Maryland Bass Fishing Spots

Fly Fishing the Clouser Minnow for Susquehanna River Smallmouth Bass

Clouser Minnow for Susquehanna River smallmouth bass

We have covered a lot already here at Dock Talk 365 about smalmouth bass fishing on the Susquehanna River in Pennsylvania and Maryland. But today we talk to fly fishing bass angler Corey DeVaughn about fishing the Clouser Minnow for Susquehanna River smallmouth bass.

How long have you been fly fishing the Susquehanna River for smallmouth bass? 

I’ve been fishing the Susquehanna River since 2013, and fly fishing it since 2015, so only about 3 years now. I mostly fish the river in Maryland, from the Conowingo Dam on Route 1  to the Susquehanna State Park, just a few miles up from where it becomes the Susquehanna Flats and the Chesapeake Bay. A few things that make this section an excellent fishery includes the number of fish, the amount of fishable water and being on a big wide river give you plenty of room to cast with few obstacles.

What do you love about fly fishing for Susquehanna River smallmouth bass?

Shallow water smallmouth fishing and fly fishing go really well together. I often find myself able to fish shallow flats and shoals that gear fishing friends of mine get stuck in on the first cast. Combine that with the aerial acrobatics of the smallmouth bass in this section, and catching them becomes a blast!

When did you first use a Clouser minnow for Susquehanna River smallmouth bass?

The first two flies that I used for smallmouth bass were wooly buggers and Clouser minnows. I was pretty successful almost immediately with it, so much so that it has become a favorite and staple in my fly box. 

Cody DeVaughn with a Susquehanna River Smallmouth Bass
Cody DeVaughn with a Susquehanna River Smallmouth Bass

What are the keys to presenting the Clouser minnow for Susquehanna River smallmouth bass? 

The most important thing with the clouser is getting it near fish. They are pretty slim flies that don’t move a lot of water and can go unnoticed in heavier flows. 

Is this a fly that works in all seasons? 

Yes the clouser has worked for me in all seasons, and in a variety of different fisheries. My favorite time to fish it on the Susquehanna is summer or early fall when there is a lot of bait around.

As far as presentation for different seasons speed is usually the biggest factor. In the winter sometimes it needs to be bounded along the bottom and in summer sometimes you can’t move it fast enough to keep it away from them.

What rod and reel setup are you using for the Clouser Minnow for Susquehanna River Smallmouth Bass? 

I use 2 rods for smallmouth, a 9ft 6wt and a 9ft 8wt. Sometimes I’ll use a smaller Clouser on the 6wt with floating line and some kind of larger pattern on the 8wt with a moderate sink tip. This lets me fish two different water columns without making any changes to my gear.

What color patterns do you use for the Clouser? 

Overtime my favorite color patterns for Clouser’s, or really any fly has become all natural colors. Brown, tan, black and olive are my favorite, usually with a white belly, sometimes one solid color. Occasionally I’ll use some all white ones.

The water clarity from day to day affects what color to choose. Generally a good rule is the darker the water the darker the fly.  

Smallmouth Caught out of the Wilderness Systems Radar
Smallmouth Caught out of the Wilderness Systems Radar

I also want to ask about your kayak. You are fly fishing out of the Radar. Why is this kayak good for fly anglers?

The Radar is a great all around kayak from salt to fresh water. I was really interested in the Helix pedal drive and so far it has worked quite well for fly fishing. The seat is tall and in the high position casting is no problem. If you choose to stand you will need a stripping basket, particularity if you have the pedal drive. You can’t use the pedal drive everywhere, in fact I don’t use it on the Susquehanna, but you don’t need to have it for the kayak to paddle well and that’s what makes it a great choice. 

Have you had to make any modifications or add accessories for the Radar to help you on the water while fly fishing for Suskie smallies?

I don’t have anything to special, just a standard kayak fishing rig with a depth finder. If you bring more than one rod having a fly rod holder is nice because you will know the rod not in use is secure. 

Overall what advice do you have for anyone fly fishing the Clouser minnow for Susquehanna River smallmouth bass?

I would have to say some of the best things about the Clouser are that it can be fished shallow or deep and in a fast or slow motion making an extremely versatile fly. Another piece of advice would be that slight changes in size can make a lot of difference so its worth having a few sizes on hand.

One final tip I have is once a fly is worn out I will set it aside to be retied into a new Clouser. It’s a pretty easy fly to tie and since it rides point up they don’t get lost too often.

Thank you Cody! Will be following on Instagram @cd_flies