Saturday, December 4, 2010

My Go-To Smallmouth Fly

Hook: Gamakatsu 60 degree bend size 2
Thread: Chartreuse
Tail: 1/8th or 1/4th cut rabbit zonker
Body: Cross cut rabbit
Collar: Copper polar hackle
Head: Rabbit fur in dubbing loop wrapped around medium lead eyes.

Play with weight, flash, and color to adjust for conditions.  Olive is a very productive color as well.

I apologize for the fuzzy picture.  It may be a while before I can afford a proper camera so please bear with me.

The Story

For generations my family has spent summers on a deep, cold lake in northern Michigan.  When I was little I fished with my grandfather for perch and rock bass, which was fun but a panfish is, well, a panfish.  At first glance, the shallows appeared to be barren. So, as I grew, my attentions turned away from the lake and to the surrounding rivers hunting browns and rainbows.  Until one day when I was swimming I saw a large dark shape beneath me.  A bass!  A large bass!  Cruising the shallows looking for the abundant minnows and crayfish.  Needlesstosay, I spent much of that summer fruitlessly casting from the dock.

The following memorial day weekend I was determined to catch that bass.  My dad and I hopped in a canoe and starting paddling.  Peering in the water we quickly realized that the large expanse of barren sand was dotted with structure usually anchors for rafts or bouys, old logs, small weed patches or a combination of the three.  We quickly realized that many of those small structures held bass.  We had a ball.  What was once a dead lake has become my location X.  I can only hope that every fishermen finds their own.

The Fly

The fishery teaches us something new every year.  Most flies produce well one year and poorly the next except my go-to.   Every year its one of three patterns that I start with and always the one I put on when I'm finding it hard to get bit.  The fly is my confidence fly.

My go-to is very simple.  Tie in some dumbbell eyes. Tie in the tail at the bend of the hook.  Palmer the cross-cut rabbit forward to the eyes.  Put some rabbit fur in a dubbing loop and wrap the dubbing loop around the eyes.  You can tie them in a variety of colors as long as they are olive and chartreuse.  Its worked for me wherever smallmouth are found including Lake Michigan.  The one tip I have is to retrieve it slowly across the bottom.  To accomplish this use an intermediate sinking line and long leader.  Let the sinking line sink to or near the bottom.  Place the tip of the rod into the water as deep as you can and use long slow strips.  The fly works with a more typical twitch retrieve but its magic with the slow retrieve. Of course a slow retrieve can't be accomplished in every environment, but where the structure allows I would employ the technique.  Keep it simple and get some bronze.  Enjoy, tight lines.


  1. I throw something similar and it's equally good for largemouth.

    Here's my go-to

  2. Clif - I checked out your fly. Very cool. It provided some inspiration. I might be posting some variations down the road.