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Small Mouth Bass, Best Flies?

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Muddler minnow has been good for me, as well as any bunny fur/leech imitation. I’ve probably got more smallies on a mouse or popper of some sort than any other fly though. 

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Clouser, slump buster, poppers, murdich minnow, wiggle minnow, meat whistle 

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The wooly bugger is always a go-to for me. I prefer to use black/brown colours to imitate leeches or crayfish. Other options are closer minnows, and if the fish are aggressive a topwater popper/diver works well. Small nymph patterns can also work well if the water is clear and if the fish are feeding on dragonfly/mayfly nymphs. 

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I have always liked to throw olive green wooly bugger/ wooly worm size 6-2 and varying weights depending on wind/current also try putting a splice of crystal flash tied to the nose really seems to help on sunny days.

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Not being a great fly fisherman, I can only attest to the effectiveness of black bucktail 1/16 oz. jigs. For sure, any fly with bucktail should produce well for you.

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Poppers are probably the funniest. Closers and gurglers are classics as well as hoppers on rivers. I like stripping streamers in craft fur or rabbit strips.

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Man, there are tons.  You could nymph for them on a 4-6wt rod with helgramites or stoneflies.  Your basic streamers all work (a 6 wt can be ideal): buggers, clouser minnows, deceivers, double bunnies, crayfish patterns etc.  A lot of the large or articulated patterns also work (I'll throw these on a 6 at, but prefer an 8): double deceivers, sex Dungeons, Circus Peanuts, any sculpin pattern, basically anything Tommy Lynch or Kelly Galloup tie.  Flies like Drunk and Disorderlies, Dahlberg's Divers can be fished on sinking lines or sink tips like a suspending or slow floating jerkbait (8wt typically). There are also tons of poppers, frogs, mouse patterns, etc.  And if you're lucky to have a river with a good hatch, you can catch them on fries during large hatches like white flies on the Susquehanna (alledgedly... ).

On 1/5/2019 at 12:48 PM, Crestliner2008 said:

Not being a great fly fisherman, I can only attest to the effectiveness of black bucktail 1/16 oz. jigs. For sure, any fly with bucktail should produce well for you.

This is exactly the idea behind the Clouser Minnow.

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On ‎1‎/‎10‎/‎2019 at 8:08 PM, Turkey sandwich said:

Man, there are tons.  You could nymph for them on a 4-6wt rod with helgramites or stoneflies.  Your basic streamers all work (a 6 wt can be ideal): buggers, clouser minnows, deceivers, double bunnies, crayfish patterns etc.  A lot of the large or articulated patterns also work (I'll throw these on a 6 at, but prefer an 8): double deceivers, sex Dungeons, Circus Peanuts, any sculpin pattern, basically anything Tommy Lynch or Kelly Galloup tie.  Flies like Drunk and Disorderlies, Dahlberg's Divers can be fished on sinking lines or sink tips like a suspending or slow floating jerkbait (8wt typically). There are also tons of poppers, frogs, mouse patterns, etc.  And if you're lucky to have a river with a good hatch, you can catch them on fries during large hatches like white flies on the Susquehanna (alledgedly... ).

This is exactly the idea behind the Clouser Minnow.

Great info, could you recommend some specific topwaters you like and size/color also what leader length/tippet size/kind you like for topwater, a 6wt with WF floating line. Lake is clear with 15' visibility, smallmouth average 3# and love topwater walking baits like a Sammy100. No weeds all large rock located near Boundary Waters in Minnesota. Going back Summer and bringing my trout rod. My flies are for fishing mostly smaller streams when we lived in Montana so I don't know how big I can throw for topwater, rod is a 9' Orvis Clearwater 6wt.  Really appreciate your advice

                      

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1 hour ago, stratoliner92 said:

Great info, could you recommend some specific topwaters you like and size/color also what leader length/tippet size/kind for a 6wt with WF floating line. Lake is clear with 15' visibility, smallmouth average 3# and love topwater walking baits like a Sammy100. No weeds all large rock located near Boundary Waters in Minnesota. Going back Summer and bringing my trout rod. My flies are for fishing mostly smaller streams when we lived in Montana so I don't know how big I can throw for topwater, rod is a 9' Orvis Clearwater 6wt.  Really appreciate your advice

                      

 

 

Not a problem.  Most of my smallmouth fishing is on rivers, but a lot of the same baits carry over.  How you fish them, however can be a lot different.  Also, being comfortable casting big flies is a bunch different than casting dries or simple nymph rigs.  Practice make perfect, and make sure you're comfortable opening your loops up, double hauling, and roll casting with bigger flies.  

 

A 6 Wt will throw a lot of patterns, but most of my smallmouth fishing on the fly is done with an 8 wt.  if you can grab one, it can save you a lot of frustration, especially with larger topwater flies like deer hair poppers.  Also, I would suggest picking up a sinking line or at least a sink tip, otherwise getting down to fish will become a problem.  

 

On top, I like deerhair poppers, though they can be tough to cast on a 6 wt, especially after taking on some water.  Small size 4-6 foam poppers also work well, and there are tons of mouse options, as well.  For most top water stuff, I don't really like long leaders (it can be super hard to turn over flies for me, especially when wading) and I'll usually keep them from 3'-4' for most top water fishing.  I tie my own with Big Game or Maxima and generally run these tapered down from 40lb to 10-15lb.  Usually the formula works out to 50% 30/40lb butt, 25% 20lb, 25% 10/12lb. 

 

Flies like Dahlber Divers can be fished with a floating line similar to a floating Rapala.  This can cover water well anytime fish are going to be feeding up and active.  Again, think floating jerk bait.  

 

A lot of my smallmouth fishing, in either lakes or rivers, I find them relating to the bottom more often than high in the water column most of the time.  (exceptions include when they're busting up on baitfish like alewives/shad or juvenile perch) So, I do like flies that I can get down with a weighted line versus a floating line with a 10'+ leader.  (Casting heavy sculpin or crayfish patterns on long leaders is not a particularly enjoyable way to fish because it can be so hard to control.)

 

When I'm fishing jerk flies (unweighted baitfish patterns) I like a sinking line and 6' or so of leader.  This can be killer in lakes because they tend to be more or less neutrally buoyant and you can fish them like a swimbait.  (think Deceivers, double deceivers, anything with synthetic unweighted bodies, and tall but narrow heads intended to swim smoothly versus kick tons of water and push hard to the sides.)

 

For slightly weighted, but still neutrally buoyant flies with deer hair or similar heads (think D&D, Sex Dungeon, Zoo Cougar, etc), I like a sink tip or sinking line (depending upon conditions) with 4-6" or leader. The D&D and Sex Dungeon type baits may be tricky to work well on a 6wt, so stick to smaller sizes - they can create lots of drag on the cast.

 

For jig flies like clousers, Grumpy Muppets, etc, a floating line can work well, but you'll likely want to extend your leader 6-9' to make sure you're getting down well, but still keeping a good connection to the fly.  

 

Dredging with bottom contact baits (dragging sculpin/madtom/goby patterns or crayfish) usually requires a full sinking line and depending upon conditions, the technique can range somewhere deep nymphing to slowly dragging a Texas rig or jig.  

 

As for colors, just pick colors that mimic what you would throw with conventional tackle.  The same general rules apply.  Make it look natural, mimic forage, or when conditions call for it, break out the bright colors and flash.  

 

 

Does this help?  Sorry, I don't have a suggestion for a walking bait substitute, but maybe @Further North can make some recommendations.

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49 minutes ago, Turkey sandwich said:

Does this help?  

Tremendously !! Yep I've also got a 4wt so an 8wt would round me out on the top end☺️

                                                              Thanks much   

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Not a problem, man.  I'm very inexperienced with the fly rod on still water, but these are good general strategies/tips that work well for me.  

 

Did you get to throw streamers for big browns in Montana? 

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Nope not many Browns near where we lived. Mostly fished for rainbows and Westslope cutthroat in smaller streams ouside Lincoln, MT. Lots of Bead Head Prince nymphs, Hare's Ear, Yellow Humpys, Royal Coachman and my favorite... hoppers in August:D Fished the Missouri lots outside of Helena but that was mostly with spinners and Rapalas for big Bows.

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9 hours ago, stratoliner92 said:

Nope not many Browns near where we lived. Mostly fished for rainbows and Westslope cutthroat in smaller streams ouside Lincoln, MT. Lots of Bead Head Prince nymphs, Hare's Ear, Yellow Humpys, Royal Coachman and my favorite... hoppers in August:D Fished the Missouri lots outside of Helena but that was mostly with spinners and Rapalas for big Bows.

Montana is a special place.  I'm hoping to get there in the next few years. I fished the Gunnison this past September and it was something amazing.  You've got some pretty cool fishing opportunities in CO. 

 

 

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First, @Turkey sandwich has most of the details nailed.

 

2nd, if you read, get hold of these four books:

 

1) https://www.amazon.com/dp/B079LPCFCG/ref=dp-kindle-redirDave ect?_encoding=UTF8&btkr=1

2) https://www.amazon.com/Stream-Smallmouth-Fishing-Tim-Holschlag/dp/0811723844/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1547515435&sr=8-4&keywords=smallmouth+tim

3) https://www.amazon.com/Smallmouth-Fly-Fishing-Techniques-Destinations/dp/0976387603/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1547515435&sr=8-3&keywords=smallmouth+tim

4) https://www.amazon.com/River-Smallmouth-Fishing-Techniques-Rivers/dp/097638762X/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1547515435&sr=8-2&keywords=smallmouth+tim

 

Holschlag also has a video worth watching: https://smallmouthangler.com/product/stream-smallmouth-fishing/

 

Holschlag's not the most articulate guy, but he's got the basics, and the details nailed.

 

That said, the first link, the one for Dave Karczynski's book, is absolutely, positively, the best book on the subject ever written.  Gear guys should read the book, just for the strategic component.  Tim and his guys put in more focused time on one of the USA's best smallie rivers than most folks ever hope to and have compiled that into a useful, readable reference that any dedicated smallie guy can suck up in a week, max.

 

There's all kinds of flies that'll work, and most have been covered...best advice I can give is to focus lees on the flies and more on the presentation...and practicing your casting...

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Thanks for links appreciate it. Smallmouth definitely are a lot of fun. Amazing what aggressive topwater feeders they are and will be nice change from educated trout waters:D We had a great time with conventional gear last year and look forward to this Summer on the fly

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On 1/15/2019 at 1:15 PM, stratoliner92 said:

Thanks for links appreciate it. Smallmouth definitely are a lot of fun. Amazing what aggressive topwater feeders they are and will be nice change from educated trout waters:D We had a great time with conventional gear last year and look forward to this Summer on the fly

Don't give up on conventional gear.

 

My best days have been when I've been willing to switch back and forth.

 

I make the purists (both fly and gear purists) crazy, but being agile beats both...

 

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All of my fly fishing for smallies has been on rivers and wading.  I throw an 8wt Scott Brightwater for smallies and try to keep my fly selection as simple as possible depending on current conditions.

1. Any beaded nymph.

2. Any streamers/minnow imitators

3. Poppers.

 

Where I fish I have the pleasure of having a great fly shop fairly close by that is/was operated by Harry Murray.  https://www.murraysflyshop.com/  Get with a local shop close to the waters you will be fishing to get specific information on flies, current hatches, etc.  Good luck!! Smallmouth are fisherman's crack!!  

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On 1/17/2019 at 6:10 AM, TOXIC said:

All of my fly fishing for smallies has been on rivers and wading.  I throw an 8wt Scott Brightwater for smallies and try to keep my fly selection as simple as possible depending on current conditions.

1. Any beaded nymph.

2. Any streamers/minnow imitators

3. Poppers.

 

Where I fish I have the pleasure of having a great fly shop fairly close by that is/was operated by Harry Murray.  https://www.murraysflyshop.com/  Get with a local shop close to the waters you will be fishing to get specific information on flies, current hatches, etc.  Good luck!! Smallmouth are fisherman's crack!!  

Great advice.  Murray's is good, I've bought from them, on-line.

 

Best unrecognized/uncelebrated fly for smallies: Mop fly.

 

It's killer for trout too.  The purists get all wrapped 'round the axle about it, which may be what drew me to it to begin with.

 

Takes <5 minutes to tie, and flat out works.  It's the TRD of flies...

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On 1/18/2019 at 7:11 PM, Further North said:

Great advice.  Murray's is good, I've bought from them, on-line.

 

Best unrecognized/uncelebrated fly for smallies: Mop fly.

 

It's killer for trout too.  The purists get all wrapped 'round the axle about it, which may be what drew me to it to begin with.

 

Takes <5 minutes to tie, and flat out works.  It's the TRD of flies...

 

The mop fly catches anything.  I was on Yellow Breeches (famous trout stream in central PA).  It was largely responsible for a day where I picked up nearly 20 fish in a half day.  Wild brown trout - exactly zero.  Creek chubs - at least 15.  It was one of the most hilarious/absurd days I've ever spent on the water. 

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I've used a black mop fly with about a 1/4" wrap of black Ezatz just behind the bead head...trout think it looks like food...so do smallies, largemouth, panfish...even a walleye or three.

 

 

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If you tie your own the easiest and most effective fly I have found is a bunny streamer. This is what the pattern is:

1. #2 Gamakatsu B10S

2. Gold Variant Rabbit strip

3. Gold Variant cross cut Rabbit

4. small lead eyes or some wraps of .020 lead on the shank

5. tie in the lead eyes close to the eye of the hook (you dont need to leave much room.

6. cut rabbit strip so the tail will be 1-1.5x the hook shank and tie in

7. tie in crosscut rabbit a the back of the fly and palmer up to the eyes. (make sure you wrap it so the hair lays toward the back.)

 

that's it. You can strip it back like a minnow, drift it through current, or crawl it back like a craw. Also, check out Kelley Galloup on youtube. He ties big articulated flies for trout, but they work awesome for river smallies as well.

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@smr913

 

That bunny fly is a good one - I've seen all kinds of variations, have even tied it in larger sizes for pike.

 

Have you got any pictures of yours?

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28 minutes ago, Further North said:

@smr913

 

That bunny fly is a good one - I've seen all kinds of variations, have even tied it in larger sizes for pike.

 

Have you got any pictures of yours?

I do! Not flies but they would be without the jig head . I them on a 6 weight once, got the pump knot to prove it 

IMG_1164.JPG

IMG_1149.JPG

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That's what I was thinking.  Tie it on a bigger hook and that's a pike fly.

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