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Thread: Proven Smallmout Flies

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
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    Default Proven Smallmout Flies

    I am hoping to fish the Potomac at Brunswick this Saturday afternoon/evening if the weather cooperates. I understand heavy rain is in Friday’s forecast and that may make the upper Potomac unsafe for wading.

    Ever the optimist and despite the forecast, I tied six size-4 streamers tonight after dinner – 3 wooly buggers and 3 Clousers.

    I’m partial to black and olive wooly buggers for smallies. I don’t know what the smallmouth bass believe they are, but I do know from ample experience that they bite them.

    Here’s one:

    IMG_0252.JPG

    Size 4 Mustad 9672 hook. Olive marabou tail. Red crystal flash. Olive chenille and black hackle. It’s weighted with 10 to 12 wraps of lead wire in the middle of the hook shank under the chenille.

    While I can and do retrieve them, often I let them drift in the current like I am nymph fishing for trout. When I see my fly line stop moving I lift the rod tip and hope I have a hook-up. Sometimes it’s a fish, sometimes the fly is hung up on a rock!

    For Clousers I cast up and across the current and strip the line back. The smallies must follow them because often when the fly makes a turn in the current, the smallmouth hit.

    Here’s a close look at one in the vise:

    IMG_0256.JPG

    Size 4 Mustad 3366 hook and small lead eyes.

    Years ago, a friend gave me a copy of an old book entitled, The Complete Book of Fly Fishing, by Joe Brooks, published in 1958. It’s a comprehensive look at fly fishing in that era. Actually, only the equipment has changed since then. Techniques are the same and in some cases flies are the same.

    The book covers fly fishing for every species imaginable including smallmouth in the Potomac River. While it doesn’t provide fly patterns and tying instructions, it has many photos of flies. Brooks called poppers “popping bugs”. He said they were made out of painted balsa wood with a tail of bucktail.

    I copied that pattern, using cork instead of balsa wood and calf tails. Here are two that I have used successfully on the Potomac in years past:

    IMG_0247.JPG IMG_0248.JPG

    Note their simplicity. No rubber legs, no hackle. Yet they work. Frankly, I don’t think smallmouth study a fly the way largemouth may in quiet water. Largemouth will hit a popper that is sitting still. Smallmouth are tuned into movement in fast water. I think the important thing for smallies is continuous disturbance the surface of the water and these poppers allow me to do that. Also they are easy to cast far since they have nothing tied to them to resist wind.

    Please note that I did not tie them tonight. I’ve had them for quite a while. I made them with the same hook I use for Clousers.

    So here are the smallmouth flies that I’ll carry if weather conditions permit me to fish:

    IMG_0259 (2).jpg

    I’ll throw them with a 9-foot 6 wt. rod, floating line and long leaders. Also, I added two of my more recent foam poppers. Those 10 flies should be enough variety and quantity for 3 to 4 hours of smallmouth action on the upper Potomac. I sure hope so.
    Mark

    Slate Hobie Revolution 13
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    Author: The Simple Joys of Kayak Fishing (Tips and Tales From an Old Guy in His Plastic Boat)
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  2. #2
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    Jun 2013
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    Mark.

    I've started tying and using the Shannon minnow this year with much success.
    http://www.flyfishohio.com/Shannons_Streamer.htm

    Only problem is it gets heavy to cast BUT it basically hovers in the water column. I broke down and use an ultra light spinning rod. I'm using a size 2 hook.
    PigPen - Mt Airy
    Native Mariner 12.5

  3. #3
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    Those look great Mark. Bring some bullet head darters too! You bringing your new fly rod?

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by PigPen View Post
    Mark.

    I've started tying and using the Shannon minnow this year with much success.
    http://www.flyfishohio.com/Shannons_Streamer.htm

    Only problem is it gets heavy to cast BUT it basically hovers in the water column. I broke down and use an ultra light spinning rod. I'm using a size 2 hook.
    Thank you for the pattern.

    Why does it get heavy? Does the chenille soak up water?

    I tied one...incredibly easy.

    IMG_0261.jpg

    I had the right kind of chenille in white, but I didn't have white marabou. I used yellow for a test. I wouldn't have guessed that the chenille would wrap so nicely around the marabou.

    Do you make yours only in white as the video suggests?
    Last edited by Mark; 07-26-2017 at 10:38 PM.
    Mark

    Slate Hobie Revolution 13
    Hidden Oak Native Ultimate 12
    Red Native Ultimate 14.5

    Author: The Simple Joys of Kayak Fishing (Tips and Tales From an Old Guy in His Plastic Boat)
    Available on Amazon.com and via PM

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by DanMarino View Post
    Those look great Mark. Bring some bullet head darters too! You bringing your new fly rod?
    Yep.
    Mark

    Slate Hobie Revolution 13
    Hidden Oak Native Ultimate 12
    Red Native Ultimate 14.5

    Author: The Simple Joys of Kayak Fishing (Tips and Tales From an Old Guy in His Plastic Boat)
    Available on Amazon.com and via PM

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mark View Post
    Thank you for the pattern.

    Why does it get heavy? Does the chenille soak up water?

    I tied one...incredibly easy.

    IMG_0261.jpg

    I had the right kind of chenille in white, but I didn't have white marabou. I used yellow for a test. I wouldn't have guessed that the chenille would wrap so nicely around the marabou.

    Do you make yours only in white as the video suggests?
    Yes the chenille soaks up a lot of water making it tough to cast BUT swmms really well. I've only tried white so far. I have tried a double articulated version to catch some tail biters with success. My only complaint is probably my technique because the articulated version just didn't swim the same so needed to add lots of action via the rod twitches.
    PigPen - Mt Airy
    Native Mariner 12.5

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by PigPen View Post
    Yes the chenille soaks up a lot of water making it tough to cast BUT swmms really well. I've only tried white so far. I have tried a double articulated version to catch some tail biters with success. My only complaint is probably my technique because the articulated version just didn't swim the same so needed to add lots of action via the rod twitches.
    Thanks again. I'll give the one in the photo a try. Sure is an easy tie.
    Mark

    Slate Hobie Revolution 13
    Hidden Oak Native Ultimate 12
    Red Native Ultimate 14.5

    Author: The Simple Joys of Kayak Fishing (Tips and Tales From an Old Guy in His Plastic Boat)
    Available on Amazon.com and via PM

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Apr 2015
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    I bet that fly will work. I was out wade fishing last weekend and between three of us the best lure pattern we got working was a 1/8 white jig head with a white paddle tailed grub.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2016
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    NOVA
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    Fished a Shannon's streamer from time to time. Good fly, heavy to cast

    Also try a Shenk's White Streamer. I tie them big and you can sub the rabbit hair for the puffy chennile that you use for the shannon's streamer.

    Try a madtom pattern also. Very effective in boulder water.

    Hopper this time of year near the edges of the river, especially if it has high grass near it and a deep ledge by the bank.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by HeaveToo View Post
    Fished a Shannon's streamer from time to time. Good fly, heavy to cast

    Also try a Shenk's White Streamer. I tie them big and you can sub the rabbit hair for the puffy chennile that you use for the shannon's streamer.

    Try a madtom pattern also. Very effective in boulder water.

    Hopper this time of year near the edges of the river, especially if it has high grass near it and a deep ledge by the bank.
    Thank you.

    Looks like Mother Nature may have the final say on this Saturday's plans.
    Mark

    Slate Hobie Revolution 13
    Hidden Oak Native Ultimate 12
    Red Native Ultimate 14.5

    Author: The Simple Joys of Kayak Fishing (Tips and Tales From an Old Guy in His Plastic Boat)
    Available on Amazon.com and via PM

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