Streamers are investments

Fish your streamers tough, but tie them tougher.

Brown Trout on the Mongrel Meat

I think everyone who tie flies has had this happen before.  You spend extra time and care creating the perfect streamer, and when you show it to your "Wooly-bugger-or-die" buddy, he says sarcastically "Man, I sure hope you don't lose that thing."

Double Wide Cheech Leech

Just like anything else, tying flies can be relatively inexpensive and time consuming, or it can be very expensive and time consuming depending on a lot of variables.  I have no issue with trying to save money on fly tying materials (See THIS about our craft store adventures) but there are certain circumstances where, in my opinion, it is worth it to go all out on a fly.  One of these circumstances is tying and buying streamer patterns.  With all the bells and whistles, fancy epoxy eyes, lazer sharpened hooks, GPS homing systems, and attack grenades that you can fit onto a streamer these days, they tend to be expensive both to tie and to buy.  I think that streamers should be treated differently from other types of flies, and they are really more like investments than throw-away $2 zebra midges.  Here are 5 tips that might help you see where I'm coming from.

Splake on a Cheech Leech

1. Larger tippet/leader means you probably wont lose them.

Unlike fishing a small dry fly or nymph, a streamer lends itself well to being fished on a thick leader with a
loop knot.  Most of the time, I'm fishing either 15# Berkeley 100% Fluorocarbon, or 12# Maxima on them.  I can't remember the last time I lost a streamer (while fishing it anyway).  Even if I get it caught in a tree, I turn into a lumber jack via. fish hook by pointing my rod at the tree and lettin' her rip.  My point here is that streamers are not nearly as disposable as other patterns that are fished on lighter tippet.  Also, if you are going to land the fish of a lifetime, you better be hucking some cable at him.

2. Use quality hooks and components.

We did a video on the Cheech Leech using Lazer Trokar hooks last year and I have gotten many comments about how expensive those hooks are.  Granted, I don't tie all of my Cheech Leeches with Lazer Trokar hooks, but I have my limited reserve flies that get tied on if I think something special is about to happen.  For Pike and Musky, I tie almost exclusively on Lazer Trokar hooks and I have been using the same flies for a few years.  I recommend at the very least tying with chemically sharpened conical point hooks.  THESE are good.  THESE are better.  Also, some of the materials for streamers can seem expensive like schlappen, arctic fox, barred zonkers, or Finn raccoon - but If you put it into perspective, the flies you tie with these materials should last you a long time, so it's worth the investment to spend a bit of money if it will make your fly better.

3. Spend time tying them and making them bulletproof.

Black and Blue Cheech Leech
If I'm going to be tying a fly that is going to last a long time, I will spend more time making it "bulletproof."  Whether this means substituting a less durable material for a more durable material (i.e. arctic fox for marabou), or adding a tiny bit of super glue in vulnerable spots - it's worth the extra time if it's going to extend the life of your investment.  I think the best way to create a durable fly is to make sure you are using snug thread wraps.  Regardless of the type and size of thread you like to use, make sure you use proper tension to ensure durability.  With super glue, it's important that you realize that a little bit will go a long way, and you shouldn't over-do it because it can be more harm than help if it gets into materials that need to stay flexible.

4. Learn how to effectively resharpen your hooks.

Yes, even the best of hooks will lose their edge if you scrape them on enough rocks and snag them in enough trees.  The fly portion of the fly is still 100% OK, but that dull hook is definitely going to cost you fish.  It's in your best interest to learn how to effectively sharpen your hooks.  A little bit of work goes a long way.  Instead of a boring dissertation on how to sharpen hooks, check out this video by Lefty Kreh.  Very well said Lefty.

5. Limit the quantity of each pattern/color you carry.

Really, my point here is that you won't be losing flies like you would if you are using #18 PMD patterns, so it's not as critical to have 12 of each color and size.  For my personal boxes, I typically like to have 4 of each size and color of each fly.  That is a LOT of streamers to have on my person, and I'm probably lugging around too many streamers, but that's what happens when you have Streamer-OCD.  I firmly believe that you can get by with 2 streamers in each size and color.  This will allow you to carry a bigger selection of flies in a smaller container.
Triple Section Streamer strikes again

I had the idea to write this article because I was thinking back to an experience I had a few years ago.  a guy had seen the Cheech Leech at a tying expo and showed some interest in buying some.  When I quoted him $7 each, he flipped out.  He said "Well, how am I supposed to save any money by buying flies from you."  "I'll just go down to Sportsman's Warehouse and get some zonkers and wooly buggers."  Be my guest my friend... Be my guest.  He didn't get it.  Funny thing is that I caught my personal best brown trout on that exact fly that I was tying.  It has caught 3 bruiser browns and countless others.  It has also been sharpened several times, and rests quietly in my box ready for the next few years of fishing.

For all your streamer needs be sure to visit our Streamer Depot.

~ Cheech