Flyfishing For Ozark River Smallmouths

There are many fine books that address how to go about flyfishing for Smallmouth bass in rivers. Will Brantley's Smallmouth Strategies For The Flyrod, Bob Clouser's Flyfishing For Smallmouth, and Harry Murray's' Flyfishing For Smallmouth Bass are all required reading for the flyfishing Smallie fanatic. All of these have good general information to cover a lot of conditions, but I haven't read too many words addressing how to catch our Ozark "Brown Bass" on the fly gear specifically. Sure, Smallmouths are Smallmouths no matter where they live, but every region has it's variations in forage type and/or color, not to mention the differences in weed, wood, and rock cover that vary from one drainage to the next even within a small area. Here in the Ozarks, this can be pretty dramatic when you pay attention. For example, if I go fish the Finley near my house it's a typical slow moving, gentle Ozark stream with moderately clear water, with mixed rock and cobble but lots of wood cover. By contrast, Bull Creek is only a few minutes drive to the south of the Finley, but it runs much faster and is crystal clear, there's a little wood cover but most good fish will be found near rocky cover of some kind, and it's a much smaller stream. This is a major reason when some one asks what rod/reel combo to use for Smallmouths they receive so many different answers.

( By the way, for the rest of the article, I'm going to assume you already know how to cast a fly rod a little, understand how to tie basic knots and such. Not a total newbie, in other words. If you are a total "noob", you need to go back to casting little poppers to sunfish until you can get that down. No tantrums allowed because if you skip this you'll be frustrated for years, or quit. I mean the whole deal, too: Casting without getting "wind knots" too often, hooking, fighting, letting the little buggers swim away unharmed, repeated about a couple of hundred times. That's a minimum, more will do you well. Think of it as training wheels until you can ride like a big boy. As the late Sheridan Anderson would say, it's not only good practice, it also builds character.)

What line weight rod you'll want to use depends on what flies you want to cast. A good 8 1/2- to 9-foot rod in 6- to 8-weight is a the place to start. I know there's someone out there that goes by the screen name "4weightfisher" on a message board somewhere shaking their head right now, but I'm talking about seriously pursuing decent sized Smallies, and to catch good sized bass you usually need to use good sized flies. Remember, the bigger, more wind resistant, or heavier the fly, the heavier line weight needed to cast it. The two I use most frequently are 6- and 8-weight. I split the difference with an old 7-weight on occasion, and honestly, if I only had one rod for Ozark Smallmouths, it would be a 7 weight, so if you start shopping for a dedicated Smallie rod start there. The 6-weight is for clear water, small creeks, or just fun fishing. I've caught some nice fish on it, but if I have my game face on, I'm breaking out the 8-weight. Most fly anglers in the Ozarks have a 8 1/2- or 9-foot rod in 5- or 6-weight already, and that'll do for starters, you just won't be able to cast larger flies, especially poppers, but it'll get you stared just fine. Match the rod with a decent reel, but don't go overboard. I'd scrimp on the reel to get a better rod and fly line.I've had good luck with plain old weight forward line from about everyone who makes one, and haven't seen much improvement by switching to a "Bass Bug" tapered fly line, at least when it comes to Smallmouth-sized flies. You might, so test cast a different line weight (or type) if you don't like the feel of a certain rod, sometimes manufacturers over- or under-rate their rods. I have an older 6-weight Fenwick that's really a 5-weight, and a rod I built on well known makers blank that's rated as an 8-weight, but doesn't come to life until you put a 9-weight on it. It's often recommended that you "overline" any rod you intend to cast bass bugs on, but I don't necessarily agree with that. I have a nice little 6-weight that casts smaller bugs and streamers beautifully, but when you put a 7-weight line on it just slows down and becomes a real dog to cast. Anyway, don't try something then get frustrated at the first kink. Experiment a little. Pester a buddy or try your local fly shop and see if they'll let you try out some of their test cast lines, or better yet, try several out before you buy that shiny and expensive new Smallmouth rod.

I have caught a few nice Smallmouths on smaller flies and poppers intended for panfish, but only a few. It may not even be the size of the fly that matters so much as the mindset of going out to catch a good fish, but I think the two are interrelated. I don't mind catching "bonus" sunfish, but to target nice sized Smallmouth you need a basic size to start from. This doesn't mean you have to use bass bugs the size of a starling, there are limits on both ends of the scale. I see many more folks using small flies versus large, so that's something to think about. For light (5- or 6-weight) rods, the hardest problem will be casting decent sized poppers, or heavily weighted subsurface flies. I'm not going to suggest a certain size fly for anyone, because everyone has different casting styles, and hook sizes aren't standardized anyway. The easiest but most time consuming method to find out if a certain fly is "castable" is to buy one, just one, and try it out. If it works (and hopefully catches fish) you can go back and order in bulk.

I've whittled down the numbers and types of flies I use though the years, and settled on 3 basic types to cover the water column, from top to bottom. They are topwaters, divers and streamers, and bottom bouncers.

Topwaters are probably the classic Smallmouth fly, and why not? There's nothing quite like a nice Bass exploding on a surface "bug" where you can see everything happen. There's something a little goofy about bass bugs, but I like making them almost as much as using them. Maybe it's growing up and seeing all the covers of sporting magazines where a bass bug is about to be engulfed by a large, evil looking bass. Like many clich├ęs', it has some truth to it: Sometimes a surface fly will get attention when other lures couldn't buy a hit. I've seen this over and over again, and besides, they're fun to fish. So which surface flies to start with? There are so many, it's hard to sort though all of them. For sheer nostalgia, it's hard to beat a good deer hair bug. They can be expensive, and the best versions are pieces of true folk art. (Even if they may have been tied in Indonesia.) For practicality, foam bugs are very nice and sturdy. I can't say which is better. The classic "bug", whether hair or foam is still great in any slower water, any ambush spot. Eddy behind root ball of downed tree? Sure. Slick, still water in midstream behind a boulder? Oh yeah. Slower water flowing over submerged timber? Perfect.
As much as I love the classic popper, it shouldn't be the only topwater in your arsenal. The slider and pencil popper have their place, too. One of the favorites in this area is the "Sneaky Pete". This fly has a tapered, pointy head that is the exact opposite of a popper, or actually the same head as a popper, just reversed. When the water is low and clear this fly really shines, and it's easier to cast, too. The pencil popper is another easy casting fly, and like the Sneaky Pete can be worked a little faster than a regular popper, which makes them easier to fish in current. I do better with baitfish or bright colors for these two types of topwaters, but you can always experiment to see what works for you. Sometimes an all black pencil popper works better than anything, I still haven't figured that one out. A really simple leader for topwaters is get some bulk monofilament like Berkley Big Game or even Wal-Mart Shakespeare, and for 6-weight rods try this: 3-foot each of 20-, 15-, then 10-pound test, tied together with blood knots. Tie a Perfection loop on the big end to go to the loop on the end of your fly line. For an 8-weight try 25, 20, and then 15. I use these all the time, and have good luck. You can experiment with the lengths to get what you want. One of the most useful websites for learning knots is HERE:
For the heavier tippet, I like to use a Rapala knot for a little better action of the fly.

For times when fish aren't hitting topwaters, there are several flies that you can use. I tend to fish divers more under the water than on top, so I don't really classify them as topwaters. An erratic, fast retrieve with a diver can make fish hit it, much like a jerkbait or crankbait. The only problem with divers is they are hard to pick up during the retrieve to cast again. You basically have to retrieve it all the way in to cast it again. The Clouser Deep Minnow, usually just called a "Clouser Minnow" or even just a "Clouser", is one of the few flies that was made just for Smallmouth Bass. Now there are saltwater Clousers, tiny little "Crappie Clousers", and giant Pike or Striper Clousers. What we are talking about is the original. There's a column in Fly Tier magazine titled "Getting It Right". Going to the original fly and seeing the design of the fly, and what it was meant to be. The original Clouser was a topic of that column, and it was a revelation. Most Clousers you see for sale look nothing like the original. Lead eyes too far forward, tails too short, and wrapped wrong around the eyes. The original "glides", the copies "jig." The original isn't a small fly either, it's about as long as a dollar bill, but still casts well. You must have some in your box if want to catch Smallmouth.

Here’s a real Clouser, as tied by Mr. Clouser:
Here’s a horrible copy:
Here’s a nice one, tied by Art Scheck, complete with great tying instructions:

The "dumbbell" eyes are the real key to the Clouser, making the hook ride point up during the retrieve, keeping off most snags, and hooking fish right in the top off the mouth most of the time. Even the bad copies catch fish, it's just such a great fly. Heavier ones are great for deeper or faster water, and lightly weighted ones are good for colder weather and slow retrieves, much like a suspending jerkbait. You simply can't go wrong with a Clouser, a friend of mine was once asked where to cast a Clouser for bigger fish, and his sarcastic answer was "in the water". There are other subsurface flies like Wooley Buggers and various streamers that people swear by, but to make things easier, just think about it like this: If it looks like a baitfish, a Smallmouth will probably hit it at one time or another, you'll just have to find your own favorites. I like using a longer leader when fishing streamers, somewhere around 12-foot or so. Your tippet should be no smaller than 3X, and fluorocarbon 2X is better most of the time. Don't be afraid to step up to stronger. I was buying some 1X fluorocarbon tippet one day when another shopper commented "Geez, fishing for Sharks?" "No, bigger Smallmouth than you'll ever see. And mind your own business." He walked off in a huff, but seriously, 1X fluorocarbon tippet from Orvis or Rio is the same diameter as most 10-pound test monofilament people use on spinning reels. Who thinks of that as "heavy" tackle?

Fly choices for bottom hugging fish brings us to one of the most interesting sagas of all flyfishing, and that's the attempt to imitate a crawfish. There are more crawfish flies than you can imagine, and most don't work all that well. If you look at conventional tackle, there are very realistic soft plastic crawfish on the market, but do most anglers use them? No, most serious Bass fishermen use a jig and trailer that doesn't exactly look like a crawfish. The key is that they have the suggestion of a crawfish, and that seems to be good enough. As you might guess by now I don't use super-realistic crawfish flies, instead relying on the general suggestion theory, and do pretty well when I actually use them. To tell the truth, most of my flyfishing for Smallmouths is casting a topwater or my back up for when they don't want a topwater, the Clouser. I would rather not dredge the bottom unless nothing else is working. I've done it often enough to know it can work, it's just not my preferred method. I've experimented with nymphing for Smallies and that can work too, but I just prefer to use the faster "power fishing" stuff when I'm slinging the fly line around. This doesn't mean you shouldn't do your own thing out there, I know one Smallmouth fanatic who would rather fish a heavily weighted leech fly slowly in deep pools like a plastic worm more than anything else. Some people recommend a sink tip line and short leader when using deep flies, but I hate to cast them. I'd rather use a longer 12- to 15-foot leader to get down there.

One of the hardest lessons for me to learn was that although it's not impossible to control a solo canoe or kayak in current and cast a fly, it's close. You have the paddle, (best operated by both hands) and the fly rod (ditto) and even the most basic math shows you've just ran out of hands. If you have a good fishing buddy and a tandem canoe, the world is truly your oyster. There are few luxuries I enjoy more than having a good paddler chauffeur me around as I cast a fly. Maybe an ice cold adult beverage and a hot shower, but I digress. That's the way to go though, change every other fish, every 30 minutes, whatever. If the company's good, I enjoy the paddling as much as the fishing. Most of my flyrodding for Smallies is done these days by wading. I may have paddled to get to the spot, but standing and covering water carefully usually gets more fish. After a few floats on a stretch of river, you'll learn where the good "get out and wade" spots are. I sometimes use these spots as a break from sitting and fishing in the solo canoe, and if I'm going to stretch my back and legs, I might as well try to put a bend in the fly rod as well. There are other places where wading is the best way to get around, or you just want to keep it simple. Little creeks and headwaters of bigger rivers are really the same thing, and you'd be amazed at how many nice Smallmouth can live in a section of small creek nobody messes with. I recommend Ozark Hideaways, by Louis White, to get you jazzed up about little creek fishing in the Ozarks. His book is part fishing guide, part travelogue, and just plain good. Some of it's getting dated, but it's still an excellent read. If someone out there wants to run me around on the bigger rivers with a jet powered john so I can cast big streamers on my 8-weight, just email me, because that's the one way I haven't fished for smallies yet. I've used regular tackle in that situation, but not fly gear. It should be a blast, but like I said, I just haven't done it yet.

Most fisherman who already fish for Smallmouths with conventional tackle already have some idea where to cast and how to position themselves, but in flyfishing they key is backcast space. I have a buddy who calls it "being cleared for take-off." If you can't make the backcast, you can't make the forward cast. Everything else is about the same as conventional tackle. Smallmouth like current, but not too much current. Eddies and slower water just out of the current, especially if there is some type of cover, are what you are looking for when the water is warm, and deep slow pools when it's cold. Some days the fish seem to prefer wood cover, the next it's rock, or no cover, just faster water or current seams. There are some methods you can use that should be familiar to all flyfisherman. The wet fly or streamer "swing" is a great way to cover moderate to fast current areas. It's as simple as casting across the current and letting it swing your fly in a quartering downstream arc, sometimes feeding line, sometimes adding twitches or otherwise adding action with your line hand. When the swing is done, you step downstream a few feet and repeat. A Clouser minnow drifted this way has accounted for untold numbers of big Smallmouth for me. When late summer/early fall arrives, if you aren't casting a topwater on your fly rod you just don't know what you've been missing. Some days the ticket is a popper cast tight to cover and twitched almost in place. Other days a pencil popper or slider popped, skipped, and darted as fast as you can retrieve it draws smashing strikes. You just have to experiment.
If you're floating with a buddy you can easily carry two rods. I like to keep them in a 2-piece rod-on-reel case (Why aren't they called a "reel-on-rod" case?), only having one out at a time. I usually rig the heavier rod with a topwater, and the lighter one with a Clouser. When the other person paddles and controls the boat, it's just easier to put one rod back in the case and get the other out rather than cut your line and switch all the time. The rod-on-reel cases are a great investment, it's much better than letting the rods bang around in the bottom of the canoe to be stepped on. When I'm floating by myself in my solo canoe, I carry only one fly rod, usually rigged with a topwater of some kind, resorting to spinning tackle for deeper presentations.

When I first moved to the Ozarks, I was really into exploring every little nook and cranny of what could be waded, hiked and fished within about a two hour drive of the little duplex I rented in Springfield. I was really busy wading, canoeing, just exploring. I had a copy of the Conservation Atlas in one hand and Louis Whites' Ozark Hideaways in the other, and was trying to find the edge of the map. At the time I was looking for quiet, peaceful fishing, but was also trying to catch the biggest Smallmouth I could on fly tackle, and was probably a boorish snob about the last part. These days, I realize there are times and places where flyfishing works as good or better as conventional tackle, and times when it's the opposite. I have come to terms with that, and I have more of a fondness for flyfishing than ever before, but have dropped any pretense I may have had about it. It's just another way to catch fish, and if you like it, cool. If you don't get a kick out of it, well, maybe it's just not for you. Just don't be a quitter because of other people. I know a couple of "bass fishermen" who think I'm a "flyfisherman" and "flyfishermen" who think I'm a "bass fisherman". Whatever. Itty bitty minds gotta put things in itty bitty boxes so they can understand them. Do what you want and have fun, respect the fish and their habitat, help protect them, then help someone else learn, too.

I know trout get the most attention from flyfisherman around here, and I'm totally fine with that. I mean, I love fishing for them too, but most of these bright late summer days I'll be wading a little stretch of river and casting a popper I tied the night before, catching Smallmouths with no one else in sight.

Three New(er) Lures From Rapala. (XRap Shad, XRap Shad Shallow, Flat Rap)

XRap Shad Shallow (Top) A pair of XRap Shads (Right) A pair of Flat Raps (Left) All of them beat up and used.

Today I’m looking at three new lures from Rapala, the XRap Shad, The XRap Shad Shallow, and the newest of the three, the Flat Rap. One thing I’ve been accused of in the past (recent past actually, like last week) is being a total slut for Rapala’s products. Well, it’s true. There have been so many different lures from Rapala’s stable that I rely on that if Rapala went under, I’d have to try and replace a whole swath of lures I use and trust. It would be like the lure apocalypse. That’s one reason why when Rapala brings a new lure to market I try to get at least one solid season of fishing with it before I give my full review. I know it’ll work, but like any new lure there are probably some quirks to it, one season of experience will iron out the kinks and let me know how to use it better. And it also doesn’t (hopefully) seem like I’m just pimping their new lure.

The XRap Shad was introduced back in 2008, and it’s the one of this trio I have the most experience with. The original Shad Rap was introduced in 1982 and made a huge impact on many different types of freshwater fishing. It doesn’t matter if you fish for Bass, Walleye, or even big tailwater Trout, Shad Rap’s have proven to be a winner. The success isn’t surprising, what doesn’t eat Shad? I remember the “Beg One, Borrow One, Steal One” ad campaign in my brother’s outdoor magazines I’d read in school when I was supposed to be studying. When I did get my sweaty little hands on one it lived up to the hype - it really, really caught fish. Bass guys didn't like the fact that the balsa Rapala was hard to cast on casting tackle, but it didn’t bother me as I cast the two smaller sizes on spinning tackle, which worked great, and still does. Rapala introduced the Shad Rap RS (Rattling, Suspending) in 2000, and since it was made of plastic it was slightly heavier and a little easier to cast than the original balsa Shad Rap. It wasn’t until Rapala introduced the XRap line of lures that the old Shad Rap had a chance at a major makeover. The weight transfer system Rapala designed into the whole XRap series makes the new XRap Shad an easy casting lure, even against strong winds. Rapala also included a dressed rear treble hook, a prominent feature in the entire XRap line.
The first XRap Shad I bought was in the smaller 06 size in  “Silver”, a great universal color for clear water. I used it with some success through the first Winter I tried it, but it really shined when the water warmed a touch in late Winter/early Spring. Rocky points leading to spawning coves at Beaver Lake were a great target for the Rapala, and it worked as good as I expected it to. I’ve found it’s a great lure to not only use like a regular crankbait, but also to pinpoint specific pieces of cover on a sharp drop, and then use it more like a suspending jerkbait. I’ve done this around isolated trees, bridge supports, docks on bluffs, etc. For that type of use the XRap Shad excels. I do have one thing about this lure I don’t like, and that’s the line tie. It’s exactly like the one on the Shad Rap RS - slightly recessed into the diving bill. The lure comes with a split ring, but since I like to take split rings off my cranks and use a snap instead, it makes it hard to get a snap into the line tie. I got a tip from a reader that a Norman Speed Clip works just fine on this lure, but I don’t use those, I just use regular cross-lock snaps. I can get the snap in there with a little finesse, so it’s not a deal breaker. I could just snap to the split ring, but to my mind that looks clunky.
The recessed line tie of the XRap Shad is a pain if you use a snap.

The smaller 06 XRap Shad dives to about 6 feet with regular (8-10-pound test diameter) mono on a shorter cast, but I’ve ticked rocks in the 8- to 9-foot range on a longer cast with 4/10 Fireline and a 2X Orvis Mirage leader about rod length (7’) long. I use this smaller size crank on spinning tackle, but if you have a nice casting rig set up to cast lighter lures it would work fine. On properly set up spinning tackle, this little lure is a bullet! I still haven’t used the 08 size, but I’d imagine it’s just as good, just a larger presentation. I still like the original Shad Rap, but for most of my fishing, I’ll buy the XRap Shad. It fits my needs better. It’s a fantastic lure for around $7.00.

One of the most overlooked lures in the Rapala line-up is the Shallow Shad Rap in the smallest size. The 05 Shallow Shad Rap has been one of my favorite ”catch anything “ lures for a long time. It doesn’t matter if it’s Smallmouth Bass in riffles, White Bass during the Spring run, Crappie, or even Trout. Matter of fact, I don’t know how many people I’ve shown how to catch Trout in moving water by just using that little lure. It will often out-fish little spoons and spinners. Something about it’s wobble just makes Trout want to kill it. It’s made of balsa so it was very hard to cast any distance. Once again, the XRap makeover takes this little lure to a new level.
Both XRap Shads have the same body
I had to fish the 06 XRap SS for stream Smallmouth as soon as I could get my hands on one, and on the first trip I was not disappointed -  it’s a killer both as small jerkbait and as a shallow crank over rocks, grass, and timber. Maybe too good, as I keep throwing them and getting snagged. The smaller lip is not as snag resistant as it’s deeper brother, so keep that in mind when fishing it. Like the original Shad Rap Shallow, this lure is a catch anything machine. I’ve caught Crappies, Rock Bass, both Brown and Rainbow Trout, all three Black Bass species, and some “schoolie” Stripers on it, too. Like the original, the new lure has a “universal” shape that every fish wants to eat. I plan on doing an article this Winter about fishing hardbaits at Taneycomo, and you can bet this lure will pop up there as an option. The two negatives of this lure so far is the snag issue - it just doesn’t deflect off cover very well, the other is big fish INHALE this small bait!

Twice this past year I had to do a “hookindectimy” on the rear treble when bigger fished almost totally snacked the lure, and was hook deeply. I carry small-nosed long handled side cutter pliers just for this type of thing, so both times the fish swam away with the hook point still embedded past the barb clipped off as a present. They’ll usually be O.K. if you do this quick, and it’s better than just tearing a hook out - dressed treble or not. The new XRap Shad Shallow is going to be another lure with many possibilities. Casting for..anything, trolling - everything that swims will eat this lure. Look at my future reports and I bet there will be plenty of references to this lure.

LC Minnow (center) had a bill like the new Flat Rap. Note how wide the LC minnow is compared to the Flat Raps.
Our last member of the crew is the newest Rapala of the three - the Flat Rap. This is a balsa wood lure that is kind of reminds you of the original Floating Minnow, but only a little. First, the paint jobs are much more detailed than the original, second is the new shape - more shad like, that is the shape is taller than wide through the front half of the bait. While it’s not a stubby crankbait shape like the previous two lures profiled here, it’s shape is a little different from most of the standard lures of this category. It’s a little more like the the old A.C. Shiner or the lure inspired by the modified A.C. Shiner’s and made modern by Lucky Craft, the Stacey King Jerkbait. However, the new Rapala isn’t a suspending bait, it’s a true floater with a slow rise on the pause. I was very excited about this lure, too. One of my favorite Rapala’s was the discontinued LC (Long Cast) Minnow with the new weight transfer system for long casts, but was still made of balsa like the classic Rapala’s. It had a small diving bill that made it a shallow runner, which made it a great lure for both tailwater Trout and Smallmouth Bass in our rivers. When Rapala stopped making the LC Minnow I bought as many as I could find, fearing I wouldn’t find anything quite the same. 
I don’t think the new Flat Rap is quite the same lure by any stretch, but it has many of the same attributes. It doesn’t have the weight transfer system inside it - I think it’s simply too thin for it to fit. The LC Minnow was a little thick through the middle because of that, and the XRap’s are too. Despite not having that weight transfer system the smaller 08 size casts much further than it’s 1/4-ounce weight should. Maybe it’s the flat sides or smaller bill, but it’s easier to cast this lure further than a similar sized Original Minnow. The action is great when used as a jerkbait - very erratic and the flash - the flat sides do have a great flash to them in clear water.
I mainly used this lure as a shallow jerkbait for Bass in our Ozark rivers, and it's an amazing lure for that. It stays in the top 2-feet of water on normal retrieves, and really calls the fish in. I also used it for Bass (both Black Bass and Stripers) at Beaver Lake when they were busting shad near the surface, and it worked pretty good for that, too. I think the larger 10-size will be a hit with guys who troll for Walleyes, and guys who know how and where to use a floating jerkbait for Bass. The smaller 08-size is my pick for a warm weather jerkbait in rivers - I’ve waited for something like this to come along for a couple of years. I would have liked more realistic molded eyes like on the XRap series instead of the painted ones used on the Flat Rap, but maybe that would have raised the price higher than it is. There are some fishermen who think the 7-dollars or so most Rapala’s are priced at is steep enough, so maybe they did it in a cost cutting move, or maybe there’s a problem doing it on balsa lures. I don’t know. That and the fact it doesn't have a dressed rear treble are only things I can pick on as far as the Flat Rap goes - otherwise I couldn’t be happier with it.

Fishing Injuries

First off, I'm not talking about the injuries that come from "Night Fishing". That's a euphemism among some guys for catting around on the sly. That's the type of trip you don't want to bring anything home from. Divorce attorney's are probably expensive, and then you won't have any money to actually go fishing. Your liver could be bruised for weeks, too. No, what I'm talking about is the type of thing that usually happens to me right about the middle or end of August, months of paddling the solo canoe and fishing combine to give me a nice case of tendinitis in my left elbow/forearm. I call it "fishing elbow" in polite company, but it's a real pain in the... arm. And wrist, too. I'm not alone, anyone who does a repetitive movement with some force to it can get injured, just look at sports, or even a production worker doing the same task thousands of times a day, every day. I saw a story over at that has a list of all the touring Bass Pro's injuries, and let me tell you, it's a big list.
The list from the story goes like this:

George Jeane, Jr. - Rotator cuff, surgery
Brent Broderick – Hand ligaments
Rusty Salewske – Painful shoulder (baseball)
Bill Lowen – Back
Mark Tucker – Rotator cuff and bicep, surgery, also recently tore all hand ligaments on hookset, shoulder problems
Dustin Wilks - Elbow, Tommy John surgery
Michael Murphy – Ankle/knee (football)
Luke Clausen – Elbow, surgery
Bill Chapman – Back, missed entire tour season
Matt Herren – Broken tailbone
Mark Menendez – Skin cancer
Shaw Grigsby – Elbow
Mike Surman – Elbow
Bill Dance – Skin cancer
David Fritts – Struck by lightning in boat, likely cause of serious eye injury
Scott Suggs – Rotator cuff, elbow
Gerald Swindle – Back and shoulder (football, trade work),
Bernie Schultz – Neck
Jack Gadlage – Shoulder
Greg Pugh – Hernia
Mike Ward – Elbow and shoulder, surgery
Charlie Youngers – Back (surgery, bacterial infection complication)
Fred Roumbanis – Elbow
Zell Rowland – Back (surgery)
Ken Cook – Shoulder (from Lyme disease)
Robert Hamilton, Jr. – Shoulder/collarbone/rotator cuff (surgery)
Clark Wendlandt – Frozen shoulder (surgery), elbow
Mike Wurm – shoulder (surgery)
Most people think of fishing as a sedentary pastime, but fishing at the B.A.S.S. or FLW tournament level is an exercise in punishment. Pounding 80-mile per hour boat rides, the hours spent driving, and the constant casting of large lures can damage everything from your lower back to your elbow. Another issue is the amount of skin cancer on that list. All day, every day in the sun can do that. Ever get hit by lightning while playing tennis? Golf maybe, but you usually don't break your tailbone golfing, either. That one hurts just to read it.
My issues with my left arm were serious enough to warrant a trip to my doctor, and that got me referred to a physical therapist. What I learned from the physical therapist is that simple warming up exercises probably wouldn't eliminate the pain, but it would make it manageable. In that article at there's the link to Troy Lindner's website, where he covers the basics on how to stay mobile and pain-free enough to carry on through the years.  I knew Al Lindner's son was a competitive angler, but I didn't know he was a physical therapist/trainer. is doing a whole series of his exercises at their website, the first one addressing my problem, "Fishing Elbow". Fit 4 Fishing Part 1 – Fishing Elbow
Here's one for us that use Jerkbaits all the time. He calls them "Rip Baits". Same thing.
Check out his other videos on his website or there on
This is kind of short compared to some of my other articles on this site, by I'm sticking this one in the Fishing Articles section. I'm going to go ahead and put Troy Lindner's website in my link list for future reference, too.