December 20th, 1999
We thank the
Canadian Fly Fisher for re-print permission!
The Absolute BEGINNER
The best way to learn to fly fish
is by doing it.
The same goes for improving your skills. The problem, however with more
popular target species - trout and salmon, is that most of them demand a
fair amount of skill for success. There's nothing more frustrating, especially
when you're new to the sport, than day after day on the stream in which you
catch little or nothing while more experienced anglers clean up. The way
around this is target species which are less demanding. This way you'll
not only hone your skills, you'll catch fish as well.
From the Atlantic to the Pacific there are plenty of species to target. Perhaps
the most desirable and also the most widespread is the smallmouth bass.
Smallmouths in fast water are the perfect target for practicing stream fishing
skills, because their habits are so similar to those of trout. At the same time,
fastwater smallmouth are almost always ready to hit a fly and they're so much
more forgiving of less than perfect streamcraft, casting and presentation
After a few sessions, you'll find you have improved your performance and
boosted your confidence, so that you'll have a much better chance of
success the next time you hit the trout stream. And you'll have caught a
pile of fish and had a lot of fun into the bargain.
You can use the same equipment for smallmouth which you've bought for
fishing the trout stream. For most of you this will mean a five or six weight
outfit with a rod of between eight and nine feet, but a four or seven weight will
also work well. If you have a choice, settle for the lighter outfit, as you won't
have to make long casts and most of the fish you'll catch will be under twelve
The only modification you'll need to make is to the leader. Keep it short - no
more than seven feet. This will help you lay it out good and straight. There's
no need to have as fine a tippet as you'd use on the trout stream either: 3X is
Locating the Fish:
Smallmouth hold in the same places where you'd expect to find trout on a
coldwater stream. You'll find them at the heads of pools, right in the main
flow where the incoming riffle drops off into deeper water. You'll also
find them in pocket in the riffles and anywhere that structure provides a
respite from the main force of the current. Tails of pools are also hot
spots. ~ PISCATOR
Continued next time with Techniques!
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