Bass On The Fly
It’s all about the bass, about the bass, about the bass….no treble!
So, it should be perfectly obvious that I let my children play Kidz Bop in the car way too often and my mind is shot! I’m positive my wife would confirm I should probably be in a padded room. That all being said, I think its important for all my fly fishing friends to know that Largemouth bass are the most popular gamefish in the country.
The fly fishing community is changing. We have transitioned from a trout dominant sport to saltwater, pike & musky and yes bass as well. While I’m pretty certain trout still dominates, other species are making their way into the sport. Folks are going after carp on the fly.
There’s a reason though that bass are the worlds most popular gamefish. They eat a wide variety of forage, they are found everywhere, the hit top water with voracious strikes, and sometimes their takes can be a subtle as subtle can be. They are a challenge, they get big, they’ll school up to where you can catch multiple in one spot, and they can be caught in warm water.
Our patterns at RiverBum continue to grow for this awesome fish. We just came up with a bluegill pattern that is just absolutely deadly on a sink tip. I actually grew up bass fishing with gear and then later transitioned to the fly rod. There’s a couple things from the gear fish game that can help you out fly rodding for these baddies.
- Hit ‘em hard! I get made fun of sometimes about my hook set when I’m trout fishing. It’s pretty hard. It comes from bass fishing. There’s no dainty rod lift, trout set here. You are strip setting and hitting it hard. The bass will often either gulp, or take and turn in most situations. You want a hard, inline, strip set.
- Size matters! Yeah, you know what I mean. Big flies, big fish….right? Bass fishing requires big flies. I’ll often use pike and musky flies, not just “traditional” bass flies. When I was gear fishing, I’d catch a ton of fish off an 8” jerk bait.
- Ambush! Bass ambush their prey. They get after it. We all now trout will sit and let the food come to them in a river system. Not the case for bass. They ambush and attack their prey. Think stumps, boulders, fallen trees, lily pads, ledges with significant changes in depth. They are not trying to conserve energy in a current. They are trying to hide and pounce on their prey. They will chase and follow, so don't give up on your casts early.
- Flash ‘Em! One of the best gear baits is the spinnerbait……lots of flash, lots of vibration. Bass fishing isn’t match the hatch stuff. It’s flash, vibrate, and differentiate.
- Snap, Crackle, POP, POP, POP! Oh man, hitting bass on poppers is the best. These are water boiling, turbulent, aggressive strikes. Poppers over and through lily pads….Yes Please!
- Gear Up: Bass can be in clean clear water, and stained water, it doesn’t really matter. What matters is they are not leader shy at all really. Braided line in gear fishing is like chucking rope in the water. Size up your leaders and your tippet. Don’t mess around.
- Diversify: You’re going to be fishing subsurface with either sinking line, or top water with poppers on floating line. I take two 8wt rods, one for each. Conditions change throughout the day.
- Don’t go into the light!: Bright sunny days can put the fish down. Warm temperatures can make the bass lethargic. Fish early and late, grab some good BBQ in between.
- Don’t be a snob: There’s a lot of great baits out there meant for conventional fishing that you can rig up on your fly rod. I’ve hooked up rubber worms and lizards before. I’ll admit it. I couldn’t cast a Carolina rig worth a dam on a fly rod, but texas rigging works just fine. Be smart though, you might just want to think twice about casting something with a treble hook. Whipping around something with 6-9 hooks on with the ole bug whip might not be the best choice.
That’s it for now my fishing friends,
Tight Lines and Screaming Drags