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If you are going to fish streamers effectively, don't handicap yourself with inadequate tackle. Use enough gun! A six or seven weight outfit will fish big streamers much better than a four weight. It's also safer and less tiring too. Don't limit yourself to only floating line. To get the fly in front of fish in high, heavy water, a high density sink tip or full sinking line is a must. A clear intermediate is often effective in big, slow pools or for pounding the back from a drift boat. This is not sissy fly fishing! Use short heavy leaders (OX or 1X) with sinking lines and long heavy leaders with floating lines.

Don't be afraid to use very large flies. Many 8 inch trout are eaten by their brethren. In high water last June on the West Branch there was a week when BIG fish were feeding almost exclusively on 7 inch alewyfes, and we experienced some difficulty hooking up because our flies were too small. When the bait was dominated by 3 to 4 inch herring, we pounded big browns.

To consistently catch the biggest trout on streamers requires as much line manipulation and attention to presentation as dry fly fishing. Since you usually can't see your fly, it's more difficult to judge your presentation and make corrections. Unlike dry flies, you can't see the many fish that follow your fly or strike short.

In high dirty water (your best shot at large fish) the fish hold near cover that breaks the current and lie in ambush. Fish to the banks, fallen trees, islands, below points, and pool tail outs. Big fish are lazy, make it easy for them. Cast where they will be.

In low clear water fish the deepest heaviest currents; especially if large rocks are present. At dawn and dusk work the edges of these heavy currents. Cast your fly well upstream of the targeted lie and mend line to get it deep. Try to retrieve the fly cross current (broadside to the fish) as it enters the lie. Erratic retrieves are usually better than smooth steady ones. The speed and rhythm of the retrieve is critical and what the fish prefer changes daily. In general, the colder the water, the slower the retrieve. Experiment! Every guide has had two anglers of equal skills in the boat and yet one will catch all the fish because of some slight difference in the retrieve.

Fish the fly all the way back to your rod tip whether wading or in a boat. Fish often follow a streamer a considerable distance. If you spot a fish behind your fly don't slow down, instead speed it up. Predators expect prey to panic and flee; don't give up. When you get a strike, Hit'em Hard! A soft dry fly strike won't even move the fly in the jaws of a big brown. Strike hard enough to put a size 2 heavy wire hook through a boney jaw. If you miss a fish; immediately put the fly right back to his lie. Trout often hit bait to stun them, then swing around to kill and swallow. Giv'em another chance to hook up. The best way to learn streamer fishing is to hire an experienced guide and float the West Branch during high runoff in early spring or heavy dam releases in mid summer.


Fishing TripsFishing Equipment & DirectionsAbout Your Guide



My goal is to make you a threat to the fish and have fun doing it.

My philosophy is to learn as much as possible about the fish and environment every time out; and to pass that knowledge on to you. Above all, we have fun! When you fish with me, learn all that you can and please laugh at my jokes. I'll learn from you and laugh at yours. We'll both be better for it.

I grew up on the Delaware River and caught my first trout on a fly in 1964. Commercial fly tying helped me pay for college. I worked as a marine biologist for an environmental consulting firm which is how I arrived in the Lake Ontario region. This opened up a whole new fishing world populated with giant salmon and steelhead. I fell in love with the area and decided to raise my kids there and established a fishing business in 1983. I've guided on the Great Lakes tribs, the Finger Lakes and the upper Delaware ever since. Come join me.



John F. Dembeck
NYS Guide License #0189
CPR, First Aid,Water Safety Certified
1522 County Route 3
Hannibal, NY 13074
(315) 564-6366