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Mike G

Q&A 8 Reminds Me of Bob Long Jr

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7 or 8 years ago Bob Long was on the stump delivering a great talk on fly fishing rivers for Smallmouths. I memorized the three rules:

 

1. Fish the magic waters.

2. Fish downstream 90% of the time.

3. Make short casts (30 feet or less)

 

In this video I hear a lot of echoes of Bob's description of the magic waters which Bob described as 18- 34 inches deep. #8 is not just for trout only.

 

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Is fishing downstream a fly fishing thing?
I don't recall his reasoning for it at his Blowout seminar, that's why I ask.

The only time I've ever fished downstream with a spin rod is when I was replicating Geno Altiery's masterful technique for floating catfish bait.
Otherwise, I'm fishing much differently for smallmouth.

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I fished pearl tubes downstream in early March, right after his presentation at the Blowout. I was holding the tubes tight to the remnant water willow clumps along shore in decent current and I was rewarded with a couple very nice smallmouth. It was a nice way to start the season.

 

I fly fish 95% of the time now, and I mostly fish whatever way I can. I guess it didn't stick, but thats not to say it isn't effective.

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Is fishing downstream a fly fishing thing?

I don't recall his reasoning for it at his Blowout seminar, that's why I ask.

 

 

Mike, the idea was by fishing downstream your fly line will normally be tight or have tension on it and you're more likely to feel the bite vs. fishing upstream and inevitably ending up with slack in your fly line and not feel the take before he blows it out. The way I try to get around this is if casting upstream, I strip my fly very quickly in order to prevent slack from entering the system but obviously this won't work in faster water or if you're using a fly that is best presented in a slower manner such as hopping a crayfish pattern.

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Thanks. I figured it must have been a fly related thing.
Nonetheless, I did a little search and came up with this interesting discussion-
http://www.bassresource.com/bass-fishing-forums/topic/83743-which-way-do-you-go-wadefishin-upstream-or-downstream/

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Mike, the idea was by fishing downstream your fly line will normally be tight or have tension on it and you're more likely to feel the bite vs. fishing upstream and inevitably ending up with slack in your fly line and not feel the take before he blows it out. The way I try to get around this is if casting upstream, I strip my fly very quickly in order to prevent slack from entering the system but obviously this won't work in faster water or if you're using a fly that is best presented in a slower manner such as hopping a crayfish pattern.

 

I think that is a fair representation of Bob Long's reasoning. It is true no matter what kind of tackle you use. In his presentation MR Long put heavy emphasis on how fast a Smallmouth can spit out a bait about 50% faster than a trout. But it is odd that we are keying on this rule. In the video Mr Galloup really says nothing about upstream or downstream. He tells us why shallow (3 FOW) holds more fish and debunks long heave casting that lacks any specific target. So here Kelley is talking about rules 1 and 3.

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Another couple advantages to fishing downstream that two noted smallmouth gurus, Tim Holschlag and Tom L. both advocate casting down and across and once the fly is straight downstream, continue to lift the rod tip and hop the fly up/down and let it settle back down stream in the same spot, repeating several times can cause a reluctant take from a less than aggressive fish.

 

One of things that I like to do is stand upstream of an obvious fish holding cover such as a log and cast my popper to that "hole", now I might have to get to that zone by casting just beyond and bringing it back upstream or casing just above and feeding slack until I can my popper to just where I want it. Then I pop it a couple inches, give back some line and let it settle back, wait and then repeat several times, now I heard Holschlag say he likes to do the same thing and will leave his popper there for a few minutes, now I might not be that patient but it's amazing where you can just piss off a bass enough to come out and hit it though he's obviously not hungry, just my take on it anyway.

 

Somewhere on line there is a video of one guy flyfishing for smallies and his buddy underneath the water filming, when the guy has just a little slack in the fly line on top, there is more slack in the leader and all these smallmouth are going up to this crayfish imitation fly on the bottom and they're sucking it in and blowing it out and the fisherman never even realizes he getting hit.

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A lure coming downstream will often draw fierce reaction strikes from fish as it's moving naturally with the current and they have to react quickly as it passes by.

 

A lure coming upstream will often draw fierce reaction strikes from fish as it's kept closely controlled to areas they inhabit, i.e., the strike zone.

 

Both the above and everything in between are called "fishing."

 

;)

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Although there are some ffers who prefer casting upstream the vast majority have always preferred across & downstream simply because it allows for easier control of the drift.Depending on it's speed one must strip in line uncomfortably fast just trying to keep up with the river's flow when casting upstream whereas this is not an isuue for a spin or baitcaster enabling him to fish in either direction equally ez.

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7 or 8 years ago Bob Long was on the stump delivering a great talk on fly fishing rivers for Smallmouths. I memorized the three rules:

 

1. Fish the magic waters.

2. Fish downstream 90% of the time.

3. Make short casts (30 feet or less)

 

In this video I hear a lot of echoes of Bob's description of the magic waters which Bob described as 18- 34 inches deep. #8 is not just for trout only.

 

 

1. Fish the magic waters

It is well known that 10% of the water holds 90% of the fish. Finding the 10% requires good reading of water (a good understanding of stream anatomy and actual time on the water) to help pin point where the fish would likely be. As Kelly stated in the video that not all 18"-36" of water would hold fish, you just don't make long casts because you can make 100' casts. There are several good books on the reading of water subjects, I've these 3 and they're highly recommended: 1) Reading the water by Dave Hughes; 2) the Orvis Guide to Reading Trout Streams by Tom Rosenbauer; 3) Reading Waters by Gary Borger. Although, these books are trout books, but smallmouth and trout are living in very similar waters. Good reading of water goes much beyond just basic understanding of a stream anatomy. These books goes much deeper and they make good winter readings.

 

2. Fish downstream 90% of the time.

I found that this statement is true, but I don't think I can quantify them into a percentage. I do prefer to fish downstream, becasue, as Rob, Ron, and other FFers stated that it is easier to achieve a tight-line presentation and less striping which equal to less work. I only fish upstream when I can't position myself upstream above the fish likely holding area or when I need to fish deep. I use the swing technique most of the time on my downstream presentation. The swing technique causes the fly to swim downstream in an angle, very much like a spin fisherman casts his lure upstream in an angle and retrieve back downstream. And I did catch most of the fish on the swing down. I think those fish that I caught on the after the swing techniques (the strip-up, the raise-and-drop, the crawfish dance and other techniques that I mentioned in the bulletine) were fish that chased the fly downstream on the swing but didn't commit.

 

3. Make short casts (30 feet or less)

I prefer the term "make the first cast count". The casts can be long or short, but they needs to be acurate, and of cause short casts are more acurate than long ones. I believe "make the first cast count" is especially important when hunting for the big ones. Most of the big ones that I'd caught were within the first few casts when I get to the spot. Big fish would hunt in the prime areas of a stream. A prime area is the area that offers the most food with less energy spend and a safety place to hide near-by if dangers approach. One needs to be able to pin point these prime areas, and again good reading of water and actaul exprerience come into play. One needs to approach these prime areas stealthly and close enough to make short & accurate casts. And before one even makes the first cast or even get close to the river edge, one needs to start reading the water, strategize how to approach the prime areas stealthly and effeciently.

 

Thanks Mike for bringing up the subjects. There are a lot of good info that people shared here. Like most of us, I'm not a smouthmouth expert, just a weekend worrior, but these are some of the things that I followed in the past to help me catch more and bigger fish.

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Guest rich mc

I believe bob called the magic water the bubble line. I enjoyed his talk both times rich mc

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Tom

 

I would add Dan Gapen to those that do a fine job of explaining how to read water . He has some videos and books that are quite nice. Infisherman also did a nice job of covering moving water, especially the early Study Guides, those are classics .

 

I have found that many of the old time guys who wrote about trout had an excellent understanding of reading the water and how fish related to current. I read many of them when I was younger because they were the only guys writing about fishing in moving water. Rosenbauer's book about small water is also worth a read .

 

There are many advantages to fishing downstream. You can fish lures like crankbaits much slower if you desire and still keep them in the productive zone. You can minimize losing lures to snags. You can bump a lure into an obstruction, let it slide back by dropping the rod tip a little, bring it forward to hit the obstruction, repeating as often as you like. You can hold a lure in place and let the fish watch it until it's driven to eat it. Sometimes you have to pull it forward a bit to accomplish this. If that doesn't work, you can easily let it slide back to where it was .

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There are distinct times I've witnessed when smallmouth will absolutely refuse a swung and or stripped fly. It's during this time I use TH crawdad hop method, it can be deadly and the only thing that will work.

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I apologize for citing Bob's rules from memory and not giving his exact words. To set the record right, this is from an article he wrote as a companion to the presentation he gave about 8 years ago:

 

My Three Main Principles for Fly Fishing for Smallmouth Bass in Rivers, Creeks and Streams.

  • Fish more Slowly (and Closer)
  • Find and fish the Magic Zones
  • Cast & Fish facing Downstream (95% of the time)

I have the article in a Word Document. Though it is over 5000 words, it is worth the read. If Bob would give his permission, it might make a great article or series in the bulletin. It would be especially nice for those who were not able to get to a presentation back then.

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Mike G,

 

I read the comments in the thread. I'd be glad to add my two cents regarding my approach to fishing (fly or spin) for smallmouth in flowing waters (rivers, creeks and streams), although the conversation seemed rather wide open, and I am not sure what to address specifically.

 

I appreciate your kind and generous words about my presentation, Mike. I do see that in the comments (not yours) some of the concepts and language has changed a bit over my original intent. This happens naturally with time. It isn't criminal. :-) And, as always, I do not claim that my approach is the only one, the best one or etched in stone. Perhaps time for an update presentation at ISA sometime?

 

I can say this. One big issue I have I did not address in my talk, is when we give fish (or animals in general) human character traits - when we use human language (instead of neutral language) and motivations to describe fish and their actions. This to isn't criminal.

 

But the effect of such language is to have us looking for fish in places where we'd be, as humans if we were fish, and has the fish acting or reacting in ways we'd react or act as humans. Ultimately, this limits our ability as a fisherman to clearly or accurately understand the fish and its environment with clarity and true insight. The result is we tend to catch fish more by accident or happenstance, rather than by design or on purpose. Fish don't use their environment the way we use ours, or act the way we do, and as cold-blooded creatures they simply never will. The best fishermen either know this or intuit it, (even when they can't really explain it) and fish differently - and more successfully - than the rest of us.

 

Note: Our language as humans doesn't betray us; it reveals us. We often say, "What I said isn't me. I mis-spoke, I was taken out of context, I didn't mean that, that isn't me, I was joking or whatever," when actually, it is us, it is what we meant, or felt, or thought. If we take responsibility for our language, it allows us the opportunity to change it, clarify it, and take action (fish) with more clarity and insight into our desired prey.

 

I especially take exception with the use of "dry fly fishing for trout in rivers" language when applied to all types of fish in rivers. Even when applied to trout, the use of "dry fly" language isn't really accurate. Yes, it works, because most things work if you use it exclusively or over and over, and because fish ain't that smart to avoid being caught in general. That is why we have limits - to protect them.

 

Hey, I ain't sayin', I'm just sayin'. ;-)

 

All of this, in my talks and writings, is to help people catch more fish, or bigger fish with whatever method they choose. Nothing less, nothing more. If that is of interest, readers might consider giving my words a chance. If my thoughts have merit to them, great; if not, that is OK too.

 

Thanks again Mike.

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Nice to hear from you, Bob. Its time we get you back as a speaker. I always liked that you don't differentiate spin from fly but focus on speed, location & presentation.

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proper depth and speed control in the proper location are the most important factors in successful fishing .

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I thought just casting where Norm tells me was the answer!

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I thought just casting where Norm tells me was the answer!

 

You may have something there. I always ask, "What would Norm do?" What if this is as good as it gets?

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