Nova Scotia Smallmouth bass


Active Member
Hi all,

I'll be travelling to Nova Scotia this September and fly fishing for smallmouth bass in a lake. I've never fly fished for smallies before, and was hoping some of you might have advise as to techniques (lines), and flies. I'll have access to a canoe so trolling is an option, but is that the best way to go after them?

Thanks in advance for any advice.

Shawn West

Active Member
Alosa...I have never fished in Nova Scotia, but I have fished for smallmouth bass. When I target smallies, I look for rocky areas. My guess is that the bass will be feeding up for the colder months. With that in mind, I would suggest fishing crawdad and baitfish patterns. You can not go wrong fishing buggers. A size 8 will work fine. As far as colors go; black, olive, crawdad orange, and brown should serve you well. Find out what forage fish are in the body of water you intend to fish. Then tie or purchase patterns to match the bait. Clousers are smallmouth slayers. Don't leave home without them. Chartreuse/white is a great combination. It may be too late in Nova Scotia, but bring some top water flies just in case the bass are still looking up.

The gear you will fish with should depend on on the structure you intend to fish. When I fish a lake with a lot of boulders and little weeds, I prefer my 5wt rig. I also fish with my 2wt at times. The problem with the 2wt is that I am usually under rodded. That being said, it is a lot of fun using the 2wt. If fishing a weedy body of water, I prefer a 7wt or 8wt for pulling the bass out of the weeds. Bass are not leader shy. I usually use a 0X tippet and attach the fly using a fixed loop knot. You may want to tie a couple of leaders yourself. The leaders you purchase in stores are mainly for trout flies. Some of the flies you will be throwing will be greater than 3" long. I use a 3 foot 0X leader when using a sinking line. I want to keep the fly as close to the fly line as I can. A custom tippet will roll those larger flies over much easier. The fixed loop gives the fly more action in the water. You should have a full sink, floating, and sink tip (not as important) line.

Remember Alosa, bass are ambush predators. Where would you hide to ambush prey if you were a fish? Focus on structure and you should do well. I hope others will chime in with further info to help you have a great trip. I have thrown a bunch of info at you at one time. Please feel free to contact me if I can be of further help.



Active Member
Wow, that's great information and I'll certainly heed it.

Here's what I know based on prior experience in Nova Scotia: the bait fish in this lake will included golden shiners and banded killifish. Yellow perch are present, but rare, and there are also white perch, and brook trout. That basically covers the freshwater fish assemblage you find in much of Nova Scotia (besides introduced chain pickerel, and brown bullhead). September is the nicest month in Nova Scotia weather wise, and I will be fishing at the start of a cooling trend towards winter (i.e. water conditions will be near their warmest for the entire year; ~75 degrees with a pronounced thermocline at about 12-15 feet, possible deeper it it stratified well this summer). There is ALOT of structure in this lake; long shoals, lots of boulders, weedy areas in bays near the cottage, and some good sized docks.

I've done some reading on the forum and it looks like the most common advise is to cast and let it sit for a looooong time. That's not something I'm used to (I usually fish salmon/trout in rivers), so this should be interesting. Is there any point in trolling for the bass in my canoe, or should I just cast into good looking areas and retrieve when the time is right?

Thanks for the advice. I'm pumped!!