Welcome to Panfish!

Part One Hundred fourty-seven

Fly for Smallmouth Bass
Black and White Streamer

By Tom Keith, Lincoln, Nebraska

Smallmouth bass feed extensively on minnows because the small fish always seem to be in good supply in or near areas of vegetation, downed trees, fallen limbs, and shallow spots where bushes and trees hang out over and into the water.

One of our favorite minnow-imitating flies is the Black and White Long Streamer. It is very effective in various shallow water spots where schools of minnows congregate. There is a tendency among fishermen to use streamers and bucktails that are too large. The adage big streamers for big fish may have some basis in fact, but we've caught plenty of large fish on small streamers. And, between hooking those large fish we've enjoyed catching many medium-sized fish that provided a lot of excitement.

We've had good luck in the spring with streamers and bucktails from 1 1/2 to 2 inches long, which is about the size of live minnows most people normally use for crappie fishing. Later in the year, or in especially fast water, we use that same pattern tied a little larger, say 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 inches long.

I like to wade upstream when I'm streamer fishing. I try to concentrate on wading slowly while using natural cover to conceal my approach. Most of the smallmouths will be facing upstream in the current, and I think by quietly wading up from behind, I can get closer without frightening them, make better casts ahead of their position and control the fly as it moves back down to them.

Remember that minnows congregate in weed and grass beds where they can find forage organisms and hide from predators. Those are the areas you want to concentrate on when you are fishing streamers. Keep the fly close to the vegetation and retrieve it with movements that imitate a living minnow. Predators take injured or ill minnows because they move slowly and are easy to catch, so try to make your fly imitate the erratic movements of a stricken minnor.

Black & White Bucktail Streamer


Hook:  Mustad 9672, sizes 2-8.

Thread:  Black monocord.

Tail:  Red hackle fibers.

Body:  Narrow flat silver tinsel.

Throat:  Long white hackle fibers, short red hackle fibers.

Wing:  Black and white kip tail.

Tying Steps:

1. Tie red hackle fibers on shank above hook barb forming tail. Tie a 6-inch piece of tinsel on hook shank at the same point as tail is tied, then wrap tinsel forward along shank to a point about 1/8 inch behind hook eye forming fly body.

2. Form throat by tying on a small bunch of white hackle, a little longer than the length of the hook, below the hook shank and then tie in a small bunch of shorter red fibers, which are only half the length of the hook, at the same point.

3. To form wing, tie a small bunch of white kip tail on top of hook shank, then tie in an equal amount of black kip tail on top of the white.

4. Form head, whip finish and cement

More on Fishing the Black and White Streamer

The Black and White Streamer is easy to tie and very effective when smallmouths are feeding on minnows. Start by fishing it deep with a sink-tip line, but if the action is slow or non-existent, try it at shallower depths with a floating line. We've found it best to keep it as close to vegetation as possible and retrieve in an erratic manner. ~ Tom Keith

Credits: From Fly Tying and Fishing for Panfish & Bass published by Frank Amato Publications. We greatly appreciate use permission.

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