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  • Writer's pictureDonavan Clary

Catching smallmouth in falling stained water

Updated: Aug 21, 2023

Catching Smallmouth Bass in Fast-Dropping stained River Waters

Catching smallmouth bass in a river with fast-dropping stained or muddy water can be both challenging and rewarding. These elusive fish require a strategic approach to trigger strikes even in less-than-ideal conditions. In this comprehensive blog, we'll explore the techniques, gear, and strategies that will help you succeed.

Understanding the Challenge:

Fast-dropping muddy water can disorient smallmouth bass, making them more cautious and reducing their visibility. It's important to recognize that during such conditions, the bass rely heavily on their senses of vibration and sound to locate prey.

1. **Adapted Gear Selection:**

Selecting the right gear is crucial when facing fast-dropping muddy waters. Opt for medium-action rods that offer enough sensitivity to detect subtle strikes. Spinning reels with higher gear ratios can help you quickly reel in a fish after the hook up.

With fly gear, use heavy sinking tip lines and flys that push water. Articulated stacked hair patterns are a favorite. Dark colors with higher contrast will be your best option. Cast them above ledges, down stream of current breaks and drag them slowly along the bottom.

2. **Vibrant and Noisy Lures:**

Choose lures that create strong vibrations and noise to attract the bass. Vibrating jigs, crankbaits with rattles, and spinnerbaits can be excellent choices. Utilize bright colors such as chartreuse, orange, and red to increase visibility in the murky water.

3. **Slow and Erratic Retrieve:**

A slow and erratic retrieve mimics a wounded or struggling prey, making it irresistible to smallmouth bass. Vary your retrieval speed, occasionally pausing to allow the lure/fly to hover enticingly.

4. **Focus on Structure:**

Smallmouth bass often seek refuge near structure in fast-moving waters. Target areas around submerged rocks, fallen trees, and eddies where the water slows down. These spots provide ambush points and protection from the strong currents.

5. **Depth Consideration:**

As water levels drop, smallmouth bass might move to deeper pockets where the flow is less intense. Experiment with different depths to locate their preferred holding areas. Extend and shorten leaders to adjust fly running depth. Down size leader and Tippet diameter to get a faster sink and less drag.

6. **Early Morning and Late Evening Advantage:**

Plan your fishing trips during the early morning or late evening. During these times, the light is subdued, and bass are more likely to venture out of cover to feed. Make an extra cast to the shaded side of cover or under over hanging vegetation that's shading a potential hold.

7. **Stay Patient and Persistent:**

Fishing in challenging conditions requires patience and persistence. Not every cast will yield a strike, but staying focused and adapting your techniques can lead to success.


Catching smallmouth bass in a river with fast-dropping stained or muddy water demands a combination of adaptability, knowledge, and skill. By understanding the fish's behavior, using the right gear, lures and flys, and employing strategic techniques, you can improve your chances of a successful fishing trip. Remember that each day on the water is a learning opportunity, and every smallmouth bass caught is a testament to your dedication and expertise as an angler. Never stop learning.

Have a great Monday and thank you for reading!

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