Fly Fishing Poppers for Late Summer Smallmouth

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I have had a couple of requests on the ‘how-to’ of popper fishing for smallmouth. While fly fishing poppers is a method I don’t use all the time (poppers just don’t always attract smallies)…when the time is right, as it was on this night in early September, a popper is not only fun, but very productive as well.

As you can tell from the video, the water was down, hardly moving…and this is for sure the perfect time to throw a popper or Chernobyl at them. This year in Indiana we have had enough cicadas buzzing around to make it interesting and thus I chose a black Boogle-Popper for the night. I often see others fishing poppers and the big mistake is simply way too much movement. It is so hard to do…but so necessary-cast your bug and LEAVE IT ALONE!

If you watch a cicada that has hit the water, and I recommend that you take this opportunity if ever presented…you will see that they hit with a ‘splat’. Next they just sit there. I am assuming they are trying to come to their senses. What happens next is a quick twitch, I might even call it a vibration on the water. They may ‘vibrate’ for a couple of seconds, then they simply float. As you can see from the video, this is a technique that has been good to me for many years and very productive.

As I moved into the last pool I could see smallies chasing and busting baitfish as several points and therefore I changed flies and tied on one of my reverse tied bucktail flies (that I showed you how to tie in the last video). I had only a dab of light left…but it proved to be productive as well as I landed two nice fish before succumbing to darkness.

If you get a chance to try some late summer or early fall popper fishing…go for it. I would suggest that you use a 6 weight or a rod big enough to make long casts with a heavy popper. These pools are low and skinny and the big fish will spook easily! Have fun, move slowly and stay patient…

Fly Tying a Reverse Bucktail Fly

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This video came about from several requests for me to tie the reverse bucktail fly after several videos over the past couple of months. Like any fly… this is a fly that continues to change and morph into what it currently is today and I am sure that there will be future changes as well.

I like this fly for a few reasons; first it is very lifelike in the water and can be fished at many levels depending on the line used with the fly. Currently we are in mid-summer and the water levels are low. The bucktail fly allows me to make long casts into a pool and treat the fly as if it were almost a top water fly and a top water presentation. With the weighted line you can also make upstream casts and allow the fly to swim downstream past ambush points…this technique has proved very effective and the takes have been jolting.

As I said in the video, I like white. I like the visual response I get from white…but also feel like it is the closest color to many of the baitfish that are in the locals waters. The shape of the fly allows for water to be pushed and displaced…while at the same time allowing the tail of the fly to be quite active. I am sure that you can find other color combos that will be good for your neck of the woods.

I have thrown on three additional pieces of video whereby I am fishing the reverse bucktail fly. I do so with the idea of giving you an idea of when and how to best use this fly…although I think the possibilities are quite limitless. I have concentrated mostly on smallmouth but I am sure that this fly will also do well for largemouth, crappie, pike, musky, etc….

If you have any questions you can contact me via this website and I will try and get back to you as soon as I can.

Choosing the Right Fly Rod and Reel

I recently read an article about choosing the right fly rod and reel. I have included the link to this article on my site because it answers so many questions and does so very well with great illustrations. This will allow the beginner to sit, read, think and relax a bit before being confronted with choices. Let’s face it… starting out in the fly fishing world is a big and scary place. Often the questions I get are excellent questions but they come after someone has already bought a fly fishing outfit that just isn’t what they were looking for. Fly fishing is hard enough. We don’t need to over-complicate all of it by purchasing a stiff 8-weight system when all you want to do is catch a few bluegill from the farm pond down the road; or you plan on heading out west to fish dry flies for cutthroat and wind up with a heavy duty 6-weight rod that is stiff-flexed. So, that being said… take some time to read through this well done piece made for fly fisherman of all levels, particularly you folks who are just starting out. If after reading you have specific questions then please go to my question section and shoot me an email and I will do my best to give you what I think is good advice.

Once again here is the link to the article … Choosing the Right Fly Fishing Outfit by Charlie Robinton.

Below is an example of one of the illustrations in the article …..
Understanding Rod Action - Choosing the Right Fly Fishing Outfit
Source: Partselect.com

Even More Sizzling Summer Fly Fishing Action

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When the water is right you need to get all the fly fishing action you can…and the water continued to be perfect this past weekend. My buddy Frank joined me and we once again headed north about an hour to one of our favorite haunts. This was a good day for Frank as this was our first trip together since Frank had a serious heart surgery in June and if you have ever been down, been away from your passion, fly fishing…then you know how good it feels to be ‘back in the game’.

This may not be a surprise to anyone, but smallmouth are ambush predators; at least they start off in an ambush position. I actually like to think about them as the cheetahs of the water-in that they want to get as close as possible to any unsuspecting baitfish or crayfish, etc…and then if they have to, they pour on the gas, accelerate and overtake their prey. Smallmouth are amazing fish and on this trip, partially because of my new Smith Optics glasses, I was able to watch big smallmouth stage directly behind or under my fly…then in a burst of speed and power, engulf the fly!

The fly that I have been using for a few months is a combination of one that I purchased in the north woods of Wisconsin and my own creation; it has a very fluid tail made up of soft hackly feathers…the middle of the hook shank has chenille wrap in silver or silver/blue palmered forward to the front of the hook where I am tying in white bucktail backwards, folding it backwards then finishing the shape with a craft glue. This gives the fly a bullet shape that pushes water, yet a tail section that is fluid enough to move and vibrate while in the water…it is a lethal combination. Look for a tying demo at some point in the near future.

Pay attention to the fact that once again while fishing downstream, I am doing most of my casting back upstream into pockets where an ambush is a possibility. What I find is that little fish will follow and nip at the fly while the larger fish will as I said earlier, accelerate and quickly over take the fly. In a summer pattern you can’t ever pass by a smaller bowl or trough of water as I have found big smallmouth lurking in some very tiny spaces; in fact I am sure that this is indeed their MO and is how they surprise many of their meals.

I hope you enjoy the video below, if you have any questions please direct those to the question section of this very website where I will do my best to answer those questions completely.

Fly Fishing Sugar Creek in August for Smallmouth

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Any time you can get on Sugar Creek is a great time. I have long spun yarns about how good the fishing is and can be…however the yarns are mostly accurate. The fishing is special as is the beauty of the creek. Even on the first Saturday in August, while one has to deal with many canoers, kayakers and tubers…the fishing was still spectacular.

Once again I was out on a day with my father, Ivan. If you haven’t noticed my buddy Frank along for a while…it is with good reason. He is about a month out from a very serious heart condition and truthfully I am eager for him to once again be back fly fishing; and let me assure you, he is eager and chomping at the bit to once again hold a fly rod.

On this day I would do about 4-5 miles of Sugar Creek and wind up at Deers Mill, the east border of Shades State Park. As I have said before, if you are looking for a way to fish the creek, stop in on the good folks at Clement’s Canoes and rent a canoe or kayak or have them portage you up the creek a few miles.

The water this first Saturday of August was perfect…flowing at around 270 cfs; enough flow that there wasn’t a lot of portaging and not so much as to have water clarity issues. If you haven’t fished or been on Sugar Creek then you need to know that it rises quickly and can get out of control anywhere from 500 cfs up…honestly, the fishing can be a question mark past this level as it starts to become stained.

I could only venture a guess but let’s just say that there wasn’t much down time on my four hour journey as the smallies had me busy most of the way. I was using my 6 weight outfit with a type one sink tip line and a couple of self-tied baitfish patterns. The fish did their part as they were very aggressive and it made for one incredible day.

More Sizzling Summer Fly Fishing Action

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Some fishing trips are special because of the area, stream or lake you are visiting. Other times the trip was special and memorable due to the numbers or size of the fish that were caught. On this, one of the last days of July, this trip was special for me because I was able to bring my dad along with me. He is now 85 and as most great things do…he is starting to slow. Worst off is that he now questions his own ability to be outdoors; on this day I convinced him to come along with me on a trip to the Big Walnut to enjoy the nature and some great weather.

My father, Ivan, was the one who started me hunting and fishing. I am not sure that he put the total love for the outdoors into me…I believe that was more of a God thing. Dad, however…was the one who always encouraged me and over and over told me to strive for the best. I still can remember the very spot when he and I caught a few smallmouth together. It isn’t too far from here and I still frequent that small stream on occasion.
On this day dad would drop me off at one bridge and pick me up at the other. In between I was able to land a few good smallies along the way. The weather and water couldn’t have been more perfect. It was as they say, one of ‘those-days’ that I won’t soon forget. It was particularly comforting to get to the end of my fish and see dad sitting there, reading his paper, waiting and enjoying the beauty of the water.

I do apologize for the wind and microphone issues on a couple of sections as the wind was blowing quite well. One thing that I have learned about my GoPro Session is that the sound is good if the wind is coming straight into or from straight behind…but not from the side. As I have said before…it is tough being my own camera crew?

I hope that you still have your father…and if not, I hope that you have all the great memories you should. My dad and I are best friends…not everyone can say that. I am proud of him…and proud to be his son. If you enjoy the video…please give me a like. If you have any fly fishing questions …don’t hesitate to contact me.