Tag Archives: smallmouth bass fly fishing

Stop Twisted Smallmouth Bass Leaders While Fly Fishing

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.

Out With the Old Tippet Material

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

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.

Barbless Hooks

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.

The Best Five Flies for Late Season Smallmouth Bass Fly Fishing

The Best Five Flies for Late Season Smallmouth Bass Fly Fishing- Murray’s Fly Shop- Edinburg, Virginia. Fly Fishing Virginia.

Each year we find that we can often catch many large bass in October and November. We can do this by selecting our flies carefully and fishing them deeply in protected feeding stations.

Here are my five best flies for late season smallmouth bass fly fishing:

(1) Murray’s Crayfish size 6
(2) Murray’s Heavy Black Hellgrammite size 4
(3) Murray’s Magnum Hog Sucker Streamer size 4
(4) Murray’s Black Madtom Sculpin Streamer size 4
(5) Murray’s Skunk Road Kill Nymph size 6

My most productive feeding stations are the deep pools and deep back eddies. In order to fish my flies slowly along the streambottom in these areas I use a fast Sinking Head Line Fly Line. This sinks at 4 to 8 IPS.  The Scientific Anglers Sonar Sink 30 Warm Tip Fly Line in 200 grains is excellent for getting my flies deeply. My standard leader with these fly lines are the Murray’s Fluorocarbon 6 foot 2X Sinking Line Leader.

Enjoy The Challenge of Fly Fishing for Smallmouth Bass at Night

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.

Wade downstream and cast down and across stream at a forty five degree angle. This enables me to fish flies such as the Murray’s Magnum Hog Sucker, Murray’s Magnum Creek Chub and the Shenandoah Chugger. I fish these flies with a firm noisy line hand stripping action and quickly feel the strike and hook the bass.

The Murray’s Bass Bug 9 foot 0X Leader is ideal for night fishing. These leaders cast the big flies well. They are also strong enough to set the hook on the big bass.

The Best Time for Smallmouth Bass Fly Fishing on the North or South Fork

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.

Check out our Smallmouth Bass Fishing on the Shenandoah River 101 Class on February 10, 2018 and March 17, 2018. This two hour class will show you the best access points on the North and South Fork of the Shenandoah River by utilizing the master map and books, Virginia Blue-Ribbon Streams and Fly Fishing Techniques for Smallmouth Bass.

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 Rod and Reel Resting Against a Tree

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.

My Three Favorite Smallmouth Bass Flies

My Three Favorite Smallmouth Bass Flies Blog- Murray’s Fly Shop

In order to get good smallmouth bass fishing with underwater flies I like to use patterns which match the natural foods the smallmouth bass feed upon.

My most dependable nymph is the Murray’s Heavy Black Hellgrammite size 4.  The riffles are loaded with the natural hellgrammites. Fish these upstream dead drift by using the Murray’s Bright Butt 9 foot 2X Leader with its built in indicator system.

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!

The Best Five Smallmouth Bass Flies for Summer Fly Fishing

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.

Murray’s Crayfish size 6
Shenandoah Chartreuse Chugger size 4 and size 6
Murray’s Magnum Hog Sucker Streamer size 4
Shenandoah Blue Popper size 4 and size 6
Murray’s Magnum Darter Streamer size 4

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.

My Three Effective Hard Head Smallmouth Bass Bugs

My Three Effective Hard Head Smallmouth Bass Bugs:

(1) The Shenandoah Chugger has a fat body with a deeply cut face with which we can make a great racket to lure bass from deep runs.

(2) The Shenandoah Slider has a a slim body with a long painted nose enabling us to tease strikes from large bass in the shallows.

(3) The Shenandoah Popper with its up-sloping face and long tapered body helps us create a broad variety of actions. It enables us to successfully fish many different feeding stations.

Smallmouth Bass River Float Trips

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.

Smallmouth Bass Primary Feeding Stations

Smallmouth Bass Primary Feeding Stations Blog- Murray’s Fly Shop

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.

The Murray’s Floating Chub Minnow and Murray’s Floating Dace Minnow which match the natural minnows here produce great action.

My Favorite Smallmouth Bass Fly, Murray’s Heavy Hellgrammite


My Favorite Smallmouth Bass Fly, Murray’s Heavy Hellgrammite

It took me many years to develop my Murray’s Heavy Lead-Eye Hellgrammite. However, with the help of good friend like Charlie Brooks and Ron Kommer, this exceptionally effective pattern evolved.
This effectively duplicates the natural swimming action of the real hellgrammite. This fly can be successfully fished either upstream, downstream or across stream.
The students in my “On The Stream” Smallmouth Bass Schools catch most of their large bass on the Murray’s Heavy Lead-Eye Hellgrammite.

Switch Rods For Smallmouth Bass

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.

Access Sites

Access Sites Blog- Murray’s Fly Shop– Edinburg, Virginia

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.

Fly Fishing Questions Podcast

Fly Fishing Questions & Answers Podcast–March 2017

In this fly fishing podcast, Harry Murray discusses the questions you have either emailed or phoned about within the last month.    He goes into details on how to spot the trout in the stream.  He discusses the importance of the hatch charts in predicting which aquatic insects will hatch at what times. He reveals his personal uses of the loop to loop line leader connection verses a needle knot connection.

Fly Fishing Questions Podcast
When fishing a sinking tip fly line for bass a roll cast pick up easily enables you to shoot your fly to the next target.

Next fly fishing workshop at Murray’s Fly Shop
Smallmouth Bass Fishing on the Shenandoah River–March 18
Fly Casting & Rigging–March 25 & April 8

 

 

Heavy Angling Pressure

Heavy Angling Pressure Blog- Murray's Fly Shop- Edinburg, Virginia
The sections of the smallmouth bass rivers upstream of the take-out spots are the best because they receive light angling pressure. By the time the fishermen have floated this far, they are either running late or they are tired.

Heavy Angling Pressure Blog- Murray’s Fly Shop- Edinburg, Virginia

Frequently I find outstanding smallmouth bass fly fishing on rivers that receive heavy angling pressure. Mostly from floating fishermen in boats, canoes and kayaks. My trick is to wade into the river at the popular take-out spots.  Then turn and wade upstream for my fly fishing.
I have found that the stretched of the smallmouth bass river upstream from the popular take-out spots actually receive light angling pressure. It looks to me like that by the time most float-trips anglers reach the take-out spot they are wither worn-out, running late or are drunk! At any rate the serious angling pressure is light.

Check out our Smallmouth Bass On The Stream Fly Fishing Schools and Half Day On The Stream Fly Fishing Lessons. Also check out our Basic Fly Tying Workshop and Smallmouth Fishing on the Shenandoah River Workshop. Also check out our Learn to Fly Cast and Rig Tackle Workshop.

Harry Murray
Murray’s Fly Shop
PO Box 156
121 South Main Street
Edinburg, Virginia 22824
Phone Number: 540-984-4212
Website: www.murraysflyshop.com
Email Address: info@murraysflyshop.com

Streamer Fly Fishing

Streamer Fly Fishing Blog- Murray’s Fly Shop- Edinburg, Virginia

Streamer Fly Fishing Blog- Murray's Fly Shop- Edinburg, Virginia
Streamer fishing is very effective when you handle the swing of the fly properly for prompt strike detection and solid hook ups on the strike.

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.

Fishing Information

Fishing Information Blog- Murray's Fly Shop- Edinburg, Virginia
An accurate stream log is extremely helpful when planning future trips.

Each evening when I return from a local fishing trip, I record the important fishing information on a large calendar in my kitchen. This helps me plan my later trips this season and during future years. Information which I find helpful includes: the stream fished and which section, stream level, stream temperature, the insect hatches and hot heavy, my most productive flies and the best sizes.
When I return from distant trips out of state that I fish for two to three weeks, I record the information in my stream log that will help me plan future trips. Some of this includes the best streams fished and what sections and weather. Other important information is stream levels, hatches, most productive flies and general information on food and lodging.

Harry Murray
Murray’s Fly Shop
PO Box 156
121 South Main Street
Edinburg, Virginia 22824
Phone Number: 540-984-4212
Website: www.murraysflyshop.com
Email Address: info@murraysflyshop.com

Loop Versus a Needle Knot

Loop Versus a Needle Knot Blog- Murray's Fly Shop- Edinburg, Virginia
I like to use a needle knot coated with thin coats of Pliobond for attaching my leader to the fly line on my delicate trout outfits because this slides through the guides very smoothly.

This week’s blog we will be discussing a Loop Versus a Needle Knot.

Most fly lines now come with a loop built into the forward part of the line. This is very convenient for connecting your leader with a loop to loop connection.  Therefore I use this on my seven weight smallmouth bass outfit. However, on my trout outfits for lines two to three in the East and lines four to six in the Rockies, I attach my leaders to the fly line with a needle knot. I coat these with three very thin coats of Pliobond. I prefer the needle knot on my lighter outfits. It slides through the guides easier than a loop to loop line connection.

Harry Murray
Murray’s Fly Shop
PO Box 156
121 South Main Street
Edinburg, Virginia 22824
Phone Number: 540-984-4212
Website: www.murraysflyshop.com
Email Address: info@murraysflyshop.com

The Angler’s Friend – Folstaf Wading Staff

Harry Murray Folstaf Wading Staff Smallmouth Bass Fly Fishing Virginia
My Folstaf Wading Staff is neatly folded only inches away from my right hand where I can quickly grab it when I need it.

I never head into any stream without my Folstaf Wading Staff.  Many anglers readily see the safety advantages of using a Wading Staff when fishing deep water.  However, if you do slip and fall into water which is waist deep you get wet. But remember if you fall down in water which is ankle deep, you can easily break bones. I have tested many different styles of wading staffs, but I like my Folstaff Wading Staff best of all because it is very durable and dependable.

Watch out video on our Folstaff Wading Staff, https://vine.co/v/MOQHwvt0gAg

Harry Murray
Murray’s Fly Shop
121 South Main Street
PO Box 156
Edinburg, Virginia 22824
540-984-4212
Email: info@murraysflyshop.com
Website: www.murraysflyshop.com

Fly Casting Classes

Jeff Murray On The Stream Fly Fishing Schools Murray's Fly Shop Virignia
We teach the students in our schools all types of casts and how to use each cast in different situations.

In my Fly Casting and Rigging Tackle Classes and in my “On The Stream Fly Fishing Schools”, I find that most beginning anglers are more interested in learning to cast far than they are to cast well.
Long casts are great when you need them, but for most trout anglers accuracy and delicacy in fly placement are the main goals which spell success on the stream. When I show my students my “flip cast” and my “pendulum cast”, they are astounded with the accuracy in fly placement they can achieve. The ultimate reward which thrills them is the great number of wary trout they catch in this way.

Harry Murray
Murray’s Fly Shop
121 South Main Street
PO Box 156
Edinburg, Virginia 22824
540-984-4212
Website: www.murraysflyshop.com
Email: info@murraysflyshop.com

Effective Streamers

Murray's Black Madtom Sculpin Streamer
Murray’s Black Madtom Sculpin Streamer

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.

Fly Fishing Questions & Answers Podcast August 2016

Jeff Fly Fishing Out West
“Reading the Water” for Jeff Murray is a 3 step process. 1) Where do I suspect the trout will hold? 2)Where do I present my fly? 3) Where do I position myself?

In this fly fishing podcast, Harry Murray discusses a broad variety of questions ranging from fishing small mountain trout streams to large western trout streams to river fishing for smallmouth bass.  Some of the topics covered include:

  • The value of satellite beacons.
  • Tying Streamers that sink properly
  • Good rod length for small mountain trout streams
  • Choosing the best leader
  • Catching a trout that refuses your first draft
  • Hiking into remote sections of the streams
  • Reading the water
  • Delicate fly presentations

Also be sure to check out our Fall Fly Fishing Guide before heading out on your next fishing trip.

2 hour Fly Fishing Workshops including fly casting, fly tying, etc. at Murray’s Fly Shop

Jeff fly fishing on the Armstrong
Only a delicate fly presentation on the Armstrong will fool the trout.

Fly Fishing Podcast August 2016

Fly Fishing on Spring Creeks
From now until fall many large trout feed heavily on natural grasshoppers. I do extremely well on the Firehole, Henry’s Fork and Big Spring.

In this fly fishing podcast, Harry Murray discusses the tactics which are effective for large trout using Shenk’s Letort Hoppers and Shenk’s Crickets in some of our best streams all across the country.  He also covers the methods for fishing his “change of pace” flies for trout.

In the second portion of this fly fishing podcast Harry discusses the methods he is using in August for smallmouth bass with great success using his Floating Chub Minnow and Floating Dace Minnow in specific sections of the rivers. He also covers the areas and tactics which are effective with the Murray’s Crayfish.

The Murray’s Crayfish has been a very productive fly in our smallmouth bass schools.  Next School…August 12.  Sign up today!

Fly Fishing for Smallmouth Bass
Many students in our smallmouth schools catch some of their largest bass in the tails of the pools on the Murray’s Floating Minnows

Good Smallmouth Bass Fishing

Harry Murray Smallmouth Bass Fly Fishing Murray's Fly Shop VA
I often catch many large bass just upstream of the public landings I suspect these areas get light pressure.

Great sections of smallmouth bass rivers to fish are the areas just upstream of the public access areas. These receive much less serious fishing pressure than you would expect, even though many boats take out here everyday. I suspect that this is because by the time most anglers get to the take-out-spot they are either running late, or they are tired or they are drunk! Often I wade into these areas and fish surface bugs such as the Shenandoah Blue Popper right against the bank as I wade upstream for several hundred yards then wade further out into the river or even to the far bank then fish streamers back downstream to the access point.

Murray’s Hellgrammite

Murray's Heavy Black Hellgrammite
Murray’s Heavy Black Hellgrammite

It is hard to fix it if you do not know what is broken. That is where I was when I started fly fishing for smallmouth bass in the sixties. As a youngster growing up in Edinburg, Virginia on the North Fork of the Shenandoah River in the fifties we all caught many smallmouth bass on real hellgrammites as live bait. However, for my fly fishing after college none of the existing Hellgrammite patterns worked for me. The beautifully tired patterns I got from Abercrombie and Fitch in New York which they called Hellgrammites just did not work. When I started fishing the Yellowstone River in Montana I had Dan Bailey’s girls tie a dozen two inch long versions of his beautiful woven body Mossback Nymphs because these looked to me like my hellgrammites back in Virginia. These we also failures for the smallmouth bass.
Finally Ron Kommer came up with the idea of using Ostrich Herl (or plume) for very large flies.  Simultaneously, I was experimenting with real hellgrammites by tossing them into the river to see how they acted. When I dropped the real hellgrammites into the river one by one, I saw that they swam downstream with an exaggerated undulating action as they headed for the streambottom. Finally I saw what was broken: All of these beautiful earlier hellgrammite patterns lacked the capacity to move in an undulating manner like the natural hellgrammites.
By incorporating the ostrich herl as an extended body in this new fly and tying it “in the round” as Charlies Brookes recommended to me, the final Murray’s Heavy Hellgrammite was developed. This is so effective that today it is my favorite smallmouth bass fly.

Also check out: Murray’s Heavy Hellgrammite Assortment, Murray’s Black Hellgrammite  and Murray’s Heavy Hellgrammite Tying Kit.

Match the Minnows

Silver Outcast Streamer
Silver Outcast Streamer

About two hours before dark on a beautiful August evening I waded across the South Fork of the Shenandoah River, intending to fish one of my favorite riffles fifty yards downstream.  The water along the bank right in front of me was only two feet deep and the aquatic grassbed reached twenty feet out into the river. A large smallmouth bass crashed into the grass to catch a shiner minnow just upstream of me.  A few seconds later he captured another shiner minnow as he swam upstream along the edge of the grassbed. I felt this was too good for me to pass up! I cast a Silver Outcast Streamer upstream ahead of his path and he took it solidly. As I landed the large bass I noticed more bass chasing shiner minnows upstream through the grassbeds. By wading slowly upstream I caught many more large bass by going one on one with them as I spotted them chasing shiner minnows.
When you are on the water at dusk keep an eye out for this type action because it is very exciting.

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.

Deer Hair Bass Bugs

Murray's Frisky Frog Deer Hair Bass Bug
Murray’s Frisky Frog Deer Hair Bass Bug

Deer Hair Bass Surface Bugs are easy to tie and are very effective to fish. Here are some tips which help beginning fly tyers in the winter classes I teach in my fly shop tie great deer hair bass bugs. The most important step is to remove all of the fuzz and short hair from each bunch of deer hair as you trim it from the skin. To do this I hold the trimmed bunch of hair by the tips and brush it vigorously with a stiff toothbrush. Next I like to keep the hook shank free of thread wraps except right where I tie the tail in. I also like to use Kevlar tying thread to reduce thread-breakage. Trim the finished bug very closely on the stomach in order to hook the bass securely. Paint the stomach of the bug right along the hook shank with spar varnish cut 50-50 with paint thinner to make the bug very durable. Keep the bug’s appendages on the sides (such as wings and legs) to a minimum so the bug does not twist the leader when casting.
The Tapply Hair Bug and the Murray’s Deer Hair Bass Bug Series are good examples of smooth, very effective Deer Hair Bass Bugs.

Raincoat

Simms Hyalite Rain Shell Jacket
Simms Hyalite Rain Shell Jacket

When I am fishing the back country for trout or more than a mile away from my Jeep on a smallmouth bass river, I always carry a breathable-waterproof raincoat in the back of my fishing vest.  This has to pack down small enough to easily fit into my vest. The Simms Hyalite Rain Shell Jacket is perfect. Staying dry is important even in the summer months. Once on a five mile smallmouth river summer float trip two of the five anglers in our group had no raincoats. Three hours up the river from our take-out the rain started and continued heavily all day. Even though we all offered to share our raincoats, the two wet anglers refused. By the time we got to the take out spot our friends were shivering badly. Imagine how cold these two anglers would have been if our float trip had been in March or October.

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.

 

Fly Fishing Questions & Answers June 2016

Dobsonfly
As we are doing our guided float trips on the Shenandoah River, we have been seeing many of these. Do you know what they are? Find out by listening to this podcast.

This months fly fishing questions and answers podcast includes techniques to use for the trico hatch that is coming very soon, a simple and easy method to untwist those bass lines and leaders, a technique to fish the hellgrammites and the best way to handle thunderstorms during a float trip on the river.

Sunscreen

Bonefish Fly Fishing Murray's Fly Shop VA
Sunscreen is as important when fishing for trout and smallmouth bass as it is on a bonefish trip.

Some of the studies are now suggesting we reapply a broad spectrum water proof 50 sun blocking lotion every eighty minutes while we are on the stream. I personally use the little lip coating sticks about every hour also.

Take a Youngster Fishing

Jeff Murray Fly Fishing Murray's Fly Shop VA
When Jeff Murray was younger, he loved going fly fishing with his father, Harry Murray. Kids love to catch fish!

I started my son, Jeff, fly fishing when he was five years old. He enjoyed it tremendously. He learned fly fishing very quickly and it gave us many wonderful trips and memories together.
As I have helped many youngsters over the years, I have discovered that the main goal they have is to catch fish. It does not matter if they are trout, smallmouth bass or panfish, they just want to catch fish, the more the better!
I always try to find places for them to fish where the water is not over knee-deep on them and where the weeds along the stream are not over knee-deep. My goal is for them to have a great time and a memorable trip.
We are now offering special “Fly Fishing Schools” for kids from 8 years old to 16 years old. We provide the rod, reel, stream access and instruction. See our website for dates and information.

Floating a New Section of a River

Jeff Murray Boat Smallmouth Bass Fly Fishing Murray's Fly Shop VA
A little higher water level could have caused Jeff Murray a serious problem. To prevent these and other problems talk to someone who has floated the river recently.

The most dependable way to get good information on what you might encounter on a new float trip is to talk to someone who has floated that area recently, then follow their advice. Two years ago a friend in Montana did not follow this advice and he flipped his boat and drowned. Recently two friends did not ask me about floating a smallmouth bass river and I believe they relied only on a guide book.  The float trip they had planned should have taken six hours. As it turned out it took them seventeen hours. They had to cross three large dams and they finally got out of the river at three in the morning, naturally in the dark. The next time they asked me where to float!

Twisted Line

Jeff Murray Smallmouth Bass Trout Fly Fishing Murray's Fly Shop VA
A good straight fly line cast better and handles better than a twisted fly line.

You become aware that your fly line is twisted when you are standing in the river casting.  This is easy to fix. Remove the fly from the leader and cast straight downstream forty feet, as the current pulls out all of the slack line strip forty feet more line from the reel and feed it downstream. Allow this to hang tight in the current for ten minutes then crank it back in and the twist will be removed.

Murray’s Strymph

Murray's Olive Strymph Smallmouth Bass Trout Fly Fishing Murray's Fly Shop VA
By carefully designing the Murray’s Strymph, Harry Murray was able to produce a fly that would pass for both a streamer and a nymph.

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.

Trout & Bass Fly Fishing Report–April 2016

Native Brook Trout Fishing in Virginia
April is a prime month for fishing for native brook trout in the Shenandoah National Park.

FlyFishing Report for Virginia including native brook trout and smallmouth bass fishing.

April is the favorite month for trout fishing by many serious mountain trout fishermen.  With the ideal stream levels and water temperatures, the trout are feeding and the hatches continue. In this podcast I will be discussing these specific hatches, the order in which to expect them, and what flies to use to match these hatches.  The number one selling fly to match these hatches–Mr. Rapidan Parachute Dry size 14.  I fish these on our Murray’s Classic 7 1/2ft 5X Leaders.    Also, check out our new Foam Leader Keepers. These are very handy for those that hate complicated knots and changing tippet material while on the stream.

WHAT FLIES ARE IN MY FLY BOX?

Flyfishing Report -Smallmouth Bass Fishing on the Shenandoah River
Larry enjoying a day out on the Shenandoah River.

The smallmouth bass fishing on the Shenandoah River will start to take off in April as the water warms and the bass start to feed. I like to use streamers which match the natural foods the bass are seeing in the river such as Murray’s Heavy Streamers in Chub, Sunfish or Shiner all in size 6. These are fast sinking streamers which will help get through the spring currents.  I use a Sink Tip III Fly Line with a Sinking 6ft. 2X Leader in fast currents and water over 4 feet deep.  In moderate currents I use a Scientific Anglers Frequency Boost Fly Line with a Murray’s Bright Butt 9ft 2X Leader.  The second part of this podcast includes the areas I like to fish (bank bays) at this time of the year and the productive tactics and gear including rods.

WE ARE NOW REGISTERING FOR OUR BASS FLY FISHING SCHOOLS  (JUNE TO AUGUST)

 

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 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.

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.

Hide Your Approach

Many large bass feed heavily around the grassbeds and you can catch them by using a cautious approach.
Many large bass feed heavily around the grassbeds and you can catch them by using a cautious approach.

Many of the large bass are very wary in the low clear rivers at this time of the year. Fortunately, the thick aquatic grassbeds that form now give us many options for hiding our approaches.
Recently I was wading and fishing upstream in a large slow pool where the grass grew to the surface over 3/4 of the pool. I had waded in almost to my chest and since the water ahead of me was even deeper I could not go any further. I had only an hour of daylight left so it was too late to go to another part of the stream. I decided to fish the water thoroughly upstream of me. By fanning casts of a Shenandoah Blue Popper into all of the open pockets in the grassbeds and along the edges of the grassbeds, I had one of the finest evenings of smallmouth fishing I have ever experienced!
I believe there were three reasons for my success that will help us in the future. (1) The deep water had me locked into a small area so my wading was not scaring the bass. (2) The dense grassbeds provided good shade and feedings stations for the bass. (3) I was there at the prime feeding time for the bass.

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.

June 2015 Virginia Trout and Smallmouth Bass Fly Fishing Reports

Smallmouth Bass caught on the Shenandoah River
Smallmouth Bass caught on the Shenandoah River

 

These fly fishing reports for Virginia covers 3 different areas of fishing: stocked trout streams, mountain trout streams and smallmouth bass in the Shenandoah River.  Harry discusses the tactics to use for each stream and the best flies to use for the water levels and conditions that we have right now.
Best Flies: Murray’s Flying Beetle #14, Murray’s Inchworm #14, Shenk’s Sulphur Dry #16, Murray’s Yellow Drake #16, Shenk’s Cress Bug, Betsy Streamer, Magnum Streamers, Shenandoah Poppers

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!