Bucket Mouths on the Fly
Many of us grew up gear fisherman going after bass. I know I did. Fly Fishing for bass takes bass fishing to a whole other level. Some say it is more difficult. There could be some truth to that. However, using a fly rod, you more delicate presentation in your favor, one that is less like to spook fish than plopping a spinnerbait in the water.
Catching bass on a fly is about prospecting water that is fishable with a fly rod. Under most circumstances, that’s catching fish in shallow water, say 20 foot or less. Bass will hit the shallows pre-spawn at around 50 degrees and will remain there until the temps hit the mid 70’s. If the water gets too warm, they will hit deeper water to cool down, especially during the middle of the day.
The good news is, the volume of baitfish, crawfish, frogs and other forage is limited in the deeper water. Often bass will return later in the day and in the evening. Ever run a popper on the surface as dusk? It’s a very special experience.
Believe it or not, both smallmouths and largemouths will eat a dry fly. Yes, they do feed on insects. I’ve caught them on damselflies of all things. However, if you want to put the odds in your favor, I go with a crawfish pattern when targeting smallies. Crawfish are far and away smallies favorite forage. That’s why you’ll find smallies along rock banks, and relatively hard bottoms…..that’s where the crawfish live.
Buckets on the other hand love streamers, poppers, and frogs. Smallies of course will too, but largemouths tend to inhabit water that has more lilies, silty bottom, and vegetation. I love fishing with a popper. I’ll cast it out into fishy bass water and let it sit for a minute. I strip in all my slack with the rod tip low to the water. I’ll then strip retrieve with small 6”-12” burst. Bass will chase for a bit. Do not pick you fly up too quickly. How often when we gear fished did we get bit right at the boat? Remember that. Don’t start your next cast until you’ve retrieved it all the way in.
I also like using streamers on floating line. A lot of folks use sink or sink tip to get down. I get it. But I can switch from a popper to a streamer this way very easily. The streamer will cruise just below the surface of the lily pads, often enticing a strike. I use the stealth approach first with the popper, then switch up to the streamer. Of course, if you’re in a boat and have multiple rods pre-rigged, that changes the calculus a bit. Remember how much bass liked Chartreuse? Purple?
Generally speaking, if you’re fishing for smallies, you’re going to have to get the fly down. Here, sink tip or sinking line is beneficial for pulling your crawfish on the bottom. Minnow patterns also work exceptionally well for brownbacks. Break out your 6 weight or 8 weight and get out there and try bass fishing on the fly, you’ll be glad you did. I've sprinkled in some of my favorite patterns. Just click on the picture and it will take you right to the fly on the site. Until next time my fish friends……
Tight lines and screaming drags….