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Fly Tying

Wanting to give up..

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I like the idea that there are bug days and there are plug days. I'm a kayak fisherman, and when bass fishing (large or smallies) I take 2 spinning rods and 1 fly rod, either a 7 or 8 weight.

Bass are action-oriented folks. Many flys are kind of unexciting as presented, though the angler could do more. Smallmouth respond to a lightning fast retrieve most of the time with streamer type flies, but hit on nymph drifting hellgrammite and crayfish patterns. I'm almost exclusive on poppers and streamers though.

My world - flyrodding depends on times when bass are shallow. If depth needs to be below 3 feet I'm on a spinning or baitcast rig. That's just the way I fish.

I carry damsel nymphs in my box for bluegills, and I love casting for bluegills.

I think time of day when bass are active shallow is pretty much the ballgame. I can entice strikes, I believe, with my lures, but I think bass need to be more in the mood to hit flies.

Different flies throw differently too. Early on I made up some great looking deceivers and Dahlberg divers, with heavy feathering. I was so heavy on feathers that they threw like little helicopters, going out 20/30 feet then stopping dead in mid air and dropping. I learned to tie a little more sparsely.

I love my 8 wt rod. It throws bass/pike flies very efficiently, and the 7 is a little soft, but I like both.

The first largemouth I ever caught on a fly was one evening (a time and spot I learned when bass are active chasing dinner, but didn't know it at the time) I was paddling back to the dock (it was almost dark) and I decided to throw out a popper just for the exercise of it (I love to flycast, it's relaxing, mostly). I popped it a couple of times, not believing anything would happen, then noticed a swirl behind it, then bam - the hit. I was completely surprised. I hung around that little cove for another 30 minutes and hit one after the other, and a couple nice size gills in the mix.

That gave me the confidence and a little learning insight. I had the same experience with smallmouth; stripping a clouser through a nice spot in a river and being surprised when a fish actually jumped on.

Having just one fish hit me was what I needed to believe this was going to happen, and from there I did my homework to figure out how my fishing life was going to go. I'm fly purist for trout, but for bass I mix modes. Now, I mix modes sometimes because I'm a mood for one or the other; if the odds-on bet say spin, I may just be in the mood to fly, so I'll put on a baitfish streamer and heck with it, that's that! Or mid-day I may put on a popper and hit some shallows near overhanging branches.

I don't push myself to "be" any particular thing. And, yes - to whoever said it - wisdom - I relax and look around, enjoy the outing.

I have also cast my worms exactly where a partner cast a virtually identical lure, and caught fish where she did not. The difference was in the action; that day they responded to a 3 second free drop followed by twitch, she was casting and immediately started a slow retrieve. I have always tried more different actions and depths than changing baits with bass. What I am also saying here, it is not about spin or bait cast vs fly; it's about the bass. It's always about the fish.

Nothing says you can't tie on a plastic worm to a flyrod, but that's starting to get a little mental ...

Hang in there, once you land a few you'll be fine. And it will happen.


Oh and one other technique thing - for my bigger flies, I find that a shorter, stouter leader is called for. Even a level leader at about 12-20 lb, less than 71/2 ft works fine. You aren't working for finesse presentations. I still use a bass taper leader, but I often use plain level mono, especially for the baitfish and nymph drifting.

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My tip would be don't be afraid to chase smaller bass. They are easier to catch, and will boost your confidence! This is SUPER important when fly fishing for bass. Scale down your flies that you are using as well! Once you feel confident in catching bass, upsize your flies. The key is confidence with bass. Good luck!!!!!!

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I am in the same boat. I have about 16 hours in on my fly rod and have pulled in two tiny redear on spider imitations. I have thrown poppers at dusk and streamers at sunrise. I felt like I would do well where I am fishing too, because I have never seen anyone fishing the lake with a fly rod. My casting technique I am sure is terrible, which cannot help, but I keep trying. I will be trying for trout in Michigan on the Pere Marquette in August though and we will see what happens there! The nice thing about fly fishing is being in nature. I get frustrated sometimes, but then I inevitably fall back to the position of being grateful to be part of this life and part of that particular moment.


I will be posting a picture of my first bass if/when that happens!

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