In search of Unicorns: Fly fishing the White River Arkansas

fly fishing for large rarely seen white river brown trout. this image depicts their unicorn stigma.

Maybe a little extreme but chasing the largest Brown Trout known in North America, if not the world, is something I must do. I have caught many trout, a few large Trout, but nothing like what lurks in the shadows of the White river. It is considered a hub for trophy chasers and streamer junkies alike. These beasts do not blink at a mayfly imitations heck not even four inch streamers. No these are the alpha predators, the One, the Master of their liar. Unicorns you ask? Well you don’t get many shots at these beasts even in the best conditions, some go years without witnessing one – but they do exist. This is one of the very reasons they have survived and grown so large.

I have been honing my streamer skills for quite a while. I read Bob Linsenman and Kelly Galloup’s Modern Streamers for Trophy Trout: New Techniques, Tactics, and Patterns the year it came out, and re-read it this past month. For years now I have applied those tactics on local waters with good success. Last year I purchased George Daniel’s book Strip Set and obtained more information. So I thought I knew something about this subject until I spoke with Tommy Lynch a.k.a. The_Fish_Whisperer. Tommy is a renowned guide in the Pere Marquette Michigan area. Tommy’s decades of guiding experience, cutting edge approaches, and solid ethics is the reason I’m drawn to seek his mastery. I am joining him next week and a few other sticks on a quest to find the One.
This is the first post in a series where I hope to present to you my experience fishing the White river for these beasts.

Articulated Streamer for the White River AR #flyfishing #streamers #white_river

Preparation:
Big #$!@ streamers. You gotta feed ‘em meat! When Brown trout grow above twenty inches or so they transform into primarily meat eating predators. Feeding mainly at night and other quiet conditions. No you are not gong to coax them with a number twelve Adams.

Be it dry flies, nymphs, or common streamers, what transcends typical fly patterns versus predator streamer patterns is action/movement and size. I realized as I have been tying these gigantic patterns that I am making lures not merely imitations. After many failed attempts I am finally getting the hang of it and my local testing is showing signs of hope.

Testing on a winter day; Youghiogheny river.
Articulated Streamer for the White River AR #flyfishing #streamers #white_river

Sinking line and lots of it. On small waters it is not uncommon to use weighted streamers with floating fly line , but Toto we’re not in Kansas anymore. No the White requires you to get down and stay down for a long distance. Sinking heads with a floating running line pulls the fly upward which is fine on small streams where only a small portion of the running line is not affecting the fly movement but not good for long distance retrieves. Secondly, weight incorporated in the fly kills the action – we want lots of enticing action!

I’m packing my Sage One 9′ #8 and a back-up Orvis Recon 9′ #8 and of course my Ross Momentum Reels. I have a bunch of lines but I will be relying on my Airflo Streamer Max – 320 grain.

Here are some of the patterns I am tying. Wish me luck!

Articulated Streamer for the White River AR #flyfishing #streamers #white_river

Articulated Streamer for the White River AR #flyfishing #streamers #white_river

Articulated Yellow and Olive streamer pattern

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