Smallmouth Bass On A Fly

Ontario's Sunset Country is blessed with thousands of pristine rivers and lakes filled with trophy-sized fish. Anyone who has caught smallmouth on a fly rod, they know how incredibly exciting it can be, especially with topwater flies.

Ontario's Sunset Country is blessed with thousands of pristine rivers and lakes filled with trophy-sized fish. Those that have caught smallmouth on a fly rod know how incredibly exciting it can be, especially with topwater flies. The smallmouth bass here are large, with three-pound fish being the norm, but many four-to-seven-pound specimens are regularly caught.

If you want to enjoy some good topwater action for bass, May through to mid-July is your best option. For subsurface, the season is virtually from spring to fall for smallmouth but you need to bring the right equipment. Most anglers use 6 to 8-weight fly rods in moderate-fast to fast action. A simple click-pawl reel is all you need for fighting these fish. However, it is strongly recommended you bring a number of line choices to help you fish all parts of the water column effectively.

The best choices are an intermediate fly line, a WF floating line, and a full-sink or sink-tip fly line. The floating line is perfect for topwater and fishing down to approximately 4-5 feet in depth. The intermediate fly line is ideal for subsurface presentations down to 8-12 feet in depth. A full-sink line in Type III or Type IV is ideal for getting down near the bottom when the bass are suspended near the deep structure. This line will also help you catch walleye when the opportunity is available. 

Top flies to use include: 

  1. Topwater – medium to large-sized poppers in yellow, black, and green. Both plastic and deer hair-type poppers both work well;
  2. Streamers – muddler minnows, Scottys McFly, and woolly buggers are very effective for smallmouth. Sizes should be sizes 8 to 2. The best colour choices are: white, black, olive, purple, and tan; and
  3. Crayfish – when smallmouth bass are related to structures like rock piles and submerged humps or points, try using an intermediate fly line with a short leader connected to a crayfish pattern. Fished slowly, this pattern can be deadly in July and August.

The number of rivers and lakes that hold good populations of large smallmouth bass in Northwestern Ontario is vast. Best of all, fishing here is affordable and accessible. 

Some recommended lodges for smallmouth bass in NW Ontario:

  1. Hawk Lake Lodge
  2. Slippery Winds Lodge
  3. Branch's Seine River Lodge
  4. Anderson's Lodge
  5. Camp Narrows Lodge
  6. Fireside Lodge

About Colin McKeown

Colin McKeown is the producer of The New Fly Fisher Television Series, and several documentary series for the Outdoor Life Network, the Discovery Channel and the History Channel. With a passion of fly fishing, Colin's goal is to help both novice and veteran fly fishers everywhere by giving them a top-quality fly fishing series that will make them better anglers. Known for his keen sense of humour, Colin has two wonderful children and is married to the most understanding and patient woman in the world. 

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