Christopher Smith

Why Fly Fish For Smallies?

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Traditional fly fishing focused almost exclusively on trout.  In recent years, fly fishing for other species has exploded and some of you may be wondering why fly fish for smallies?

Have you gone smallmouth fishing and you’re trying all kinds of lures but you see bass surfacing for flies on the surface?  I have several times and wish I could throw a bait that they would eat.

Why Fly Fish For Smallies?

The appeal of fly fishing may be related to the challenge of learning a new fishing style, getting out in the quiet of a isolated stream, river or lake or just the good old challenge of catching a fish on the fly.

On the other hand, it could be just the fascination and challenge of creating a fly that mimics some type of bug, critter or baitfish!

Great video of fly fishing for bass

You can get started fly fishing for smallmouth bass very easily and start learning!  All it takes is practice…instructions from a pro will speed up your learning A LOT.

When fly fishing for smallmouth the proper weight and length rod should be used as well as, a strong leader and tippet. Select a fly rod that casts large flies with little effort and handles the fight of a fish without exhausting the fish. A 9 foot 6 weight is a good choice. Leaders and Tippets need to be strong enough to hold up to the fight as well as, the hook set as smallies can strike with vigor. Leaders in 3x or 4x 9 ½ feet long will hold up to most circumstances and turn a fly over well.

Flies and Presentation

Smallmouth are opportunistic feeders and often don’t like to let a meal get away. Flies can often be used to represent an assortment of feed that make up a smallie’s diet. Top water flies can be used to represent many things from mice, hoppers, crickets, lizards, etc. Sub surface flies are available to mimic many bait fish, crawfish, leeches, and some are unique attraction patterns. Being an aggressive fish, smallies are not that fussy on the presentation of a fly that is appealing to them. Once a pattern is found that creates strikes by fish, pay attention to how the fly is being fished. If the fish stop hitting that fly, change up fishing a new one the same way.  Source

If you are an avid fly angler, please comment below about your recommendations to those that are getting started in the sport.

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2 Responses to Why Fly Fish For Smallies?

  1. Troy December 10, 2012 at 4:44 pm

    Personally, I think a 6 weight combo is way too light. Here in WI where both the bass and the flies tend to run on the larger side, most everyone I know (myself included) runs a 9′ 8 weight. The extra rod makes it much easier to turn over big air resistant flies and control big angry river bass. As for leaders, a 9′ bass leader that tapers down to 10lb is about right. Smallies are not leader shy so no need to use something too light where it will twist with a big fly or break a big fish off.

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  2. Rod Burke April 16, 2014 at 11:21 am

    On the James River in Richmond, Va. I like to use a fast 9′ 6wt. rod, over lined with a 7wt. bass bug line. I use a 8′-9’2X leader for the smaller streamers and surface bugs and a 0X for the larger more air resistant bugs and heavier streamers.

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