Spring Newsletter

Greetings from The Fly Factor staff,

We’ve continued to work hard all winter long fishing new haunts, preparing gear and boats, tying lots and lots of flies and planning new trips. We are extremely excited with all that we have planned for 2017! We offer smallmouth trips on three local rivers – the Kalamazoo, St. Joseph, and the Grand.  We also have upcoming destination trips! Mark has been working diligently on offering a Canadian brook trout expedition and inquire about our up north trout trips!  

  Photo:   Fly Factor client Ben Hughes with an April 2016 pre-spawn giant 20 ¼” personal best smallmouth on-the-fly. The fish ate a proven custom leach pattern Brett tied.

Photo: Fly Factor client Ben Hughes with an April 2016 pre-spawn giant 20 ¼” personal best smallmouth on-the-fly. The fish ate a proven custom leach pattern Brett tied.

Our favorite fishing trip - Kalamazoo River smallmouth is growing in popularity among fishing circles and we would love to expose you to it, teach you something new, and give you a shot at a trophy 19” plus smallmouth bass. The secret is out! Take a trip with TFF the most knowledgeable Kalamazoo River smallmouth gurus.  

NOTHING gets the heart pounding or the knees shaking like a river smallmouth smashing a streamer and erupting out of the water!

Our season primer summaries and gear list for smallmouth (almost all the following gear can be used for trout as well):

Recommended gear:

  • 6-9 wt. med-fast to fast rods. The new 7 wt. Echo Boost and Echo Boost Salt has performed excellent for streamers and is affordable but there are a myriad of other options.
    • Recommended – Echo, Sage, TFO, Ross, Orvis, Scott
  • Large Arbor 6-10 wt. reels – put plenty of thick backing on, typically over 200ft. for larger arbor reels. Closed seal drags are preferred but not essential.
    • Recommended – Sage, Ross, Lamson, Orvis
  • Full sinking lines – 150 grain to 250 grain full sinking line. Typically with a head length of 20-30 ft.
    • Recommended – Airflo Streamer Max – Short and Long, Scientific Anglers, RIO
  • Intermediate lines – A slower sinking rate line but still enough to submerge neutrally buoyant streamers.
    • Recommended – Scientific Anglers, RIO, Airflo
  • Bass/Muskie floating line – Aggressive head designs help to cast and roll heavier streamers and weighted flies.
    • Recommended – Airflo Bass/Muskie

April is pre-spawn and these fish are interested in fattening up in preparation for the task of spawning. Spring temperatures are warming the water and as the water warms so does that activity. Now is the time to catch a true giant as these fish are very robust. MDNR’s recent early catch and release season has allowed us to target fish before the traditional Memorial Day opener. For fly anglers that’s fantastic. Fishing can be great this time of year but tactics need to be dictated by the mood and fish are usually concentrated. It can be feast or famine. Slower streamer tactics (dredging) and weighted lines rule, but a warm up and aggressive streamer tactics can takeover. Trip expectations should be swinging for the fences. Day trips are the norm and longer days covering water can pay.

  Photo:   Fly factor client Austin Lortz with an April 2016 pre-spawn trophy 20” smallmouth also his personal best on-the-fly. The fish ate the same leach fly as above.

Photo: Fly factor client Austin Lortz with an April 2016 pre-spawn trophy 20” smallmouth also his personal best on-the-fly. The fish ate the same leach fly as above.

May is the month you shouldn’t miss! Weather tends to be more consistent and this is when you get a shot at multiple big fish days. Anytime of the day is productive. The middle to end of May is when the majority of spawning takes place for smallmouth. We DO NOT target spawning fish. We leave fish alone on beds. It can happen but an immediate release is the best option - males will aggressively protect nests. You’ll rarely catch a female sitting on a bed like you would a largemouth. The timing of the spawn is a combination of environmental factors like temperature, position of the sun, and day length. The spawn can take place very quickly however. Fishing can get very good with hungry pre-spawn and post-spawn females. Large spawned out females can get lock jaw but spawning is not usually symmetric across the board and there is usually a willing fish. Tactics consist of fishing weighted streamers, swimming large neutrally buoyant streamers and topwater (froggin).  

  Photo:   Mark with an impressive 19” smallie caught in early May 2016. Mark used a weighted crayfish streamer pattern (Skyes craw).

Photo: Mark with an impressive 19” smallie caught in early May 2016. Mark used a weighted crayfish streamer pattern (Skyes craw).

  Photo:   Fly Factor client Suzanne Stone with her largest smallie to date, a beautiful 19” fish. She caught it in late May 2016. This fish took a weighted crayfish streamer (Skyes craw) developed by Skye Fissette, same as above, tied by Brett.

Photo: Fly Factor client Suzanne Stone with her largest smallie to date, a beautiful 19” fish. She caught it in late May 2016. This fish took a weighted crayfish streamer (Skyes craw) developed by Skye Fissette, same as above, tied by Brett.

June is a sleeper month. Most fish have finished spawning and are aggressive. Fishing can be productive all day but the closer we get to July we focus more on mornings and late afternoons. Fish are hungry and tactics are dictated by fish mood, but terrestrials and prey fish, macroinvertebrates and bethic bugs (crayfish etc.) make up a broad-based diet. Streamers – weighted and neutrally buoyant, topwaters, and large nymphs or buggy flies are all producers. Some of our best days have come in June.  

   Photo :   Fly Factor client Shane Snyder with an 18” post-spawn June 2016 smallie that ate a large neutrally buoyant streamer (D & D). Big fly and a big meal for a hungry top-notch predator.

Photo: Fly Factor client Shane Snyder with an 18” post-spawn June 2016 smallie that ate a large neutrally buoyant streamer (D & D). Big fly and a big meal for a hungry top-notch predator.

   Photo:    Brett with an 18” post-spawn June 2016 smallie that aggressively ate a frog fly he’s developed for the surface.

Photo: Brett with an 18” post-spawn June 2016 smallie that aggressively ate a frog fly he’s developed for the surface.

We look forward to providing an exciting day on the water! Book a trip soon. Dates are filling up fast! Look for our next newsletter coming this Summer. Send us a message via email theflyfactormi@gmail.com or call 269-274-2195 if you would like any custom tied flies for smallmouth or trout tied by Brett and Mark. Both have developed innovative, proven fly designs as well as popular flies tied with the highest quality hooks and materials. Custom orders will be tailored to what you would like to target. Ask about our streamer and topwater fly packages.

-The Fly Factor