Bass is a four-letter word. Technically it has four letters,
but that's not what they mean. Most trout fisherman would
not be caught dead at a "bassorama."
On the other hand, fly fishermen are hardly in a position to
poke snide comments at others. Especially since some fly
fishermen have the nerve to put bobblers on their leaders and
call them "strike indicators." Or nymphs and streamers that
look more like bait than bait. They are artificial bait!
No email or phone calls on fly fishing for bass from the
purists out there. I've got your number too. Remember, I've
seen you at Henry's Fork with a Rocky Mountain Whitefish (we
called them suckers back east) on your line. And you thought it
was a trout. Come on.
Or a local guy with the flounder who thought it was a king
salmon. He was thrilled — until he got it to shore. I even
caught a dog fish (sand shark) one evening that cleaned me
well into my backing. Everyone on the beach thought it was a
Fly fish for bass on purpose? Well, why not? It's fun! Not
only that, I knew several people who fly fish for carp and pike.
Think a big one doesn't put up a fight? Think again — I've
Let's face it. We are faced with declining numbers of trout
and salmon. Even worse, finding a local place to fish for trout
can be discouraging. Trout like cold, running water if they
have a choice. You may have some trout in local lakes. But
lakes near population centers often have been so heavily
fished they are line and leader shy. Without terrific
presentation and perfect float your chances are really limited.
Bass however, live in warmer water. They like it! That
gives us more fish to fish to. Fish that have not been so
over-fished they won't even look at a fly. My personal
preference is small mouth bass. I like their attitude. Frankly,
the guy on tv who kisses the bass on the mouth is a little too
much for me. He does know what he is doing 'tho. Except for
He uses hardware, smelly stuff, and artificial lures made
from pig hides. If someone taught this guy how to cast a fly
rod, he would really have it all. He could probably win all the
Okay, how do you fish for bass? Start with an
understanding of what bass eat. They eat the same things
trout eat. Duh. All fish live underwater — how many choices do
they have? Will they take a dry fly? Sure, just make sure the
fly represents something that is actually there. Warm water
lakes and ponds have active insect life. Mayflies, caddis,
stoneflies, damsels, mosquitoes, all trout and bass food.
Grasshoppers in late summer and fall will catch fish.
Wet stuff? Back to basics, leech-type wooly buggers in a
black as well as dark olive green work. Small minnow
streamers work. Deer or elk hair caddis work. In other words,
the very same stuff you would use for trout works for bass.
Then there are bass poppers. They usually look somewhat
lke mice or frogs. I haven't purchased any in years, but they
are still made. You can tie both using dyed deer or elk hair,
packed and trimmed to frog or mouse shape. The trick is not
to tie them too big, unless you plan on hunting down the
granddaddy bass or monster brown trout. Will they eat them?
Rods in 3-weight and up to 5 or 6-weight will provide lots of
fun. The same size rods you would use for small stream stuff
for trout. The choice of lines is the same too. A nice
high-floating line for the dry flies, and a sink tip for the wet. An
intermediate full-sinking line would be desireable if you need
to get down deep.
Getting down deep, fishing the shaded water, or undercut
banks is the strategy for bright sunshine days. Overcast days,
water with a ripple from wind gives better opportunity for dry
flies. All fish are less spooky when broken water is over them.
Underwater growths like weed beds, near shore cattails, and
lily beds are perfect for poppers and grasshoppers.
Fish grasshoppers and poppers by casting right at the
vegetation and then bouncing or twitching the fly off onto the
water. Very effective.
If you were a fish, where would you be? On a hot bright
day you would prefer the shade. Cool, overcast day? Maybe
not in the shade. Really hot? How about the deepest water
you can find.
Another clue. Cover is important to trout. A partically
submerged log or tree, rocks and boulders and in lakes weed
beds all provide protection. Bass are no different. They will
use what cover they find too.
What if you hook one? Be prepared for a fight. A small
mouth bass will outfight a rainbow of a much larger size. One
more thing; blue gill and sunfish may not be as big — but still
loads of fun on a fly rod. Darn good eating too. If you're
thinking about getting a kid interested in fly fishing it may be
the perfect introduction.. ~ The LadyFisher
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