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Fall Period Smallmouth


Steve S.
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As a new fly fisherman, I think the most challenging aspect of presentation has been fishing deeper (relatively speaking) and slower presentations in current. With the fall season upon us and cooler water temperatures ahead, I have some ideas on what patterns to use and how to present but I was also wondering what works for other river buggers.

 

Any and all input is appreciated!

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Guest rich mc

i like larger flies in the fall, up the size to at least a size 4. fav flies are flashtail whistler, or the murdered muppet and a double bunny. and i will try alarger white wonder worm. this fall rich

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Interesting point of view Rich, showing that everything is relative. To me a # 4 fly is down sizing. My starter is usually a 1/0 with a #2 as my back up and a # 4 when they're really not biting. Do they make flies smaller than that? Maybe it's not hook size but bait size. I like to be throwing something that looks to be 4 1/2" to 6" normally. A 3 1/2" bait is down sizing and something nearer to 2 - 2 1/2" is finesse. As the water temps drop I change from predominately crawdad baits to mostly baitfish patterns. Plus I start moving towards slower and deeper waters using 10 foot sink tips or a full sinker if I happen to be in a boat. As much as I had a penchant for bottom bouncing, I find that on the second half of a sunny fall day you can get the smallies to come up. I like to use a white receding hare worm fished like a fluke just sub-surface. I do fish large waters and may start with a mid-size bait on a smaller flow but preface that with a MAY FISH WITH, not always. I've fished down state Illinois with a few old time ISA'ers in some small flows and they were throwing 6" lizard baits and doing well. I think many fly fishermen are giving the bass the flies the fisherman wants to throw not necessarily what the bass would prefer to eat. I know that I've opened that can of beans again but that's my opinion. OK Ronk, let me have it.

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I've been throwing larger and "active" flies all season, and I will certainly start out this way if I feel the situation calls for it. Its what I have the most confidence in thus far.

 

I guess I am picturing myself standing next to my fishing partner, watching him clean up on slower presented soft plastics while I figure out how to match that presentation. Over the summer, I worked Clouser Deep Minnows downstream along current seams in the vicinity of known pockets of deeper water and was able to pick up quite a few walleye. I also tried this approach for smallmouth with some success, though often times we would find ourselves wading upstream, which wasn't conducive to presenting using this method.

 

It would be easy to just pick up my spinning or casting gear and join him, but I've come this far with the fly gear and I don't want to stop now.

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Low & slow is my most productive approach 80% of the time on area rivers. Right now until the water temp. drops to 50 or lower & stays there I always start an outing with more aggressive action higher in the water column, usually fishing a down & across swing with the current. If that doesn't work then slow it down. If you catch it right the fish will pursue & nail your fly on the lift as the current buggywhips your line straight at the end of the drift. When that is the case shallow or deep, fast or slow water doesn't much matter. I agree with Caig on large minnow patterns as the fall progresses. Whatever you do get out as often as you can, fish midday & on & cover water. You will find the fastest fishing with the flyrod this time of year. From the results that Eric has posted that time is NOW.

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Steve,I agree with John re his water temp approach. Above 50 degrees fish surface to midepth bassbugs and streamers aggressively. Below 50 low and slow. For the first 3 weeks of October last year I had good luck for 16 -19" bass with bassbugs on the Fox.The rivers in our area aren't at normal flows deep enuf to require sinking lines. 9-10' leaders and split shot are sufficient. In deeper spots use a heavier shot and/or add tippet to increase leader length.With a haul casting shot with a 6wt or heavier rod is not difficult. Just avoid falsecasting. With a floating line you can readily alternate between subsurface and surface flies.Also shot will sink a fly faster than a sinking line definitely a factor in moving water.Cast across or slightly upstream depending on water depth/current speed with an airmend if necessary and than do a water mend to deal with drag to get the fly down.

Craig,

Most of the flies I use are at the large end of sizes intended for smb,i.e.2-1/0 and 3"lengths.I just don't believe it's necessary to go to sizes typically used for pike/muskies or saltwater species that are more difficult to cast wth 4-6wts that I prefer for smb rather than your preferred 8wt.If you've read some of my reports you should agree that using those flies the average size of the bass I entice has been good and comparable to what spin/baitcasters average in local streams.

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Pulling your chain ronk, just having a little fun, you do fine, don't change a thing. On a note from another poster, I fish sub surface wading UPSTREAM most of the time. I cast almost directly up or just slightly off. With a weighted fodder I strip fast enough to keep up with the current or hop it slightly fast than the current. In some situations I am stripping incredibly fast to keep up. Believe me it works. With this method your fly is most likely to get nearer to and stay closer to the bottom. If I don't occasionally feel the bottom, I'll switch weights on my Fodder with the interchangeable weighting system to get me down. If I'm dragging bottom, I'll switch to a lighter weight. It takes less than 10 seconds so it no big deal to stop and do it.

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Pulling your chain ronk, just having a little fun, you do fine, don't change a thing. On a note from another poster, I fish sub surface wading UPSTREAM most of the time. I cast almost directly up or just slightly off. With a weighted fodder I strip fast enough to keep up with the current or hop it slightly fast than the current. In some situations I am stripping incredibly fast to keep up. Believe me it works. With this method your fly is most likely to get nearer to and stay closer to the bottom. If I don't occasionally feel the bottom, I'll switch weights on my Fodder with the interchangeable weighting system to get me down. If I'm dragging bottom, I'll switch to a lighter weight. It takes less than 10 seconds so it no big deal to stop and do it.

I hate casting straight upstream for the very reason you sight having to strip like a maniac just to keep up with the current.It's also difficult to keep tight contact to the fly and to get as good a hookset as when fishing across stream.Also as you strip fast the retrieved line goes flowing merrily downstream which makes casting cumbersome.I assume you use a stripping basket because of this but that makes wading not only cumbersome but limits how deep you can wade.Fishing across stream at a more measured retrieve rate makes it much easier to control the retrieved line.While I'm sure it works you have to work much too hard using your method and fishing is supposed to be fun not work.An easier way to flyfish downstream is to cast downstream at a 30 -45 degree angle and let the current carry the fly downstream alongside cover etc while you pay out line to extend the drift. Drag is defeated as the line and fly tend to move downstream at the same speed.Finally there are more than enuf quality smb to be had fishing the surface and midepths with bassbugs, streamers, leech flies etc. as an alternative to only bottom bouncing where snags abound.

P.S. It'd be nice to see some posts and pics from you about your outtings for those big shoal bass and stripers you catch in Dixie.

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What is hard for one person is not always for another. I fish upstream most often, cross stream next and down stream the least. I do not find it work but I do find it effective. I just read a post by Eric in the casting section. His big discovery this year was fishing upstream, imagine that. Bait floating downstream is how fish are used to seeing food come to them. I tie my flies on 60 degree jig hooks to keep them riding point up and any fly on a "standard" hook will have a double weed guard. Plus with practice you learn to swim your fly over objects. I loose few flies. Plus bouncing off cover often triggers fish into hitting. I believe that if you are not occasionally getting hung in brush, rock piles or on the bottom, you are not fishing where the fish live and in their face. I can tie more flies, they're expendable but I hate leaving a spot not catching a fish because I was afraid to loose a fly. I use stripping baskets when shore fishing or in my boat but not wading. I like to use a Rio Outbound line when wading. The very thin running line does not catch the current too bad at all. Plus the heavy head just pulls it off the water and sends it back upstream easily. Much easier than a traditional fly line which you have to strip the running line back upstream to re-cast it. I have to try to post some pics again, that's hard to me.

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Guest airbornemike

I started fishing upstream recently after reading Holschlags book, the technique is the "hop" I believe, the rigging is a straight mono leader and tippet with a strke indicator set so your just tick'n the bottom. It worked real well for me this season, I usually start with this and work upstream than turn and swing down.

 

I don't think I tie anything under a #2 and up to a 1/0.

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Craig,

What's the average length of your upstream casts? I'm sure a master fisherman like Eric has known about the various approaches for years.When I spinfished I also fished as he suggests since it's much easier to downstream retrieve with a high speed spin/baitcasting reel.There certainly are advantages to fishing that way just as there are flyfishing.I've started using an Airflo 40 Extreme Distance flyline recently.Like the Rio line it casts very well, has a very thin running line

and unlike any other line I know of it has no stretch which should improve hooksets especially at longer distances.

Don't forget about doing those posts/pics.If by your last statement you don't know how to do the pics email me and I'll pass on the instructions Paul T gave me.

 

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If Eric has know about downstream fishing for years, he sure seemed surprized by it in his post. Anyway, I usually throw about 50 feet of line beyond the rod. Add a nine foot leader and nine foot rod. I cover a lot of water. Only in boulder fields (or ledges down here) do I reign it in to shorter casts to reduce hang ups and cover spots more thoroughly.

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Fall fishing can find the fish very active or very lethargic, depending upon the conditions. If the water temperatures are above 50, I try topwater flies, and sometimes they work well this time of year. If you want to fish deep and you are fishing upstream, the Holshlag hop with a weighted fly and indicator works well. The same setup can also be used for dead drifting, which can be effective when you find locations where you can keep the line off of the water enough to control the drift. Slow pools or eddies are great places to try dead drifting during the fall.

 

Sinking leaders or sink tip lines work well to get flies deeper and to fish slowly. A five foot fast sinking leader with a three or four foot fluorocarbon tippet can be fished with both non sinking flies like craft fur minnows or with flies with lead eyes like clouser minnows. With a sinking leader and a weighted fly, it is easy to bang the stream bottom with a variety of retrieves. I often quarter cast upstream and let the fly work all of the way downstream. I have some heavily used flies that have the front section of the lead eyes worn out from banging on the rocks using sinking leaders.

 

 

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