Stop Twisted Smallmouth Bass Leaders While Fly Fishing
When the tippet of your smallmouth bass leader gets twisted, it can easily form small knots. These knots will weaken your leader. Then when you set the hook on a large bass, you break him off!
Twisted tippets can occur:
(1) If the fly is too large for the tippet being used. Fly Size ÷ 3= Tippet in X
(2) If the tippet is too long. Two to three feet is long enough.
(3) If the fly you are using is out of symmetry. Long legs and wings on Deer Hair Bass Bugs and Poppers can cause this.
(4) If you have gotten a pull-through on your fly where the tippet gets wrapped around the fly.
It is a good idea to check your tippet periodically to make sure it had not developed any twists.
Fly Fishing Podcast for November 2017 by Harry Murray
In my fly fishing podcast for November I discuss the trout fishing you can expect for this month in our large trout streams with sculpin imitations. The natural sculpin minnows are bottom hugging minnows living under cobblestones in and immediately downstream of heavy riffles. This is where I like to fish my Spuddler. Many of the tails of the pools give me some large trout by fanning the Murray’s Black Marauder size 8 over the last 100 feet. The gentle riffles along the far banks often attract large trout that feed on the slim silver minnows that live here. By casting a Murray’s Silver Ghost Streamer size 6 in tight against these undercut banks you can catch many large trout. For more details on the areas and techniques to use listen to my entire Fly Fishing Podcast for November.
The smallmouth bass rivers are cold but we can still catch some large bass by choosing the correct flies and fishing the correct feeding stations which the bass choose at this time of the year. They want to choose foods that give them the greatest food value for the least effort to capture it. Large minnows are a prime target. Therefore I like to fish the Murray’s Tungsten Cone Head Marauders in black, pearl or olive. In my personal fishing at this time of the year the back eddies that form below the riffles on the side of the river with the slow current are some of their favorite feeding stations. These provide an abundance of minnow life and protection from the powerful currents of the river.
Out With The Old Tippet Material Blog- Murray’s Fly Shop
Each year I like to replace all of my tippet material. This includes everything from 0X down to 7X. The tippet is the weakest part of our fly fishing tackle. I do not like to take a chance in breaking of a large fish for the few dollars it will cost to replace it.
Late Season Smallmouth Bass Fly Fishing Blog- Murray’s Fly Shop
The back eddies that form below the riffles on the side of the river with the slowest current often hold large bass as the rivers get cold. The slow current and the abundance of minnow life prompt this mini-migration from the shallows. These back eddies can range from ten to fifty feet in diameter and four to six feet deep. I catch many of these bass on the Murray’s Magnum Bluegill Streamer size 4 and Murray’s Magnum Darter Streamer size 4. I strip them six inches every ten seconds to swim them slowly across the streambottom. A sinking head line is a big help with my Murray’s Fluorocarbon 6 foot 2X Sinking Line Leader. I want to hook these bass solidly in the deep water. I use a three foot fast line hand strike simultaneously with a powerful rod lifting strike.
Set The Hook With A Slip Strike Blog- Murray’s Fly Shop
When I am fishing trout streams such as Nelson’s in Montana where there are some large trout feeding on tiny flies, I set the hook with a “Slip Strike”. For example, I will often fish a size 24 Olive Dry when the trout are feeding on a pseudocloeon hatch. If they are especially hard to fool I will go to 7X.
My idea behind this strike is to hook the fish solidly. Then instantly reduce the pressure on the leader. I hold the line between my thumb & forefinger of my line hand as my fly is drifting to the trout. Then when the trout takes my fly, I set the hook with a gentle pull with my line hand. The instant I feel the resistance of the hook penetrating the trout’s jaw I release the grip on the line between my thumb and forefinger. This hooks the trout solidly and protects the fine tippet.
Barbless Hooks Blog- Murray’s Fly Shop- Edinburg, Virginia
Thirty years ago Virginia Game & Inland Fisheries closed the South Fork of the Shenandoah River to keeping fish for human consumption. This is after DuPont revealed they dumped mercury into the river. Many anglers believed that the river was closed to fishing. That was not true! Basically, I had the whole river almost to myself. The fishing was outstanding! This invited me to do a great deal of experimentation. Some of this included comparing the number of bass I landed on barbless hooks with the number I landed on barbed hooks.
After a summer of testing I came away convinced that I landed 30% more bass on the barbless hooks. I believe that many of the bass that got off were not hooked solidly with the barb penetrating their hard lips. Basically I suspected they were just hanging on the point of the hook. A slight flip during the fight set them free. Today I use all barbless hooks from size 24 midges up to size 4/0 saltwater hooks.
Since the brook trout are spawning in October, November, and December we feel it is not good to stress them by fishing for them even though we return them to the stream.
So let’s look at the nymph fishing tactics we use in large streams both in the Rockies and in the East.
I learned to fish nymphs from Charlie Brooks in the 1970’s and 1980’s in the streams around West Yellowstone, Montana. So in this months fly fishing podcast I want to discuss in detail the two tactics of Charlie’s that I use often.
Swing Nymphing– This technique is used on deeper runs where upstream dead drift nymphing is not possible. Many beginners quickly master this method because the strikes are detected by feeling the strike rather than seeing it.
Fly Fishing for Bass in October
Many of the old timers around Edinburg where I grew up in the 1950’s caught many of their largest bass of the year in October by using live bait such as Hog Suckers, Bluegills, and Darter Minnows. Several years ago I designed my Magnum Streamer Series which both look and fish like a real minnow. Today I will be discussing the Murray’s Magnum Hog Sucker, Magnum Darter, and Magnum Bluegill and the best way to fish each.
If you need help finding the access places on the North and South Fork of the Shenandoah River, then stop by the fly shop and we can show you the best areas on our stores master map.
I enjoy the challenge of fly fishing for smallmouth bass at night because I often catch some large bass. Choosing sections of the river I know well allows me to get in and out of the stream safely. This helps me to avoid old barbed wire fence and itch weed. I use a Folstaf Wading Staff to probe the streambottom. I do this so I do not trip over a ledge or wade into a deep pool.
The Best Time for Smallmouth Bass Fly Fishing on the North or South Fork
Smallmouth bass feed the heaviest in low light levels. For my personal fishing this means the first two hours at dawn and the last two hours at dusk. Since I am in my fly shop until after 5 pm each day, I can easily grab my tackle. I can get to either the North or South Fork of the Shenandoah River for several hours of great fishing.
During these low light levels the bass often move to the areas that contain large populations of natural foods. Some of my most productive areas in the low light levels are the edges of the grassbeds where the water is two to three feet deep. Also in the tails of the pools. Also the two to three foot deep gravel bars where they taper off into the deep water.
For the last several weeks I have been catching many smallmouth bass along the shaded banks with the Shenandoah Blue Popper size 4.
If the water is three to five feet deep over cobblestone streambottoms many fish feed in these shaded areas.
I like to cast my Shenandoah Blue Popper within a foot of the banks. I even use a side-arm cast at times to shoot my Shenandoah Blue Popper back under overhanging tree limbs. Often I use a gentle upstream mend to help hold the Shenandoah Blue Popper close to the bank as the current pulls it downstream.
This tactic is so productive that I often spend several hours using it as long as the stream depth and shade hold up.
If you see a nice fly rod and reel resting against a tree at a popular access point and there is no other car close by, just leave it there. Eventually the owner will realize where he left it and he will come back to get it. If you find a rod and reel underwater in a river, take it to the closest tackle shop and tell them where you found it. Also write down the manufacturer and the serial number on the rod. Then call the manufacturer, they may have the owners name and address on record.
Fly fishing in September can be tricky due to the low and clear water conditions. This months podcast I discuss how to improve your success when fishing dry flies for trout all across the country by using slack line casts so you don’t have drag. Which casts am I using?
Lazy S Cast
If you are interested in learning more about fly casting, then check out our Fly Casting 101 Classes .
Saturday, September 9 from 10a.m. to noon
Saturday, September 23 from 10a.m. to noon
Bass Fly Fishing
I always get great smallmouth dry fly fishing in September during the Hexagenia Mayfly Hatch. This month I discuss the tactics and fly patterns I use to take advantage of this hatch.
There are several tactics I use when fishing to get away from crowds of fly fishing anglers.
(1) When fishing rivers the size of the Beaverkill at Horse Brook Run, I wade across the river and fish up the far side. This same ploy works well on the Madison River at Slide Inn where I wade across the river.
(2) On small mountain trout streams such as the Crazy Mountains in Montana or the Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia, I hike in well away from the access points before I start fishing.
(3) Get to the streams at daylight or stay until dark.
(4) Avoid streams for several years which are written up in national magazines.
(5) Do not let rain or snow stop you from fishing.
(6) Enter the large rivers at the public access points but fish upstream.
Two or Three Nymph Rig Systems Blog- Murray’s Fly Shop
Charlie Brooks of West Yellowstone got me into fishing two or three nymph rig systems many years ago. These flies can easily become twisted with the regular casts so I cast these with a slow wide loop. Another method is to make your back cast low to the side. Then turn your wrist and make your forward cast in a higher plane. In low and out high.
In September Harry will be conducting two Fly Casting & Rigging 101 Classes that will help you learn or improve your casting techniques. On our casting lawn, he will teach you how to perform all of the standard casts as well as roll casts, curve casts, and shooting line. After the casting class you will then proceed back to the fly shop where he will show you how to rig your tackle including the knots to use when putting your line and backing on a fly reel. We provide the rod and reel outfits for you to use for the class or if you prefer you can bring your own.
My most productive minnow imitation is the Murray’s Magnum Hog Sucker Streamer size 4. For many years the bait fishermen have relied on the natural hog suckers to catch their largest bass. I fish these along the edge of the gravel bars where they drop into the deep part of the river at dusk. I catch many bass this way!
My most effective surface bug is the Shenandoah Blue Popper size 4. I rely strongly on this fly because it out-fishes other surface bugs by a great margin. I just do not like to change a winning game!
Good Nymph Fly Fisherman Blog- Murray’s Fly Shop- Edinburg, Virginia
I have a friend who is an especially good nymph fisherman. Whether we are fishing the Madison River for browns or the Blue Ridge Mountains for brook trout, he catches many nice trout. He does this by fishing nymphs upstream dead drift.
When watching him, I detect a common trait which is a landmark of many serious nymph anglers. That is, at some point in the last half of the drift he sets the hook on the majority of the casts. Does this mean he is getting this many strikes from trout? No, but when he is not getting a strike, he is bumping the streambottom with the nymph.
This tells me that we should all consider fishing out nymphs deeply with a natural drift.
This podcast, Harry discusses the fly fishing in August for both bass and trout, techniques, and flies to use.
Trout Fishing in August
In August I like to fish with flies that match the natural foods the trout are seeing….terrestrials. In addition to the normal beetle, ant, and hopper patterns I like to use what I call my “change of pace” flies.
Oakworms–You can see many natural oakworms around the stream banks.
Yellow Jackets–These are normally found around the sod banks near the stream.
Wasp–There are many wasps around standing bush and brush piles.
Moths–You will find moths in the evenings around back eddys.
Horseflies–These are always around pasture fields with horses and cows.
Houseflies–These little things can be found everywhere and I consider this fly very effective to fish with.
Bass Fishing in August
The other evening while I was bass fishing on the Shenandoah River I noticed a great amount of little baby bass swimming around. That tells me the bass fishing will continue to be good next year.
Three Ways to Fish Streamers on Large Rivers Blog- Murray’s Fly Shop
When Ray Hurley, my Yellowstone River Guide of 17 years, and I fished the Yellowstone, he encouraged fishing streamers in order to catch large trout. Here are our most effective tactics: (1) When we are floating the river with Ray, with the oars of his Hyde Drift Boat, he had me pound the banks with a Sculpin Streamer. When we beached the boat (2) Ray fished the heads of the pools with a Sculpin Streamer and (3) I fished the tails of the pools with a Sculpin Streamer.
I am very confident that these five smallmouth bass flies will give me excellent fly fishing in 2017 from July until October. This is because last year they gave me the best bass fishing I have had in many years.
During summer, as the sun intensifies I catch most of my bass in the middle of the day along the heavily shaded banks. This is where the water is three to five feet deep over cobblestone streambottoms. However, my very best fishing is at dawn and dusk in the tails of the pools. My standard leader for smallmouth bass fishing is the Murray’s Bright Butt 9 foot 2X Leader.
These are the flies I rely on from July until Fall for our wild trout in our mountain streams. In July I usually use the largest sizes listed. I then go down to the smallest sizes in August and September. I fish all of these flies on Murray’s Classic 9 foot 6X Leader unless the streams are very low. Then I go to a Murray’s Classic 9 foot 7X Leader.
Smallmouth Bass River Float Trips Blog- Murray’s Fly Shop
Smallmouth bass river float trips can be very productive and a great amount of fun. I like to hold my trips down to miles or less. This is because when I come to a nice grassbed and riffle, I like to beach my boat. Then I get out to wade and fish these areas.
Even though our Hyde Drift Boat has excellent leg-locks in both the front and back, I do not like to stand up in a boat when fly fishing for smallmouth bass. I believe that this will scare the smallmouth bass.
It is wise to carry a backup fly rod and reel in the boat in case something gets broken. One day on the Yellowstone River an outfit fell overboard and was gone. Even in the summer I always carry a raincoat and a change of clothes in a dry bag.
I like to park the vehicle that will carry or tow my boat at the downstream take our spot in case a bad storm comes up and I want to get away from the river quickly.
Many large smallmouth bass select their “primary feeding stations” according to the amount of natural food that is available. They also select it because of the low level of the natural light. This is why almost everyday during the summer, after I close my fly shop, I head to the Shenandoah River to fish the tail of a pool at dusk.
For this months fly fishing podcast I want to discuss some of the hatches that we are seeing on our trout streams and the best tactics and flies to fish them. There are some good Green Sedge Caddis hatches on the streams now. When you spot these feeders go one on one with each trout with a Mr. Rapidan Olive Delta Wing Dry Caddis size 16. At times it can be difficult to tell if a feeding trout is taking the adult or the pupa so I use a two fly rig (which I explain in detail in this podcast) using the above fly and a Murray’s Olive Caddis Pupa size 14.
The bass rivers are at a level where many large smallmouth bass move onto the shallow tails of the pools at dusk to feed on the chub minnows and dace minnows which live here. The most productive way I’ve found to fish the tails of the pools is to wade into the upper part of the riffle below them and wade upstream to just below the lip of the pool above that I plan to fish. From here I fan my casts up and across stream at a slight angle to cover all of the water I can reach. I use a line hand strip-pause-strip retrieve that swims my Floating Minnow just slightly faster than the current is pushing it. (For more techniques listen to the second part of the podcast.)
Every year I catch more large smallmouth bass on the Shenandoah Blue Popper than all of my other surface bugs combined. Its gradual up-sloping face and long tapered body enables us to impart a broad variety of actions. This makes the Shenandoah Blue Popper very productive in many parts of the rivers. This year the shallow water in the tails of the pools at dusk are producing many nice bass. The bass are very wary in this shallow water so wade very slowly.
Now that the streams are low and clear, my favorite way to catch wild trout is to spot them on their feeding stations in the stream. I then go one on one with each trout. Subtle “signals” are the easiest physical features to help us spot the trout.
These signals include:
– the trout’s slight movement
– the difference in the trout’s shape and the stones on the streambottom
-the contrast in color of the trout’s body and the streambottom and the trout’s shadow
Murray’s Fly Shop
121 South Main Street
PO Box 156
Edinburg, Virginia 22824
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Want to learn more about fly fishing? Check out our “Fly Fishing Articles” where we have compiled many articles over the years on a variety of topics from fly line weight to choosing the appropriate fly rod for the fish you’re trying to catch.
Making sense of all things fly fishing can be complicated. In this article we show you how we select a fly rod for everything from Brook Trout to Tarpon. This easy to understand article will hopefully shed some light on one of the most commonly asked questions we receive here at the fly shop.
If you still have questions, give us a call or drop us an email.
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Many of the rivers in Virginia hold very large musky that offer exciting fishing with fly rods. For example, both the North Fork of the Shenandoah River and the South Fork of the Shenandoah River hold good numbers of musky that can be reached by either wading or floating.
A great deal of success one can experience in musky fishing relies on selecting the proper rods, reels, lines, leaders and flies.
In this podcast, Harry Murray, discusses the new selection of musky flies that are available in his fly shop and how to effectively fish them. He covers the proper leader and what fly rod and reel outfit he recommends for this type of fishing.
If you need help finding the areas of the Shenandoah River that offer musky fishing, stop by the fly shop in Edinburg, Virginia and he will show you the best areas on the map.
Fly Fishing in June can be very rewarding whether you are going to the trout streams or to the bass rivers.
In the first portion of this fly fishing podcast, Harry Murray discusses how to spot the trout on their feeding stations in the stream and how to use this skill to catch the trout. He gives an in depth discussion on the different signals he looks for. 1)movement of the trout, 2) color/contract of the trout to the stream bottom, 3) shape of the trout, 4) shadow of the trout.
The second portion of this fly fishing podcast Harry discusses fishing hard head surface bugs on the bass rivers. Mastering the action of surface bugs is very important so you want to select the proper hard head bug for the type water you will be fishing. Each popping bug creates a different action based on 1) size of the bug, 2) taper of the body, 3) cut of the face.
Learn How to Fly Fish for Smallmouth Bass in our On The Stream Fly Fishing Schools. These schools are offered on various days from June to August and are held on either the North Fork or the South Fork of the Shenandoah River. Each school starts at 9a.m. with a slide show/classroom presentation and then you are off to the river to fish for the rest of the day. We supply the rod and reel outfits for the day at no extra charge. We keep the class size small so each student has ample instruction time. Sign up Today!
This month we are starting our on the stream smallmouth bass schools on various dates throughout the summer. For 55 years we have been teaching these schools and feel they are the most informative schools around. Each day begins at 9a.m. with a classroom presentation at our fly shop in Edinburg, VA then you will proceed to the Shenandoah River for the “on the stream” instruction.
We customize these fly fishing schools to meet your specific needs. These schools provide you with the most comprehensive experience by preparing you to fish smallmouth bass rivers and large trout streams. You will learn or brush up on casting, fly fishing equipment selection, knot tying, reading the water, entomology and all aspects of fishing for smallmouth bass.
We keep our class sizes small so each student has plenty of time with the instructor. 1 instructor per 5 to 6 students. Don’t have a fly rod? No worries–we supply the fly rod and reel outfits for the day. Are you a total beginner? No problem, that is what we are here for. Have you been fly fishing before but just need a little extra help? We can help no matter your level of experience.
So, come by yourself, bring a friend, relative or that special someone and enjoy a day learning to fly fish.
I like fishing these flies in the sections of the streams below the natural spring. I catch many large trout in these areas. Big Stoney Creek West of Edinburg has many of these rich springs. I start about one hundred feet downstream of the springs. I then fish my flies upstream dead drift all the way to the springs.
The Murray’s Trout Nymph Leader is very helpful in detecting the trouts’ strikes because the built in indicators are easy to see.
The springs are easy for us to see by the rich bright green weed growth around them, both in the stream and on the bank.
In the second portion, Harry discusses the swing nymphing tactic that he uses for bass fishing. This method was taught to him by Charlies Brooks many years ago and is still effective today.. which is why we teach it in our Smallmouth Bass Schools. You can also learn more about this technique in Harry’s book Fly Fishing Techniques for Smallmouth Bass.
In the third portion, Harry discusses a tip he uses while floating in a boat but not getting any strikes in normal fishing conditions. He uses a Half Roll Cast Pickup which causes his streamer to swim back and forth across the stream rapidly. Shenk’s White StreamerMurray’s Heavy Hellgrammite
Music in the Mountains Blog- Murray’s Fly Shop- Edinburg, Virginia
The next time you hike into a mountain trout stream from a ridge high up on the mountain, pause before descending far down the trail. Listen to see if you can hear the stream far below. Possibly you will discern a subtle low rumble that may remind you of the low notes of a tuba. Descend further and you may detect more of the flowing of the stream resembling a French Horn picking up the tune. Another thousand feet down the trail, as you approach the stream, the gurgling melody of the stream resembles a clarinet picking up the lead.
This music of the trout stream accompanied by the beautiful melodies of the songbirds is a wonderful reward nature provides in the mountains.
Jeff and I have been using our Scott Switch Rods for bass fishing in the the rivers for many years. Here are a few of the great angling features the switch rods help us with. If I am wading a river where there is a solid line of trees behind me that would prevent a regular back cast with my regular, single hand, smallmouth bass rod, the switch rod easily lets me roll out long casts.
When I am fishing nymphs and streamers across fast currents the extra length of my switch rod easily helps me reach high in order to negate the fast currents before me that would rob me of depth. Also in similar situations I can use long controlled mends in order to swim my flies deeply.
Making long casts is easy with a switch rod so I can fish poppers along the far shaded banks when the river before me is too deep to wade.
I am presently working with land owners in order to develop more access sites for anglers on our streams. Most of them are very understanding and are willing to help. Trash left on their land is the land owners main concern. One even told me that someone had dumped an old mattress on his land. This was the exact spot I was asking him for permission for us to park and fish.
In order to have a good relationship with these land owners, I suggest we each carry a few plastic garbage bags in our cars. Then we can clean up the access sites where we park to fish before we start fishing.
It is also good policy to clean up access sites on the National Forest and National Park Lands.