Salomone: Streamertime, three favorite streamer-specific fly lines

Michael Salomone
Vail Valley Anglers
Fly angler fishing streamers.
Michael Salomone/Courtesy photo

You can feel it. The air is crisp. Leaves are dancing in countless colors of ochre. The river seems to swell in the yellow light reflected from autumn-cloaked hillsides. Time to get serious about chasing the trolls living beneath the undercut banks that are guarded by roots and rocks. Anglers in the midst of streamer season have specialized rods, reels and fly lines to tip the karma scales in their favor.

Streamer fly fishing triggers the hunter-angler into action. Fall is not only the time for hunters to occupy the forests. But it’s also for anglers to retrieve fly rods with fighting butts and large arbor reels from the recesses of closets and behind hangered shirts. Fall is feeding time.

Rods and reels could make up the better part of a book when it comes to discussions about streamer fishing. All fly anglers strive for an ideal streamer rod and reel setup. One where heavy flies are slid through small windows with laser-guided accuracy. Rods start in the 6wt category and go up but rarely exceed 8wts. For this column, the focus is on the more common 6wts.

Local angler Mike Moser holding a giant rainbow trout.
Michael Salomone/Courtesy photo

The overlooked component or the one that is given the least attention is the fly line. Any old fly line will work, is an attitude to leave your shoulder sore, your spirit broken and your enjoyment restrained. Serious anglers have a need for a streamer-specific fly line. Working through the choices could take an angler a long time and a substantial monetary investment. Three proven selections from the Vail Valley Anglers experts will help guide you in the right direction.

Capable of casting large flies, streamer lines are able to carry a substantial amount of weight efficiently. However each streamer line has a sweet spot. Individual anglers need to figure out their own particular desires when it comes to streamer fishing. Some may desire an easier overall casting line. Others need the weight up front to carry their offering to target. And there are those anglers that want to dredge the river channel with full sinking lines.

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Scientific Anglers Sonar series, Rio Predator series and the Airflo Streamer Max Short are the three streamer-specific fly lines for this column.

Emily Dmohowski, Vail Valley Anglers manager and guide, has narrowed down her search for a streamer line to the Scientific Anglers Sonar Titan 3-D line. “These lines allow for easy casting all day.” Dmohowski said. The line has a graduated sink rate from the tip to the running line. The very tip of the line is set to sink fastest with a slower, lighter sink rate as you move up the fly line. Scientific Anglers has a large selection of graduated sink rate fly lines to cater to specific needs for a variety of anglers.

The graduated design allows for easier turn over when casting large flies. The line casts like a floating line, sinks like an anchor up front and keeps anglers connected better to the fish after the hookset. Brett Elkman, sales manager for Vail Valley Anglers reinforces this choice, stating, “It’s nice.”

Andy Leister, product manager for Vail Valley Anglers chooses the Rio Predator series of lines. Leister sees more fly lines than anyone. He is in a unique position that allows him to try them all. When it comes to the Rio Predator lines, Andy comments, “Any sink rate that floats your boat, It’s sweet.” These lines have a heavy head up front to allow anglers to punch cast with weighted flies through tight openings. The fly line’s core has no stretch to make every strip set count.

Handful of brown trout.
Michael Salomone/Courtesy photo

I have been fishing with Airflo fly lines for years. The Airflo fly lines are premium lines designed for performance and abuse. One of my favorite lines from Airflo has been the Streamer Max Short. This fly line delivers streamers with a short powerful head to drive casts into winds and around bankside boulders. The Streamer Max from Airflo has never let me down.

Three streamer-specific fly lines to make the most out of our autumn season. The colors are here. The cool morning air begs for anglers to pull out their cozy fleece jackets. Stop into Vail Valley Anglers fly shop in Edwards to load up your 6wt rod with a streamer-specific fly line. When it comes down to tempting Mr. Browntrout, you’ll be glad you did.

Michael Salomone moved to the Eagle River valley in 1992. He began guiding fly-fishing professionally in 2002. His freelance writing has been published in magazines and websites including, Southwest Fly Fishing, Fly Rod & Reel, Eastern Fly Fishing, On the Fly, FlyLords, the Pointing Dog Journal, Upland Almanac, the Echo website, Vail Valley Anglers and more. He lives on the bank of the Eagle River with his wife, Lori; two daughters, Emily and Ella; and a brace of yellow Labrador retrievers.

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