• Fly Selection: How to Choose the Right Streamer Color for Any Fishing Situation
  • Post author
    Jorge Garcia Huertes
  • fly fishingfly fishing tipsstreamer fishing

Fly Selection: How to Choose the Right Streamer Color for Any Fishing Situation

How Do You Decide Which Streamer Color to Fish With?

Choosing the right color for your streamers based on the kind of water, depth, and brightness of the day is quite important in fly fishing.

Like many casting or spinning anglers do with their lures, we must tie our fly patterns using different combinations of colors because the flies don't look the same when they're underwater depending on the weather, water color, and depth.

For instance, a streamer with a lot of bright colors is ideal for sunny days because of the flashes produced by the sun, but isn't effective for dark days. This concept is not only useful for streamer fishing but for nymphing as well.

Let's Talk About the Weather

Sunny Days 

Golden and silver colors are the best option for fly fishing during sunny days. The sunlight reflects on them and produces flashes that attract the attention of fish. In contrast, on cloudy days these gold and silver streamers will be practically invisible.

Cloudy Days 

UV light is especially powerful during cloudy days, so fluorescent and bright colors are essential for predatory fish to notice your streamers.

Types of Water

The next important factor is the tone of the water.

Transparent Water

Mask Jerky tied with a Fish-Skull Fish-Mask and Living Eyes.

Streamers with mostly natural colors are ideal for transparent water. Fish will be able to see the imitation perfectly, so it should resemble the baitfish that they usually hunt as much as possible. Brown, gray, olive, and white colors would be some of the best options.

Green Water

They love the Fish-Skull Fish-Mask.

Streamers with two tones — one more natural, and another colorful — will increase your streamer fishing success in green water. This streamer color combination allows the fish to detect your fly without causing rejections. An example would be a chartreuse and white fly.

Brown Water

Living Eyes finish off this Game Changer fly pattern tied on the Fish-Skull Articulated Fish-Spine system.

Streamers tied with bright colors as well as especially dark or black colors will get the most attention when fishing in brown water. This is the situation in which fire tiger fly patterns show their maximum potential.

Fly Selection and Speed of Current

These conditions are also ideal for articulated patterns which produce good vibrations and movement because fish will use more of their lateral line senses than of their vision to locate and attack prey. A good option would be to use a colorful Game Changer fly.

Fly Colors, Depth, and Light Absorption 

The last factor would be the visibility of each color depending on the depth due to the absorption of the color.

Due to the grade of light penetration and ultra-violet wavelength, clear colors, such as white, will look gray or bluish and the darkness of this appearance boosts rapidly as it goes deeper. It will be the same for red colors which will look to be darker (dark brown or black) within a few meters of the surface. In very deep water, regardless water color or tone, there will be a great deal of gray, blue, or black shades.

Temperate Bass Flies: How to Diversify Your Fly Box

Its very important to know because, for example, if we want to fish deeper we should not use a streamer in which red predominates since it will not be seen because its visibility range goes from 0 m to 6 m. Thus, using them at 10 m depth would be like fishing with an invisible streamer.

Regarding horizontal distance, it's exactly the same. Color perception will be the same at 5 m both in horizontal, diagonal, and vertical separation.

Let's analyze each color as it applies to your fly and the depth of the water: 


They should be used in the first layers of water. Quickly lose their visibility range from 0 m to 6 m. Even much more in turbid water 


Visibility range from 0 m to 10 m.


These colors are visible from 0 m to 20 m.  


Visible from 0 m to 27 m.  


The most visible of all. They do not lose their visibility even below 30 m depth.

Fly Tying: There's No New Black

Fill up Your Fly Box and Go Fishing!

Hopefully this information will help you with your streamer selection and increase your fishing success. You can also add rattles to produce more vibrations and then fish can locate them through their lateral line.

Make Some Noise! How To Tie Loud Flies for Esox Fishing

Also, don't forget that these concepts are applicable when fishing with nymphs.

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About Jorge Garcia Huertes:

Jorge, owner of www.universalflyfishing.com, has been fly fishing for bass, trout, pike, and carp since he was a child in Spain. His website is dedicated to fly fishing and tying, and he has a YouTube channel with a great deal of tying tutorials and fishing videos. Jorge belongs to the Flymen Fly Tyer program, the Jerkbait Pro Team, and collaborates with Madrid Fly Fishing, which is one of the most important fly fishing stores in Spain. Follow him on Instagram @jorge_g_huertes.

  • Post author
    Jorge Garcia Huertes
  • fly fishingfly fishing tipsstreamer fishing

Comments on this post (14)

  • Feb 02, 2022

    Always interesting to review basic facts from a new voice.

    — ron busche

  • Feb 02, 2022

    Trying to overlook that fact that your intro says bright colors are not effective on dark days, then the Cloudy Days section says bright colors are essential to have your streamer noticed. ??? The color absorption section is interesting — not familiar with that factor. Since I fish rivers for trout and cast to structure, I don’t need a fish to see the fly more than maybe 10 or 15 feet away, the light absorption issue isn’t much of a concern. Still, it’s interesting — but I’d like to know where that info came from so I could read more.

    — Greg Hoover

  • Feb 01, 2022

    Nice article, however, I found it a little hard to under stand because everything was in meters and I don’t use meters, I use feet. Don’t know 10 m, 20m equal in feet. For us in US you should feet not meters.

    — Darrel Christensen

  • Feb 01, 2022

    This for some is very difficult to understand because it’s counter-intuitive. Very well done article. Makes it easy to understand.

    — JV

  • Nov 11, 2021

    Please add me to your list.
    Thank you

    — Mark

  • Dec 03, 2020

    Please add me to your mailing list

    — JC

  • Dec 03, 2020

    Good information— general and specific. Please add me to the mailing list.

    — Harding O

  • Dec 03, 2020

    Like Your Info!!!!

    — Toby Frey

  • Dec 03, 2020

    Awesome, congrat

    — Rubén Huertes

  • Dec 03, 2020

    I was out fishing with some friends in totally dark green, algae filled water. They fished solid dark olive tube and jigs and were killing it with the bass. How can this be if we are supposed to be using two color flies?

    — James Shanley

  • Dec 03, 2020

    add me to your mailing list.

    — Lonnie Allison

  • Dec 03, 2020

    Very useful.

    — Lonnie Allison

  • Dec 03, 2020

    Add me to your mailing list

    — Robert E Haffley

  • Dec 03, 2020

    Interesting !!!

    — Robert E Haffley

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