Written by: Tom Workman, Craftsman Outfitters/River Quest Charters

Summer is a great time of year to catch smallmouth bass on the fly.
All photos by Tom Werkman

Summer is upon us and that typically means low, clear water in the rivers. This is one of our favorite times for smallmouth bass fishing as you can actually fish them from sight. Our flies for these conditions are smaller (size 6 to 8). bass popper in yellow, white, black and blue, fished weighing 10 to 12 pounds. We like that too Fluttering Blue Girl and various dragonfly patterns. You shouldn’t throw anything too big or flashy, as smallmouths are easily startled in these conditions. Overall it’s a challenging endeavor, but don’t be frustrated – with the right approach, you can still net a few of these wary fish.

1685967656 478 Pro Tips Low water tactics for smallmouth bass | AdayAwayFishingAdventures.com
While the shallow, clear water in summer makes it easier to spot fish, it also makes it easier for fish to see you.

The most important detail is that you Don’t take off your fly. Instead, cast as far as you can and let your fly drift with the current, making stack corrections as needed to achieve a smooth drift. Every once in a while you can move the fly back and forth a little, but you can’t bring it back. Patience is key here: resist the urge to pick up your fly and toss it again, and just keep it moving with the flow for as long as possible. When in a boat, make sure your fly swims well ahead and try to minimize the disturbance from the rudders. The same goes for waders: minimize the pressure of your footsteps and try to take a few steps downstream with the fly as it floats.

1685967656 254 Pro Tips Low water tactics for smallmouth bass | AdayAwayFishingAdventures.com
This burly little one has been fooled with a dead drift bass popper.

Make sure you stretch your drifts as much as possible as the perch may follow your flight and wait until the last minute to strike. You can either explode on the fly or slurp it down gently, so be prepared for both. We’ve landed some of our biggest bass of the summer in crystal clear water at depths of up to 60cm. Just try to go slow and be patient and eventually you will succeed.

Tom Werkman is the owner/operator of Craftsman Outfitters And River Quest Charters.