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.
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...
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: