Monday, June 18, 2012

Smallmouth Flies - not to be picky.

I caught this guy early in the morning before the sun became bore down on the stream and the back of my neck.  When I blog, most of the time, I present it in a way that should be simple to understand and is mainly for those new to fly fishing.  But what most folks don't know is that I live in the South.  The water temperatures differ from those in the north.  So, when I mention that bass are holding to structure and in deep pools, that's because it's time for summer bass.  Last summer, we had temps in the 100's.  It's pretty hot right now and the sun comes up early and goes to bed late.  With a lack of rain, riffles have slacked off and smallies are becoming less active.  As we all know, fall is coming and it's going to be a productive time of year for smallmouth bass.

If you notice in the top photo, I caught this smallmouth bass on a Bett's popper.  It can be bought at big box stores or sporting goods shops.  It's not pricy and can be effective for many types of fish.  The fly selection for a smallmouth bass is usually wooly buggers, Clousers, Gurglers, crawdads and medium size poppers.  That's not too confusing when you put a box together and most are simple to tie.

This smallmouth bass wasn't big but was a great fighter.  Again, I caught another smallie on a Betts' popper.  I may not catch a lot of really big smallmouth bass but I can catch a lot of them over a season. You don't necessarily need a large or expensive fly selection.  What matters is getting to know your stream or waters.

I drifted a Chernobyl Ant and landed two other smallmouth bass while out this Saturday morning.  I landed 5 smallmouth bass that day.  All of them except one were caught on top-water fly patterns.

I used some cheap bought flies and a few hand tied flies.  I didn't have to go buy fancy flies (although they are great to have).

I usually go out for about three or four hours and cover a certain water that I am familiar with and have learned.  Several good producing spots from last year aren't doing well this year and I have had to change up my game.  I found new spots to drift and find smallies on the same length of stream I enjoy fishing.

One of the most important things for you to know is this:  Not all waters are the same.  Some streams are stocked, some are protected, others have health issues . . . on and on.  I fished the heck out of some streams just they way I did on this stream on Saturday.  Those streams weren't as productive.  A few local streams have been stocked with smallmouth bass this spring and will be productive this fall and next year.

Fish around - find different places to fish.  Hit some ponds and lakes that you aren't used to fishing.  You may find that you are a better fisherman than you realize.  Remember, fly fishing doesn't have to be complicated.  Choose a few mainstream productive flies that everyone uses and cast a line somewhere.  I know that there are folks who catch bigger fish than me and more fish than me but I don't care.  I fish to enjoy myself.  I challenge myself such as trying for different species or wading different streams but it's most important to me to relax and realize that I have caught a lot of fish and I will be skunked.  AND if I don't relax, I'm gonna stress out and put the rod up - I'm gonna doubt myself.

Do what you gotta do to have fun.  I've got some flies listed for sale.


  1. Nice post. I just posted a smallmouth trip I went on recently and I echo your comments about fly selection. I've found retrieve and color seem to be more of a factor then specific flies.

  2. Josh
    I am sure you land smallmouth in the same holes most of the time, just like trout they seem to find a home and stay there. Do you ever fish the White or Northfork for trout? How far are you from trout fishing streams? Those are some nice smallmouth you landed there anyday of the week.

  3. Bill,
    I live near Beaver Dam but don't like it . . . Too much pressure and too many people. I haven't fished the Norfork. I don't like fishing for trout much but if I do, it's at Roaring River. Highly pressured at time but can be good in catch and release area. I've fished Beaver Dam about a dozen times and found that its better even below Bull Shoals. Thats a good place for trout fishing. State funding is cutting back on fisheries and may have a negative impact on the state. Programs have been set to stock smallmouth but trout fisheries are going to be hurt. I prefer bass and panfish. To me, trout are just OK.

  4. Josh
    Got to agree with you when it comes to landing fish on the fly rod. The monster bluegills are hard to beat with a 3 or 4 wt. of course I will take the bass any day too.