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.
Fly Fishing with popping bugs for Smallmouth Bass just might be at it’s peak right now on the North and South Fork of the Shenandoah. There is a lot of food for the smallmouth to feed on, from damselflies to frogs, throughout the day. Early and late fishing continues to be most productive but if mid-day is the time you can go, GO! Concentrate on the shaded banks and along the grassbeds in the river. This Smallmouth Bass took a #4 Chartreuse Chuggar on 3x tippet on an 8wt. fly rod.
Dogs don’t seem to mind the early morning wake up call when there is something fun involved. I try to take a note from their book… This mornings trip down the South Fork was great. Long casts are becoming more of a necessity than during the first part of the summer. Make sure you keep your hook SHARP! Large Smallmouth Bass have a very hard lip and a dull hook will only result in “the one that got away” stories.