Targeting Big Trout with Streamer Flies

brown trout with white streamer fly on snowy background

Inciting a Streamer Strike

Streamer fishing is a well accepted means of targeting larger than average trout. The technique is often very visual and most experienced anglers are familiar with the common chase and no strike scenario. The chase is typically a territorial reaction, often accompanied by short strikes that never quite connect. While the chase is exciting, making a few minor adjustments can incite a committed grab.


Doubling Up

Adding a second streamer is one of my favorite techniques when fish are chasing. The second streamer changes the game from a simple territorial battle to a competition for a food source. Use a small streamer as the lead and a larger streamer as the trailer. I use contrasting colors to increase the visibility through variable conditions. A white dace on the lead with a dark bugger or zonker as the trailer is a deadly combo.


The Long Pause

Trout will chase a fast retrieve because the streamer is attempting to escape. Adding a sudden and long pause to the retrieve changes the chase dynamic and your streamers transforms from a nuisance to a potential food source. This technique is effective from any fishing position but the visual experience is most exciting from a drift boat. Slap your streamer against the bank and make 3-4 hard strips followed by a two second pause. The initial flurry of action draws the fish out and the pause offers a food source before the fish is fully aware of the exposed position and vulnerability to predation. The elevated boat position makes it possible to observe the action and compensate the speed and depth of the retrieve based on the behavior of the fish.



Bouncing your streamer makes it visible in all levels of the water column. The up and down action also reduces the trout’s ability to chase. Bouncing works well with forward heavy flies. It is also best practiced in deep, slow water and especially effective during the colder months. Bouncing is basically jigging and you can cover large areas of water in a methodical fashion. Cast down and across, allow the fly to drop and raise your rod tip to lift the fly while retrieving a small amount of line. Repeat the process to cover the run while attracting hunger based strikes.


Zach Lazzari is a fly fishing guide in Montana. He owns and enjoys a fishing rich lifestyle.

Brown Trout with White Streamer Fly


  1. I as well like soft streamer patterns for trout . I many times will be on the river on foot . I carry a fast 5wt , I nymph with a floating line of course and will change to a 5ft Jim Teeny mini tip to fish a streamer . My two favorite patterns are a cone head suddler or a wool head sculpin in olive and white or chinchilla and white the sculpins will be in olive or brown . If the skys are overcast and you happen upon a area that has good cover and good bottom with some current pushing into into it with a current break ….fish a streamer you may not always get a strike as big browns tend to be wary and feed in low light ….and you may have missed the chance already for the day ….but when it pays off it will be with a nice fish ….99% of the time a nymph is your best bet …..but there are certain days when a streamer in the right place will pay off with a big fish or add bigger fish to your nymph catches…..I prefer clouds to sun even in the winter for streamers … far as nymphs go in the winter the sun is your friend …when the water is hovering just below 40 degrees things can be slow …let the sun pop out and add a nymph with some flash and its game on…….

  2. Once you identify the river where you think you can catch that big boy, you have to start narrowing it down. Brown trout are notorious homebodies, spending most of their lives in one run or even under one rock. There are certain events and times when they will venture out and, to catch them, you either have to know where they are or where they re going, and when.

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