Matuka is the New Zealand Maori name for bittern. Bittern feathers were once popular for fly tying in New Zealand until this species was protected. Sportsmen eagerly sought alternate materials for their Matuka's and so this name now refers to a style of fly.
MATUKA STREAMER WET FLIES Hook size 8 - $US each
The use of such a large feather as a wing and tail was a masterstroke because when it moves through the water it wiggles and fools the fish into thinking that the fly is alive. The fly represents fry or minnows, but also makes an effective suggestive pattern of something a hungry trout would like to eat. The very robust wing that resembles the long dorsal fin of a bait fish. They were introduced to the USA and the rest of the world about 1975. They have been tied in just about every color combination you can imagine. Have the hackle wings of a streamer fly you were using ever twisted round the gape of a hook while casting? When this happens, the fly moves through the water like a propeller, instead of swimming with a smooth, minnow-like action. If this really annoys you then change to using Matuka style flies
The black Matuka can be used as an imitation of a small sculpin. Many smallmouth bass rivers have large populations of sculpins. These creatures are bottom hugging minnows that live under stones in well aerated water. This means that smallmouths living below riffles often feed heavily on sculpins as the offer a substantial meal. Wade into a river just below a riffle and cast across and slightly downstream. Give your streamer time to sink and then strip the line to make your fly swim along the bottom a good six inches every five or so seconds. Make about six casts to the same location and make each one about four feet longer than the last. If you do not have any luck wade about three yards downstream and start the sequence again.
This overlapping casting system enables the fly to be seen by nearly all the bass in front of you. A prime feeding location for bass is against a three foot deep shaded bank as this is where the sculpins like to live. Wade into the middle of the river and cast downstream tight against the bank. If you do not get an immediate strike move down stream about five foot. If you see minnows splashing through the shallows they are probably trying to evade predatory bass or trout. Smallmouths often patrol around gravel bars and grass beds on overcast days at dawn and dusk. Cast your fly about three feet in front of the minnow and to the side of the minnows. Aim to strip your streamer through the middle of the shoal in the hope of presenting it in front of the oncoming bass.
In Britain this type of fly is called a 'Lure'. Streamers (including hairwings/bucktails) represent various small fish, and are tied on long-shanked hooks. They may be tied as deceivers, imitations of local small baitfish or as vivid colorful attractors that suggest something alive, edible or a threat. The attractors are also designed to stimulate a predatory fish's aggression. They are usually a little heavier than the nymphs, and the wind resistance can vary depending on the particular fly. A streamer is tied with soft feathers, such as cock saddle hackles or marabou, and is intended for fishing in relatively small and calm waters. By contrast, bucktails are tied with hair wings instead of feathers - originally hair from a deer's tail, hence the name but also squirrel hair. They are more suitable for fishing in broad, fast waters.
Historically, streamers belong to the American east coast, while bucktails come from the west coast. All these flies are fished in the same way. It is both the easiest way of flyfishing, and the method that yields the biggest fish! This may sound paradoxical, but it isn't. There are two reasons: you can do nothing wrong with a big streamer or buck-tail, and the fact is that big fish prefer big flies. The nice thing about small fish compared with tiny insects and crustaceans is that, to a great extent, they can oppose the current. Being strong swimmers, they commonly dare to enter more open and rapid water As a result, the fly-fisherman can fish his flies almost anywhere he likes: up or down or across the stream, either fast or slow. The fly will be equally attractive in all cases, and you need not worry about whether the fly will drag. Really large fish have long ago given up eating small insects in favor of more substantial young fish. Otherwise they would never have reached the size that makes them so desirable to us!
Trout are the commonest guests of our fly rods when we fish with streamers and bucktails. Grayling prefer insects and other small creatures, although this does not prevent large grayling from occasionally taking a small streamer When it comes to trout, one can get the feeling that not even the largest streamer is large enough. The great majority of small fish in flowing waters are definite bottom-dwellers. They not only live on the bottom, but actually spend most of their time resting on it. All this means that the flyfisherman's long-shanked flies should be fished as deep as possible. You can fish rather daringly with these big flies: fast or slow, upstream or downstream. There are unimagined possibilities of variation, in contrast to the usual fishing with wet flies or nymphs. It is more than a matter of using your imagination. If the fish does not take a freely drifting streamer, try instead taking home the line very quickly. Make your fly look like a darting small fish. Now and then you can even "awaken" a lazy trout by letting the fly splash down right on top of its head. One must admit that this is not an elegant manner of flyfishing, but it can be extraordinarily productive.
Trout are aggressive fish that defend individual territories in the stream. They are aggressive all year round, but this behavior becomes ever more apparent as the spawning time approaches and they defend their territory with fury against any intruder. The fly fisherman can take advantage of this situation when the fishing season is coming to an end and the trout's spawning time arrives. Then the fish may be hard to attract with ordinary imitation deceiver flies since, having feasted all summer, they are less interested in food and increasingly concerned with spawning. It is then time to serve a big, colorful attractor streamer or buck-tail - a fly whose size and hue can, by themselves, give the fish an impression that some possible rival is encroaching on its territory. This method of fishing can be pretty exciting. It is important to have a good knowledge of the locality, so that you know exactly where the fish are holding. You have to seek them out with streamers and bucktails of large size, and present the fly right in front of them repeatedly until they react. Often nothing happens on the first cast, so you must continue stubbornly. For the more glimpses the fish gets of the fly, the more irritated it becomes. Finally it cannot endure the temptation and tries to chase away the fly.
At first you frequently feel only a strong blow against the fly, without hooking the fish. The fly has thus only been hit, not taken in the fish's mouth. Yet there is a good chance that one of the following casts will result in a solid strike by what may be the season's largest trout. In any case, such fishing is fascinating once the quarry has been aroused. In Alaska and British Columbia, every year sees a rather special kind of streamer fishing for large rainbow trout and Arctic char. It takes place when extensive schools of baby salmon smolt, which emerge from lakes upstream in the water system, begin their migration downstream toward the Pacific Ocean. The trout and char gather at the outlets of lakes to feast on the young salmon. If you stumble upon such a smolt migration, you are sure to have exceptional fishing experiences for quite a while. Sparsely dressed streamers and bucktails are the only thing worth putting on your leader
Towards the end of the season trout go on a feeding spree to build up strength for their annual orgy. More trout show cannibalistic tendencies at this time of the year than any other and eat trout fry (baby fish). These small fish congregate in areas that suit their needs like marginal weed beds or entrances to feeder streams. The streamer lure now comes into its own. One of my favorite use of smaller streamers is the sport of trying to coax trout that lurk in deep plunge pools to rise up to the surface and take my presentation. They normally will not do so for a dry fly. It has to be a more substantial meal to be worth the effort. I try to imitate a small fish that has been temporally stunned as it swam over the waterfall and landed in the plunge pool. Cast your streamer as near to the waterfall as you can. Give it a few moments to sink and then begin the retrieve to imitate the fish recovering and quickly swimming away from it's vulnerable static location to safety. Using the same idea look for deep slow pools near where a stream is forced to drop suddenly due to a narrow rock channel. Small fish will be forced down with the strength of the current before they can quickly swim off to the relative safety of the bank. Drop your streamer into this current and let it sink. Then start you retrieve. Trout can be teased into chasing your streamer.
The Black Matuka provided its worth on a rather unpromising bright day on Blagdon Lake in Somerset, South West England. Two 2lb rainbows, lost a couple and a number of good pulls. Seemed to like a slow retrieve on an intermediate line. Small nymphs and buzzers were hopeless. Dr Kevin Brooker-Milburn, Bristol, UK