Weather  MDC

Forage Fish

Forage Fish are imitated by a fly that is called a streamer. The streamer is designed to imitate a wide variety of small fishes and other swimming invertebrates.

A streamer can imitate natual food forms or it can simply be an attractor or exciter fly. Predatory fish are always on the lookout for active food. They are generally triggered to strike by two factors, the sight of a big, easy meal or an intruder in their territory. Imitating naturals can work well when a trout is on the feed, but, unfortunately, they are not hunger all of the time. However, a trout that is not feeding can be antagonized or excited into striking by the sudden intrusion of a very active, very brightly-colored or noisy fly.

When tying a streamer pattern four components should be considered: Size, Shape, Action, and Color.

Some Forage Fish

chub darter

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Streamer Colors

Trout have excellent color vision but it is limited to the clarity and depth of the water. In clear, shallow (1-3 feet), sunlit water they see all colors well. But as water becomes more colored or murky, they cannot see color as well. The less light, the less color they see.

The best stream colors for trout to see in these less than ideal conditions are: black, white, and fluorescent yellow-chartreuse.

solid black streamers, with silver reflective material, work best at night and/or in very deep water. Black forms the strongest eye-catching sharp silhouette for people and trout.
White is the second choice because, if there is any amount of light, it reflects the most color.

Fluorescent yellow-chartreuse is third because it's the last to lose its color value in deep (low-light) water. Yellow-chartreuse, white, and black also make the best colors for the attractors/excitor streamers because they appear so vidid to a trout. Red and orange alos work well as excitor colors, if water is well lit, clear, and shallow.

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Position of Minnows or Streamers
in the Water Column

Typically minnow or streamer imitations should be tied to be fished in five positions in the water column:

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Shape and Coloration

Just as aquatic insect groups have specific shapes and colorations, so do various groups of fish or minnows. If the general group variations are known, a far better tie can be made for streamer imitations.

Minnows and streamers can be divided into three Groups -

Group 1Open-water, schooling minnows. They forage from deep water to the surface. The open-water
minnows have coloration that will usually make them the hardest to see in the water.
    Shape: 1. Long and slender, smelt and silversides.
2. Deep and narrow, alewife and threadfin shad.
    Coloration:Back: Color of the water looking down into it.
Sides: Almost 100% reflective, silver
Belly: White
Group 2 Stream and lake minnows that live above but near the bottom. They take on the coloration of the water and bottom. Examples: dace, shiners, chub, stickle back, small trout.
    Shape:compact cylindrical, more like a slim trout. This group forages from the bottom to top:
    Coloration:Back: Color of bottom.
Sides: Barred or lateral stripe to blend with their backgrounds, the water color and shadows.
Belly: White to cream.
Group 3Stream and lake bottom-dwellers. This group forages mostly on or very near bottom. These will take on the coloration of the bottom. Examples: sculpin, darters, mad toms, and suckers.
    Shape: A triangular body that is widest at the bottom, with a wide down-sloping head.
    Coloration:Back: Camouflage, color pattern to match bottom.
Sides: Camouflage, color pattern to matdh bottom.
Belly: White or pale pastels of tan, cream, turquoise, or olive.

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