I wrote The Top Ten Smallmouth Flies – How to Tie and Fish Them in 2010. This eBook has sold quite well through the years and I am proud of it. But it’s time to revise this guide, based on another five years of intense smallmouth fishing.
What have we learned in the last five years?
The biggest innovation, which may not be new to all readers, is the emergence of large foam hoppers added to the arsenal of smallmouth fly fishing. Yes, I know hoppers have been used for years for trout and bass and are a staple for trout, just about anywhere, especially in summer and early fall.
Here is the key lesson we’ve learned in the last few years:
- Smallmouth love hoppers anytime of year, not just summer.
- Foam patterns are much better to use as they don’t water-log.
- River smallmouth will take hoppers when they will not hit a popper.
- Bass will both sip and smash a hopper pattern.
- Hopper patterns can be dead drifted, slightly twitched, or slid along the surface.
Hoppers were not part of the original book, but are now. In the last five years we’ve caught hundreds of bass on several hopper patterns, with the most versatile and successful being the Hopper Popper.
In the original Top Ten eBook, we had several streamers positioned in order of selection when working your way through you fly box. We fish streamers a lot for smallmouth, probably about 70% of the time, for the same reasons we fish trout underwater with nymphs and streamers – that’s where the fish spend the majority of their time feeding.
Part of the book deals with fly selection by category and developing a systematic strategy for choosing which fly to use and in what order. We’ve moved some of the favored streamers around within the hierarchy do to increased use and efficacy of various patterns.
We now position the Murdich Minnow as the first streamer to go to rather than the Clouser. I know we’re splitting hairs here, but the Murdich (and variants) ride high in the water column, imitate many types of shiny minnows and baitfish, and are easy to see in most situations, making for enhanced sight fishing opportunities.
Most of the other streamers are still in play and carry over into the 2015 revised edition, but it’s important to determine an order and system when selecting flies, regardless of how well your think you know the body of water.
In the original, we showed two types of crayfish patterns: Life-like (Clouser Crayfish) and resemblance (Hi-Tail Craw). We’ve cut down to one pattern simply because we don’t use the crayfish very often, normally when we’re really struggling and have to make something happen. A dead-drifted crayfish pattern or a large nymph can really save the day. But the techniques are slow and methodical and generally require a float to be effective. I don’t particularly care to fish that way if other common techniques work. But if fishing really sucks, I’ll go to the craw or the nymph.
I’ve also added many new comments and suggestions based on real life experiences since the initial writing and believe this most recent updated edition to be very accurate and helpful for anyone looking to catch more smallmouth bass fly fishing.
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Many fly fishing magazines promulgate a dis-service to “would be” fly fisherman as they depict fly fishing as an elite sport. In fact fly fishing can be enjoyed by anyone – especially in warm water!
Brad Miller of FlyBass.com discusses the dis-service promoted by many fly fishing magazines as they depict fly fishing as an elite sport.