Jan 15, 2011

Book Review: Fly Fishing for Smallmouth in Rivers and Streams

For Christmas 2010, I received about 1000 total pages worth of book to read - Santa was more than generous. Luckily, I enjoy reading and hate to get cold. Illinois winters are a perfect situation for someone in my...uh...situation. So without further ado, I present my review of Fly Fishing for Smallmouth in Rivers and Streams by Bob Clouser.

It is the opinion of many that Bob Clouser is the preeminent authority on fly fishing for smallies. Who has not heard of the Clouser minnow, or the Clouser madtom, or the Half and Half, et cetera, et cetera. He's either a marketing genius or magnet (I'm not sure which) because there are a multitude of products with the Clouser name. Because of this reputation, and because I'm always game for some learnin', I started asking for Clouser's book about three years ago. I'm one of a handful of fly rodders in the area so our local brick 'n mortar stores apparently felt no need to carry it. Well luckily the in-laws pulled through in 2010 and I unwrapped a shiny new copy on Christmas day.

The book is in the "coffee table" format, was originally published in 2007 and is 222 pages long. I normally avoid coffee table books, because of their size they get in the way when I want to wipe put my feet up. However, for this book I made an exception due to the wealth of knowledge it contains. Also, you shouldn't be intimidated by it's page count, at 12"x8" the idea of reading that many pages can seem daunting. However I assure you it is an easy read. The jacket price is $39.99 US, but a quick internet search shows you'd be a sucker to pay that much. The book is old enough now to get marked down, so go find a deal.

One way to know it is an easy read is to look at all the pictures...all the gall darn beautiful glossy pictures. This book is chuck full of gratuitous fish pics, gorgeous river scenes and helpful step by step instructions; each of which takes up space where text would normally reside. One example of the step-by-step photo instructions is shown at right, where Clouser demonstrates a successful method to swing boat anchors heavy bass flies. There, just like that you only have to read 220 more pages! Pictures like this really speak to me because I've spent countless hours pouring over verbiage about fishing technique, and I'm always left with the sneaking suspicion that I have no clue what's going on.

Ten chapters fill the book and cover topics from an introduction to the species, to fly pattern suggestions, to my personal favorite: "Ten Tips to Catch a Trophy." What are the ten tips? Well I can't say if I'd like to avoid a summons but I think they are worth your while techniques and strategies that may put you over the top. Another helpful chapter was "What They Eat," in which the author outlines a handful of prominent dinners. Most of those are no secret, but the chapter also provides a fly pattern and fly recipe for each food item.

The other way I am confident this book is an easy read is how quickly I conquered it. It took about six or seven bedtime stories to wrap things up. I even think some of the information stuck to my dense skull. For example, I've always lamented about bass getting lock jaw during bright sunny days. In this book, Clouser provides some insight into the phenomenon and even some tips on how to coax 'em to bite under a blue bird sky. That is the single most valuable bit of information I was able to take from the book. What will you find out?

Disclaimer: As with all reviews on Lunker Hunt, the preceding review is my honest opinion, I received Fly Fishing for Smallmouth in Rivers and Streams as a Christmas present from my in-laws. I assume they paid something for it but I don't really care how much. Lunker Hunt is not sponsored by or associated with the author or publisher and is accepting no compensation, monetary or otherwise, in exchange for this review. My independent status may change in the future but, as of the date of publication, no relationship other than described above has been pursued or established.


  1. One the most useful sections of the book for me was in the back where other fly fishers recommend their favorite Smallie streams. I found one of my favorite places among those pages. I also got the book back in 2007, so its had some time to collect dust on the shelf. I may pull it back out to freshen up before spring. If there is one other book that rivals it as a best book on the topic it would be Tim Holschlag's "Smallmouth Fly Fishing"... it's a little less "coffee table" and a lot more useful tips. I highly recommend reading them both.

  2. Jay,
    Thanks for mentioning the "favorite streams" section. I enjoyed reading it, but the closest one listed was about 6 hours away! Made me wish I had time to drive to all those places, each one sounded fun.

    I'll check out Holschlag's book once I work through the book back log I've got right now. Thanks for the tip.

  3. Well, I'm not a smallie fisherman per se, but the book sounds interesting. I think your review was top notch and if Jay agrees then it must be good. I keep saying that next time I go to Ohio I'll be better prepared.

  4. Hey Clif. Thanks for the review of the book. Next time I'm in Borders I'll see if I can find it, if not there is always the Internet.

    FYI, California will suck out all the money they can from you, including charging you for a new fishing license if you lose your's. Don't forget, California has 26 billion deficit.


  5. @Coed Fisher - It would be an interesting read, even if you never see a bass.

    @Tubeman - Our borders didn't carry it, neither did the B&N. However it is everywhere on the intertubes. I hadn't forgotten about the Cali deficit. It's the only one worse than Illinois'. We just got a 66% tax increase, that way the can afford to run the debt up even higher. Yippee, yea big government!

  6. Well done Clif. Books with a high picture to word ratio are always tops with me. I'm still waiting for someone to expand upon the "pop up book" theme for adults. It's a void in the market screaming to be filled.

    And when I say adult pop up books...well, I only sorta mean THAT kind.

  7. @T-Rage: Safety glasses required I assume.

  8. Clif,
    Where are you located? If you're somewhere in the Midwest, Tim's book has a lot of good info on streams in that region. It seemed most of the favorite streams in Bob's book were either east or west... I don't remember much love for the Midwest in there.


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