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Old 05-27-2012, 10:14 PM
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Default river smallmouth advice

What's your go to smallmouth fly/technique? I am just getting started and caught some smaller smallmouth on a clouser minnow. I havent gotten any takes on black woolybuggers. Do you fish with sinking line, or floating line?
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Old 05-28-2012, 12:38 AM
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Default Re: river smallmouth advice

My line depends on what I plan to use. I use an intermediate sinking line and a clouser a lot. I also use a floating line and poppers. Early in the year that's not the best plan. Wait for the water to warm up before you do that. Later in the season a leach pattern can be killer. There are spots with rocks or cement next to deeper water that might not have a fish anywhere near them in the daytime that will have fish on them after dark. The best way to learn about what to do in your area is to just fish it a lot.
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Old 05-28-2012, 10:19 PM
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Default Re: river smallmouth advice

Depends a lot on what kind of water you're fishing. Deep lakes and bigger rivers, you may have to go deep. Smaller, wadeable size and canoeable streams, late spring through early fall you'll probably catch as many fish using surface bugs and lightly weighted streamers as you will by fishing on the bottom. Not that you won't catch fish with weighted streamers on the bottom, it's just that you usually don't HAVE to fish that way.
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Old 05-29-2012, 08:11 PM
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Default Re: river smallmouth advice

I used to take a lot of smallies strippin' Clousers and Marabou Streamers in pool tailouts July-Sept when they're actively chasing minnows. First and last light saw the best action for larger fish under bright skies.

For a more effective alternative to a traditional Wooly Bugger, try "Googling" a pattern called Murray's Hellgrammite and give it a whirl. Gotta dead drift it though (no stripping).

Another set-up that I fished a lot was a large (#8-10) Prince Nymph tied to a 24-30" dropper off a Madam X or Stimulator, using the dry as a strike indicator.

For the real scoop, I highly recommend Harry Murray's book on the subject. The guy's got the patterns and techniques down cold for river smallies!

Amazon.com: Fly Fishing for Smallmouth Bass (9781558215344): Harry Murray: Books Amazon.com: Fly Fishing for Smallmouth Bass (9781558215344): Harry Murray: Books
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Old 05-29-2012, 10:05 PM
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Default Re: river smallmouth advice

Good advise already given. However, and depending on the waters you're fishing, if you're going to fish for larger bass, then use flies suited for larger bass. Look at it this way, if the spinning tackle guys are catching decent size fish & using larger size lures in the 3-5 inch range, why would you use tiny flies trying to catch the same size fish?

Heck, I've caught Smallmouths in the Susquehanna River here in MD while fishing for Striped Bass, on saltwater size lures 6-8 inches long. That tells me they're not all eating smaller offerings!

Tiny flies in tiny streams is one thing, but if you expect to catch bigger fish, then you need to use bigger flies. Of course you do have to get the flies in places where there are bigger fish as well.

Can't go wrong with Clousers, and I also like to use topwater flies. But my idea of an ideal Clouser for Smallmouths would be at least 3 inches long, and up to 5 inches for most larger rivers & streams. I use big topwater flies as well, something on at least a size 2 hook, and more so on a 1/0 size. In a smaller streams I might go down to a size 4 topwater, but rarely smaller.

I don't get too worried about patterns, and generally keep them basic. Gray or olive over white, all white, all black, and chartreuse over white will all work. Matching the local forage is fine, but doesn't have to be precise imitations.

For topwater I use white, black, & chartreuse, or combinations of these, all with black collars & splayed hackle tails. Again, I like a little flash in them, and sometimes add legs. I tie the legs in behind the body and wrap the collar thru the legs. Much easier to add them this way. I quit trying to make holes in bodies many years ago.

I also agree with Dan's suggestion of Leeches, and I particularly like one tied with ostrich herl, especially black. Tie them in the Clouser Minnow style, but very full, (ostrich really slims down when wet) and at least a size 4 hook, about 3 to 4 inches long. I like to add some flash in them, usually a combination of copper & bronze, or sometimes gold Flashabou.

I tie a lot of my Smallmouth & LM bass flies on better quality straight shank worm hooks used for plastic baits, and 1/0 is the size I use most.

The flies I use most for SM Bass, LM Bass & Striped bass are all the same types. Clousers, Half & Halfs, Deceivers, Seaducers (Hackle Streamer), and I've added Murdich Minnows. Poppers & Sliders (Sneaky Pete type) and some smaller flies that imitate crayfish & some large insects and of course Leeches. With this group, in a variety of sizes & colors, some of which have been around for a long time, you can catch many Smallmouths & many other species as well.
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Old 05-30-2012, 03:23 PM
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Default Re: river smallmouth advice

Good info, I am heading to Little River in July to catch smallies. Have a bunch of chartreuse and white clousers tied up. Gonna tie some poppers next. Any links or videos on good, simple patterns would be great!
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Old 05-30-2012, 09:12 PM
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Default Re: river smallmouth advice

My go-to fly was the black bead head wooly bugger, but this year I finally tried the Sparkle Grub and it's my current go to fly. I think I've caught as many smallies on this fly this year so far as I did all last year on any and all flies. I don't believe in "best flies", but so far this year the Sparkle Grub makes a decent argument for one. Easy to tie, easy to fish, and very productive.
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Old 06-02-2012, 12:46 AM
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Default Re: river smallmouth advice

Very helpful thread, I hope, the bigger smallies Have skunked me on the fly so far. Spin fishin', I do well.
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Old 06-02-2012, 08:58 AM
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Default Re: river smallmouth advice

I agree with bigjim, bulk up your fly and you'll bulk up your fish. My biggest smallies always took pike patterns. So now I tie those same patterns on a different hook and it's the smallmouth killer. Post some pics of your flies that you've been using so we can steer you in the right direction.

Be safe and tight lines...
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Old 06-02-2012, 10:26 AM
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Default Re: river smallmouth advice

Quote:
Originally Posted by bigjim5589 View Post
Good advise already given. However, and depending on the waters you're fishing, if you're going to fish for larger bass, then use flies suited for larger bass. Look at it this way, if the spinning tackle guys are catching decent size fish & using larger size lures in the 3-5 inch range, why would you use tiny flies trying to catch the same size fish?

Heck, I've caught Smallmouths in the Susquehanna River here in MD while fishing for Striped Bass, on saltwater size lures 6-8 inches long. That tells me they're not all eating smaller offerings!

Tiny flies in tiny streams is one thing, but if you expect to catch bigger fish, then you need to use bigger flies. Of course you do have to get the flies in places where there are bigger fish as well.

Can't go wrong with Clousers, and I also like to use topwater flies. But my idea of an ideal Clouser for Smallmouths would be at least 3 inches long, and up to 5 inches for most larger rivers & streams. I use big topwater flies as well, something on at least a size 2 hook, and more so on a 1/0 size. In a smaller streams I might go down to a size 4 topwater, but rarely smaller.

I don't get too worried about patterns, and generally keep them basic. Gray or olive over white, all white, all black, and chartreuse over white will all work. Matching the local forage is fine, but doesn't have to be precise imitations.

For topwater I use white, black, & chartreuse, or combinations of these, all with black collars & splayed hackle tails. Again, I like a little flash in them, and sometimes add legs. I tie the legs in behind the body and wrap the collar thru the legs. Much easier to add them this way. I quit trying to make holes in bodies many years ago.

I also agree with Dan's suggestion of Leeches, and I particularly like one tied with ostrich herl, especially black. Tie them in the Clouser Minnow style, but very full, (ostrich really slims down when wet) and at least a size 4 hook, about 3 to 4 inches long. I like to add some flash in them, usually a combination of copper & bronze, or sometimes gold Flashabou.

I tie a lot of my Smallmouth & LM bass flies on better quality straight shank worm hooks used for plastic baits, and 1/0 is the size I use most.

The flies I use most for SM Bass, LM Bass & Striped bass are all the same types. Clousers, Half & Halfs, Deceivers, Seaducers (Hackle Streamer), and I've added Murdich Minnows. Poppers & Sliders (Sneaky Pete type) and some smaller flies that imitate crayfish & some large insects and of course Leeches. With this group, in a variety of sizes & colors, some of which have been around for a long time, you can catch many Smallmouths & many other species as well.
Great advise! I'm tying much bigger, and the clouser I was using was small. I've tied some larger clouser and decievers now.

How are you fishing them on larger rivers? Floating line, or sinking?
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