Streamer Fishing For Arctic Char
There are many methods of targeting Arctic Char but as with most species of fish the bigger they get the more predatory they become. With this in mind, when chasing that trophy Char it can be a good idea to look at using streamer flies. Streamer patterns normally represent small fish or large invertebrates that bigger specimen Char feed upon, these patterns can be fished in a few different ways to best get a response.
Stripping streamer patterns can be an extremely effective way to get Arctic Char revved up. The time of year and the water conditions will dictate the speed and depth that you fish the fly. A good rule of thumb is always to start up high in the water column and strip your flies above the fishes head as this will start to get their attention without spooking them.
When I start to fish down in the water column I like to fish a weighted fly with a long leader but still on a floating line, this allows me to get the fly down slightly closer to the fish without running the fly line through the shoal and risk spooking them. If this still doesn’t induce a take I will then drop the size of my fly and add help from a sinking line to get the fly even deeper.
Sometimes Arctic Char like a fly in front of their faces and this can make a huge difference. The speed and technique of your retrieve can make a great deal of difference to how the fish react and paying attention to these details will greatly improve your chances. Sometimes it is worth using a fast strip and stop retrieve, this will often result in savage takes as the rush in for the take, other days a slower figure of eight will be more to their liking.
This is very similar in its approach to that of stripping streamers. Swinging streamers is just another way of giving them movement. By using a small double handed rod or a single handed rod and casting between 12 and 2 O’clock when facing the river, you can use the current of the water to put life in the fly.
I like to use the same philosophy as I use with stripping flies by starting way up in the water column and working my way through until I find that magic taking spot. Line control is paramount with this kind of fishing as doing the correct things with the line will allow you to slow down or speed up your fly depending what the fish want. It can be affective to put a little bit of stripping action into you’re swinging fly as this extra bit of movement can sometimes make the difference.
There are so many good streamer patterns to fish for Arctic Char it would take me an age to mention them all but I will mention a few that I have had personal success with. The world famous Pattegrisen fly has been a great Char pattern for me and can be deadly stripped back in a twitch, twitch pause motion.
The Sunray shadow tube fly has been another big hitter for me in the past as its slender profile darting around in a current seems to drive fish mad.
When I have been forced to fish a bit deeper the good old bunny leach has always served me well, it can be fished very slowly and due to its soft hare body continues to wiggle enticingly.
When the Char are tight to the bottom flies like the belly scratcher and clouser minnow have been good to get down to the fish quickly and not get snagged due to their upturned hooks.