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Streamer Fishing For Trophy Trout with Kelly Galloup

A Media Review by Joe Cornwall



Trout are not bass.  We’re reminded of this by virtually every magazine, video, book and fly fishing club meeting.  In the fly fishing lexicon, the trout is the nexus; it is and has been the core and the focus of the sport.  If you live in trout country, that’s fine.  But for the rest of us, it seems a bit unfair.  The industry has overlooked the fact that trout are piscine predators that share many traits with black bass, temperate bass, cichlids, toothy members of the essox clan, and a host of others.  Once they get big enough to demand a meal of fresh meat, most freshwater fish (especially in rivers) behave similarly, if not identically.  That’s why this 6-year old video is so important to the readers of the Fly Fish Ohio on-line magazine.  I found it particularly rewarding when Kelly Galloup hooked and landed a smallmouth bass in the video, though I found the background comments to be a bit off-putting.


First released on DVD in 2004, this video hasn’t aged a bit.  Shot on the Madison in Montana, the production only suffers from its lack of a widescreen 16:9 aspect ratio and availability in a 1080p Blu-ray format.  Image quality is better than average, well light and in great focus.  The soundtrack, mostly voice narration, doesn’t demand a big surround sound presentation but benefits from the atmosphere a quality installation can deliver. 


The video is squarely educational in nature, forgoing the “fish porn” so much a part of so many contemporary fly fishing videos.  There are no yaks, no breathless breaks where the hero has to use gaffing tape to close a wound, and no spectacular risks that make even the best outing you’ve ever been on look like a “You Must Be This Tall To Ride” junior adventure at Disney World.  There is just solid, clearly communicated and superbly useful instruction.


The chapters in the production include The Predator Theory, Rigging for Streamers, Holding Water, Fishing the Far Bank, Wade Fishing Streamers, Jerk-Strip Retrieve, Boulder & Pocket Water, Mid-River Holding Water, and Streamer Flies for Trophy Trout.  Throughout the video, Galloup emphasizes reading the water and presenting the fly from the proper angle and approach.  He also demonstrates his technique from a wader’s perspective, while explaining how it would differ if the angler were in a boat.  This is a great way to present the information, as so many of us fish with our feet on the streambed.  There really is something in this for everyone!


For the warm water enthusiast, particularly for the smallmouth junkie, there are three chapters that deliver an invaluable return on the price of the disc.  In the chapter Holding Water, Galloup describes in detail how a large, predatory brown trout uses structure and current.  Large brown trout and smallmouth bass behave in a very similar manner.  What works for one will definitely work for the other.  The micro-structure holding and feeding stations identified by Galloup are precisely the spots to which I’d cast for big bronze.  While some of the spots are obvious to even a slightly experienced angler, many are nearly counterintuitive.  In particular, this is true for large fish holding on inside bends in shallow, featureless water.  Good fish in these areas often surprise nonchalant fly fishers after they’ve been spooked.  Galloup explains why these spots are so attractive to apex predators, and shows effective methods for approaching these challenging holding spots.


The chapter Jerk-Strip Retrieve is the star of the video.  Galloup espouses a very aggressive approach to hunting for big, active carnivores.  His technique of manipulating the fly with the rod tip and controlling the line with the left hand is pure gold.  More than most predators, smallmouth bass are opportunistic feeders.  It’s rare that a sulking smallie can be tempted by a dead-drifted nymph like a trout might be.  Instead this little gangster eats meals a substantial portion of his own body size, and then fades under a rock to wait for the next delivery.  Provoking a reaction strike is the key to taking bigger fish, and the jerk-strip method is the ideal system. 


In this system a full-sinking fly line is used to move a large streamer quickly, at depths from a few inches to a few feet.  Galloup emphasizes that casts are almost never more than 40-feet, and the retrieve starts the moment the fly splashes down.  Galloup has gone the extent of designing a task-specific fly line for this technique – a fly line that the Fly Fish Ohio team will be reviewing in detail in an upcoming article.  Galloup also specifies that the flies are to be un-weighted and fished on a short, simple leader.  This description bears an uncanny resemblance to many stream smallmouth tactics.  The flies Galloup describes are themselves a perfect choice for the bronze battler.  And just to remind you, Galloup lands a nice bronze slab in the video while targeting big, aggressive browns.  He demonstrates, perhaps unwittingly, that for smallmouth the method works, and works well. 


Finally, the chapter Mid-River Holding Water offers a lot of great advice about reading water that is typically difficult to read.  The mid water areas hold a lot of fish, especially under sunny conditions when the broken surface offers overhead shelter.  But it’s a game of subtleties out there, where most things looks like most other things. Amazingly, some of the water I’ve passed over in the past Galloup identifies as prime spots!  There’s a lot of water flowing through the typical shute in a smallmouth creek, as there is in a trout stream.  Knowing how predator fish will utilize the microstructure in these key holding areas is paramount to taking fish from them.


While there's no fly tying per se in this video, the final chapter is a tour through Galloup's fly boxes.  The flies he suggests are a great selection for just about any freshwater (or saltwater for that matter) gamefish.  From the Zoo Cougar to the Stacked Blonde to the Twin-Tailed Madonna, what the viewer will be struck by is the shear SIZE of the flies he throws for trout.  It's refreshing to see this as I often pick size 2 to size 2/0 flies for smallmouth, much to the horror of my trout-oriented compadres.  If you want to tempt the baddest boy in the brook, you need to offer up a hunk of meat.  Watching this segment of the video alone will prompt you to get Galloup's fly tying DVD to learn the patterns!


This is a great instructional video.  It's a solid primer if your intent is to hunt trophy brown trout.  What makes it so exciting is that, if you substitute "smallmouth bass" for "trout" in the soundtrack you'd have a world-class warm water instructional video, too.


Streamer Fishing For Trophy Trout, ASIN: B0006OA992, is available for $34.95 on DVD and is published by Fly Fish TV.  You can also rent it from Netflix if you have a subscription.  It's definitely a video worth watching!

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