Springtime is trout time. But when is it time to go trout fishing in the spring? Many fisherman swear by the old adage that when alder leaves are the size of a mouse’s ears, it’s time to go trout fishing.

Alder buds seem to pop into leaves just after the black flies start to swarm. The increased bug activity and warmer water spark a trout’s appetite, and they begin to feed heavily.

Many anglers have their favorite method to catch trout and salmon during this period, but one of my favorites is to troll and cast streamer flies. Over the years, much of my success (or one may say, the lack thereof) can be attributed to experimenting with different streamer patterns and sizes, fishing them at different depths and speeds.

However, I could have saved a lot of time years ago if I had found “Trolling Flies for Trout and Salmon,” by Brewer resident Bob Leeman and Dick Stewart of New Hampshire.

First published in 1982 and reprinted in 2011, the book is a treasure chest of the history of streamer flies, fishing tactics for streamers and fly patterns for streamers. It’s available at some Maine sporting goods stores or by mail for $21.95 to Leeman at 22 Alan-A-Dale Road, Brewer, ME 04412.

“People got after me to reprint it, and finally the publisher said, ‘Let’s do it,’” said Leeman, who used to own and operate a fly shop along the Penobscot River in Brewer.

The first chapter gives a brief overview of the history of trolling flies. It tells the story of perhaps the most famous streamer, the Gray Ghost, tied by Carrie Gertrude Stevens of Rangeley in 1924. She “dressed a streamer with gray wings to imitate a smelt.” The book states that she cast it into the Upper Dam Pool and within minutes, she landed a 6-pound, 13-ounce brook trout.

The book elaborates on the origin of the tandem trolling fly. An extra hook was added to eliminate short strikes. Emile Letourneau, brother of famous outdoor writer Gene Letourneau, joined two hooks with a piece of wire to create the trolling streamer we know today.

“Emile came up with that and tried to get it patented, but they wouldn’t do it,” said Leeman.

Leeman sheds light on the origin of fly names. The Nine-Three is named after a 9-pound, 3-ounce salmon caught on Messalonskee Lake. The Warden’s Worry and Supervisor were created by a game warden supervisor.

“I got a lot of the information from the original fly tiers,” said Leeman.

Perhaps more interesting to anglers is the tackle and tactics chapter. Wonder how deep your fly gets with various types of line? Leeman provides a chart with approximate depths of the fly for various types of line, including monofilament, braided, wire and lead core lines.

If you tie flies, this book is a welcome addition to your tying library. There are more than 50 pages of streamer pictures and streamer patterns, essential information for anyone looking to tie streamer flies.

Of course, I wondered how my favorite streamers compared to the book’s top-10 list. I was comforted to see that I used many extensively, but I am now thinking of adding more to my streamer fly box.

Which streamer will produce for you?

“After catching a few fish on the stream, I’ve been hesitant to tell people what I have been using, but I found out it doesn’t matter if you tell them because they’re not going to use it anyway,” chuckles Leeman, “They’re gonna use their favorite fly. You can tell ’em, but they won’t believe you.”

Mark Latti is a Registered Maine Guide and the landowner relations/recreational access coordinator for the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife.