In my country most anglers call these madtoms. Some anglers know them as stonecats. These are those mean looking minnows that can sting you painfully if you do not handle them properly. The large bass in the river feed heavily upon them.
These minnows live under cobblestones on the streambottom. They like the sections of the river where there is at least a moderate current. Some are found in the riffles but when we seined them we would find the greatest populations in the lower two hundred feet of the tails of the pools.
They would come out at dusk, dark and heavily overcast days to feed. Many of the mid pool areas upstream of the tails of the pools have cuts which are six to eight feet deep. Many large bass can be caught here on this fly.
An effective method is to float or wade downstream to the side of these deep areas. Starting at the upstream sections of these deep cuts, fish your Stonecat slowly along the streambottom with a Sinking Tip III Fly Line or Fast Sinking Head Fly Line.
The feeding stations can be at many different locations in these cuts. I like to fish the whole area thoroughly by fanning my casts over the complete area I can reach. By moving downstream and stopping every ten feet to repeat this casting sequence, I catch many large bass.
Even though these minnows come out to feed mainly in low light conditions, these deep cuts are productive throughout the day.
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.
Streamer Fly Fishing Blog- Murray’s Fly Shop- Edinburg, Virginia
Streamers normally imitate minnows and bait fish. A very effective tactic is to cast these across stream and swim them back across stream so the fly is broadside to the current. As the current plays on the fly and fly line it is pulled downstream as it swings across stream. It is very important to keep the rod tip pointed where the fly line enters the stream. Then you can feel the strike the instant the fish take it. In this way you can set the hook quickly with a combination line-hand strike. You can also use a rod lifting motion before the fish detects it as a phony and ejects it. I find that by rotating my body downstream at the same rate the streamer is swinging, I can easily apply this technique.
When you are designing a new streamer to match a specific minnow it is great to tie one that looks so much like the real minnow that it impresses your friends. However, when you are on the river fishing the fish appear to take the streamers which ACT like the real minnow they are accustomed to feeding on in that area. It is great when your new streamer looks like that specific minnow but for consistent success it is a must that your new fly ACT like the real minnow in the way it swims through the currents and darts for cover when it is chased by a fish. After a great deal of experimenting with materials and tying techniques, the Murray’s Madtom Sculpin Streamer evolved into a streamer which acts like a real minnow and the fish take quickly. Check the prevalent minnows in your streams and see if you can developed an effective streamer.
There are days when the smallmouth bass feed heavily on minnows and fishing streamers catches these fish. However, there are days when they feed mostly on natural nymphs and we catch these smallmouth bass on “artificial nymphs”. Realizing this, I decided to develop one fly to be fished as a Streamer to catch the minnow feeders as well as matching the natural nymphs which could be fished as a Nymph. I developed the Strymph drawing on Ron Kommer’s idea of using ostrich herl in the tail and Charlie Brooks concept of tying underwater flies “in the round”.
Thus the Strymph can be fished upstream dead drift and across the current in a swing nymphing method both of which match our natural nymphs.
The Strymph can easily be fished across stream with a deep swimming action which matches all of our minnows. Simply stated, there is no wrong way to fish the Murray’s Strymph, and it is equally effective for both smallmouth bass and trout.
If you are interested in learning how to tie the Murray’s Strymph, here is the tying kit or you can just purchase the tying instructions recipe sheet.
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.