Classic Pro Tips: How to Rig for Smallmouth Bass

Kip Vieth, of Wildwood Float Trips, is known as a musky expert, but he has also written several posts about smallmouth bass. (See his Choosing the Right Fly Rod for Your Quarry is Vital to the Health of the Fishery and his Trout Bum of the Week entry.) Here, he demonstrates how he rigs a rod for chasing big smallmouths: what lines, leaders, tippets, and even knots to use.

Photo by Kip Vieth

7 thoughts on “Classic Pro Tips: How to Rig for Smallmouth Bass”

  1. Good tips. I think a lot of folks go fly fishing for smallmouth bass undergunned. In the Orvis Guide to Fly Fishing video on fly fishing for bass, Tom mentions using either a 7wt or 8wt fly rod.

  2. I too belive the 7-8 weights are the way to go. I live in the Midwest and find them to be the most versatile rods to have. You can always get a small fly or popper out with a larger rod but the larger bass flies and poppers are more difficult to cast. It is better to get the fish in quickly for a better chance to recover. I also find I am less fatigued because of less false casting to get the line out. I am excited to try the loop knot. Thanks

  3. Good tutorial. @Dave and David, Touche! I also have 7-8 and they’re really versatile. I used search endlessly for the most versatile rods, I couldn’t figure out what to get.. the guys at Skeena Spey here at Terrace,BC just helped me out. Now, I fly fish every week.. it’s the most fun I have.. I mean.. look at that river…

  4. I have been using my 9′ 5wt. with a Wulff Ambush line and I’m having the best time chasing smallies in Maine this summer. I am able to punch the bassiest weighted flies and Poly leaders out there as well gurglers and other air resistant flies with no problems. I have also had plenty of fun with a 3/4wt. fiberglass switch rod with a 210 grain Airflow Scagit Scout shooting head and Rio Grip Shooter running line. These new line technologies just plain ROCK. The 5wt. is more than up to the challenge of fighting big smallies and the experience is so much more fun than with a heavier outfit.

    1. Yes the new lines do ROCK. That being said over fighting a fish leads to a build up of lactic acid in the fish. They may seem fine as they swim away up but it can cause mortality. Quickly fight and guickly release a fish, for the sake of the fish and the fishery.

  5. That loop knot was a game changer. I have been tying one that seems 10x more difficult than that. THANKS

  6. Thanks for the simple and informative video. I’ve been using a 6wt fly reel and rod with big Bass leaders and flies. It does seem like the 6wt line itself just doesn’t have enough to get the flies out there sometimes. I’ll figure it out though!

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