Housy Smallmouth Report: White flies on the wane?

I fished from 5:30pm to 9:00pm. The hatch was decent enough, but nowhere near the numbers I saw last Thursday. Here are some of the lessons I’m learning.

Spot A was an area I’ve never fished before, below the 4/7 concrete bridge. A big, gnarly riffle that dumps into deep pool, then an even deeper pool, before transitioning into a placid run. I was disappointed to hook only one bass. I can’t imagine that there aren’t a lot of fish living in that stretch. Spot B was within the TMA. I tossed my TeQueely into some frog water on the edge of a riffle. The bass slammed into the fly the moment it penetrated the surface membrane. Best hit of the year, any species. Always investigate that transition water between current and frog.



Think a Housy smallmouth might like a white fly soft hackle like this? (Size 10 hook, cream hackle, fibers, and white Pearsall’s.) You betcha. Trout, too. I took a pretty foot-long brown on this fly (no picture — quick landing and release), as well as numerous bass. Fishing a team of wet flies pre-hatch is sound in practice, but it can get problematic with smallies. I was fishing a team of two and had to cut one fly off due to excessive doubles. Same problem with the soft hackle I had dropped off my White Wulff and Convertible dries: too many doubles. I know, life’s tough.



White flies get all the juice, but let’s not neglect their smaller photo-negative, the black caddis. Swarms of these flies everywhere. I even took a dozen home with me in my Jeep. Going to tie up some Black Magic soft hackles, about a 14-16.



Last year, the bass would attack a streamer even if they were feeding on something small on the surface, and especially as dusk made its way toward night. Not so this year during the white fly hatch. So maybe smallmouth are more trout-like than I give them credit for. I was targeting one bigger fish that kept rising in some shallows — I got him to bump the streamer, but it was at best a half-hearted attempt. This dude came to net on a White Wulff size 12. 


7 comments on “Housy Smallmouth Report: White flies on the wane?

  1. Alton Blodgett says:

    Steve, sorry to hear about your “ordeal”. 🙂 Any chance you could post the Black Magic soft hackle recipe?
    I fished the Shetucket for a couple of hours this morning and scored on a few nice smallies using an olive Gartside soft hackle streamer on a short sink tip. A surprise bonus was a 15″ rainbow (the water is warming up).

    • Steve Culton says:

      Black Magic is an old English pattern. Simple. Black silk body, peacock herl thorax tight to the hackle, black hen hackle. Glad you’re getting out, and the water is much higher and cooler than it was last year at this time!

  2. David says:

    Hi Steve,

    I just came found your site and have enjoyed the posts, thanks for sharing tips and flies. I was there a few weeks ago and did well with a Pat’s legs, mostly brown. Planning to go back at the end of the month but I’m assuming the white hatch will be done by then. Is there any other hatch I should be getting ready for ?
    Thanks again,


    • Steve Culton says:

      My pleasure, David. White flies will be a distant memory by the end of August. It’s a 1-2 week event, with varying stages of intensity (it was weak last night compared to a week ago). I don’t think there’s another hatch on the Hous that rivals the juice and mojo of the white flies. Of course, you can catch fish on the river any time.

  3. I Michael Postol says:

    Hi Steve,

    Great photos, as usual. I believe that you have mentioned the camera you use in the past, but I don’t remember. Would you please tell us what you use, and any photo tips you think would be helpful on the stream.

    Again, thanks for a Great Presentation to the Long Island Flyrodders!

    Tight lines,


    • Steve Culton says:


      Those photos were all taken on an Olympus TG-4. For the fly shots (both living and imitation) I used the macro setting on the camera. If your camera has specific shooting functions (macro, low light, portrait, landscape, etc.) explore them and see how they work for you. Night/dusk shots are tough because the flash tends to flare up the subject and the water. My two best pieces of advice are: take lots of photos to get one good one (though be aware that fish are best not kept out of the water for extended periods); and learn to edit your photos (crop, contrast, lighten/darken, warm/cool colors, etc.).

      Thanks again for having me!

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