Fly Fishing Adventures

Escape from Quarantine, Iowa Smallmouth Bass on the Fly

Escape from Quarantine, Iowa Smallmouth Bass on the Fly


We are so fortunate in central Iowa to have very solid smallmouth bass action so close to the metro.  If you know where to go, you can have an incredible afternoon of fly fishing for smallmouth bass within an hours drive from anywhere in Des Moines.  This Friday afternoon, I met up with my good friend Kevin Hansen, owner of Rod & Rivet, Des Moines’s Fly Shop.  I’ve known and have done business with Kevin for around 15 years, he and his wife Laura are great people, I highly suggest you check out his fly shop.  He has a very solid online business these days, so it doesn’t matter where you are, he can hook you up with decades of knowledge. Best yet, he’s an Iowa guy like me so you are going to get great customer service.  



Kevin tied up some special clouser minnows for our day, which as you can see worked incredibly well.  I was able to hit one great smallie near Lennon Mills camp ground early on a big articulated sculpin, but the rest were caught on Kevin’s clousers.  We started out at the camp ground at Lennon Mills in Panora, IA and walked the river south.  



Today, we fished El Jefe, 7/8 weight combo with 8 weight fly line.  It might have been a bit much for these little beasts, but. I like to fish a 7/8 weight for smallmouth to easily throw weighted flies.  Also, I might add that last fall in this river, I caught a 6-7 pound smallmouth which tested my 8 weight.  I like to be prepared.  We used a 9 foot 3X leader, and fished a few types of flies, the successful flies are below.  My advice, don’t overthink the rod or reel.  Get a solid kit, and get out there.  



The river was VERY clear and low, which was excellent.  We were able to clearly view the runs and pools.  We fished every type of fishy water, but had the most success with the slower deep water.  The water was still cold.  I mentioned to Kevin that I’ve been out 3-4 times and have yet to catch a smallmouth.  He told me that he just started catching them in the last week or so.  



The technique is rather simple during these cold water times.  Position yourself up river from a deep slow run, cast at a 45 degree angle down river, allow your fly and fly line to swing in the current, do not strip until the end of the swing, strip a few small short strips, and recast.  



Overall, we had a great day, I ended up landing around 10-12 smallmouth bass.  Next week, I’ll make it out on my paddle board in search of 10-20 pound carp to really test my fly fishing skills.  




Thanks for reading, and let me know if I can help you on your fly fishing journey.  




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