Tag Archives: bass fishing

Fly Fishing Podcast–November 2017

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.

Fly Fishing Podcast November
Fly Fishing Podcast for November. Jeff Murray catches many large bass at this time of the year by fishing streamers deeply with a fast sinking head fly line.

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.

 

How To Fish The Famous Shenandoah Blue Popper

How To Fish The Famous Shenandoah Blue Popper

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.

Check out our 2 Hour Workshop on Smallmouth Bass Fishing on the Shenandoah River 101.  This workshop will show you the best access points on both the North and South Fork of the Shenandoah River. Mr. Murray will show you the master map and the books, Virginia Blue Ribbon Streams and Fly Fishing Techniques for Smallmouth Bass.

Fly Fishing in September

Harry Murray’s Fly Fishing in September Podcast

Trout Fly Fishing

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?

  • Puddle Cast
  • Lazy S Cast

If you are interested in learning more about fly casting, then check out our Fly Casting 101 Classes .
Upcoming Dates
Saturday, September 9 from 10a.m. to noon
Saturday, September 23 from 10a.m. to noon

September Fly Fishing for Bass
Some of my favorite fishing in September is on the Hexagenia Mayfly Hatch.

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.

Hexagenia Mayfly Hatch
The natural Hexagenia Mayflies can be very plentiful on some smallmouth rivers in September and October at dusk and produce great dry fly fishing.

Fly Fishing Tips August 2017

Fly Fishing Tips from Harry Murray

Listen to Harry Murray’s Fly Fishing Tips where he will be discussing various trout and bass tips.

  • His favorite fly rods for fishing the large trout streams in the Rockies as well as the western spring creeks. He explains just what he uses these rods for and the size flies he uses on each one.
  • Using a line hand strike for bass fishing
  • Quantity of flies in a fly box vs. effective flies
  • Fishing the trico hatch and his ploy for fishing some easier trout than one often encounters on this hatch
Fly Fishing Tips-Leaders
I rely strongly on my Murray’s Hand Tie Compound Knotted Classic Leader for all of my dry fly trout fishing because of the fine accuracy and delicacy they give me.
  • The value of using hand tied compound knotted leaders for both trout and bass (read our article on knotted leaders vs. knotless leaders)
  • Tactics he uses when floating the rivers for smallmouth bass that help him catch  many bass from each section of the river.
  • Two tactics he uses to catch carp in the river (olive marauder)
  • Night fishing for smallmouth bass
  • Fishing the tails of the pools at dusk when he finds bass chasing minnows in the shallow water–tactics and flies to use  (Floating Minnows)
  • Tips for fishing for bass against the banks under overhanging tree limbs and fishing the ledges with madtom sculpins
Fly Fishing Tips for Bass
Smallmouth fishing at night just might give you the largest bass of the year. Fish water where you know the banks so you can get in and out of the river safely and when you get a strike set the hook solidly.

 

Fly  Casting Classes

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.

September 9  from 10a.m. to noon
September 23 from 10a.m. to noon

 

Fly Fishing in August

Fly Fishing in August Podcast by Harry Murray

This podcast, Harry discusses the fly fishing in August for both bass and trout, techniques, and flies to use.

Fly Fishing in August with Flying Beetle
Even when I don’t see rising trout I can usually catch many nice trout on a dry Murray’s Housefly size 16 by fishing it upstream dead drift through the runs on the sides of the riffles entering the heads of the pools.

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.
Fly Fishing in August with my change of pace flies
I have caught many fish on these “change of pace” flies. Fly Fishing in August

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.

Bass fly fishing in August can provide low and clear water so we need to be careful with our approach.  There are two things that can help us hide our approach:  aquatic grassbeds and rock ledges.  In this podcast I go into detail on how I like to fish these areas using my favorite flies for this time of the year.  Olive Marauder size 6, Skunk Roadkill Nymph size 6, Shenk’s White Streamer size 4, Shenandoah Blue Popper size 4, and Chartreuse Bass Popper size 6

If you are fishing in areas that you cannot hide your approach with grassbeds or rock ledges and you want to cast 20% further then use a Tapply Green/White Hair Bug size 6, Murray’s Blue Dragon Hair Bug size 4 or Shenandoah Yellow Hair Bug size 6 on a Bright Butt 9ft 2X Leader.

August is the last month that we will be offering full day fly fishing schools and half day lessons for this year.  So don’t miss out!
Upcoming dates:

Friday August 18  (full day)
Saturday August 26 (full day)
Wednesday August 16, 30 (half day)
Saturday August 19 (half day)
Saturday September 2 (half day)

Fly Fishing Questions & Answers Podcast

In this fly fishing questions and answers podcast, Harry Murray discusses some of the topics that you have asked through email and phone calls.

Topics discussed include:

Fishing Tricos
Ed Shenk is a master at  fishing trico dry flies on all trout streams.

Fly Fishing Smallmouth Bass Schools throughout the summer at Murray’s Fly Shop.

Fly Fishing Report for October 2016

Trout Fishing in October
The Blackfoot River downstream from Lincoln, Montana is one of the most beautiful rivers in the country. I get great streamer fishing here in October for browns, rainbows and cutthroats.

For my  Fly Fishing Report for October I want to discuss the techniques which are effective in fishing streamers for large trout all across the country.  I use these techniques in some of my favorite trout streams including the South Branch of the Smoke Hole in West Virginia, Hidden Valley of the Jackson in Virginia, the Beaver Kill in the Catskills and the Blackfoot River in Montana.  What flies do I use?  My top 6 flies:  Spuddler size 6, Murray’s Black Madtom/Sculpin size 8, Mr. Rapidan Streamer size 8, Murray’s Olive Marauder size 6, Murray’s Black Marauder size 6 and Shenandoah Silver Ghost Streamer size 10

Bass Fishing in October
Jeff Murray catches some of his largest bass by fishing the Murray’s Floating Chub Minnows in the tails of the river pools in October.

For the bass fishing in October I like to use my Floating Minnows. These are effective in catching large bass in the tails of the river pools during early October.  Toward the end of October the bass will move to deeper water then I switch to using the Murray’s Magnum Creek Chub size 4, Murray’s Magnum Darter size 4, and Murray’s Magnum Hog Sucker size 4.

Fly Fishing Workshops on Fly Casting, Fly Tying, Trout Fishing, Bass Fishing, Selecting Fly Rod Outfits, and More… starting in November on Saturdays at Murray’s Fly Shop from 10 a.m. to noon

Fly Fishing Questions Podcast

Fly Fishing Questions and Answers Podcast
“Swing Nymphing” will enable you to fish your nymph deeper than any method you can use with a floating line. Even beginning angles in our schools quickly master this technique.

This months fly fishing question and answers podcast includes Harry Murray discussing the swing nymphing technique used with Scientific Angler Indicators, hook sharpening files, barbless vs. barbed hooks, landing nets, and what insect repellent can do to your favorite fly rod.

Looking for that perfect gift for your family member, friend, or best fishing buddy….get a Murray’s Fly Shop Gift Certificate!

Gift Certificate from MFS

Hot Fence

Harry Murray Night Smallmouth Bass Fly Fishing Murray's Fly Shop VA
Hot electric fences present special problems, especially if you fish at night. Locate the electric fences with your flashlight then carefully crawl under them.

Many farmers along the Shenandoah River are wisely using electric fences to keep their cattle out of the river except at special locations. These can really ZAP you. My favorite way to cope with these is to remove my vest and other items and place that and the rod on the far side of the fence well out of the way and then crawl under the fence.

Fly Fishing Podcast July 2016 Report

July 2016 Podcast-- Crayfish
To imitate the natural crayfish found in the rivers, use our Murray’s Crayfish pattern

As I am doing this fly fishing podcast I am realizing that many of you are going to be enjoying the outdoors this July 4th weekend by the phone calls, emails, and orders the fly shop has been receiving.  Please be safe and considerate of the land owners and others as you take in natures beauty.   I plan to enjoy it myself!

Trout Fishing
In this podcast I want to discuss the how, when, and where to fish my new “change of pace” dry flies for trout that feed selectively.  I thought that if I could develop a different fly which showed the trout a new silhouette and light pattern  that matched a natural food they feed upon, I might be able to catch these trout. By experimenting I developed the  Murray’s Housefly Dry, Oakworm Dry, Yellow Jacket Dry, Moth Dry,  Wasp Dry, and Horsefly Dry.  I fish all of these with a Classic 9ft 6X Leader.

Bass Fishing
The smallmouth bass fishing has been excellent due to the great food load and the  rains keeping the water levels up.  Hence, in a recent school one of our instructors stuck a smallmouth bass that was over 5 pounds on our Murray’s Crayfish pattern while showing the class the swing nymph technique.  Our topwater action is picking up and we have been doing very well with our famous Shenandoah Blue Popper. I fish these on a Bright Butt 9ft. 2X Leader.

 

Thermometer

Stream Thermometer
Stream Thermometer
I rely strongly on my stream thermometer to help me select proper flies to fish.
I rely strongly on my stream thermometer to help me select proper flies to fish.

My Stream Thermometer is a very important part of my trout and smallmouth bass angling.  For example, on mountain trout streams the first thing I do is take the stream temperature. In early March if it is much below 40 degrees I know I will catch more trout on nymphs than I will on drys. In August a mountain trout stream temperature of 68 degrees in the afternoon means the trout are not going to feed heavily. The next trip I should get there about dawn when the stream may be several degrees cooler.
A smallmouth bass trip early in the spring with a river temperature of 52 degrees tells me to fish my flies slowly along the streambottom.
These stream temperatures go on my calendar at home along with readings over the last twelve years. Checking these helps me plan future trips on where to go and what to use.

High and Muddy Shenandoah River

High and muddy Shenandoah River Recent rains have left the North Fork of the Shenandoah River and the South Fork of the Shenandoah River high and muddy  (6/5/16).  We’re hopeful the upper North Fork of the Shenandoah will be fishable by mid-week.

Fly Fishing Questions & Answers Part III

May 2016 Fly Fishing Questions

This segment of our fly fishing questions and answers podcast includes Harry Murray discussing  1) the importance of recording stream notes on a calendar to help plan future trips, 2) mentally marking previous hot spots on the streams in order to return to fish these areas later, 3) the pros and cons of attaching the leader to the fly line with loops vs. needle knots, and 4) camping at the upper forks on mountain trout streams to get great fishing.

Gear Bag

Dogs Jeff Murray Fly Fishing Murray's Fly Shop
I forgot to tell you, always count your dogs after each trip in order to make sure they are all with you!

When I float a river to get out a downstream spot, I carry a dry bag with what I may need along the way.  This contains a rain coat, change of clothes, basic tools, extra reel with line and leader, a few flies and a five piece Scott Fly Rod. If I am using an inflatable boat I carry a pump and patch kit. On two occasions I have had a friend who needed my Scott five piece rod because they broke their fly rod. This really saved the day and they were able to get good fishing when otherwise it would have been a lost day.

Keep Your Car Ready

Jeff Murray Harry Murray Fly Fishing Murray's Fly Shop VA
Keeping your Jeep loaded with a variety of emergency equipment can enable fishing to be a wonderful experience in place of a disaster.

I keep a variety of tools in the back of my Jeep to help when unexpected events occur. It is amazing how often I need some of this for myself or angling friends. Here are some of the items I carry with me: a thirty foot long heavy tow cable, a ten foot wire cable with a winch, an ax, a timber saw, jumper cables, folding shovel, a variety of sizes of screwdrivers and wrenches, rope, large and small flashlights, change of clothes, extra fly rod and reel, extra flies, first aid kit, emergency food, a tire pump that runs off the cigarette lighter, fire extinguisher and a heavy duty battery to jump car battery.

Hot Spots

I find it rewarding and exciting to mentally mark the hot spots of each days fishing and then take advantage of this on my future fishing trips. Knowing where that exceptionally large smallmouth bass lived on the North Fork of the Shenandoah River close to Edinburg, Virginia enabled me to catch the large smallmouth bass several times over the years. The upper section of Lemar with the big boulders below the last bridge always produce several large cutthroats. And the most productive area on the Outer Banks for sea trout was twenty four power poles North of Buxton in the Sound.

New Scientific Anglers Fly Line, Part Two

Scientific Angler Sonar Sink 30 Warm Fly Line

Part Two Blog on Scientific Anglers Sonar Sink 30 Warm Fly Line

The new Scientific Anglers Sink 30 Warm is an outstanding fast sinking head line.  The thirty foot head sinks at 4.0 to 8.0 ips (sinks four feet to fifteen feet) which has an intermediate running line.  The 200 grain line for five to seven weight rods is great for trout and smallmouth bass. The 350 grain line is excellent for eight to ten weight rods in saltwater. I find the 350 grain line ideal for my saltwater fishing at the Outer Banks. I use my Murry’s Fluorocarbon Sinking 6 foot Leader with these lines.  These lines replace the Teeny 200 and 350 grain sinking head lines.

See our next blog for more information on new Scientific Anglers Lines.

Fly Fishing Questions & Answers

Tippet Formula
What size tippet should I be using? Harry’s formula makes it easy!

Harry Murray’s discussion includes  fly fishing questions he has been asked recently.  He will be presenting these discussions periodically to help you find good fishing.   This podcast includes the topic “How to Choose the Proper Tippet Size” for the specific fly you will be fishing along with other fly fishing terms that we have all heard but didn’t know what they meant.

Reference books:  Virginia Blue Ribbon Streams book and Trout Fishing in the Shenandoah National Park book

Bass Streamers

Murray's Pearl Marauder Smallmouth Bass Fly Fishing Murray's Fly Shop VA
A streamer, such as the Murray’s Pearl Marauder, below the Shenandoah Blue Popper is very productive.

There are times when fishing streamers along the banks when floating smallmouth bass rivers can be very effective.  However, some anglers on our guided float trips believe they are slow in detecting these strikes. We solve this problem by attaching a Shenandoah Blue Popper size 4 to our Bright Butt 9 foot 2X Compound Knotted Leader and attach twenty four inches of 2X tippet material to the bend of the popper hook with an improved clinch knot.  I attach a Murray’s Pearl Marauder size 10 to this as a dropper. When floating the river this combination popper and dropper is cast down and across stream at a twenty degree angle so it lands close to the river bank. A slow strip-pause-strip retrieve will bring many strikes from bass along these banks. When the bass takes the popper the strike is easy to see and the bass can be quickly hooked. If he takes the streamer it will cause a quick movement of the popper which is the signal to set the hook and you hook the bass solidly.

Ostrich Plume

Ostrich Plumes Fly Tying Flies Murray's Fly Shop VA
Harry Murray holding one pound of White Ostrich Plumes.
Ostrich Plumes Fly Tying Flies Murray's Fly Shop VA
Harry Murray holding one pound of White Ostrich Plumes.

This pound of Ostrich will tie enough flies to catch many thousand fish. Ostrich Plume is used to tie streamers, Murray’s Pearl Marauder is one example. It is highly effective because it has natural minnow action in the stream.

Also, different color Ostrich Plumes are used to tie Murray’s Hellgrammites, Murray’s Strymph and Murray’s Marauder’s.

Simple Flies

Murray's Olive, Cream and Black Strymph.
The Murray’s Strymph is an outstanding fly for both smallmouth bass and trout.

Several years ago I stopped in a fly shop in Montana which was owned by a good friend. One of his employees was an excellent fly tyer and the gentleman, who had never fished for smallmouth bass but knowing I fished for them often, pulled out several beautiful, well tied flies he called smallmouth streamers for me to see. I complimented him on the great appearance of his smallmouth streamers, some of which he had skillfully incorporated more than twenty different body parts.  When we were outside in our car I turned to my son, Jeff, and said, “Those were some of the most beautiful smallmouth streamers I have ever seen, but I do not believe they will catch many fish because with all that material on them it will be next to impossible to sink them.”
Several years before this we had done extensive testing on new fly designs and found that in many cases the most sparsely tied nymphs and streamers caught the most bass and trout. I believe much of this success came from the facts that these flies sank well, were strongly suggestive of the natural nymphs and minnows I was striving to mimic and could easily be made to duplicate the swimming action of these naturals.
Some of our flies which fall into this classification are groups of flies in our Shenandoah Simple Streamer series for both bass and trout, the Mr. Rapidan Soft Hackle series  for both bass and trout, many of flies (although they are drys) in my “Change of Pace” trout series, the Murray’s Marauders, the Murray’s Floating Minnows and the Murray’s Strymphs.
The outstanding book, Simple Flies by Morgan Lyle shows how to tie and fish fifty two flies for trout, bass and in saltwater. If you are considering tying some new flies for your personal use I believe using the simple approach I have used in many of my flies and those Morgan Lyle discusses in his great book will help you catch many fish.

Virginia Fly Fishing Stream Report Podcast – March 2016

Matching the Hatch
Harry gets his best trout fishing by matching his flies to the natural insects.

In this Virginia Fly Fishing  Stream Report, Harry Murray discusses the trout fishing in March including the natural nymphs that are active early in the month and what flies to use to match the hatch.  He also discusses the importance of the water temperature and how this prompts the nymphs to emerge into the adult flies.

Recommended Fly: Mr. Rapidan Parachute Dry
Recommended Leader: Classic 7 1/2ft 5X Knotted leader or Trout Nymph Leader

In the second portion Harry discusses the specific locations in the rivers where you can expect to find bass in March along with the best tactics and flies that are effective.

Recommended Fly Line for Bass Fishing: Scientific Anglers Sonar Sink Head 30 Warm  with a Murray’s 6ft 2X Fluorocarbon Leader

Smallmouth Bass Feed Heavily on Brown Drake Mayflies

Smallmouth Bass Fly Fishing Murray's Fly Shop Virginia
Bill Burslem hooks a large smallmouth that was feeding heavily on Brown Drake Mayflies.

Some of the most exciting smallmouth fly fishing takes place when they feed on natural Brown Drake mayflies. There are actually three different species that fall into the group which smallmouth anglers call Brown Drakes but since they act much alike in the stream and the fish feed the same way upon them we fish them all the same ways.
When the duns come off in the afternoon fish to the rising bass one on one with a Irresistible Dry Fly size 12 or fish beside the boulders in the riffles if there are no rising bass.
When the spinners fall at dusk use the same fly and fish these bass one on one by casting three feet ahead of a cruiser or by casting it quickly right at the riseform.

Switch Lines in Mid-River

Switch Fly Fishing Lines while standing mid-river. Murray's Fly Shop Fly Fishing Tips
There are often times when one wants to switch from a floating to a sinking tip fly line and it is not necessary to wade to shore to achieve this.
Smallmouth Bass Fly Fishing Murray's Fly Shop - North Fork Shenandoah Smallmouth Bass
Smallmouth Bass caught on the North Fork of the Shenandoah River

You are standing in mid-river using a 9 foot rod and you decide you would like to switch from a floating fly line to a sinking tip fly line.  You can easily remove the reel spool with the floating line from the reel and insert the reel spool with the sinking tip line. Now pull fifteen feet of line with the leader attached from the reel. Take the fly rod apart at the ferrule in the middle of the rod and place the tip section of the rod under your arm. Thread the leader and line through both sections of the rod then put the tip section back on the butt section at the ferrule and you are ready to fish. This works fine with two piece and four piece rods.

Murray’s Magnum Creek Chub

Murray's Magnum Creek Chub Fly Tying Kit.
Murray’s Magnum Creek Chub Fly Tying Kit
Murray's Magnum Creek Chub Streamer
Murray’s Magnum Creek Chub Streamer

There are probably more creek chub minnows in most smallmouth rivers than any other single minnows.  These are readily available to the bass from March until November and they feed very heavily upon them. A very effective technique is to fish the Murray’s Magnum Creek Chub Streamer size 4 across stream below the riffles, in the deep pools and in the tails of the pools. After the stream sinks deeply, strip it six inches every twenty seconds to swim it slowly across the stream bottom.
I use a floating line for this fishing unless the river is over four feet deep or the current is very fast; in which case I use aScientific Anglers Sonar Sink Tip III Sinking Tip Fly Linewith a Murray’s Sinking 6 foot 2X Fluorocarbon Leader.
In 2016 we started a new item,  Murray’s Magnum Creek Chub Fly Tying Kit. This kit contains a photo of the Murray’s Magnum Creek Chub Streamer, the complete tying instructions, and enough materials and hooks to tie 24 of these flies. This fly tying kit is $35.95.

Murray’s Magnum Hog Sucker Streamer Fly Tying Kit

Murray's Magnum Hog Sucker Streamer
Murray’s Magnum Hog Sucker Streamer
Murray's Tie a Fly Kit (Just add a vise), Murray's Magnum Hog Sucker Streamer.
Murray’s Tie a Fly Kit (Just add a vise), Murray’s Magnum Hog Sucker Streamer.

In the forties and fifties, smallmouth bait fishermen on the Shenandoah River who were after the largest bass used live Hog Suckers for their bait. Then several years ago when a huge smallmouth bass chased a real hog sucker onto a shallow gravel bar to capture it just twenty feet from where I was wading, I decided to develop a Magnum Hog Suck Streamer to catch these big bass.
This new fly is effective from April until November.  Fish it with a slow line hand stripping over the edges of all gravel bars along the banks and the downstream ends of the islands.
In 2016 we started a new item, Murray’s Magnum Hog Sucker Fly Tying Kit. This kit contains a photo of the Murray’s Magnum Hog Sucker, the complete tying instructions, and enough materials and hooks to tie 24 of these flies. This fly tying kit is $35.95.

Cold Hands?

Simms Freestone Half Finger Fishing Gloves Murray's Fly Shop VA
Simms Freestone Half Finger Fishing Gloves

During the winter and spring I always carry Simms Freestone Half Finger Fishing Gloves in my vest. Experience has shown me that if I put these on before I start fishing I have excellent control of tying my flies onto the leader and carefully releasing the fish. These gloves come in size Medium, Large and X-Large.

Hot Spots

Fly Fishing Murray's Fly Shop Virginia
This is the hot spot on Soda Butte in the Yellowstone National Park that always held a very large cutthroat trout.

I always mentally mark a spot where I have caught or moved some large fish…any kind fish. This was the spot on the Madison River just below the park line that always held a large brown trout. It was also the spot across from Horse Brook Run on the Beaverkill that gave me a large brown every time I fished it. The shaded pool just below the feeder spring on the mountain brook trout stream in the Blue Ridge Mountains almost always held the largest trout in the stream.  The deep cut on the North Fork of the Shenandoah River just upstream of the big island below Edinburg was always my most dependable feeding station to catch a large smallmouth.  On the Outer Banks the sound 26 power poles North of Buxton was one of the my most dependable area for fast action. Many of these hot spots have been very dependable feedings stations year after year and have constantly given my great fishing.

Virginia Fly Fishing Stream Report–Winter 2015-16

Fly Fishing in Virginia in December

In this Virginia Fly Fishing Stream Report Podcast, Harry Murray discusses the tactics and flies which are effective in fishing the large stream with nymphs for trout.  Flies discussed include: Murray’s Adams Nymph, Murray’s Professor Nymph, and Murray’s Dark Stonefly Nymph

Learn How to Fly Fish with our two hour workshops,  1-day Mountain Trout Schools, and our 1-day Smallmouth Bass Schools.

Popper Casting

Popper Fly Fishing Murray's Fly Shop VA
Picking a bug up quietly off the river can assure a nice fish on the next cast.

When we make a back cast to pick a popping bug up off the stream to make another cast we may cause that popper to make a loud splashing noise that will scare many close by bass, this robbing us of a chance to catch a bass on our next presentation.
A tactic that can prevent this racket on the pick up is to point the fly rod straight at the popper when you are ready to make your back cast and use your line hand to strip in several feet of line that causes the popper to slide gently across the surface of the river. Now, make your back cast and the popper will jump quietly into the air and you will catch the next bass.

Be Nice To Your Fly Rod

Jeff Murray Fly Fishing Murray's Fly Shop Virginia
Many of my Scott Fly Rods that I use often are over 30 years old and they cast as well as the day I bought them because I take care of them.

A friend recently purchased a new fly rod and broke it while casting the first day out. When I asked him if he had put ferrule dressing on it before fishing, he looked at me with a questioning expression and asked “No, what is that?”
I always apply a light coat of Murray’s Ferrule Dressing on each ferrule on a new fly rod and every six months there after. This helps assure a smooth non slipping ferrule joint and can prolong the life of the ferrule.

Quick Water

Quick Water Smallmouth Bass Murray's Fly Shop VA
When the high water drops back to where you can see your feet in knee deep water, the fishing is often outstanding.

Heavy rains that last less than a day but deposit two or three inches of rain definitely cause our rivers to become too muddy to fish. However, I call this “quick water” because the rivers come up quickly but then they drop back quickly.  The smallmouth fishing can be outstanding when the rivers drop back to where you can see your feet when you are standing in knee deep water. Under these conditions the bass are not as wary as they are in clear water. I have often fished sections of rivers when they are still carrying some extra color and had outstanding success, where a week before in clear water the action was very slow. Good flies in this falling water are the Murray’s Black Madtom Sculpin Streamer size 4 and Murray’s Magnum Hog Sucker Streamer size 4.

Riffle Hitch

Riffle Hitch Smallmouth Bass Fly Fishing Murray's Fly Shop VA
This type water produces many bass for Harry Murray by using the new Bass Skater Streamers with a riffle hitch.

Last year at my son’s encouragement, we started experimenting with the “Riffle Hitch” technique for smallmouth bass which I used many years ago and some special flies for this method. Not only is this an exciting method but it is often productive when standard techniques bring few strikes.
The “Riffle Hitch” is easy to tie by simply tying two half hitch knots behind the hook eye on the head of the fly. This knot enables us to swim the fly across the current in an erratic motion that mimics the action of a dying struggling minnow. To give us patterns that match many of our minnows we have designed the Bass Skater Shad Streamer, Bass Skater Flash Streamer and Bass Skater Gold Streamer all in size 6. A great tactic is to fish these down and across stream at a twenty degree angle stripping them six inches every ten seconds. Hot spots are the shaded banks, below the riffles and in the tails of the pools. Watch our video in order to see how to tie the Riffle Hitch, vimeo.com/115660393

Cooling Bass Rivers

Smallmouth Bass Fly Fishing Murray's Fly Shop VA
Many large bass move into the deep cuts now and hit streamers stripped along the streambottom.

The smallmouth rivers are cooling and although I am catching nice bass throughout the rivers, I am aware that some of the largest bass are moving into the deep pools. I carry both a floating line and a 200 grain fast sinking head line and use the one which helps me fish my flies deeply. Swimming them deeply and slowly is the best way to catch these large bass. Dependable flies now are the Murray’s Black Madtom Sculpin Streamer size 4, Murray’s Magnum Hog Sucker Streamer size 4 and Murray’s Magnum Creek Chub Streamer size 4. These bass often strike these streamers very gently so if you feel the slightest bump set the hook quickly with both your line hand and the rod.

Escape Technique

The "Escape Technique" is a winner at this time of the year.
The “Escape Technique” is a winner at this time of the year.

I had outstanding smallmouth bass fishing on the North Fork of the Shenandoah River with a method of streamer fishing I am calling, “Escape Technique”.  Many of the bass are feeding heavily now on natural minnows.
This technique is easy to master and it is extremely effective. I suspect because we make our streamer act like a minnow attempting to evade the bass. Using a fly such as Shenk’s White Streamer size 6 or Murray’s Olive Marauder size 6 cast in toward the bank. After the streamer sinks deeply, strip it out ten feet with a slow strip-pause-strip action. At this point use a slow roll cast pick up motion which brings the streamer up close to the surface of the river but do not pick it up. With the streamer within inches of the surface impart several upstream and downstream slow line mends to make it look like a minnow fleeing to escape a bass which is after it. I am doing best with this method where the current is slow to medium and the water is three to four feet deep. Deadly!

Bass Rod

Jeff Murray and Harry Murray rely on 7 weight rods for our smallmouth bass fishing. The new Scott 9 foot 7 weight 4 piece Radian is our favorite.
Jeff Murray and Harry Murray rely on 7 weight rods for our smallmouth bass fishing. The new Scott 9 foot 7 weight 4 piece Radian is our favorite.

Sure you can land a nice size smallmouth bass on your five weight rod.  However, you are limiting the size of the flies you can cast. I believe a number five line is much too light to cast a size four smallmouth fly smoothly: it becomes work rather than pleasure. I prefer a seven weight 9 foot rod for my smallmouth bass fishing. With this I can easily cast size four flies comfortably and accurately while having the smooth feel to cast the smallest flies.
I especially like the new Scott Radian 9 foot 7 weight 4 piece for its ease in casting and for making long cast when needed. The wonderful damping action of the Radian rods make them the most pleasant rods I have ever used.
The new Scientific Anglers Sharkwave Siege lines are the finest line I have ever used. The ease with which I can pick the bugs up off the stream and the extra distance I can shoot my flies is astounding.

Night Smallmouth Bass Fishing

Smallmouth Bass Fly Fishing Murray's Fly Shop VA
Fishing for smallmouth bass at night may help you catch the largest bass of the year.

You just might catch your largest smallmouth bass of the year by fishing at night. They feed heavily in the low light levels and they are less wary than they are in the bright time of the day.
For safety and to get good fishing, I fish sections of the river at night that I know well and plan the spots I will enter and especially leave the river to avoid old fences and poison ivy.  A small waterproof flashlight is a must.
Strike detection is dependent upon us feeling it so fishing down and across stream at a 45 degree angle is a great help. This angle enables us to instantly feel the strike and we can quickly hook the bass. A good ploy is to quickly recover all of the slack line and put the bass on the reel so you are in complete control of the runs of a big fish.
Good flies are the Murray’s Black Madtom Sculpin Streamer size 4, Murray’s Magnum Bluegill size 4 and Murray’s Chartreuse Chugger size 4. Impart a firm six inch stripping action to these flies every ten seconds to get the basses attention.

Fly Fishing Stream Report Podcast – Late Summer 2015

Fly Fishing Stream Report Podcast - Murray's Fly Shop
Many large trout feed heavily on natural cress bugs below the springs during the summer.

Fly Fishing Stream Report Podcast – Late Summer 2015 with Harry Murray

In this fly fishing stream report Harry Murray discusses the best areas to find the trout in the stocked trout streams and the most productive flies and techniques including Ed Shenk’s Cress Bug.  Also with the water levels dropping for the end of the summer he touches on the best flies (Murray’s Moth, Housefly, Oakworm, & Yellow Jacket) to use to catch those brook trout in the mountain trout streams in the Shenandoah National Park using the hands and knees approach.
The last section of this podcast covers the smallmouth bass fishing on the Shenandoah River. He discusses when, where and how to catch the bass feeding on the Hexagenia Mayflies along with a new technique and flies (Mr. Rapidan Skater, Shad Streamer) for catching bass with a riffle hitch.
See our video on the riffle hitch (click here).

Wary Smallmouth Bass

As the smallmouth rivers get low and clear I find that I can prevent scaring the largest bass by wading upstream and fishing upstream ahead of me. An effective technique with streamers such as the Murray’s Magnum Hog Sucker Streamer is to fan the casts across the pool ahead of you and strip it back just slightly faster than the current so you can feel the strike.  With nymphs such as the Murray’s Skunk Road Kill Nymph I use a slow rod lifting bounce retrieve to swim it along the streambottom. This gives me a tight line to the nymph so I can feel the strike.  The Shenandoah Chugger is a great hard head surface bug to fish upstream because you can fish it gently back downstream or strip it loudly to bring the up from the deep cuts. One of the students in my smallmouth school caught over thirty nice smallmouths in one large pool using this last tactic.

MFS Fly Fishing Podcast for July

MFS Fly Fishing Report July

Harry Murray discusses how to find the trout in the stocked trout streams and the best tactics and flies to use to catch them.
Flies that are working: Murray’s Dark Stonefly Nymph size 12, Murray’s Yellow Stonefly Nymph size 16, and Mr. Rapidan Soft Hackle Brown size 12

The second part includes the “change of pace” trout flies that are working well for us that match the natural foods in the mountain trout streams.  Check out our “change of pace” trout fly assortment!

The last segment includes Harry’s new “Escaping Minnow” Streamer Technique as well as fishing hellgrammites and surface bugs on the Shenandoah River for smallmouth bass.  Flies that are working include: Shenk’s White Streamer size 6, Murray’s Olive Marauder size 6, Heavy Black Hellgrammite size 4, Blue or Damsel/Black Popper size 6 and Shenandoah Chartreuse Popper size 6

Stream Approach

On the Stream Schools Fly FIshing Murray's Fly Shop VA
In our schools we strive to teach the students how to approach and fish the different types of water in order to make the best use of their time on the stream.

The most valuable angling skill you can master is learning how to approach the specific piece of water you plan to fish. Sounds simple doesn’t it? Actually it is; all that is required is some thought about the water before you. Simply stated, the fish select feeding stations that will give them the greatest amount of food while exerting the least amount of energy. However, as we have found in our “on the stream” trout schools and smallmouth bass schools this basic skill is often neglected. In some cases the angler first wades into the stream and then asks, “Where do I fish?”
Mastering this basic skills has given many large trout on the Yellowstone River, helped me find the easy trout on the Beaverkill, catch large browns on Big Spring Creek that many anglers overlook. This approach also helps me catch nice smallmouths on the North Fork of the Shenandoah river practically within sight of my fly shop in Edinburg, Virginia.

Keep Dry

Fly Fishing Murray's Fly Shop VA
A good raincoat is a must for a serious angler.

During the summer I do not use waders when floating or wading smallmouth rivers. However I always carry a raincoat in the back of my vest. If a heavy rain settles in all day and you become soaked for several hours you can get the chills. For example, recently five of us were floating seven miles on a smallmouth river in personal kick boats. Shortly into our float a heavy rain settled in on us. Only three of us has raincoats so for the next four hours the two who had no raincoats suffered badly.  Although the rest of us offered to share ours they would not take them. After this we made sure everyone had raincoats.

Keep Healthy

Fly Fishing Murray's Fly Shop VA
A small bottle of hand sanitizer is well advised in situations like this.

When we are floating the smallmouth bass river or climbing the mountain trout stream we usually carry a lunch and drinking water in our vest.  After fishing for several hours our hands may be grubby. I carry a small bottle of hand sanitizer in my vest and scrub my hands good before eating lunch.

Streamer Success

Jeff Murray hooks a high percentage of his streamer strikes by following the sweep of his streamer with the rod tip and setting the hook with his line hand as well as the fly rod.
Jeff Murray hooks a high percentage of his streamer strikes by following the sweep of his streamer with the rod tip and setting the hook with his line hand as well as the fly rod.

Here are two simple steps that can easily double the number of successfully hooked fish on your streamer fishing. (1) Always follow the sweep of your streamer with your fly rod so the rod tip is pointed in the same upstream-downstream plan where the line leaves the river. This enables you to quickly feel the strike. (2) The instant you feel the strikes set the hook quickly with a quick line hand strike and a firm rod lifting motion.

The Best Action with Surface Bugs

Surface Bug Bass Fly Fishing Murray's Fly Shop VA
The best smallmouth bass surface bug action comes from fishing the pattern that gives the action needed.

In order to catch large bass consistently on hard surface bugs it is very important to be able to adjust the bug action to the type of water we are fishing. I have designed the Shenandoah Surface Bugs with this goal in mind.  (1) For example, we often find bass feeding in water two feet deep along the shaded banks and a gentle teasing bug-action is very effective. The Shenandoah Slider with its long slim pointed nose is very productive here.  (2) Four feet deep banks with fast currents produce large bass to a bug that can create a loud water-throwing action. The Shenandoah Chugger with its fat body and deeply cut face quickly brings these bass to the surface with a firm stripping action.  (3) Grass beds and gentle current areas hold many bass that will take bug-action between these two extremes. The Shenandoah Popper with its long tapered body and up-sloping face will take many of these bass.

Reading a Smallmouth River

Smallmouth Bass School Murray's Fly Shop Virginia
My goal in all of my schools is to teach all of the students to read the water.

The most valuable skill a smallmouth angler can develop is learning to read the water accurately. The few minutes spent analyzing a section of a river in this way will give you more bass on the spot and a better understanding of all sections of the rivers in the future.
I see this as a three step process. First I strive to determine where the bass will be holding. The best of these areas  are a combination of a feeding station and a holding area. The second step is determining where to present my fly so I can fish it effectively through the basses feeding station. The third step is positioning myself at the precise spot which will enable me to make my presentation accurately and swim my fly convincingly through the basses feeding station.

New Angler, part D

Smallmouth Bass Fly Fishing Murray's Fly Shop VA
Smallmouth Bass Fly Fishing

“I am new to fly fishing and need advice on rods for freshwater fishing”. This question came in as email and I believe many anglers are at this point.  In  order to answer this in a meaningful way I will discuss the outfits I use in various types of fly fishing and why.  I will break this down into four separate blogs and post one each week:

(A) Small Mountain Streams
(B) Large Eastern Trout Streams and Western Spring Creeks
(C) Large Western Trout Streams
(D) Bass Streams and Lakes

(D) Bass Streams and Lakes
In order to answer my customers email question of, “what fly rod should a beginning angler purchase for freshwater fishing”, this is the fourth segment on what size rods I use.
For my smallmouth bass fishing I use a 9 foot rod because it gives me good drag control. I want this rod to have a strong tip and a medium action butt section that balances with a weight forward 7 weight floating bass line. This rod gives good accuracy in bug placement, excellent distance and is very pleasant to use.
The rods I use for my smallmouth bass fishing are the Scott Flex 9 foot 7 weight 4 piece and Scott Radian 9 foot 7 weight 5 piece.

My Helpful Angler’s Calendar

Fly Fishing Murray's Fly Shop Virginia
I rely strongly on my calendar to find good fishing for both trout and smallmouths throughout the season.

My angler’s calendar is very large, having about two inch square spaces for each date. This allows plenty of space for me to write in where I fished that day, the water temperature, the hatches, water level, my catch and any other important information. Each January when I get a new calendar I write in the above information from previous years.  This brings back wonderful memories as I record these previous trips. It also helps me plan future fishing trips as I correlate the present stream conditions and hatches with what I did on past trips under similar conditions. Great fun!

Switch-Hand Casting

Fly Fishing Murray's Fly Shop Virginia
By knowing the basics of good fly casting one can easily cast with either hand.

I have a good friend who injured his right shoulder badly.  Since he cast with his right hand he was very disappointed that he would loose a season’s fishing while he recovered from surgery. I encouraged him to just switch over and cast with his left hand which he did and he was able to fish the whole season.
In my fly fishing schools I have always had to cast with both hands to help all of my students. If you have not tried this give it a go. You will be pleased how well you do. After all you already know the proper casting technique.

Refine Your Smallmouth Fishing

Smallmouth Bass Fly Fishing Murray's Fly Shop VA
Many of the tactics we learn on large Western trout rivers work very well for smallmouth bass.

When I wrote my first book Fly Fishing Techniques for Smallmouth Bass an editor with Field and Stream Magazine was very impressed with it. In his review of it he wrote… “Harry is trout fishing for smallmouth bass.”
Actually this is a good approach to improving your smallmouth fishing. If you have fished the large trout streams in the Rockies many of these techniques are very effective for smallmouth bass.  For example, the same nymphing technique  Charlie Brooks taught me on the Madison is the same method I teach anglers in my smallmouth bass schools. The same streamer tactics I learned on the Yellowstone River works very well on all smallmouth rivers. The same hopper methods I use on the upper Madison River are great on the North Fork of the Shenandoah River for smallmouths.