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Fly Fishing for Smallmouth Bass in Lakes and Rivers

I love bank fishing especially for smallmouth bass, they are aggressive, strike hard and they are a lot of fun to catch!  Perfect areas to bank fish are shallow brush piles, rocks along bridges and places where algae grow i.e. boat ramps, marinas, etc. (as fish love feeding on algae).

How to Tell the Difference between Smallmouth and Largemouth Bass for Fly Fishing

smallmouth vs largemouth bass identification

Smallmouth Bass:  mouth extends to the middle of the eye and is brown or bronze with vertical black lines

Largemouth Bass:  mouth extends beyond the eye and is green with black lines.

How to Fish for Smallmouth Bass in Rivers and Streams

Smallmouth bass and Largemouth and will look for different water conditions.

Smallmouth bass

Smallmouth bass can handle faster-moving water and can be found right in the current riffles.  They can be found around rock ledges, banks, boulders, etc.

Largemouth bass

Largemouth bass tends to hang around the slower, deeper sections of a river with more weed.  Especially around logs rocks, roots of trees and weed beds.

Smallmouth Fly Fishing Techniques and Best Bass Rigs for Bank Fishing

smallmouth bass fly rod

It’s all about figuring out what the bass feed on.  A lot of people use plastic worms or topwater lures but honestly, I prefer my own flies as I love fly fishing.

I use different types of flies imitating their food sources and try to make them look as natural as possible.  This can be difficult to find at times that’s why making them yourself is so much better and not to mention cost-effective as well.

Smallmouth Flies

The best flies are the ones that look like baitfish or crayfish underwater or even just something that looks good to eat to a bass fish.  The key is to get the fly close to the bass and make it look like something really good to eat, it is that simple.

If using a lure, try to find bank fishing lures that look like small minnows or even bluegill (which is what they feed on in the shallow bank’s edge).  Anglers find spinnerbaits are good too.

Sometimes you may need to go deeper but most rivers, ponds, and lakes in North America hold bass.

Advantages of Bank Fishing 

smallmouth bass fly rod

Bank fishing is great fun and the good news is that you don’t need an expensive boat to do it!  If you find the right fishing spot on the bank you will catch better than on a boat, as you can gain hard to reach areas where a boat just can’t go i.e. a shallow upper creek arm

You won’t have the noise of your running motor which the vibration and noise can also scare away fish.  The great news is it doesn’t cost much to start bass fishing riverbank fishing is a great hobby to start in, all you need is a rod and some basic flies, as bass are not too picky on the fly selection (ie artificial fly – hook with furs, feathers, threads, etc).

fly fishing for smallmouth bass in lakesImportant information about bank fishing for Smallmouth Bass

  • Best seasons to fish: Fall and Spring as they are usually swimming in shallow waters this time for year for feeding. During these times of year bass also lay, fertilize, and hatch their eggs.
  • Low light times of day are the best time to fish i.e. mornings or evenings
  • Bright sunny weather is not the best time of day to go bass fishing as they tend to hide under rocks and grass etc.
  • They tend to feed in shallow waters close to the riverbank edge
  • Slow or flowing water make ideal fishing conditions, some of my best catches have come from farm ponds, shallow millponds or even watershed lakes
  • Always try to be as quiet as possible, especially when walking along the bank – you don’t want to scare the fish away before you even drop your line in!

Rember to take your time, this is a relaxing sport, in my opinion, it’s what makes the catch so much more enjoyable!

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  • December 9, 2019