Part Sixty-three

Smallmouth Bass

Smallmouth Bass Fishing, Concluded

By Tom Keith
Excerpt from: Fly Tying and Fishing for
Thanks to Frank Amato Publications!

A common method for fishing smallmouth streams is to float the stream in a canoe until a likely-looking spot is found, then beach the conoe and fish the area thoroughly from shore or by wading in the river. When you have finished with that particular spot, the canoe is used to move to the next. It is easier to cover many miles of stream in this manner than to try to wade or walk the same distance.

I like to use a floating nymph in June and July and then again later in the fall when the fish might encounter seasonal emergences of what is known as the tiny western olive mayfly. Though this particular mayfly is most common in the West, the floating nymph has proven effective across the country for bass fishing. Maybe bass aren't as selective as trout, or maybe the nymph suggests another organism that bass like to eat, but whatever the reason, floating nymphs deserve a place in your smallmouth fly box.

This particular pattern actually is representative of the stage of the nymph that occurs just prior to its hatching into an adult insect. I like to cast it upstream and let it be carried downstream on or just below the surface when the current is moving near the stream bank.


One of my favorite dry flies to use for smallmouths is the Paradrake. It is a floating parachute-type dry fly that imitates the western green drake and other large mayflies. It has proven to be effective on ponds, lakes, reservoirs, creeks, streams and rivers, wherever cool, clear water is found near aquatic vegetation.

I like to cast the fly as close to standing vegetation as possible and let it sit several seconds before skating it a few inches across the surface. If that doesn't produce a strike, I recast to another location a few inches away. By castingh and changing position often, I can work an area thoroughly and tempt every fish in the vicinity. I may not get them all to strike, but at least I'm confident they have seen the fly and been given the opportunity to hit it.

When I'm fishing the paradrake in a stream, I cast it upstream along the outside edge of a line of vegetation and let it ride the current downstream as close to the weeks as possible. This tactic works especially well in spots where the current is very slow. Sometimes it produces very swift, slashing, dramatic strikes; while other times a bronzeback will rise warily like a trout and just suck the fly from the surface.

In faster moving water I cast the fly upstream and try to place it so the current floats it around, past and behind submerged rocks or other obstructions where smallmouths are apt to be waiting for a snack to be served. ~ Tom Keith

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