In Praise of Ugly Streamers


It was a brutal summer in Vermont, and the Battenkill has been running so low and warm that everyone I know stopped fishing it in August for fear of over-stressing the trout. But recently, nighttime air temperatures have started dipping into the 40s, and the leaves on the maples are beginning to turn—sure signs that fall is here. The Tricos, which started coming off last month, are winding down. They’re the last big hatch of the year on the ’kill, bringing fish to the surface again to feed on spinnerfalls at dusk and emergers in the morning. But for me, Tricos are just a teaser for the Main Event: fall streamer fishing. And when I’m after big browns bulking up for the long winter, I like to throw something heavy, meaty, and ugly.

As a native New Englander, I grew up casting elegant featherwing streamers such as the Gray Ghost and hairwings like the Black Nose Dace. Something “ugly” might have been a (shudder) Woolly Bugger. But over the years, I’ve embraced the aesthetically challenged mutants—patterns like the Slump Buster, Beldar Rubber-Leg Bugger, and all manner of things featuring tungsten cones, multi-material bodies, and lots of wiggly rubber appendages. Traditionalists may frown upon such monstrosities, but brown trout love ’em.

This fall, I’m pumped to try Greg Senyo’s Olive G-String Sculpin, which seems custom-made for the Battenkill. Senyo, a partner in Steelhead Alley Outfitters has put together a real winner.


Senyo’s Olive Iced-Out Sculpin
Front Hook: Mustad 3366, size 2, cut at the bend.
Rear Hook: Gamakatsu Octopus hook, size 2. Loop attached to 30-pound Fire Line.
Thread: Olive Uni-Thread, 6/0.
Under Body: Hareline Olive Baitfish Emulator Flash.
Belly: Pearl UV Ice Dubbing.
Body: Hareline Barred Olive Rabbit Strip.
Head: Brown and Olive Senyo’s Laser Dubbing.
Legs: Missouri Craw Colored Rubber: Brown-olive-black.
Eyes: Hareline 3D silver Oval Pupil, 3/16.
Note: Dumbell eyes, if used, should be tied on the bottom or underside of hook.

I’ll fish it on a medium-action 6-weight with a floating line and a loop-to-loop sinking tip. I’ll let you know how it goes.


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