I must admit I look at every body of water and every fish with a fly rod in mind. I've turned my back on Silver Creek during a massive brown drake hatch to go cast flies to carp in a muddy Snake River slough, where there was not ten zillion anglers crawling all over the place.
It is safe to say I believe somehow, some way, that just about any species of fish on this planet can be provoked to eat a fly. When I'm frustrated by the more difficult fish encounters I've had, the ones where getting a fish to eat a well-placed fly was not so easy, I sometimes circle back to the species that is my most willing river pull toy.
Smallmouth bass are well distributed in my home state Idaho. Living in an area that is known for blue ribbon trophy trout water one may ask why in the hell would you want to waste time casting a fly at smallmouth bass or a carp? Over the years I have often found myself foregoing a local trout river (mainly due to crowds) to cast flies into the smallmouth-rich water of the lower Snake River. They are like a good dog, always happy to see my fly no matter what my mood. Sure, there are days when they can be a bit fickle, but for the most part they are willing participants in this crazy game of fly fishing, day in and day out.
From early spring to late fall the smallmouth bass have consistently provided my friends, family and I with some great fly fishing. The short drive, eager fish and lack of angling pressure prove to be a perfect escape from the human world. Whether the flies are floating and popping on the surface or creepy crawling on the bottom of the river, the ditch pickles will play. I have introduced many young people and new fly anglers to fly fishing with the help of a smallmouth bass.
Size matters less with a smallie. Pound for pound these things pull, and pull hard. It's always fun to catch the bigger ones, but it is damn impressive just how hard a 12 inch bronzeback can pull.
The next time you just don’t feel like that hour long drive, dealing with other anglers or you just need a little fly fishing ego boost, don’t neglect the fish that may be swimming near you that seem to always want to play, like my Idaho smallmouth bass. It may be a saltwater fish like a jack crevalle, lady fish, or snapper, or it may be a warm-water fish like bluegill or carp in your local pond.
No matter what the species; All fish matter.