There can be no doubt that fly fishing rods are an effective tool for targeting bass. However, if the flies and line used are not suitable for the type of bass you are targeting, then your chances of success with fly fishing will be minimal.
1. Choose Your Flies Wisely
Selecting your flies wisely is an integral part of bass fly fishing. Select flies that will work in harmony with the water, insects and fish in the area you are fishing so you can maximize your odds at success on the fly rod.
When fishing during specific times of year, you must select flies that are appropriate for the situation. For instance, if it’s post-spawn season, opt for dry flies that will remain close to the surface.
When selecting a fly, it is essential to take into account both the size of the hook and quality of its point. A sloppy or dull hook may break off easily, leading to line unraveling when trying to land the bass.
When selecting your fly, weight is an important factor to consider. A heavier fly will be easier to throw and less likely to break off during retrieval of the bass.
When selecting a fly, shape and density are important factors to consider. A Whistler fly can “push” water and draw strikes in stained conditions where a more translucent Sheep Shad might go unseen.
Finally, use a leader line with a butt end that is similar in diameter to your main fly line. This will prevent it from slipping off the leader and scaring away fish. Synthetic leaders such as Steve Farrar’s Flash Blend or O.P.L’s DNA Holo-Fushion absorb little water but bloom into seductive life in the water, which may attract attention from bass when feeding.
2. Know Your Bass Habitat
Typically, you’ll find them in areas with cover and structure as well as food sources to feed on. Depending on the seasons and water temperatures, they may move around for better food or water quality.
One of the best places to begin when fishing is by scanning the contours of your area and searching for areas covered in vegetation or wood, such as logs, stumps or submerged trees. This provides them with shelter all year round and makes for excellent bass hunting grounds.
Bass require rocky areas as an essential habitat. These can be excellent hunting grounds during the winter months when water temperatures are cooler and it’s essential for them to have cover to stay warm.
Habitat can be an effective way to target bass when temperatures start to warm in the springtime. These fish often spawn near rocky bottoms or gravel, though this can occur year-round; however, it’s especially popular during that period when water temperatures reach around 60 degrees Fahrenheit. At this time of year, striped bass become more active and are more likely to take bait or lures that mimic crawfish or other forage species in the water.
3. Know When to Fish
Fly fishermen know that bass tend to be more active during specific times of the day based on weather, time of year and water clarity. These times can vary depending on where you fish and what species of fly you use.
Fishing for bass is best early in the morning and before sunset. These times tend to have more active fish, increasing your odds of snagging more fish.
Early spring brings with it cool water temperatures which allow bass to survive in shallow areas. On these days, you can target these fish using chatterbaits and spinnerbaits on small coves or peninsula-like pointed banks with chatterbaits or spinnerbaits.
Once the spawn is over, bass will reenergize themselves and return to their deeper dens, where they’ll start searching for food. They’ll eat practically any type of bait available such as shads, shiners or other small marine creatures in their environment.
4. Know the Key to Catching Bass on a Fly
Catching bass on a fly requires being in the right spot at the right time. Consider water temperature, current, depth and clarity as well as what types of flies you use.
In the early spring, you should aim to cover water in your chosen river by casting flies at various depths and using various retrieves. This will enable you to target fish in their ideal habitat and make you a more efficient angler.
Smallmouth bass often seek refuge in deep, dark places to rest during spawning season. They will also use these waters to feed on insects present in the water, so the best flies to use for this occasion are dry flies that replicate what these fish will find there.
One of the most sought-after flies is the Clouser Minnow. This fly is capable of imitating various baitfish species within your ecosystem, from perch to crawfish and crabs.
The Clouser fly is ideal for both surface and subsurface fishing, with colors tailored to match the species of baitfish you’re targeting. To maximize success, have multiple colors variations of this fly in your arsenal as different fish prefer different patterns.
A close second to the Clouser is the Bass Popper. This bait works for all of the same reasons as its bigger brother, but it’s especially effective when surface fishing. The bass popper looks like a small, brightly-colored frog-like insect and will attract smallmouth bass to strike your rig.
5. Know the Type of Bass Fly Presentation
There are various bass fly presentations you can try. Each has its own advantages and drawbacks, so you may need to experiment with several versions before finding the one which works best for your needs.
One of my favorite topwater flies is a “Bob’s Banger” type popper. This fly pushes a lot of water and lands softly. Plus, its design is very straightforward – simply tie on and cast away!
One topwater fly that I really enjoy is a crease fly. These flies float high, don’t get clogged with debris, and push a lot of water as well.
Gurglers are an excellent topwater fly that’s simple to tie and cast, yet float very high and don’t become clogged with scum. These flies can be used for many different topwater situations as well as shrimp-imitation purposes.
Finally, a Bucktail deceiver is an excellent topwater fly for bass fishing. To fish this fly effectively, present it with a long fluorocarbon leader of around nine or twelve feet in length.
Use a short swivel to attach your hook to the fly line. This will prevent it from getting hung up when the bass grabs the fly, making hook set much simpler to achieve. Tie the swivel onto a loop that you can tie your own rooster tail onto for added visibility; particularly important when dealing with striped bass who tend to be wary and spooky.