By: Adam Spence
Matt and I have a tradition for the last weekend in April. Instead of joining anglers from all over Michigan in trying to fool the state’s brown, rainbow and brook trout population, we set out for big, angry smallmouth bass. Last year we had one of those epic days that don’t happen very often. We never had to let much time lapse before one of us was hootin’ and hollerin’ for the net. The fly that got us connected to several bass in the 16-18″ range, and even a chunky 20″er was this week’s Big Fly Friday feature: Mike Schmidt’s Meal Ticket. (Pictured above is a slight variation on the pattern, using UV polar chenille as the under body material instead of a streamer brush)
Main target species: I love this fly for smallmouth, but brown trout and pike have been known to fall victim to it as well.
Prime water to fish it in: My best days fishing this fly have come when the water is a little high and off color. You can get away with it in even dirtier water as well; the laser dub head pushes water and the silli legs add some more wiggle to help predatory fish locate the fly in dirty water.
How to fish it: Most times, I use an intermediate sinking line with a short leader. Most of the streams I fish I don’t need to get way down, so the intermediate line gets my fly where it needs to be. An erratic retrieve is the ticket here. Or, you can fish the Meal Ticket on a floating line with a longer leader.
Action: The Meal Ticket is a really great fly because it’s jiggy AND it’s swimmy. Most streamers tend to be one or the other. Tie it onto the intermediate line and use an erratic retrieve and you’ll end up with a pattern that darts, wiggles (because of the rabbit strips and silli legs), and then fades like a wounded baitfish on the pause. If you left the intermediate line at home, or the fish seem to prefer an up and down motion, use a longer leader and floating line to jig this fly to your heart’s content.
Colors: One great combo is a darker, barred rabbit strip over a copper streamer brush. As always, I keep grey over white in my box and it is my go to on my local smallmouth water. It’s a good idea to keep a dark combo in your box for the cloudy days. Olive over white is a color combo I really like if I’m targeting brown trout and there are young rainbows present in the system. So if you’re tying your own, you can really customize the Meal Ticket to mimic whatever is on the menu in the river you’re targeting.
Buy it HERE
A fat 20″er fooled by a grey/white Meal Ticket