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ssaamm

Fly fishing for smallies refresher course

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ssaamm

I need a little help. Went to a smallie river the other day and caught about 8-10 on surface lures-Pop'r, skitter pop. I could see a good number of fish that just wouldn't bite. Bait fish were abundant as well. A husky jerk just picked up too much debris every cast to be effective. My old fly rod popped into my head as an option. I have a 9ft 6/7 wt rod that I bought at Thorne Bros. years ago with floating line. I did find a couple of leaders/tippets? that I got as samples at the outdoors show a few years back. They are 10lb test, 2x,.oo9 diameter from Seaguar. I picked up a couple of poppers, wooly buggers, and clauser minnows. I know I will be a little rusty, or pathetic, at first. Does my strategy and outfit seem reasonable? Thanks for the help. Sam

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DEADhead

sounds good to me. The fluorocarbon leaders work well for subsurface flies. It's not as big an issue when fishing larger flies for bass, but when fishing dries for trout, some anglers prefer a mono leader because it generally floats and fluorocarbon line tends to sink due to its density.

The fly selection sounds good. if you chose wooly bugger colors that are close to the color of crawfish in the waters you fish, fish them slow with some weight, on the bottom. I have good luck fishing clousers like I am jigging them. lift your rod when stripping the fly and lower the tip and let it sit. Sometimes you may need to let the fly sit longer than others, but generally a bass will strike on the fly after the pause. I have seen a lot of smallies poke their heads out of the rocks and nab my fly on the pause, while it is sitting on top of a rock. Another good technique is to strip your line in as fast as you can. You will often pick up the most aggressive fish in the area, the take can be intense.

On normal flows, I'll quarter the fly across and downstream and swing the fly. Then I'll fish the fly parallel to the shoreline. this especially works great along rocky shorelines. Usually when fishing streamers this way, I'll fish off of a sinking line, often times a type V sink.

In high flows, I'll cast upstream so my fly has ample time to get down while I am swinging it. Usually my fly will be down near the bottom by the time it swings by me.

About the only time I'll use a floating line for bass is when I am fishing in low flows and don't need to worry about getting down deep. I'm sure if I fished smaller streams for bass I would use it more often, but I am fishing the larger river systems out here in NW MN. I also don't fish surface flies much since it seems that the surface feeding time window is often limited around here, and fishing streamers is often extremely effective. You are also able to catch other fish species while streamer fishing as well, from drum, redhorse, goldeye, channel cats, to crappies, bluegills, pike and walleyes.

good luck and tight lines!

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ssaamm

Thanks for the response. The river I was fishing is pretty low right now--4ft- and crystal clear. Maybe I need to consider a sinking line as well. I'll let you know how it turns out. Unfortunatley, it's going to take a couple of weeks before I get back to the spot. Go Twins

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DEADhead

you could probably get by without a sinking line. I'm using a 9 weight full sinking line in depths over 8', and in other cases, pretty swift current. If anything, an intermediate sinking line can get the job done. A full sinking line, especially a type V/VI (or 250, 350 grains for a 9 wt) can be very difficult to cast, even for an experienced caster. Add a 3-4' non tapered leader and a heavy/bulky fly and it can be challenging. Just wanted to let you know what you might be getting into. It may take a while getting used to casting that kind of line, especially roll casting a density compensated line.

I'd say if you're fishing in low clear water with a 6 wt, a floating line with a 10-12' tapered mono leader would be the ticket.

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Ufatz

Say fellas, speaking of low water levels, lets all keep in mind that with this long miserable summer the water temps may be high, depending on where you are fishing. There are some places that maybe should be left alone until water temps come down. Fish concentrated into small "holes" are already under a lot of pressure.

Quite a few stream and small-water anglers simply give it up for a while when things get really bad. Spring creeks of course are another matter.

Sometimes a stream thermometer is a fish's best pal. grin.gif

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WxGuy

Good call, Ufatz, it's good to lay off the trout in some of the waters that run warm.

Smallies, however, fish away! Smallmouth fishing in SE MN has been excellent, and this is the time of year for great top water action.

DH knows his stuff, and I'm not disagreeing with him, but for SE MN, I prefer a floating line. When fishing deep with a weighted clouser or bugger, or whatever streamer, I fish a weighted fly or add tungsten above the fly if it's not weighted. The floating line where it meets the leader (I like the sinking polyleader with 2-3x attached) works as a good indicator. Sometimes I'll add an indicator on the line/leader connection when fishing clousers, sometimes not...depending on how fast I'm stripping.

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Ice-9

In a long time of fishing and guiding for smallies I just backed off the complexity completely. No tapered leaders--just a loop-to-loop off a butt of 40 to 20 then maybe 10. Flies are usually not going to give an elegant turnover anyway and even in clear conditions I don't think they get shied off. I also tend to a much faster, more violent movement with most flies, covering a lot of water. Also keeping tippet size up is useful for closing the deal fast so warm water effect doesn't kill off your fish, especially bigger smallies. The fish are in a high metabolic state in warm water and so will fight hard, jump more, and generally work up quite a head of lactic acid in a long drawn out fight. Since many anglers go to lighter line in the clear water--a move I'm not sure is critical for smallies--they can baby fish to death. If you see fish being picky, or concentrated, you are likely just seeing inactive fish. In low warm conditions in my experience (some East Coast but plenty here) the fish will spread out into flats and other feeding areas,primarily (but not always) in low light conditions, and will often be quite shallow. They will also feed at or after dark. If they are grouped and picky you'll need to fire them up with big presentations, erratic retrieves, etc. When they're on the feed you shouldn't have any trouble getting a bunch of hits.

The river is full of protein when the water's warm. Baitfish are growing and thriving, and the crawfish are peaking in population (and shedding often). Most important, bug hatches reach tremendous volumes which kicks the whole system into high gear each evening. (when they have to get out the snowplows to clear the whiteflies from bridges, you know there's plenty to eat.) Casting a whitefly imitation into a blizzard of bugs is probably futile, though you're as likely to stick a big carp, sucker, or catfish as a bass, which can get lively. But the bass will be looking up and targeting feeding bait even at dark, and I like to throw a popper (or better yet a loose lanky dahlberg) at or around feeding fish. With clients I used to put them on a small popper and literally target rising fish. When you get a cast on or near a rise you usually draw a hit. Bug hatch bites are bottom related and I've often found feeding fish in very unlikely places--current edges by muddy backwaters, broad sandy side-branches 18 inches deep.

Another productive warm water technique is buzzbaits at noon. I've moved a lot of bonus pigs that way, covering water and triggering inactive fish especially if it's windy.

The less free I am to fish the more I talk...

ice

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sodajerk

WxGuy -

Does anyplace in Roch have a selection of polyleaders (floating/sinking, trout/bass, etc)? I don't remember seeing them at Gander, before they sold out of everything, that is.

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Ufatz

Yes, my temp observations pertained primarily to trout, but ANY fish in over-warm oxygen starved water will be stressed, so I take it easy on 'em.

I am also a floating line guy with smallies and bass; very short leader. I over-line a #7 rod with an #8 BBT, and even cut back the forward portion of the taper a bit so I'm shooting "bullet loops" under the trees!!

Took a beautiful 5 lb. picture book LMB yesterday on one of my world famous Wild Turkey 80-proof bourbon cork head yellow poppers!!

I tell my wife it's really the only reason I drink the stuff-just to get those corks!

Of course, she STILL believes the only reason I came home with the .20 guage Purdy was because it was the only twenty guage available in the gunshop! grin.gif

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WxGuy

sj, Gander is where I bought mine, but sometimes it was hit and miss with whether they were in stock. They always seemed to have the weighted polyleaders, which I really like for streamer fishing. I too am just a loop-to-loop connector with simple tippet/leader kind of guy.

Ufatz, I tend to be a little short-sighted since I don't get out of SE MN to fish...so far we haven't had any problems with water temperatures being anywhere close to too warm, but I'm sure with severe drought and warm temperatures across other portions of MN, there may be some rough conditions out there.

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Ufatz

Okay . Thats great!! laugh.gif

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Ice-9

Uf, I totally concur with your choice of popper bodies. Sadly, Old Grand-Dad went to plastic caps several years ago. The most satisfying flies are the ones you make yourself, and the best of those are from found stuff. One of my friends concocted a fabulous smallie fly from a length of upholstery fringing, which you can see at 3w's (Contact Us Please) kreel tackle (Contact Us Please) you-know-what. Look at the CK Baitfish. The Claw Daddy is the result of fooling around with some leftover leather, and is extremely effective against brown trout.

Whenever I find pieces of foam I tie up a few block poppers, and the best so far is the grey foam with an adhesive back that they put on car bumpers for the boatride over from Japan (I guess they wedge the cars together on the ship to save space and keep them from rubbing against each other. It's a long trip.) That stuff cuts easily and floats low when tied on an 8089 with some marabou. Now if I could get Honda to start shipping it in some bright colors instead of grey.

By the way, how does that Purdy shotgun cast? I'd think it's a bit stiff to throw a tight loop. Dick Cheney apparently can hold his own with a 24.

ice

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