Have you ever been float and fly fishing? It's just about my favorite way to catch bass anytime, but it's absolutely my favorite way to do it when the water's cold — below 55 degrees or so.
Last time we talked a little bit about what the float and fly is. This time I want to talk about why the float and fly is so effective.
Since you already know that the float and fly is nothing more than a little jig suspended beneath a bobber, you might be wondering why it's so effective and why it catches so many big fish — especially smallmouth — during the winter.
Well, the answer is just about as simple as the method. The reason the float and fly is so good is that it takes the right lure — a tiny jig that's just the size of the baitfish the bass are feeding on at this time of the year — and dangles it in front of their faces (or actually just above them) for a very long time. No other technique does all of that nearly as well.
Now some of you might tell me that a small jigging spoon will work as well, and there are times when it might — but not most of the time. If you fish the jigging spoon vertically, you'll have to be right on top of the bass, and that can spook them in extremely clear water.
If you take that same jigging spoon and cast it out, it's going to fall through the strike zone way too fast to get much attention. So, as you can see, although the jigging spoon has its merits, it's far from the best tool for the job.
What about a suspending jerkbait? You could pull it down to the right level and let it hang there until a bass gobbles it up, right? Well, yes, but there's a problem with jerkbaits, too. The ones that are big enough to get down to that wintertime strike zone are too big to match the hatch. And the ones that are about the right size won't dive nearly deep enough to reach the bass.
Crankbaits? No, they don't stay in the strike zone long enough and move too fast. You just can't work it slow enough and keep it deep enough.
Spinnerbaits? Pretty much the same problem.
What about swimming a jig? Not a bad idea, but controlling the depth of a jig that you're swimming is pretty tough to do and far from an exact science.
Nothing I've found will beat the float and fly for wintertime smallmouth. (But I'm always looking.)
So have you got your float and fly gear all ready to go? If not, and if you need some advice in putting a good float and fly outfit together, go back and re-read my last column. I gave some suggestions and recommendations there that should help you.
Now that you see why the float and fly is just the ticket for cold water smallmouth, we'll talk next time about fine-tuning your technique so you can get the most out of it.
Until next time, if you have any questions or comments, I'd love to hear from you. Please e-mail me at Stephen@thesmallmouthguru.com.