Six Big Smallie Streamers

Six Big Smallie Streamers

Flies guaranteed to catch smallmouths all across the country

  • By: Harry Murray
smallie_stringer

For their brute strength and aerial acrobatics, smallmouth bass have a well-deserved place high in the rankings of game fish. And their ubiquity across our nation means no matter where you live, you're never too far from smallmouth water. Sure, nothing beats catching a smallmouth on a topwater bass bug; but to consistently catch trophy smallmouth, I recommend tying and fishing one of the streamers you see here. The reason is simple: As smallmouth bass grow larger, they feed primarily on minnows. I've found that these six streamers will catch smallmouth in any river or lake across the country.

Ed Shenk's White Streamer

This is one of the finest chub minnow patterns we have. A very effective tactic for this pattern (and all streamers in general) is to wade below a riffle and make a 40-foot cast across the stream. Every five seconds or so, make a six-inch strip until the fly is 20 feet away. Extend each subsequent cast by 10 feet until you cover all the water within your range, and then wade downstream in 10-foot intervals and begin the casting sequence again. This method will present your streamer to every bass in the pool. Be ready for some explosive takes.

Shenk's White Streamer is also effective for smallmouth in lakes and ponds. From a boat, canoe or float tube, cruise parallel to the shore 50 feet out and cast your streamer tight against the bank and slowly strip it back for 10 feet before picking up and casting farther down the shore. Systematically covering the shore with this tactic will catch many large bass.

Recipe:
Hook: Mustad 9672, sizes 4 to 8
Thread: Gray 3/0 prewaxed monocord
Weight: Lead-free wire 0.020-inch
Tail: White marabou
Body: White rabbit fur


  1. Cover the hook shank with thread. Wrap the lead-free wire over the middle third of the hook shank. Tie in a clump of white marabou equal in length to the hook shank over the hook bend.
  2. Form a dubbing loop at mid-shank with the tying thread. Insert the spinning tool in the loop and allow it to hang straight down. Trim the white rabbit fur from the hide and place it in the dubbing loop so it lies perpendicular to the loop.
  3. Spin the spinning tool to lock the rabbit fur inside the thread loop.
  4. Starting at the hook bend, wind the dubbing loop forward in snug adjacent wraps to the hook eye, and then tie it off with thread. Trim off any excess dubbing. Use a dubbing needle or bodkin to pluck out the rabbit fur so it sticks out at right angles to the hook shank. Note: Depending on the size of the hook and the amount of fur you place in the loop in Step 3, you may need two dubbing loops of fur to reach the hook shank.
  5. Whip-finish and trim the thread. Use scissors to trim the fly to a minnow-shape, and apply a drop of cement to the thread head and you're finished.

Murray's Mad Tom

Madtoms, those ugly minnows that look like baby catfish, just might be the favorite foods for river smallmouths. I grew up fishing Virginia's Shenandoah River and the top winners in the local Big Fish Contests were always caught on live madtoms.

Madtoms live beneath softball- to basketball-size stones on the riverbed. During low-light periods such as dusk and dawn, and in slightly discolored water, madtoms feed on insects and small minnows, and this is when the smallmouths pounce on them. The tails of the pools are particularly good areas to target.

Here's how I fish this pattern: Wade into the river 200 feet upstream of the lower riffle and cast a Murray's Mad Tom across the current and swim it slowly across the stream bottom by stripping it four inches every 10 seconds. Do this as you work your way down to the end of the pool.

Recipe:
Hook: Mustad 9672, sizes 4 to 8
Thread: Black 3/0 prewaxed monocord
Weight: Lead-free wire 0.020-inch
Eyes: Metallic barbell eyes, 6/32-inch
Tail: Black rabbit fur strip
Fins: Black rabbit fur
Body: Black rabbit fur
  1. Cover the hook shank with thread. Place 10 wraps of lead-free wire mid-shank, and tie in the metallic eyes on top of the shank 1/4 inch behind the hook eye.
  2. Tie in a hook-shank-length strip of rabbit fur at the hook bend.
  3. Form a dubbing loop with the tying thread mid-shank, and insert the spinning tool into the loop allowing it to hang straight down. Trim a large pinch of rabbit fur from the hide and insert it evenly into the dubbing loop. Spin the loop to lock the fur in place and use a dubbing needle or bodkin to pluck out the fur so much of it stands out at right angles to the loop.
  4. Starting at the hook bend, wind the dubbing loop all the way to the hook eye and tie off, trim the extra and whip finish. Again, use a dubbing needle to tease out the rabbit fur, so it sticks out at right angles to the hook shank. Note: Depending on the size of the hook and the amount of fur you place in the loop in Step 3, you may needed two dubbing loops of fur to reach the hook shank.
  5. Trim off the body, pectoral fins and head into a madtom shape. Cement the thread head.

Silver Outcast Streamer

Shiners are schooling minnows and great numbers of them can be found over shallow gravel bars in water one to two feet deep. Smallmouths often prowl the edges where the gravel bars taper off into deeper water and feed on any shiners that stray away from the school. So you'll want to cast into the deep water and strip the streamer back toward the gravel bar. Expect to get the take in the interface where the deep water meets the gravel bar.

Once the aquatic grassbeds form along the bank in the summer, many shiners will congregate there. Casting a Silver Outcast Streamer against the grass and stripping it slowly out about 10 feet works great. The most productive areas are right beside the grass, so keep alert for the strike in the first several seconds after the fly touches down.

Recipe:
Hook: Mustad 9672, sizes 4 to 8
Thread: Black 3/0 prewaxed monocord
Body: Medium flat mylar silver tinsel
Wing: Bucktail, white, yellow and blue
Over-wing: Peacock herl
  1. Cover the hook shank with thread and coat with cement. Tie in a six-inch piece of tinsel 1/4 inch behind the hook eye and wind this to the hook bend and back to the tie-in spot with smooth adjacent wraps. Tie off and trim.
  2. Form the wing by tying in the white bucktail over the hook shank so it extends about 1/2 inch behind the hook bend. Next tie in the yellow bucktail and finally the blue bucktail on top of the white. All three colors should be the same length. Trim the hair butts.
  3. Tie in three or four strands of peacock herl 1/8 inch behind the hook eye so they extend slightly beyond the bucktail to form the over-wing. Trim the herl butts.
  4. Build up a head with the thread, whip-finish and add cement to the thread.

Murray's Perch Bucktail

This pattern imitates the fry of perch, bluegill and other panfish that congregate over marble-size gravel in one to two feet of water along riverbanks and islands. Target the lower end of the islands where these fry are found and systematically fan your casts over the shallows as you wade. Dawn and dusk are the best times to hit these spots.

Recipe:
Hook: Mustad 9672, sizes 4 to 8
Thread: Orange 3/0 prewaxed monocord
Weight: Lead-free wire 0.020-inch
Tail: Yellow and orange deer-tail, copper Krystal Flash
Wing: Yellow and orange deer-tail, copper Krystal Flash
Body: Yellow Crystal Chenille
  1. Wrap the hook shank with thread. Next, wrap the middle third of the shank with lead-free wire.
  2. Tie in the tail at the hook bend. The tail consists of hook-shank lengths of Krystal Flash over the orange deer-tail over the yellow deer-tail. Trim off the hair butts.
  3. Tie in a 6-inch piece of yellow Crystal Chenille over the bend of the hook and wind it forward in adjacent wraps to 1/4 inch behind the hook eye. Tie off and trim.
  4. Tie in the wing (copper Krystal Flash over orange bucktail over yellow bucktail) 1/4 inch behind the hook eye so it extends even with the end of the tail. Whip-finish and apply head cement.

Clouser Deep Sculpin Minnow

Sculpin are a mainstay on most rivers across the country and the Clouser Deep Sculpin Minnow will work for bass (and trout) just about anywhere. Sculpin live beneath cobblestones and although they do not school, if you find one sculpin you'll usually find more. A good tactic is to wade to where the riffle empties into the main part of the pool and cast straight across the current and strip the fly back slowly just above the streambed.

A floating line with a 9-foot, 2X leader will be suitable for fishing most sculpin patterns below riffles. However, if the current is exceptionally strong, rig up a moderately fast sinking-tip fly line (with a 10- to 15-feet-per-second sink rate) with a 5-foot, 10-pound-test leader.

Recipe:
Hook: Mustad 3366, sizes 2 to 6
Thread: Brown 3/0 prewaxed monocord
Eyes: 6/32-inch metallic barbell eyes, red with black pupils
Belly: Tan bucktail
Back: Dark brown bucktail and copper Krystal Flash
  1. Use the tying thread to build a bump of 20 wraps one-third of the way down the hook shank from the hook eye. Tie in the metallic eyes behind the bump.
  2. Tie in a bunch of tan bucktail two hook-shanks in length behind the hook eye. Hold this down between the metallic eyes and spiral the tying thread over it back to the hook bend then back to the hook eye. Trim off the excess hair butts.
  3. Tie in about 20 strands of Krystal Flash under the hook and cut them so they extend an inch beyond the tips of the bucktail.
  4. Tie in a bunch of dark brown bucktail two hook-shanks in length under the hook and make it slightly thicker than the tan bucktail over the Krystal Flash. Trim the excess hair and Krystal Flash and build a neat head with the tying thread. Whip-finish and coat the head with cement.

Murray's Black Marauder

This is one of the most effective smallmouth flies we have, possibly because it, simply, looks like a big mouthful of something good to eat. Its ostrich herl tail produces a more realistic swimming action than marabou when fished across mixed currents or upstream into fast currents; and its uniform body shape, with no highly contrasting back and belly, makes it irresistible to bass. This pattern is particularly effective in deep pools.

Recipe:
Hook: Mustad 9672, sizes 4 to 8
Thread: Black 3/0 prewaxed monocord
Eyes: Metallic barbell eyes, 6/32-inch size
Tail: Black ostrich herl and black pearlescent Krystal Flash
Hackle: Black rooster saddle
Body: Estaz, opalescent black
  1. Cover the hook shank with thread and tie in the metallic eyes 1/4 inch behind the hook eye.
  2. Tie in approximately 30 strands of ostrich herl over the hook bend so they extend a hook-shank length. Tie in six strands of Krystal Flash over the ostrich herl the same length as the ostrich herl.
  3. Tie in a black saddle hackle over the hook point, followed by a 6-inch strip of Estaz.
  4. Wind the Estaz forward in snug wraps to the hook eye and tie it off. Trim off the excess Estaz. Wind the hackle forward in six to eight evenly spaced wraps to the hook eye and tie it off. Trim the excess hackle, build a neat head, whip finish and cement the head.