Christopher Smith

Fly Fishing For Smallmouth Bass in Rivers

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Fly fishing for smallmouth in rivers

Fly Fishing For Smallmouth Bass in Rivers can be a whole new world of fishing for you if you’ve never tried it and have stuck to trout fishing.  I wouldn’t be surprised if many of you caught smallmouth “accidentally” but maybe you aren’t targeting them specifically.  They often share the same rivers and streams but tend to like a little bit different areas to hold for feeding.  This changes a lot based on the time of year, water levels and river flows.

Fly Fishing For Smallmouth Bass in Rivers

Take some time to learn about smallmouth habitat and where they like to feed and then follow the advice of this great articles by our friends over at Orvis on how to fly fish for smallmouth bass in Spring.

Gearing up for spring smallmouths is pretty easy, and most trout gear will work fine. A 5- to 7-weight outfit is perfect for chucking the flies you’ll need. Because bass are generally in water less than 5 feet deep, and often much less than that, a floating line is fine. Although standard leader will get the job done, I recommend fluorocarbon tippet. Fluoro will help out in several ways, but of the greatest importance is the abrasion resistance that it provides. It will help fishing some of the tight spots bass are in, and it will also help guard against sandpaper-like teeth. When you are catching smallmouths, definitely check your leader frequently. Those small teeth will slowly grind down your tippet, eventually causing it to fail. If your tippet feels rough, then cut your fly and some of the tippet, and then re-tie your fly on. I find this is necessary every half dozen fish or so…

A well stocked streamer box will be all that you need to chase these bass. Woolly Buggers and Zonkers in a wide variety of colors are some of the most productive flies, with black, olive, and chartreuse as some of my favorites. Bob Clouser designed his Deep Minnow specifically for smallies, and it is worth having a variety of colors of those, as well, but especially chartreuse-and-white, pink-and-white, and olive-and-white. Other flies that work well include crawfish patterns, weighted muddlers, and other baitfish patterns. Quite honestly, if any fly is moving through the water, a bass will probably hit it this time of year! They are pretty aggressive, most notably during the first few weeks that they show up.

There are two different things I try this time of year to entice the bass to take, and both work quite well.  First is what I call the “strip, pause.” I cast the fly out (usually a Clouser), let it sink, strip in about a foot of line, pause for a couple of seconds, and then repeat until I am ready to cast again. This is especially effective in deeper water. Bass often grab the fly when it is on the drop, so make sure you have a tight line. Another useful technique is to dead-drift a bugger through a likely holding area and occasionally twitching the fly with my rod tip or stripping in a bit of line to move it. If the line stops at all, raise your rod. You will often find a feisty bass on the end of it.  Original article here

This article is an excellent intro into the world of fly fishing for smallmouth bass in rivers.  The fight that smallmouth bass put up will make your day, I guarantee.

For more smallmouth bass fishing education, check out these two fantastic books:
Fly Fishing for Smallmouth Bass
Fly-Fishing for Smallmouth: in Rivers and Streams

Share your experience below in the comments section. Don’t forget to like this page if you want to share with others!

6 Responses to Fly Fishing For Smallmouth Bass in Rivers

  1. James Mann June 8, 2012 at 4:50 am

    My friend Jamie, a school vice principal, and I have a few rivers here in New Brunswick Canada we fish for smallmouth bass. They are so wild and strong and a reel blast on the fly rod.

    I have another good fishing buddy. He’s 65 and has never used a fly rod. He just bought one last year near the end of the season so we are looking forward to getting him a big ole smallie on the fly this year.

    Most of the places we fish bass here there are also chain pickerel which are very much like pike but don’t get much past 30 inches. When fly fishing for smallmouth it’s a big surprise to get one of these toothy beasts on for the first time.

    • Christopher Smith June 8, 2012 at 10:02 am

      With the Pike, using gear gear for smallmouth bass, how often do you have them bite through the line? How is your friends doing with the new fly rod?

      • James Mann June 13, 2012 at 4:44 am

        Sorry I meant to click the reply button on my previous reply. I guess I should wait until I’ve had more than one coffee this early. 🙂

        • Christopher Smith June 13, 2012 at 11:04 pm

          Lol no problem. Good to hear from you! Got to get it on video!

  2. James Mann June 13, 2012 at 4:43 am

    Casey and I haven’t matched up a day of fishing with a NON windy day yet so he still hasn’t used his fly rod. We usually get pretty windy spring days here. It will get calmer late June through July so I’m sure he’ll get a chance.

    I so want to get it on video as well. 🙂

    I tied a short length of braid to my leader and don’t seem to get any more cut line than any other fishing. If they miss the fly and hit the line only I usually lose it but that’s maybe one out of a hundred or more fish.

    I tried using steel leader but I have a hard time casting it when fishing from my float tubes, so I don’t use it.

  3. Sanjay June 18, 2012 at 2:53 am

    codkiller23 พูดว่า:well i wish i could be doing this right now . my favorite thing in the world is fnshiig . and i have to wait till opening season to go out.. get to skip skool.. are you guys going to post any musky video some time ?


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