The question that Justin asked me to write about was “How has streamer fishing changed since dinosaurs were roaming the earth, or since I wrote the book?”
It took me a minute to consider all of this– It was a little like saying how has football changed since leather helmets, or how has the porn industry changed since super eight movies?
Streamer fishing has always been around for the real anglers. Joe Brooks, the greatest fly angler ever, was hucking
Six inch streamers in North and South America before many of us were alive. However, the majority of anglers seldom threw streamers. We were drawn away from the strip in the 70’s when Swisher and Richards wrote Selective Trout and Trout Strategies. These books launched a match-the-hatch craze that put a strangle hold on most of us (myself included) for decades. But like the bottle of Jack that Justin hides in his office, there was always the grey ghost or spuddler hiding in the vest of the serious trophy hunter. Eventually the passive, quiet side gave way to the desire to go toe to toe with the most bad ass creatures in the ditch.
A few years after the book came out the most obvious thing I began to see was the sheer number of anglers completely dedicated to streamers. These people no longer gave a shit if you looked at them like a turd in the punch bowl for throwing junk. Instead of fishing a streamer when there was nothing going on the surface they were fishing them purposely all day long, hunting for a fish they had previously only heard about. There was now a dedication that was equal to (and in some areas greater than) what was once a pastoral dry fly angler’s sanctuary. Back in the day if you were throwing streamers in the holy water (fly water) people would talk shit about you, like you were hiding a fucking can of worms in your vest. You would walk by these little groups and they would treat you like the cheerleaders treated the campus slut, and for good reason…We were the ones getting all the real action.
Times have certainly changed and the attitude has changed along with them.
Streamer fishing is now the fastest growing niche in fly fishing for anglers of all ages, and creating some superstar anglers along the way. These folks are not afraid to push the envelope and are now landing trophy fish that were once only attainable with gear. One of the most specific areas I see this in is Musky fishing. When I started fishing Musky with flies some 25 years ago, the only other angler I knew who did it was Bill Sheer. There was no information out there to be shared or learned from, and even on gear Muskies were still considered the fish of ten thousand casts. Nobody would tell you anything about where or how they were fishing for these guys, and when you showed up with a fly rod you got looked at like a logger in a skirt. Nowadays the gear guys are looking at what the fly guys are doing instead of the other way around, which is certainly a first in the history of fishing. My second year of chasing Musky I went 28 days without a fish—Now a guy goes 28 minutes and starts wondering what to do differently. This is due to the fact that streamer anglers today are dedicated down to the core of their being and are no longer looking to anyone else for the answers. They are the new pioneers and finding the answers themselves.
The most obvious things that have changed in streamer fishing are the flies, and of course, the gear. We now have the entire industry building rods and lines just for us, and when that happens you know there are plenty of us out there. In my opinion, the evolution of the flies is the most amazing part.Before Modern Streamers came out there were less than a dozen nationally produced streamers, and it was hard to find anything bigger than a size 6 in most catalogs. Shit, you would have to join a Black Nosed Dace, Mickey Finn, Grey Ghost, Muddler Minnow, Matuka and maybe a Whitlock Sculpin in size 6 to get a real fly by today’s standards. Now when you look through fly bins, catalogs, and online fly shops there are more articulated flies available than all the streamers patterns combined just 10 years ago. We have finally come of age and streamer fishing and tying has created a renaissance with young anglers who want to create their own monster flies. It is a whole new era for fly fishing.
In summary, everything has changed, and for the better— the gear available to the contemporary streamer geek is light years ahead of anything we could have envisioned when Modern Streamers for Trophy Trout first hit the shelves. The number of truly passionate anglers has increased along with the number of new and creative flies and fly tiers. The positive attitude and deep dedication of these anglers make us all better, and I’m damn proud to be a part of it.
By Kelly Galloup
Kelly is literally the OG of streamer fishing – one of the most influential writers, anglers, and fly tiers of all time. Kelly also owns a lodge in Cameron, Montana called Galloups Slide-Inn on the banks of the Madison River. Look for his follow up to Modern Streamers on shelves in the near future.