Fly Fishing For Smallmouth Bass: Gear Essentials

Smallmouth bass are one of the best pound-for-pound fighting fish in warm fresh water. They hit flies with reckless abandon and typically are very plentiful in the creeks, streams, rivers, and lakes they call home. As the water temps climb closer and closer to the magic 50-degree Fahrenheit mark, anglers everywhere are getting pumped up for the pre-spawn action these fish are infamous for. So we wanted to give our readers a quick list of the essential gear you should have before you pursue these fish on the fly!

A Strong Streamer Ready Rod

Pre-Spawn smallmouth fishing isn’t about making long casts, in the weeks leading up to the spawn, bass move in packs hunting for food as they all try to put on as much mass as possible to impress their potential mates. With their attention on more important matters, they become less spooky. During this part of the year, we like to throw our Wade Rods’ Streamer Express, with its strong backbone and fighting butt, it makes fighting these jumping green fish a blast while protecting the smaller diameter tippet needed when the smallies are in the shallows!

A Heavy, Streamer-Ready Leader

One of the challenges when fishing with the larger and heavier flies you need when targetting these fish. We recommend utilizing a zero-twist leader to ensure your flies swim the way you need them to. A heavier and sometimes even a shorter leader can help any caster turn over bigger patterns and present your patterns to those hunting, territorial bass.

Good Wading Boots with Studs

Having a pair of solid wading boots that will maximize your traction underwater is key when targeting smallmouth in rivers and creeks. As the temperatures warm up, more and more vegetation will be sprouting up making it sometimes difficult to wade on slippery surfaces underfoot. We’ve found that the tread system by Rock Treads is hands down our favorite and most reliable traction systems and its incredibly easy to install as you can see in this blog post.

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An Arsenal of Streamers

Photo from Ian Harpe

While not notorious for being especially picky predators, smallmouth can tend to be keyed in on certain colors while searching for food. In the early season, we like to stick with combinations of olives, oranges, yellows, chartreuses, whites and of course, black streamers in low light, all of these tend to be trigger colors for bass and are all worth trying out before you leave the water. Having a solid collection of streamers can be key until you find what your fish are keyed in on.

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