John Rankin

Catching Smallmouth Bass on Streamers

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fly reelIf you have never tried fishing for smallmouth bass with a fly rod using surface and underwater flies you are missing some of the best action to be had. I “accidentally” snagged a nice smallmouth with my fly rod while fishing for bull bluegills. My initial reaction was I finally snagged the state record bluegill I have been seeking for years. Not so as the fight continued with intensity very few large gills put up. When I realized a feisty smallmouth bass was on my hand tied surface fly, I began a new journey discovering how exciting catching smallmouth bass on streamers is.

Ever since this long ago day I have tweaked my fly rod fishing to target smallies, and the thrill of hooking even a small bronzeback has never diminished. As I have learned the big smallmouths are more often caught with deeper fished streamers, although it is possible to pick off a 4 to six pounder on the surface if conditions are just right.

For the best experience catching bronzebacks on streamers, I like a number 6 rod. Use a good leader six to eight feet long with transparent 8 to 10 pound line. For the big boys we want the lures to sink on as direct a vertical angle as possible, so use larger baits designed to be fished deep, or as bottom crawlers. Crayfish imitation lures work best as your go to fly rod bottom crawler baits. The large smallmouths feed heavily on crayfish and will pounce on your bait when presented correctly.

The smallmouth bass is a fast and nimble predator when chasing down minnows such as shad, perch, sunfish, smelt, ciscoes, chubs, and other small bait fish living in the river or lake you are fishing.

We need to use this to our advantage by presenting the sub-surface baits in as realistic manner as possible. Fish Lefty’s deceivers, Marabou Muddlers, Wooly Boogers in black, Matukas, Sheep and Clouser Minnows, and various sizes of bucktails. Have a good selection as it is vital to match the baits to what type of live bait inhabits the particular waters you are fishing.

Fish these streamers in a manner as close to how real bait fish swim, and keep them constantly moving.

Try these techniques and baits for catching smallmouth bass on streamer flies, and get ready for the best fishing action of your life.

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