Get Started Streamer Fishing with Versileaders
We get plenty of questions in our fly shop about fishing streamers. Northern Michigan is, after all, the birthplace of modern streamer fishing and many of the biggest trout I see caught every year are on streamers. Unfortunately for anglers looking for a starting point in fishing streamers things are getting more complicated. Well, I'm going to break down what I believe to be the best way to get started throwing big flies for big fish.
Versileaders from RIO have been around for a long time but rarely get much attention. I've seen tons of anglers put off learning to fish with streamers because they didn't want to buy an extra spool and new fly line for something they've never tried. Heck, that was me years ago! Now of course, I have more fly lines than I know what to do with but fishing a Versileader is where I got started streamer fishing and I still fish them today.
A Versileader is simply a sinking leader that you can loop on to the end of the floating fly line you already have. They are available in different lengths and sink rates to suit almost any fishing situation. In smaller rivers like The Boardman the 7.5ft options are perfect. In larger rivers such as the Upper Manistee, the 12ft options are a better choice. In slower water you won't need the heavier ones but in the faster spots you may want to consider the "extra fast sink" versions that will get down 7.5 inches per second.
Each Versileader will have a small perfection loop on the end where you can attach tippet with a loop-to-loop connection. This loop-to-loop will allow you to easily change tippet and keep your Versileaders fishing longer. I typically prefer to use about two feet of 10lb maxima ultragreen as tippet. You could use heavier but with a twelve pound core you run the risk of losing the whole thing if you get snagged up.
You can use a standard clinch knot if you like but I prefer a non slip mono loop. This knot is easy enough with some practice and allows streamers to move with more freedom in the current giving it a more lifelike appearance. It's also very strong knot that you can trust to bring in even the largest fish.
This setup is best suited for fishing downstream; you'll want to quarter down using the current to animate your fly. Stay connected to your fly by minimizing slack and you'll know when a fish eats. Be sure to strip-set by pulling the line with non-rod hand. This will set the hook firmly into the mouth of the fish. Simply lifting the rod as you would when dry fly fishing often will not set the hook sufficiently.
Check out the video below for a quick run though of RIO's Versileaders.