Long shadows stretched across the river as the towering ridge above glowed in fading, golden light. A thumping strike bounced the 5-weight’s tip before arching the rod as the 15-inch smallmouth bass bore into the murky current. Three memorable leaps and a strong run later, a hellgramite imitation was extracted from its jaw, and, in a defiant flash of bronze, it returned to its rocky home downstream from the riffle.

Hellgramites, the larval stage of the Dobsonfly, are most commonly found among the large gravel and chunk rock in swifter regions of streams where they take refuge from sunlight. They are most active at dusk, a fact that must not be overlooked when fishing hellgramite patterns.

Our favorite presentation involves pocket water (sections of the stream that look bumpy because the submerged rocks reach close to the surface) that is swift enough to harbor hellgramites. Casting down and across allows the fly to tumble among the rocks. This presentation creates a clicking sound that causes nearby bass to investigate. This “rock-banging” tactic is particularly successful when the water is so turbid that the smallmouths have difficulty locating their meal by sight.

Fishing a hellgramite pattern may well provide great smallmouth fishing, but It’s important to remember that they shun light and prefer the well-oxygenated portions of the stream.

There are many hellgramite patterns available. Ours is jointed to replicate its natural action. To check out “Wilson’s Jointed Hellgramite,” visit our “Flies” listings.