Smallmouth techniques?

Hey guys,

I work at UW with another fly guy from Carolina. We are both thinking about trying to target some smallmouth in Lake Washington around UW after work as the summer gets going. We can rent a canoe for pennies at UW and see what we can find. He's never targeted smallmouth with fly gear, just spinning gear and I've never attempted it at all. I'm hoping to call on the knowledge here to get me started as far as flies and techniques go. Thanks!
Start with some Clousers, chartreuse and white or olive and white. Then maybe add some more clousers.

If you're fishing shallow enough to get to the bottom, drag a crayfish pattern slowly along.

Poppers as the sun starts getting low.

Shawn West

Active Member
I tie my Clousers on a size 6 hook. They are about 3.5" long. It is hard to beat White/Chartreuse. All white works well too. Arizona Simiseal Leeches in size 8 are also killer. Color never seemed to matter, but it would be hard to go wrong with black. If you are hitting the water right now, slow and deep would be the way to go. Target boulders!!! If you do not get an occasional snag, you are not fishing deep enough (when fishing around boulders and rip rap). The takes may be very subtle right now due to the cooler water temps. Set the hook if your line feels "different". Let us know how you do.


Thanks Shawn. We probably won't be out to fish for bass until summer starts. We are very much thinking, canoe plus a sixer of good beer in the warm evenings after work.

If I want to fish in the cold, I'll fish for trout.


Triploid, Humpy & Seaplane Hater
I'm partial to anything that imitates a frog.

A couple of tips that have worked well for me with topwaters, especially LM.
1. If fishing full sun, cast into the shadow side of any structure, docks, trees, boats etc.
2. Once your topwater hits the water, don't move it. At a minimum, let the rings on the water caused by the pattern hitting the water dissipate before moving the fly. Sometimes I'll let it sit for a minute or longer.
The takes after it has sat for a bit are the best in my opinion. Watching the water erupt when it is least expected is the great.

One of the biggest LM bass I've ever seen was caught by a teammate of mine off the dock behind the crew house. that was 30 years ago though. ;)
Some of the flies can get heavy and it's normal to use a heavier rod. I've sold my 8wt and started using more of a stealth approach with regular trout flies. Buggers, clousers, leeches etc seem to work well. I sometimes use my 6wt outbound intermediate, but also a 4-5wt with a sinking polyleader. Cast, strip back and cast again. You'll get a lot of strikes as the fly hits the water, and some as you strip back.

For top water I like poppers fished the way Stonefish describes above, a 5-6wt works well. Check your knots often, the initial strikes are savage and I've had a couple of expensive poppers broken off.

Use a heavy tippet. There's nothing subtle about playing a big bass. Most of the time you've got to horse it away from weed beds or timbers piles, and you don't want to risk breaking off the fish.
Thanks. I was thinking I'd just throw my beach rod at it, a fast 6 weight with either a 7 weight floater or a 6 weight outbound intermediate. I'm going to try tying up some poppers and gurglers. I just ordered silvercreek's UV coat so I want to try that on a popper head instead of epoxy.

Eric B

Montana hillbilly
Looks good. After the spawn, I have had good success dragging a leech with a rubber tail along the bottom where it isn't too weedy. Once the water temps heat up in the summer, I think top water is the way to go. I still haven't found a good way to get a consistent bite at deeper spots during the summer.

Please (anybody) feel free to give up any details about depths, techniques for summer time bass other than top water (I admit that occasionally I bring along my spinning gear for smallies, b/c I really struggle getting bites later in the summer). I know there has to be some go-to patterns and strip techniques that can draw out the bass, but I have failed miserably the past 2 summers. One example is at Banks lake. I can catch them all day with spinning gear, but had a terrible success rate with the fly rod.

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