Largemouth vs. Smallmouth – What is the difference?

So, you are going out Fly Fishing for Bass – there are some differences between the Bass caught in Michigan and many other states. Two of the most common Bass are the Largemouth Bass – often called a Largie and the Smallmouth Bass – called the Smallie. 


As their name implies, the most distinct difference is the size of their mouth; a Largemouth’s mouth extends beyond its eye, and the Smallmouth does not. 


Another distinction is their coloring; a Smallie tends to be a brownish color, and the largemouth more of a greenish shade. The striped pattern is different between the two – the Largie has a stripe that is darker in color and runs horizontally from the eye to the tail. The Smallie has vertical running lines that are less prominent. 

One of the most important differences for an angler to know is where you catch them. Both are in rivers and lakes but like different conditions. Largies like slightly warmer water and are often found in ponds or lakes. If you can see aquatic vegetation, like lily pads, they will be hiding under it. A fly thrown on a lily pad then plopped into the water next to it will be sure to elicit a strike from the hiding largemouth. 


Smallmouth like a cooler, moving water and are most at home in a stream or river with a rocky bottom, borders, or ledges.


Temperature is essential; a largemouth will be found closer to shore, where the temperatures are around 80 to 90 degrees. A smallie will hang out in deeper, cooler water with temperatures of 78 to 88 degrees. 


Both are aggressive predators. When flyfishing, swing a wooly bugger or streamer for underwater action. For topwater, use a popper or my favorite white gurgler on topwater, and you will indeed receive a strong attack of your fly. They are my favorite warm water species to target due to their aggressive takes and intense fight. 



Bass – Warm Weather Species

 The warmer weather is brutal on our cold water streams in Michigan. As the weather warms, so do our rivers – taking a toll on our resident trout. For survival, they slow down and attempt to find cold deeper water. A safe bet for our catch and release is to turn our attention to the furious Bass, a warm water species that can bring a thrill to Fly Fishing with their hard bites and wild flipping to throw the hook. An easy fish to target and a lot of fun.  In the next couple of weeks, I will be sharing the basic information on fly fishing for Bass – so get ready o to have a lot of fun targeting this species.  

Tying “Junk” Flies for High Water Conditions: Four Simple Nymph Patterns

Waist deep in water that was pulling and tiring my legs, I began to wonder if fishing today was a good idea. The water was high, and the bite was terrible as I changed my fly for the sixth time that day. Peering into my box, I thought what is radical in my box – in my mind; I figured this was my last shot for the day. After a minute, I pulled out a Wet Skunk, a fly designed by Earl Masen of Grayling, Michigan. I threw my line up toward a log allowing it to sink in the water. Bam – my first hit struck immediately. Within a short time, I had landed four trout – another successful day. This video shows you how to tie three flies – The squirmy Worm, An Egg Pattern, and The Mop Fly – all good Flies for higher water conditions and overcast days. I have also included instructions on the Wet Skunk, my personal favorite for these water conditions. So when the fish are not biting, water is high, and the day is overcast try one of these flies – you may find a successful day on the water.


                                                           ➥➥    Wet Skunk Pattern

Joe Humphreys | Nymphing Techniques

The spring can be a challenging time for Trout fishing in Michigan. Temperatures are variable, and the spring rains add to the difficulty,  causing a significant variation in water depths. This time of year can also vary in what you need to use to catch the trout. On warm days you may find an exceptional hatch of Bluewing Olives or another early hatch. Then on another day, you may need to fish deep. These are the colder days or when the water levels are high as the trout often hugging the bottom of the river during these times.

When water levels are variable, I have learned to master the skill of Nymphing and have found this a very successful technique. In this video, Joe Humphery, often called a legend in the flyfishing world, demonstrates the art of nymphing. So sit back, grab your favorite beverage, and learn from a professional!


Brown Trout Caught Nymphing

Start Fly Fishing – Basic Equipment


  Equipment That is Necessary or Nice to Have
Fly Rod – this can be purchased as a kit or in individual pieces – rod, reel, and fly line. My first reel was one that I purchased a kit from Cabela’s; it included everything I needed in one box. Eventually, I learned about specifics I liked in a flyrod and have since bought one that fulfilled my needs.
Flies – look at where you plan to fish and find out what people are using in that area. My box always contains some basic flys such as a Hares Ear, Wooly Bugger, and a Parachute Adams. In the beginning, it is easier to purchase a few flies. As your skill grows, you might find it fun to tie your own flies.

Fishing Bag – While you can carry your flies in a fly box, it is nice to have something to put your needed supplies in – I have an Orvis Sling Pack with the Fishe design. A perfect bag that is pretty too. 

Net – While some people do not use them, it is very nice to be able to catch and take a few pictures of your trophy trout.

A practice Rod – this is a stick with yarn and a small cluster of yarn at the end. You can make your own practice rod or purchase one. I spent hours in front of the television casting at an object – a shoe, a piece of lint, the front door. I was amazed at the improvement I made on the river after practicing at home. Orvis now sells a practice rod that includes a few velcro fish that you can aim for and catch. 
Waders – if you plan to fish Rivers or anywhere you will be going into the water waders are a necessity. They will keep your legs dry and warm. The nice thing about waders is they are now making many durable waders designed especially for a woman. They have waists intended for a woman’s curves and colors that are pretty. A wader will come in stocking foot (without boots) or with the boots attached.

Wading Boots – If you have stocking foot waders, you will need boots or shoes to wear in the water. They come in felt bottoms, rubber bottom, or with metal studs.

Trout Fishing

In Michigan, the opening day of trout fishing, on the last Saturday in April, is anticipated with excitement. It is a time when those who have avoided the cold water temperatures throughout the winter are finally able to hit the river. For those of you that are new to fly fishing, I will cover some of the basics. For those that have fished for a while, I will spend time sharing some tips and stories of flyfishing adventures. So hang tight as we spend some time look at Trout Fly Fishing.

                 “A trout is a moment of beauty known only to those who seek it.”                                                                             -Arnold Gingrich


Hit the link below for some great tips


                                                                  ⇨  Beginning Fly Fishing 

Steelhead Dreams Part 2 – British Columbia Steelhead Fly Fishing

As promised, here is Steelhead Dreams Part 2 – hopefully, you will enjoy this video as much as I do. I feel this is a fitting close to  Steelhead Season for now.  We will continue, but for now, I am going to turn my attention toward Trout fishing another favorite of mine. So enjoy and maybe in the comments share some of your Steelhead Dreams.


May you have Tightlines throughout this entire season!

Steelhead Dreams Part 1 – by Todd Moen

Everyone has their moments. You know the time when it is like Wow, I want to do this – this video was one of mine. It still brings excitement when I watch it – it is about a guide, Hannah Belford, who lives in British Columbia. A female angler who steelheads in some phenomenal rivers. I found this video before I had caught my first Steelhead and before I had learned to Spey Cast. Watching this video was what pushed me to accomplish both of these tasks. I hope you enjoy this video as much as I do. Next week I will share Steelhead Dreams 2 as we close this chapter on Steelhead for now and turn our attention to Trout fishing.


One of my earlier Steelhead, though not very big I was clearly excited

Steelhead 101- Fly’s You Must have in Your Box

Steelhead travel from the Great Lakes into the streams and rivers from late October until early May. The fish that arrive in October will overwinter in the rivers until spring when they spawn before returning to the Great Likes. The October steelhead is the first to spawn on beds of fine gravel often in March. The spring run steelhead will follow in April before making their journey back to the Great Lakes – this pattern will continue many times until the steelhead dies.

So what are they eating during these times? The October steelhead is on fire as they arrive into the rivers. This can make for some exciting fishing with burning drags and jumping as you work to land this fantastic fish. They are eating voraciously, getting ready to winter in the river. The fish feed heavily on the Chinook and King Salmon eggs that are spawning in the fall. They also feed on the aquatic life in the river and will even turn onto a shrimp looking pattern – something they were familiar in the depths of the Great Lakes.

Spring Steelhead, while focused on spawning, will gobble up an egg pattern of the right color, or a stonefly floating past them. This is an exciting time to fish, and many steelhead fishers look forward to the spring steelhead.

Conditions during both times of year play a huge role in what will be effective. In higher, cloudy water, your selection should be large, bright, contrasting, and can be unnatural – you are just catching the attention of the fish. Whereas the opposite is true in clear, low waters – the color selection must be as close to natural as possible. This varies from river to river.


                                           The top five flies that I always keep in my box are :

                                                   Hex Nymphs
                                                Steelhead wooly bugger in various colors
                                                Egg Patterns in various colors
                                                Stonefly in various sizes



                                                                              Clown Egg Pattern

An interesting list of:
Spring Steelhead Flies

Rigging for Chuck & Duck

The day was cold, and the wind was a fierce howl moving down the river, chilling my boat mate and me. It was becoming frustrating as I swung my fly and it landed only inches from the boat, blowing closer to me each time. I watched my friend pull her line in and begin to change the rig on her line. Curiously, I asked her what she was doing – this was my introduction to “Chuck and Duck.”
In this article, I am going to go through the basics of Chuck and Duck, line set up and share when this method works best.

So what is Chuck and Duck you may be asking? It was first introduced in the early 1970s by a Fly Fisherman – Ray Smidt – a well know guide in the state of Michigan. It can be called bottom bouncing, dead drift, or the name that I learned Chuck and Duck. 

This method is very effective for catching steelhead – especially on the cold, windy day, as I had experienced. This type of day will be when the steelhead are often lying in the deeper holes or along the edges of drop-offs. The rig used for this method is set up different than traditional fly fishing. It involves a heavyweight that will allow the line to sink rapidly to the bottom – the video by Brain from The Northern Angler Fly Shop shows how to set your line up – so I will not explain this now. 
To cast this line, start by striping as much line as you think you will need. It is easiest if you coil the extra line loosely into your hand. This will lessen the tangling of the line. Then with the rig dangling at the tip of your rod, “Chuck it ” toward the target. It is lobbed as if you were attempting to land the weight into a basket. After the cast, it is then fished as usual. You will feel the weight bouncing off the bottom of the river. Be alert if you feel any tug, a stop, or anything different set the hook – remember hook sets are free. I have landed several trophy fish with this method – so give it a try and let me know if it is an effective way for you too.