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Fly-fishing Around Central Iowa


By David Merical

Having made a decision to finally give fly-fishing a fair shake last year (Spring 2007), I purchased a nice, yet affordable, fly-fishing rod and reel. Since I figured I'd be fishing mainly small public ponds, and my main quarry would be bluegills, with the odd bass or crappie a distinct possibility, I chose a 5wt rod and reel. I won't get into more details than that right now, but would be happy to entertain specific questions.

I had fly-fished before, with notable success, but I really was convinced that most of the time I could present my lures to the fish more quickly, accurately, and effectively with spinning gear. I no longer feel that way.

Even decent bluegills have fairly small mouths. Small unweighted (or lightly weighted) lures fished slowly are often the ticket to tricking bluegills. These lures, or flies, are best cast and presented with fly gear.

Crappies too are highly susceptible to small, slow-moving flies.

Bass? You guessed it. Although they often like flies that are somewhat larger than those used for crappies and bluegills, it's sometimes surprising how often a decent bass will attack even a small fly.

I ended up using my fly rod for well over 100 fishing trips around the Des Moines metropolitan area in 2007 year, and caught well over 1,000 fish on it. In addition to bluegills up to 9.5", bass up to 16", and crappies up to 13", I also managed to land 2 white bass, 1 hybrid "wiper", 3 channel cats in the 21"-22" range, green sunfish, and naturally-occuring hybrid sunfish up to 9".

Good places to catch fish on the fly rod are local public ponds around the Des Moines Metro area. There's probably one not far from your home. Bigger bodies of water also offer great fun for panfish and the occasional bass on the fly rod. Big Creek Lake, Easter Lake, Blue Heron Lake, DMACC Pond, Fort Des Moines pond are top choices. Although I've not tried it, I would bet a guy could catch bullheads on a fly rod by fishing the ponds at the DM Water Works Park!

I've seen guys fish the Des Moines River with fly-fishing gear, but in many areas the bank is steep, which makes casting more of a challenge. However, if you can wade out away from shore, the opportunities are almost limitless on the river.

And don't forget that you can fly-fish from a boat, canoe, kayak or float tube as well.

No excuses. Get out there and give it a try! ~ Dave

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