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Catch Smallmouth Bass On A Fly

A guide by Tom Kacheroski

Products sampled from this guide:

FLY FISHING

Catching Smallmouth Bass On A Fly

Courtesy of Marianne Conrad/sportsmansguide.com
Traditionally, fly-rodders confined their efforts to the pursuit of trout. Traditionalists spent decades refining the art of presenting a fly to species such as brook trout, brown trout and rainbows. They also considered warmwater species to be nothing more than what were commonly referred to as "trash fish."
Today's fly-rodder, however, has developed a broader perspective of what would be considered as a game fish and ranking high among these freshwater fish is the bass. A particular favorite of mine is the smallmouth bass, as pound for pound, they are an angler's dream come true. When taken on a fly, these aerial acrobats will put on a show bar-none with heart stopping leaps and splashes. I find no other fish that can provide such a thrill for me.


Gearing UpFor smallmouth bass, my flycasting outfit will be a 6-weight or 7-weight, 8-1/2-foot rod, and my reel will be filled with a size 7-weight forward, floating line. I will generally use a 3x tapered leader to enable me to effectively cast the appropriate size flies to attract these fish. As for flies, naturally I prefer to catch smallies with a topwater presentation. Among the best dry flies for smallmouth are a size 2 Grizzly, a size 4 Royal Wulff, a size 2 Girdle Bug or a size 6 Parachute Hopper. But, while all of these flies are great choices, I prefer to cast a chunkier offering such as a mouse or frog pattern tied to a number 2 hook.

Resemble The Natural Action
The secret to successfully tempting a smallmouth to taking any dry fly is to think like the bait and manipulate it so that it resembles the natural action of the critter you are imitating. When you find smallies interested in a topwater presentation yet are reluctant to strike, you may want to consider down-sizing your flies. It may be that a size 10 Black Gnat or Adams will attract more attention. A word of caution, however. When using these smaller flies, it will be critical to keep steady pressure on the fish in order to keep him from shaking the bait. If you are unable to attract smallmouth to the surface then you will need to tie on some kind of submersible fly. Insect impersonators or nymphs are tops among bass fly-rodders. Smaller insect-sized wet flies such as Woolly Worms, Stonefly Nymphs and Montana's often work well, but it has been my experience that I will catch more fish with a size 2 or 4, black or olive, bead head Woolly Bugger. I believe my success with these flies are two-fold. First of all, the weightiness of these flies will cause them to sink quickly and the size appears to the fish to be more of a meal rather than just a snack. If bugs don't happen to be on the day's menu perhaps tasty baitfish are and streamers do an excellent job of representing these small prey. It always is a good idea to have a sampling of single hook streamers in a variety of patterns such as Gray Ghosts, Magog Smelt, Golden Demons and Supervisors, so that you can match the natural forage fish on any given body of water.

Try Floating Line
Now you may have noted that while I have recommended numerous wet flies, at the start of this article, I also suggested a floating fly line as opposed to a sinking line. The reasons I fish with a floating line, even when casting wet flies is simple. In most of my fishing situations, a full sink or sinking tip line would carry my fly too quickly to the lake or river bottom and ultimately, I would find my fly hopelessly hooked up with a snag rather than a fish. When using a fly that sinks by absorbing water or one that is weighted, only the fly and the leader will descend and the floating line remaining on the surface doubles as a strike indicator.
Martin Fly Fishing Multiplier 3:1 Ratio Fly Fishing Reel with Disk-Drag
<product no longer available>
Men's Ducks Unlimited 5 mm Titanium Chest Waders with Cleat Sole and Shell Carrier
HODG.WADELITE BF WADER/CLEATED
Hodgman® Bantam Weight 2-ply Nylon / Rubber Chest Waders w/ Cleated Soles Green

Eagle Claw Fly Combo, 2 Piece (Yellow, 8-Feet 6-Inch)
Shakespeare 8-Feet Fly Fishing Combo
Martin Fly Fishing Reel with Line and 3-Piece Fly Rod (Size 5/6)

MARTIN CADDIS CREEK FLY REEL


<product no longer available>





Hodgman 200-gram Thinsulate™ Ultra Insulation Caster™ Neoprene Waders w/Cleated Soles - Brown
Men's Hodgman Wadelite Breathable Bootfoot Chest Waders
Crystal River Executive Travel Pack - Spin/Fly Fishing
Shakespeare 8-Feet Fly Fishing Combo

Products mentioned include:
Try Floating Line
1.  Martin Fly Fishing Multiplier 3:1 Ratio Fly Fishing Reel with Disk-Drag  by Martin Fly Fishing
$61.04
4.4 out of 5 stars   (8)
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2.  Men's Ducks Unlimited 5 mm Titanium Chest Waders with Cleat Sole and Shell Carrier  by Mad Dog
Out of stock
4.5 out of 5 stars   (4)
  See buying options  Add to wishlist
3.  HODG.WADELITE BF WADER/CLEATED  by Hodgman
Out of stock
2.5 out of 5 stars   (2)
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4.  Hodgman® Bantam Weight 2-ply Nylon / Rubber Chest Waders w/ Cleated Soles Green  by Hodgman
Out of stock
2.0 out of 5 stars   (1)
  See buying options  Add to wishlist
5.  Eagle Claw Fly Combo, 2 Piece (Yellow, 8-Feet 6-Inch)  by Eagle Claw
$35.90 Used & New from: $28.91
3.5 out of 5 stars   (13)
Add to cart  Add to wishlist
6.  Shakespeare 8-Feet Fly Fishing Combo  by Shakespeare
$34.48 Used & New from: $26.52
3.1 out of 5 stars   (11)
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7.  Martin Fly Fishing Reel with Line and 3-Piece Fly Rod (Size 5/6)  by Martin Fly Fishing
$33.74 Used & New from: $27.57
3.4 out of 5 stars   (27)
Add to cart  Add to wishlist
8.  MARTIN CADDIS CREEK FLY REEL  by Martin Fly Fishing
Out of stock
  See buying options  Add to wishlist
9.  Hodgman 200-gram Thinsulate™ Ultra Insulation Caster™ Neoprene Waders w/Cleated Soles - Brown  by Hodgman
Out of stock
  See buying options  Add to wishlist
10.  Men's Hodgman Wadelite Breathable Bootfoot Chest Waders  by Hodgman
Out of stock
  See buying options  Add to wishlist
11.  Crystal River Executive Travel Pack - Spin/Fly Fishing  by Crystal River
$32.76
3.4 out of 5 stars   (34)
Add to cart  Add to wishlist
12.  Shakespeare 8-Feet Fly Fishing Combo  by Shakespeare
$34.48 Used & New from: $26.52
3.1 out of 5 stars   (11)
Add to cart  Add to wishlist

2 products are no longer available

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About this Guide

 

Author

Tom Kacheroski
Qualifications: Outdoor Editor
Last updated: 5/26/09
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