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Old 06-16-2011, 11:34 AM
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Default Why Are My Biggest Fish Caught on Small Flies?

I went to the local stream yesterday afternoon, armed with my favorite 8'6" 4wt and a #10 Wooly Bugger. The bugger was tied on a Mustad 3XL hook (9671), not a streamer hook. I had a good idea where the smallmouth were lurking in this stream, and began with short casts and extending further out. After about 10 minutes, I hooked into what was clearly a smallmouth. This one never leaped out of the water, but the downstream run and arm-bending dives for the bottom left little doubt. The stream bottom in this section is basically one large slab of rock, with deep channels carved in toward the center. I was using a 3X leader, and had just tied on a fresh tippet. After what seemed like an eternity, I was able to get the fish to edge of the channel, but then he'd dive for the bottom each time. The rock I was standing on had about 6 inches of water on top, and then a drop to who knows how many feet. I really hadn't seen the fish until it was nearly over, when he presented himself broadside at the surface. That was when I really began to think he would break the leader, bend the hook, or snap my rod tip!
I decided to grab the leader when he came near the ledge again, and pulled him into the net.
Click the image to open in full size.

The fish measured 17 inches, and weighed a ton! Just the dead weight hanging downstream presented a challenge, but if I had moved any further he would have gone right into some swift riffles. This was the same area that I caught another large smallmouth at a couple weeks ago (with the same small Wooly Bugger!). After spending 5 minutes resting the bass, he just slowly swam away with a "I didn't feel a thing" attitude. Two years ago I caught a 25 inch largemouth bass with another #10 Wooly Bugger, and a 22+ inch channel cat on a small Green Weenie. I almost forgot the 16" smallmouth I caught last year with a 1.5" Black Nose Dace. He was chasing minnows along the bank, and picked out my tiny fly. That smallmouth was nuts, and put on a spectacular show! This is fine by me, since I don't like tossing heavy flies with heavy rods. The only downside is that it takes a bit longer to get the big fish in with a lighter rod, and what A.K. Best might describe as rod abuse. None of these fish were played to long IMO, and I don't bend rods in half. Yesterday's smallmouth and I did reach an impasse for a while, and then I decided to push the limits of my gear to get him closer. I won....

I do look at an ultralight fly fishing forum, and other UL ff'ing blogs, and there are guys out there with 2wt rods targeting large trout and bass. That might be a problem as far as the fish are concerned, as my 4wt struggled to move yesterday's smallmouth. I can only imagine that a 2wt would have little effect on such a fish, and you'd have to point the rod at the fish and winch it in with the reel. I enjoy the 4wt because I can cast it forever without pain in my bad right shoulder, and it serves double duty as my panfish rod. Actually, I caught a 16" brown a couple years ago with that rod, and he was a beast to get in as well. Wonder what a 25lb salmon would be like... !

P.S.
Here's that channel cat with the litte Green Weenie still in his lip. How silly does that look? I wear a size 13 shoe, and that's
what I based my measurement on:
Click the image to open in full size.
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Old 06-16-2011, 11:51 AM
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Default Re: Why Are My Biggest Fish Caught on Small Flies?

Sweet fish frank.
Smallies are great fun on the fly!
Wooly buggers still work great!
And, personally I agree with ya, I always feel bad without enough rod for the big fish.
To attempt to answer the question.
I think they teach in fish school, that small is safe.

Jim

Last edited by Bigfly; 06-16-2011 at 02:04 PM.
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Old 06-16-2011, 12:36 PM
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Default Re: Why Are My Biggest Fish Caught on Small Flies?

NICE! i have yet to catch a smallie on my fly rod....
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Old 06-16-2011, 12:50 PM
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Default Re: Why Are My Biggest Fish Caught on Small Flies?

great small mouth with out a doubt
have caught some nice ones in my day but never one on a fly rod.....yet
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Old 06-16-2011, 01:06 PM
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Default Re: Why Are My Biggest Fish Caught on Small Flies?

Caught my biggest Rainbow; 18+ inches on the smallest rod, and smallest fly I own. Size 24 midge nymph on my 7'3wt. Luckily he was in about 2 ft of slow water with really nowhere to run; just back and forth.
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