Articulated streamers aren’t exactly a new concept. If you grew up anywhere steelhead abound, you’ve probably been fishing them for quite a while. However, in the last few years these streamers–with bendable, flowing bodies and hooks seated at the tail–have grown in popularity with trout hunters across the U.S.A. Growing up fishing the streams of New Jersey, Eastern Pennsylvania, and Southern New York, the only streamers I could bank on finding were wooly buggers, Muddler Minnows, Mickey Finns, and Black Ghosts. Today I can find Voodoo Leeches, Willie Nelsons, and several other articulated creations that have hit the scene recently in the same shop trays.
I discovered articulateds during my first visit to Alaska a few years ago, even before my local fly shops carried them. There I learned they were a must for big Alaskan rainbows that have a nasty habit of short-striking a fly or hitting and spitting. They worked incredibly well, and it dawned on me that the habits of those rainbows during Alaska’s summer were exactly the same as those of my local trout in late fall and winter. My success rate at home during cold season increased so much, I can’t remember the last time I cast a non-articulated streamer this time of year.
The brown trout above fell to the Sculpzilla variation at left last weekend. What I like about these flies when it’s cold is that it takes very little stripping to get them dancing, which is important when trout are hunkered down and not in the mood to chase. I can slowly tick this fly across the bottom and let the current impart most of the shimmy, of which it has plenty because there’s no hook shank running down the center to make the fly stiff. But most importantly, when that trout gave a subtle nip, the rear-swinging hook made the play. Think about how many times you’ve missed a trout that’s pecked the tail of a wooly bugger. It was enough motivation for me to fall in love with articulateds.