Our Man In Canada
December 20th, 1999

The Absolute BEGINNER
The best way to learn to fly fish
is by doing it.

Chris Marshall

By Piscator

The same goes for improving your skills. The problem, however with more popular target species - trout and salmon, is that most of them demand a fair amount of skill for success. There's nothing more frustrating, especially when you're new to the sport, than day after day on the stream in which you catch little or nothing while more experienced anglers clean up. The way around this is target species which are less demanding. This way you'll not only hone your skills, you'll catch fish as well.

From the Atlantic to the Pacific there are plenty of species to target. Perhaps the most desirable and also the most widespread is the smallmouth bass. Smallmouths in fast water are the perfect target for practicing stream fishing skills, because their habits are so similar to those of trout. At the same time, fastwater smallmouth are almost always ready to hit a fly and they're so much more forgiving of less than perfect streamcraft, casting and presentation After a few sessions, you'll find you have improved your performance and boosted your confidence, so that you'll have a much better chance of success the next time you hit the trout stream. And you'll have caught a pile of fish and had a lot of fun into the bargain.


You can use the same equipment for smallmouth which you've bought for fishing the trout stream. For most of you this will mean a five or six weight outfit with a rod of between eight and nine feet, but a four or seven weight will also work well. If you have a choice, settle for the lighter outfit, as you won't have to make long casts and most of the fish you'll catch will be under twelve inches.

The only modification you'll need to make is to the leader. Keep it short - no more than seven feet. This will help you lay it out good and straight. There's no need to have as fine a tippet as you'd use on the trout stream either: 3X is ideal.

Locating the Fish:

Smallmouth hold in the same places where you'd expect to find trout on a coldwater stream. You'll find them at the heads of pools, right in the main flow where the incoming riffle drops off into deeper water. You'll also find them in pocket in the riffles and anywhere that structure provides a respite from the main force of the current. Tails of pools are also hot spots. ~ PISCATOR

Continued next time with Techniques!

Fall Issue
We thank the Canadian Fly Fisher for re-print permission!

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