Published Jun 30. 2007 - 16 years ago
Updated or edited Sep 13. 2015

Book review: Fly-Fishing for Smallmouth in Rivers and Streams

Anglers have been waiting for this book for years. An excellent companion to his recently published Clouser's Flies.

Bob Clouser
Stackpole Books
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A steaming bowl of chili, Jets vs Patriots, and a great book on smallmouth fishing filled with pictures of anglers in short sleeves and lots of sunshine. These are my remedies today for a morning spent shoveling snow off the driveway. I'm hoping that Bob Clouser's latest book helps me forgot my aching back and sore hands for a little while.

With "Fly-Fishing for Smallmouth", Bob Clouser offers a follow-up to his excellent book Clouser's Flies, this time taking us on the stream and letting the reader pick the mind of an experienced and highly knowledgeable angler. Along with Harry Murry and Lefty Kreh, Bob Clouser is one of the Dean's of fly fishing for bass, especially in rivers, so I'm sure this book has been eagerly anticipated by a great many fly anglers. I certainly count myself among that group.

The book follows the classic format of combining a bit of biology with plenty of fishing tactics. The two are so closely related that it is all but impossible to discuss the latter without laying the foundation with the former. After all, fishing tactics, especially fly fishing tactics, are built around anticipating the moods of the fish and knowing what they might be willing to eat at any given point.

Given that, this is not an "academic" book about smallmouth bass. Everything he talks about relates to fishing for them. The chapter on fishing during different seasons of the year describes bass behavior at these times as the waters change temperatures and the bass deal with their spawning rituals. The chapter on where to find bass talks about structure in rivers, which will be of particular interest to anglers with a strong trout fishing background since bass will often be found in waters a trout would avoid. If an angler tries to fish a smallmouth river with a trout angler's eyes, they might luck onto a few fish, but almost certainly they would be concentrating their time in the wrong locations.

My favorite chapter of the book is "What They Eat", which, as you'd guess, is an in-depth look at the forage base found in most smallmouth bass waters. The text in this chapter is supported with outstanding photographs of the natural prey of the bass, along with plenty of ideas for flies used to imitate them. Of particular interest to me was the short section describing how bass attack baitfish, which is different from a trout.

A companion chapter to "What They Eat" is "My Fly Box", where Clouser goes into details about the flies he turns to when fishing or smallmouth bass. Many of these flies are well known to anyone who is familiar with Bob's fishing - the clouser minnow and it's cousins are heavily featured as you'd guess. It's not all about Bob's flies, though, as you will find Jack Gartside's Gurgler featured and even a couple Lefty Kreh patterns.

The rest of the book concerns itself with the nuts and bolts of smallmouth fishing - plenty of casting instruction, a chapter on how to present flies in various circumstances, and even a discussion of appropriate tackle. You might think that a chapter on bass tackle is "roll your eyes" worthy, as tackle has been written about ad infinitum, but it's not often you get the chance to listen to such a highly experienced angler talk about what they bring fishing with they - and most importantly why their "stuff" is important to them.

Try as I might, I can't think of anything glossed over or left out of this book. It has it all - from leader recipes that will provide good turnover for bulky bass flies - to a three page treatise on fishing eddies. It is very easy for me to recommend this book to anyone who wants to learn more about fishing for smallmouth bass.


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