Salomone: Four colors for streamer fishing right now

In the transition to frigid temperatures, an afternoon of angling fun on the Eagle River only requires a few action-producing streamer tones

Michael Salomone
As the Eagle River transitions to more frigid temperatures, streamers in four basic colors can provide an afternoon of angling fun.
Michael Salomone/Courtesy photo

Despite the cold night air, recent daytime temperatures have been very friendly for angling action. The river water hasn’t eclipsed into frigid conditions just yet. Early-morning evidence foreshadowing colder conditions can be found in the skim ice forming around riverbank boulders overnight. As the transition occurs, streamers are still turning the heads of quality fish throughout the Eagle River. Anglers holding streamers in four action-producing colors will see more fish brought to the net.

Walk into Vail Valley Anglers fly shop for a quick glimpse of the streamer options and one thing becomes evident: black is key. Black does a lot of things for your angling. Shape and size become more defined by a black streamer. A key element for eye catching action is the silhouette delivered in moving water.

Broad-headed sculpins inhabit the Eagle River and increase in size as you move downstream. A black-colored bugger swimming in the turbulence of deep water imitates these forage fish and will get whacked by opportunistic trout.

The author poses with a rainbow trout caught on the Eagle River.
Michael Salomone/Courtesy photo

There are a lot of variations when looking at dark-colored streamers. Black and purple or blue, black with flash or straight black are just a few options. One thing is for sure — start with black. Playing with variations such as sparkle and flash, intermixed colors or two-toned options is something to dial in on the river. Let the fish steer your decision process.

Finicky trout that have seen a few flies during the day or fish in ultra-clear water become selective, favoring muted, natural tones like olive. A shade of green that breathes with life when incorporated into a streamer fly, olive green is a must have in any angler’s streamer arsenal.

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Dark green displays color with a subtlety unlike black. Movement appears more natural. Shape and size become less dominant in the selection process when color helps to sell the offering.

Natural tones are unobtrusive in the water. As a result, trout will return to the fly. An aggressive trout who misses, smacks or rolls on a streamer will give a second shot to anglers fishing a natural tone fly like olive. Olive streamers recast to a missed strike have a higher return on investment than any other color. Wounded, injured or disoriented baitfish provide easy targets for swift swimming trout. If they don’t feel the hook, they will be looking for the fly.

The impulsive, predatory nature displayed by barbaric brown trout in the fall is incomparable.
Michael Salomone/Courtesy photo

When it comes to speed and pace, streamers are fished with increased speed. However, one color that benefits from longer pauses would be off-white. Any tone in the cream, off-white realm displays a weakened appearance. Dead or dying baitfish develop the color of decay.

Hurt, sick or injured baitfish provide easy forage. These fish swim erratically. Longer pauses with swift strips imitates the lack of strength that triggers bites. Cold can kill or stun baitfish. Dead drifting around boulders with subtle twitches entices trout waiting in ambush positions without employing much action at all. A streamer fly need not be ripped through the water to be effective. Deer hair and marabou can sell it for you.

A personal favorite for late-season action has always been yellow. Variations of yellow intermixed with other tones produce a dull, subdued appearance. A straight, bright yellow streamer gives excellent feedback to the angler and provides extended visibility to trout. Anglers adept at following their streamer visually get excited when the yellow disappears.

 A yellow-colored streamer mimics a juvenile brown trout and when retrieved at an irregular pace triggers a cannibalistic urge from mature, brown trout. Rainbows will give chase too, but the impulsive, predatory nature displayed by barbaric brown trout in the fall is incomparable. Brown trout have got to eat the weak.

Stripping cadence and pauses with purpose entice streamer eaters into the chase. Flashes of color that don’t connect should be addressed with a change in speed. Longer pauses give hungry trout the opportunity to grab the streamer. Downstream mending pulls the fly with the same motion and direction as injured or disoriented bait fish swim. A healthy, upstream swimming baitfish does not elicit a feeding response.

Cannibalistic brown trout are drawn to yellow-colored streamers, which mimic juvenile brown trout.
Michael Salomone/Courtesy photo

A memorable adventure on the Eagle River comes easily when anglers cast streamer flies. Streamer eaters will test knots, bend metal and leave you disheartened when they toss the hook, fueling the desire for more action. The angler packing streamers in four basic colors will gather the attention of everything from cannibalistic browns to ravenous rainbows.

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