1. GEAR UP LIKE YOU MEAN IT - Tying a streamer onto your regular tapered leader while fishing your 5wt will work, but I recommend you commit to fishing a streamer and rig up for it specifically. A 7wt or even an 8wt is going to be what you want if you are throwing BIG "bugs" all day. I recommend a shorter rod, an 8'6" 7wt is my go-to. Also, try a true sink tip line designed for throwing streamers. Airflow's Streamer Max Short is my personal favorite. When you rig up off of a sink tip, do not use a typical tapered leader.  Instead run a simple section 2-4' long of 12 pound. You want your fly pretty tight on that sink tip so it will get down. Take it from me, do not skimp on the tippet.  I have gotten lazy too many times and thrown a streamer on lighter tippet only to hook up to the one I wanted and had no chance of actually landing it.
  2. FISH IMPOSSIBLE SPOTS - You can fish a streamer into spots that are impossible to fish with almost any other rig. Slap it down in front of a log jam and let it swing underneath. Skip it in under a bush and rip it off of a bank. Blast a couple of casts along the far bank. Yes, big streamers are expensive (or a time-suck to tie), but stay aggressive and know that you may lose a couple while fishing into cover. This is another reason to fish 12lb tippet to your fly...
  3. FISH SLOWWWW - Obviously the best retrieve depends on how aggressive and reactive the fish are when you are out. Try it all until you figure out a pattern that works, but try slowing your retrieve down considerably. A slow swing with a subtle twitch can make the difference.  Also, stick with your retrieve all the way to the bank.  As the fly gets shallow you may get a couple takes or see a fish following it in. If you DO see a fish following, try speeding up your retrieve. In my experience if the fish is put in a position where their prey looks like it is making an escape, it will make a decisive move. 
  4. FISH BIG - Get out that articulated monstrosity that casts like a wet wool sock and let it rip. Trout, especially brown trout, love to take advantage of a big protein meal. Many of us have seen a big fish come out take swing at a smaller fish we have hooked up. That experience will make you look at your streamer box in a different light. The streamers that seemed giant all of the sudden may look on the small side...
  5. STICK WITH IT AS THE SUN FADES - Low light levels can be key if you are looking to coax the big one out from under the log jam... Fire up the headlamp, crack a cold one and keep casting!
-Garrison Doctor - RYW Designer