In this episode, learn about Smallmouth Bass Flies with Jake Villwock!

Show Notes with Jake Villwock on Smallmouth Bass Flies. Hit play below! 👇🏻

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(Read the Full Transcript at the bottom of this Blog Post)


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Episode Chapters with Jake Villwock on Smallmouth Bass Flies

1:34 – Jake shares with us his first memory of fly fishing. His first fish on a fly was a blue gill and his second was a striper. Stripers and saltwater have always been one of his favorite things to target.

Jake and his father, a commercial fisherman and competitive bass angler, who introduced him to fishing (Photo via:

3:52 – He has been known for smallmouth bass fishing. He wrote a book titled Smallmouth Bass Flies – Top to Bottom.

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5:02 – He talks about the similarities between smallmouth bass and trout.

7:24 – Currently, he operates in South Central Pennsylvania, mainly guiding in Juniata and Susquehanna. Their bass season is from late March to the end of October.

9:41 – Along with other guides, he also guides for steelhead fishing in Lake Eerie and up in New York. He also describes how they do bass fishing.

12:30 – He describes a typical bass fishing trip with them in their area. They meet their clients in a quaint diner called Thompsontown Corner Deli to have breakfast. He also describes the lunch they serve on their trips.

17:20 – We talk about drinking in guiding trips. He mentions the brand Athletic which sells non-alcoholic beer.

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19:50 – He explains why big bass in the springtime is very aggressive and shares some tips on how to catch them during this time. He says that keeping yourself low and slow is how you will catch them.

24:15 – We talk about crayfish which is a large portion of the smallmouth’s diet in the summertime. He describes his setup with a crayfish fly pattern.

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“Crayfish, the unsung heroes of the summertime. Sure it’s always amazing to get them on top, but there are times when that’s just not in the cards. I big crayfish are fine when the waters high, but summertime flows call for smaller, lighter, and more subtle patterns.” (Photo via:

28:28 – He describes how he uses the tip of the fly line to his advantage. He always casts slightly upstream to have a little bit of an angle. Paying attention to the tip of the line to manage the speed of your retrieve is very important.

33:40 – We dig into the fly patterns he uses. The size of the claws of the crayfish is very important to consider. He further describes how he ties his crayfish flies and the materials he uses.


38:49 – One of his favorite flies for the springtime it’s still cold is Russ Maddin’s circus peanut. We had Russ on the podcast in episode 253.

39:55 – He tells us his signature flies. You can also see how he ties his flies through his YouTube at Relentless TV. He recently signed a contract with Montana Fly Company (MFC). We talked about MFC in episode 531 with Jake Chutz.

41:30 – He walks us through how he targets a fish in top water and subsurface.

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“It’s happening. First official top water eats of the season happened today!” (Photo via:

47:06 – He also gives tips on finding a fish depending on the season when you’re new in the area. June and October are the months when it’s hard to find fish. The best thing to do is to start on the banks and float the river when it’s low and clear.

51:40 – He gives more tips on his setup, particularly lines. He gives a shoutout to Scientific Angler for their amazing triple-density lines. He also mentions their Stillwater Hover.

55:03 – He mentions the tungsten beads which are good for when you can’t see the fish.

56:30 – He usually sees bigger fish during the summertime when the water is clear. He also explains his theory of how the color of the fish tells you if it’s ready to eat.

59:57 – When he’s bait fishing, he uses a leader that is six to eight feet. For cray fishing and dry fly fishing, he uses a 10 to 12-ft leader.

1:00:42 – He gives valuable tips on casting. When it comes to cray fishing, the more perfect you make the cast, the worse it’s going to be.

1:03:10 – He talks about catching steelhead vs big bass in the Lake Eerie.

1:06:00 – We do the Fly Shop Shout-out segment. He mentions the TCO Fly Shop which has multiple shops in Pennsylvania. For those who want to get a trip with Jake’s team, they can book with TCO.

1:07:45 – His boat is a Clacka HeadHunter Skiff II. He also uses an NRS Raft in the spring.

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1:08:13 – He gives one last tip for bass fishing.

1:09:29 – He leaves us with a funny story about that time when he fell off the boat while guiding.

You can find Jake Villwock on Instagram @RelentlessFlyFishing.

Facebook at Relentless Fly Fishing

YouTube at Relentless TV

Visit his website at

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Related Podcast Episodes

WFS 253 – Streamer Fishing for Steelhead with Russ Maddin – Great Lakes Salmon and Trout

Read the Full Podcast Transcript Below

smallmouth bass flies

Conclusion with Jake Villwock on Smallmouth Bass Flies

Our episode with Jake was an informative and engaging discussion about bass fishing. With his years of experience and expertise, he shared valuable tips and insights on how to catch smallmouth bass and the gear and flies he recommends using. Whether you’re a seasoned angler or a beginner, Jake’s advice can help improve your chances of a successful bass fishing trip.

We hope you enjoyed listening to this episode and learned something new that you can apply on your next fishing adventure. Don’t forget to check out Jake’s book, Smallmouth Bass Flies, for even more tips and tricks!