Have you ever been sure that there is a big brown trout hunkered down in the deepest parts of pocket water, but it’s guarded by boulders, logs, and snags? And after losing 4 streamers you give up. You just lost $25, or an hour at the vise. Well, there might be a more effective way to present some meaty options to where you know the trophy fish lie. Jigged streamers. Fly fishermen and tiers have been solving problems with snags for dozens of years by having your fly ride hook point up. The classic Clouser Minnow is the most popular of this style fly, and for good reason. But, for this article, I am referring to a jigged streamer. It is a streamer tied on a hook that rides hook point up and has a shaft near the eye that is bent to maintain this hook point up profile.
Why Jigs?Recently innovative fly tiers have taken a page out of bass fishing and tied jigged streamers to be fished deep and slow, able to bounce off of bottom structure. So why is this an effective technique to target large trout? Two words: Sculpin and Crawfish. Both of these food sources become increasingly important to large trout in watersheds that have an abundance of them. And, both of these food sources stay deep in the water column and move frequently in a vertical jig motion. Sculpin have no air bladder, so they sink when not swimming. When they do swim they scurry quickly across the bottom of the river, or swim up off of the bottom to a new feeding location and then sink back down. Crawfish, to escape predators, swim in a quick undulating swim up off the bottom, then sink back down when they are safe.
TechniqueThe knowledge of food sources and their behaviors can give you an extra advantage on the water. Using floating line and a long leader in combination with a heavy jigged fly, you can maneuver your fly around deep structure, getting close enough to entice that trophy out of that snag. And because the fly always swims hook point up you will lose fewer streamers. A long leader setup is especially effective for fishing deep holes. I use a leader that is from 7-10 ft. long. That being said, I have 4-5 feet of an old tapered leader tied to a tippet ring, then 3-5 feet of 0x -3x tippet tied from the tippet ring to the fly. That long leader lets you get to the bottom fast and lets your line act as your indicator. When fishing pocket water, you must have a presentation that gets down fast into the strike zone of ambushing predators quickly before the current pushes your fly out of the pocket, and that is exactly what the jig presentation is designed to do. To fish a jigged streamer; slow down. Cast either upstream or downstream depending on presentation, but do not strip your streamer back to you. Let it sink all the way to the bottom and slowly lift or bounce it off the bottom. Be sure to maintain focus on your fly line, staying ready to strip set the streamer as soon as you see any movement or pause in your fly line that is not expected. Trout and Bass that take this presentation do not smash your fly aggressively but take it subtly. Takes may occur both on the bottom, and often, while your streamer is falling. Next time you are faced with deep pocket water, or a deep hole that is full of snags, bust out that weird looking jigged streamer, and find a way to make it swim right to your trophy. Favorite Jigged Streamers:
- John Barr - Meat Whistle
- Ryan Frick - Frick’s Fix
- My Own - Jigged Out Deceiver