fishing - it’s not all just cast and retrieve. Observe the likely positions the trout will be in and fish them accordingly. Pockets, banks, seams, drop offs, structure etc. It’s also worth nothing the current and depth you are fishing and  appropriately altering your retrieve. For example, in fast deep water simply letting the fly swing is enough action but once it reaches the softer water on the edge it may require bigger and faster strips. 

Look alive - this is an addition to knowing your water. Simply put - the fly needs to look alive so the trout wants to make it dead. In general, slow water or upstream presentations require long, fast strips and fast water or downstream presentations require small, slow strips or even no strips at all. 

Keep moving - cover different water with each cast. Fish are often going to either eat the streamer or not and they’ll often move a good distance to do so so I like to cover water quickly and efficiently - this is after all one of the perks of streamer fishing. 

Sharp Hooks - Regularly check your hooks, streamer fishing can be tough on gear. We unknowingly blast rocks and high banks on our back casts and drag the heavily weighted flies through the stones at our feet. I find it amazing how many fish you don’t hook when you’re streamer fishing so there is no sense in adding to that statistic because you’re fishing with a dull hook.  

Heavy tippet - Fluorocarbon is going to stand up to the abuse and turn heavy flies over better than mono will. 12-15lb breaking strain is a necessity (no they don’t see it.) Even a small trout will break you off on the hook set if you’re using 3x. 

Control the controllables - regularly check your tackle. We make a lot of big casts streamer fishing and stuff happens, like wind knots but also, knots fatigue and hooks dull. Check your gear. 

Splitshot - I find floating lines with weighted flies to be the most versatile for streamer fishing in NZ but sometimes I do have the need to get a little deeper. Having a selection of splitshot handy is a quick and effective remedy for this. 

Rod - My all time favourite streamer rod is the 9ft 7wt Scott Centric paired with an aggressive forward taper floating line. Streamer fishing is casting intensive and that’s part of the reason why I love it, having a rod built for the task makes it that much better. “



Chris Dore - 

Chris Dore Fly Fishing

“I fish them to make fish that aren’t feeding, or are in hiding attack. If they're disinterested in food, play on their territorial aggressiveness, and make them protect their patch. For this you need something big, something that is seen as a threat. Sex Dungeons and the like are perfect for this - if they don’t want to eat it, they will want to mate with it. If you cant handle a huge streamer you can either A: go up a line weight for more mass or B: just learn to cast them properly, Princess…

You have to make your streamer look threatening, so don’t just swing it. Swinging streamers to territorial fish often results in extended follows where the fish simply follows your streamer as it leaves his territory. Instead, get below your fish / drop off / cut bank etc and pitch your fly upstream at an angle. Let it sink if you wish, then rip it back downstream towards you. Fast. Your fly is now coming at the fish, invading his territory, it is now a threat. You’ll be amazed how many large, territorial fish will charge upstream to intercept your fly with one heck of a whack. Use heavy tippet. Strip, strike. Fish on!”

Favourite rod: 9’ 6wt Scott NZ Special

Line: Airflo Power Taper  

Leader: 12’ Trouthunter 1x flurocarbon. 

Flies: Black or brown sex dungeons and Mr Glister streamers

Dore's Mr Glister Fishing Fly

 Manic Fly Collection - Dore's Mr Glister

Want more reading on how to fly fish big streamers?