Category Archives: Smallmouth

NEW BOOK: The Best Bass Flies – Jay Zimmerman

Jay Zimmerman has released a new book called The Best Bass Flies.

Jay actually contacted me about content for this book and I was hoping mention of the Bucket Mouth League would have made it into the book, but it doesn’t appear that it did.

Anyway, I know Jay is into Largemouth Bass fishing as much as I am and I think it’s awesome that he wrote a book on it. He did a great job on his last book, The Best Carp Flies, so I expect this one to be even better.

Here is what Jay had to say about this book.
“Crazy amount of time and work and attention to the smallest detail came down to holding my breath and opening the box from the publisher…. This book nearly broke me. I am very satisfied with the outcome and hope anyone who ends up with a copy in their possession finds it entertaining, informative…or it at least spurs some new creative endeavor either at the vise or at the keyboard. Enjoy.”

Here is the description:
“Bass fishing (largemouth, primarily) is growing in popularity around the country; it is growing really fast in western states such as Colorado, Idaho, and Nebraska due to the accessibility (public water nearby), crowding of trout streams, and new cadre of anglers that prefer alternatives to trout. Jay Zimmerman features 18 cutting-edge patterns from around the country for largemouth and smallmouth bass, explains how to fish them, and has detailed tying steps. Because of how widespread bass (largemouth, smallmouth, spotted) are, this book should appeal to anglers around the country.”

So definitely check out Jay’s new book, I think you will thoroughly enjoy it, especially if you are into bass fishing on the fly.

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Filed under Largemouth, New Product, Smallmouth

Murdich Minnow Variant

From Piscator Flies:
“The Murdich Minnow was designed by Bill Murdich who also developed the Murdich Wrigger. Both are great fly patterns for warm water species like smallmouth and largemouth bass. The fly was originally tied for fishing in saltwater for Striped Bass but has crossed over into warm and cold water fishing. Use an appropriate hook for the target species and color the fly so that you mimic that target’s food items.”

Materials list:

Hook: Gamakatsu DV314
Thread: White 6/0 (140 d)
Tail: Bucktail
Flash: Pearl & Silver Flashabou
Collar: Ice Dubbing UV pearl
Body: Pearl Estaz
Hackle: UV Pearl Polar Chenille
Eyes: 7.0mm Living Eyes Wind

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Filed under Saltwater, Smallmouth, Streamers

Grayling, Michigan 2017 – FrankenFly

Well, another trip up to Grayling in Northern Michigan is in the books. This trip will definitely be one to remember because I couldn’t have asked for better fishing. Although, there was a really big one that got away, but I’ll explain that in a bit.

We stayed at a nice place right on the Au Sable River, which supplied nice wade fishing. I went out right away and caught a handful of brookies. The largest being about 9 inches long. Which is not too bad in this stream. What was great about this stretch, was that my son was enticed enough to ask me to take him fly fishing for the first time. He had used a Zebco type setup in the past, when he was around 7, but hasn’t fished in a couple of years. He is now 12. To my surprise, he came out and asked me to teach him how to fly fish. So I tied on a bright foam Chernobyl dry fly and taught him how to dry fly fish. He was moving down the stream and casting really well. We were able to land him a little brookie and he loved it! This was a fabulous part of the trip and another experience that made this trip memorable.

One day, I met up with Brian Kozminski of True North Trout, for an evening float. Brian’s truck was in the shop because of a collision with a deer, so one of Brian’s other guides, Randy Monchilov, brought his Adipose drift boat for us to use. All three of us went out and had a nice evening of fishing, catching many brookies and browns. I have to say, the Adipose boat is a dream to float in. It has great stability and I like the low side walls. One other item to mention, is that Brian had the Temple Fork Outfitters Axiom II fly rod with him, so I was able to cast this and get the feel for the rod. I loved it! I like the backbone this rod has. If you are familiar with TFO rods, it was like a BVK but with more backbone.
Brian and Randy are nice guys and know their stuff. If you are looking for a guide up in Northern Michigan or you want to use some TFO fly rods or float in an Adipose boat, contact True North Trout. They will no doubt get you into some fish!

In between fishing, I made some other stops into some fly shops, like Gates Au Sable Lodge & Fly Shop, Ron’s Fly Shop, and even drove over to Traverse City and visited The Northern Angler.

I went out on a couple of other special fly fishing excursions, with my good friend, Chris Lessway. First, we spent an entire day and evening fishing for smallmouth bass. We floated in Chris’s older, but still quite capable, Hyde drift boat. I shared time on the sticks, so Chris could fish as well. I want to thank Chris for putting up with my rowing. Even though I’m getting better in this area, I am still learning to keep the boat in the fishing zone. It takes time.

We were catching fish right off the bat using my Thunder Mutt streamer. As we fished throughout the day, we learned that the smallies were a little finicky on that day. They were always hitting on the pause. It helped that we were able to see them most of the time. So I would pause it for even longer and wait until they hit, to try and set the hook. We switched up and went through many flies, trying to find a fly they might like better. But in the end, it was the Thunder Mutt which I had in a Chartreuse/Olive and a white streamer that worked the best.

However, things changed when the evening came. Since the sun was going down, we decided to start throwing poppers. Besides morning, this is the best time to do this. We were also on a different stretch of river. The pause didn’t change in this regard either. I was getting most of my fish by doing a pop, a twitch, and then letting it sit. Then BAM!

So this brings me to the fish I mentioned in the beginning. I did a pop, twitch, and then let it sit. I saw this smallie coming up from the side and munch down on the popper. I set the hook and it felt like a nice fish, but I didn’t realize how nice. Then it started pulling line out and then it took its first jump and Chris and I at the same time, said, “Holy Crap!” This thing was a monster. I have never seen a smallie this big. It proceded to take 4 more jumps and I continued to fight it and give it line when needed. After the 5th jump, it pulled a bit and the line came loose. The thing you never want to happen, happened. The biggest smallie I had ever seen, broke the line and was gone. It was gut wrenching. Chris and I talked about that fish the rest of the week and I stil think about it. What a fish…

Then Chris said, “We will get another one.” So we continued on downstream and I continued to throw a Rainy’s popper that I had tied. Chris was right, we did get another good one. Granted, it was not near as big as the one we lost, but it was a really nice fish! This time, I was able to land it after a great fight.

Chris netted it for me and it was in the boat. This is the smallie that is pictured. I was extremely happy to get that fish. Needless to say, it was a fantastic day of smallie fishing.

The final time I went out with Chris, was a quick morning float, we did early one morning. This time we were after some trout. It was an overcast morning with slight sprinkles of rain at first, but that tapered off to be just a cloudy morning. We tried some streamers at first, but with no luck, we switched back to dry flies. Terrestrials seemed to be what was on the menu, so I stuck with that, catching some brookies and a nice little brown trout. As we made out way downstream, I kept casting to various spots, and then it happened. My personal best, brown trout, sipped in my dry fly and doubled my 7 weight rod over. Of course, after losing that monster smallmouth, Chris and I were on the edge of our seats, as I tried working this brown trout to the boat. Chris was calling out logs that the fish was trying to run under and I would guide it away from. Finally, I worked him to the side of the boat while Chris had the net ready and I was able to guide him in. The largest brown I had ever hooked, was landed!

Chris Lessway guides for the North Branch Outing Club, located in a small area called Lovells, right outside Grayling, Michigan. The NBOC provides lodging, a guide service, and a fly shop right on the Au Sable River. Chris is the head guide there. So, if you are looking for a terrific guide, give Chris a call at the North Branch Outing Club.

So this ended an awesome trip up to Northern Michigan. I want to apologize for not having the time to meet up with Jeff Marsh of High on the Fly and Michael Williams of Green Bus Designs. I had to cancel, but will definitely meet up with these two the next time for some fly fishing action!

Thank you for reading FrankenFly!


Filed under Dry Fly, Fly Fishing, Foam, FrankenFly, Michigan, Poppers, Smallmouth, Streamers, Trout flies

Fat Head Deceiver – Pat Cohen

The deer hair master, Pat Cohen, ties a Fat Head Deceiver.
Visit Pat’s website at

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Filed under Largemouth, Smallmouth, Streamers

Vlog 5 – Big Smallmouth and Topless Jeeps!!

Brian fishes smallmouth with Jeff Trigg of Ozark Sweetwater Guides.
Check out Jeff’s site:

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Filed under Brian Wise, Fly Fishing, Smallmouth

Photography of Kevin Feenstra

Kevin Feenstra is a fly fishing guide in Michigan. He is the owner of Feenstra Guide Service. If you don’t already follow Kevin on Instagram, you really should! He has some beautiful photos to share. You can find him on Instagram @kevinfeenstra
I have selected some of Kevin’s photos below, but there are so many that are good, I couldn’t include as many as I wanted. Enjoy!

1 Comment

Filed under Bowfin, Fly Fishing, Smallmouth, Steelhead

Clouser Hellgrammite

Martyn White shows us step by step instructions for Bob Clouser’s hellgrammite.
From Martyn:
“This suggestive imitation of a Dobsonfly larva is an excellent smallmouth fly, it’s full of movement and has an incredibly enticing action when fished dead drift or retrieved. I’ve tied an olive version here, but black or dark brown is also very effective.”

Materials list:
Hook: Tiemco 811s size 4
Weight: 0.020-0.030 lead wire
Thread: 3/0 to match body color
Abdomen: Wide cut Zonker strip
Thorax : Rabbit fur taken from the skin
Gills: grizzly hackle
Head: furry foam

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Filed under Smallmouth

Brandon Bailes Live – 2.0 Reaper & Warmwater PT


Reaper v2.0 and panfish nymph

Posted by Brandon Bailes on Monday, January 30, 2017

Perch and Bluegill 2.0 Reapers

2.0 Reaper

v2.0 Reaper material list:
2/0 worm hook
large dumbell eyes
small rattle
Ripple Ice Fiber
magnum zonker
barred crazy legs
Polar Chenille
1.5″ EP Foxy or chromatic brush

Warmwater PT using Gumball Purple FrankenDUB Nymph dubbing.

Warmwater PT

Warmwater PT material list:
Gamakatsu b10s size 10
small beadchain eyes
pheasant tail
small size wire ribbing
MFC skinny skin
Frankendub nymph dubbing mixed with wiggle legs

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Filed under Carp flies, Largemouth, Panfish, Smallmouth, Streamers

Sweet Baby Cray – Pat Cohen

You can get these materials at Pat’s website at

From Pat:
Tie the Sweet Baby Cray…my juvenile crayfish imitation using Cohen’s Crayfish bodies in small…

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Filed under Largemouth, Smallmouth

Small Intruder – OPST

How to Tie a Small Intruder

Learn how to tie a small, less than 2 inch long intruder, in under 2.5 minutes. Hopefully this will give you some ideas. In different color combinations these small intruders are extremely effective for trout, bass and steelhead. This one has a hook that’s definitely for trout, though. They are also pretty addictive to tie. Challenge yourself to see just how small you can go- and try them out on your local fishery- you might be surprised.

Posted by Olympic Peninsula Skagit Tactics on Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Olympic Peninsula Skagit Tactics show us how to tie a cool mini intruder. Not only can they be used for steelhead, but bass and trout as well. Be sure to check out their website or follow them on Facebook, they have some terrific products and great stuff happening.

From OPST:
“Learn how to tie a small, less than 2 inch long intruder, in under 2.5 minutes. Hopefully this will give you some ideas. In different color combinations these small intruders are extremely effective for trout, bass and steelhead. This one has a hook that’s definitely for trout, though. They are also pretty addictive to tie. Challenge yourself to see just how small you can go- and try them out on your local fishery- you might be surprised.”

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Filed under Smallmouth, Steelhead, Trout flies