Streams are very different, but some patterns are still present. Knowing these patterns allows you to better navigate while lifting.
If you are looking for a stream at a low altitude - in thermodynamics, after starting on a winch, or falling when flying along a route - expect a narrow and sufficiently strong bubble. Having stumbled upon weak zeros, try to hang in them - there is a chance that at some point they will strengthen and lift you up. You cannot throw a stream at low altitude - you will immediately find yourself on the ground.
With the advent of the hight, the situation changes. If you hang in the zeros at an altitude of 400-500 meters, and the weather allows you to expect more - try looking for a stronger core aside. In order not to lose time and fly a greater distance, you must be able to find the most powerful climb.
You can often find that the size of the stream is not so small. A stream may cover a region of air several kilometers in diameter. Inside this large flow, the lifting speed is very different. Basically, you will see 0 or -0.5 on the variometer. But somewhere inside this large area with a weak rise, there are so-called nuclei in which the rate of climb will be +2 .. +3. It happens that the core is one. You hook a zero, flying even quite far from the core. Your task is to shift to it and rise up. If there are many nuclei, they can behave in a bizarre way: to merge, separate, suddenly accelerate or disappear.
Between the streams there are areas of descending. It turns out that having fallen out of the core, you do not immediately fall into a downstream, but simply find yourself in an area of weak flow. This can relax the pilot, he will expect the same freebies everywhere. He will go to the transition without the necessary reserve of height, and will sit down.
Example 1: imagine, the weather is funny. Widespread streams with many expressed nuclei passed through the start one after another. In the stream managed to start 4-5 pilots. All of them, without much difficulty, were kept in the air and formed a wonderful engine. Those who took off between the streams observed on the instrument -2 until the very landing.
Example 2: during XC paragliding flight I hooked to zero. There was little altitude and the weather was not a fountain. I began to process this zero with an offset, and after a few revolutions I got to the kernel +3, which was a little away from the line of my flight.
Example 3: a wide stream stood in the launch area above the sunny slope of the mountain. A large, shapeless cumulus formed over the stream. It was necessary to fly along the route to a point in the center of the valley. The starting cylinder opened, and the pilots rushed from under the very edge, having about 2000 meters above the valley. Between the start flow and the tour point there was a minus area - up to -7. Only squeezing the accelerator to the full helped me get to the tour point with a minimum headroom.
Example 4: it used to have to process the flow in a company with a large number of wings. I feel uncomfortable in cramped conditions, often I threw the core clogged with pilots and moved several hundred meters to the side where I found the rise not worse, and sometimes better. These dashes occurred between the cores inside a large stream. Between the flows there were global minuses that had to be slipped on the speed bar.