Early Season Smallmouth Gear Essentials:
- Clothing- This can be a bit tricky here in Northeastern Wisconsin. The weather as of late has varied from 80 to 30! The best solution is to be prepared for everything. Layering is the key to comfort, and that begins with a good wicking base layer, like Patagonia Capilene. Top that with the necessary thermal layers and good rain gear and you’re set for comfort all day. It may seem counter-intuitive, but sun protection pieces, like a neck gaiter, are critical. Not only will they protect you from the sun, but they’ll also keep your neck and face warm if the wind is cold. Also, be sure to have lip balm and sunscreen. It’s easy to forget these items if it’s cool outside, but sun and wind burn definite factors at play in May.
- Flies and Tackle- This list can certainly be lengthy, but as a rule, Smallmouth tend to prefer a slower presentation in the colder water. This means minnows and dredging patterns. The trick tends to be keeping the fly in the softer flows for as long as possible as the bass are not always willing to chase a bug very far. In the world of streamers, this often means fishing your fly on a sink tip or sinking line. This will get your fly to the right depth and keep it in the zone for an extended period of time. For the dredging flies, this means adjusting your leader. Instead of using a standard tapered leader, work with a straight piece of mono or fluorocarbon. This is the best way to sink a fly quickly and keep it there. Use the end of your line as your strike indicator. If it stops or darts, set the hook! In the terminal tackle side of things, you have to be prepared to handle pike.Pike are a blast when you are ready to deal with them, but they can be a bit cumbersome when you’re not. Have a nice long pliers to take out your flies without inflicting too much harm on the fish.
Check out some of our favorite bugs here: