Don't Buy That Fly! Bass Edition
Previously RiverBum published "Don't Buy That Fly!" blog post for Trout fishing. It was so popular, that we've done another one for Bass fishing.
A little background: when I first started out with fly fishing I grabbed a few flies here and there and tried a little of everything…and wasted a bunch of money. I wanted to put together a nice starter list that covered a variety of situations for the beginner angler. Something I wish I had.
There’s just something about catching a bass on a fly rod. Each time I go it seems like I’m brought back to fishing the Blackstone Valley River for smallies with my father or Lake Ripple for large mouth and pike. Fishing is an immersion into the outdoors. I don’t care what your flavor of fishing is, as long as you enjoy, share it, and take care of it!
Beginners: Stick with the Essentials
The variety of flies on the market today focusing on bass fishing is continually growing. The offerings aren’t as extensive as trout flies, but the flies themselves generally tend to be more expensive.
Poppers: Is there a bass fisherman on the face of the earth that didn’t use a hula popper in the lily pads? The sheer excitement of seeing that giant mouth gulp down the popper in a thunderous flash. Try that action on a fly rod and you’ll be hooked for like. Start off with a handful of poppers, both hard and soft. A couple of each are just fine. Focus on varying coloration and scoop of the mouth.
Swimming Frogs: Frogs will catch anything that swims. Bass, Pike, you name love them some frog legs. Hey, they taste like chicken don’t they? Frogs and Poppers are the only two flies I fish with floating line on a regular basis. It’s just great top water action. The swimming frogs can also be stripped below the surface creating nice water disturbance.
Crayfish: Here, we introduce our streamer line up using either sink tip or sinking line depending on depth. Bass love crayfish, both smallies and big mouth. You simply must fish along the bottom with a crawfish pattern. Put this into your bag of tricks, and you’ll have a successful day on the water.
Muddler Minnows:The muddler minnow is one of the most versatile streamers on the market today. For good reason. It’s a fantastic baitfish imitation, it casts well, and it has nice action under the water.
Wooly Bugger: How can any list not include the Wooly Bugger? One of the most ubiquitous flies there is. I didn’t put it on the first list for trout because I didn’t put on any streamers. It was a conscious choice to leave it off. Here; however, there’s not whole lot of opportunity to catch a bass on an Adams fly. You need some meat in the water and you’re going to be set up to fish streamers….at least you better be if you’re going to catch bass on the fly.
Clousers: Clousers will move nicely up and down in the water column on a strip retrieve. The great thing about a Clouser is you can cover a lot of water with them. They come in a fantastic variety of colors.
Zonkers: Similarly, you really can’t go wrong with a Zonker either. The difference? Clousers are more synthetic and therefore more durable whereas Zonkers have natural material and are more lifelike, but aren’t going to last as long as a Clouser. I’m more of a Zonker guy than a Clouser guy. I really like the lifelike quality in the water, especially water that’s on the clearer side of things.
Worms: Rubber worm anyone? Give our V-Worm a shot. It’s new this year. We’ll be expanding out into other colors based on the feedback we get. I’ve fished it just like I used to fish rubber worms in the exact same method with some very good success.
Obviously this is just your starter set. You’ll get into different things as you go along.
I left out some patterns I absolutely love like the Cousin It, the Deep Baitfish shad, Flashtail Whistler, and Mr. Creepo. These are awesome patterns and very effective. They are also more expensive. My assumption here is you’re going to lose some bugs from time to time. Depending on your confidence, you may want to check these out, but the aforementioned list is good to get you going.
Tight Lines and Screaming Drags my fishy friends!