At Chile West, we often fish out of a raft on moving water. One of the techniques we like to use is called “bangin’ the banks”. Whether you’re using a streamer or a dry fly, it’s an effective technique and a fast-moving game, like a shooting gallery on the move.
If you’re chucking streamers from a boat anywhere in the world where trout live, these tips will help you get your fly back in the water quicker, and you back in the game.
- Anticipate your target. While floating downstream, keep your eyes moving. Always look downstream for what is coming up. When you see that juicy pocket that you don’t dare miss a shot at, make sure to time the cast accordingly, even if you have to pass on other less-desirable water. You may have to wait for a casting lane to open up, for that branch to pass by, etc… Better to hit the target than to hurry the cast and wrap it in a tree and blow the critical shot.
- Cast slightly downstream. Keep your cast at a slight angle downstream. This will give you time to get a mend in and let the fly sink a bit deeper. If you cast straight across, depending on the current, the line may get swept in the current and drag the fly out of the target zone too quickly. Another benefit of casting downstream is that it makes you naturally look ahead. Don’t get caught casting behind the boat – if you’re in front and miss the shot, leave it for your partner in the back to play “clean up”.
- Keep the fly away from the boat. When “bangin’ the banks”, you typically fish the water’s edge, casting the fly as close to the bank as possible, if not sometimes hitting the bank. The idea is that the fish are hiding under the overhanging branches or up on the edge just out of the fast water, waiting for food to float by or fall out of the trees. Cast the fly, make a mend and, if fishing streamers, give the fly four or five good strips and then re-cast back to the bank hitting the next target. If you strip the fly all the way back to the boat, the fly is probably deep and will be hard to get it up to the surface. That means more false casts to get the rod loaded, and that means missing out on quality water.
- Roll cast the fly to the surface. If the fly is too deep to be pulled out of the water and into a back cast, roll cast the line forward until the fly rises to the surface. Then you’ll be able to make a back cast safely without having the fly come up out of the water under your nose.
- Choose a line that loads your rod quickly. Getting your fly back in the zone quickly is important cast after cast, especially when drifting downstream at a good pace. False casting means missed targets, missed fish and at the end of the day, less fish to hand. The ‘tight loop’ purists might not like this next comment…but lines that technically ‘over-line’ your rod can work great here.
- Keep the rod tip close to the water. When streamer fishing, keep the rod tip as close to the water as possible when you’re stripping. This decreases the slack between strips, keeps a tighter line so you don’t miss the strike and will help to load the rod as you pick up to re-cast.