Book Review: “Smallmouth” by Dave Karczynski and Tim Landwehr

The following is a book review written by Adam Spence, a good friend and fellow angler who is wild about smallmouth and any other fish with a bad attitude. Enjoy!


I stumbled across a promotion for Smallmouth: Modern Fly Fishing Methods, Tactics and Techniques one day when I was perusing the internet. As an angler who goes bonkers for smallies and also loves to read,  I was intrigued. The book’s Amazon description was more than enough to convince me that I had a lot to learn from authors Dave Karczynski and Tim Landwehr (among other expert contributors).

This book was everything I had hoped for and more. I had myself a fairly successful summer fishing for smallmouth, and was feeling quite good about myself. “Smallmouth” taught me that for every high teen or even twenty inch fish that I caught, I probably left at least five more in the river.

A big plus for this book is its format. The majority of “Smallmouth” is broken down into sections for the surface, the middle column, and the lower column. You’ll then learn a variety of flies to use for each column, how to fish these flies, the structure you may encounter (and how to fish it), among other valuable tidbits of information and knowledge.

The surface chapter was life changing. If you’ve ever fished poppers for bass, you know it is one of the most exciting ways to fish for any species. You also probably know the old retrieve pattern of SPLASH, SPLASH, PAUSE… I’ve come across more articles on topwater fishing, and the idea of “less is more” with poppers was not brand new to me, but I learned a variety of fly patterns, retrieves, and the science behind each combination and why it worked. By the time I finished the book, it was a bit past what you would consider prime topwater action, but during an uncharacteristically warm fall weekend I got out and put some of my newfound knowledge to work. I was rewarded with a handful of nice bass that ended up in my net. It’s got me pining for those summer days again.

The last chunk of “Smallmouth” is comprised of interviews and essays from some of the brightest minds to put a fly in front of a smallmouth’s face. Legends like Lefty Kreh and Larry Dahlberg share some of their experiences from decades of chasing smallies all over the country. Other famous bronzeback bashers like Kip Vieth and Mike Schultz provide commentary on some up and coming strategies and tactics.

As anglers, there’s always something new to learn. Dave Karczynski, Tim Landwehr and their contributing team of experts can most certainly help you come across more of the vicious strikes and takes you love about smallmouth. I’ve read this book twice since its release, and will more than likely read it again before the spring. If the cold weather has you inside, and the wife has cut you off from visiting the fly shop for more tying materials, order Smallmouth: Modern Fly Fishing Methods, Tactics, and Techniques by Dave Karczynski and Tim Landwehr. 

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