“Take up the challenge of targeting these ferocious predators on fly. Remember: Find structure and you will find Bass.”
The Largemouth Bass is a very well respected freshwater fish. This predator attacks almost anything that moves, if it looks real or natural enough… Hopefully this article will give you some insight and tips on how to hook and land the Largemouth Bass by following these Fly Fishing tips…
Catching Largemouth Bass on fly can be tricky and very frustrating, but once you hook that first Bass on fly the adrenaline will keep you going until you land the fish… Below are some tips and advice for you Bass anglers who want to give the fly fishing method a go!
What Tackle Do I Need?
Generally the idea for targeting Largemouth Bass with fly gear is to fish slightly heavier than you would if you were targeting Trout. Normally in South Africa to catch Rainbow Trout you would use between a 4 weight and 6 weight fly rod paired with the appropriate reel. In my opinion fishing for Largemouth Bass is no different, it all comes down to personal preference, what size leader you are going to use and how heavy your fly of choice is. Many well respected Bass anglers say that you should use a Fly rod between 7 and 9 weight for Bass… This is understandable because you have to tackle up when targeting these fish as they are such strong fighters compared to Trout, but as I mentioned it is all about what you feel comfortable with. I target Largemouth Bass with a 5 weight with floating line and a 6 weight with sinking line. So it’s up to you but I would say go with a 6 weight.
In terms of leader this again goes back to how heavy the fly you are using is and how heavy the structure is where you are fishing. Largemouth Bass are not as finicky when it comes to being spooked, such as Trout and so you can afford to go with a heavier leader line… Somewhere between 2 kilograms and 5 kilograms is perfect. On a floating line I would use 2-3 kilogram line with about a 10 foot leader and on a sinking line I would use 3-4 kilogram leader, with a length of about 8 feet. I find that shorter leaders work a lot better with fast sinking line. Even though many Fly Fisherman argue this topic… I have caught Bass on a 3 foot leader before on my sinking line, it just goes to show there are no set rules in the world of fishing.
The Best ‘Bass’ Flies To Use
The best Flies to use for Largemouth Bass are without a doubt Zonker’s, medium to large sized Mrs. Simpson’s and the San Juan or Blood Worm imitations. These all imitate a Largemouth Bass’s natural food items. The Zonker’s are bait fish, the Mrs. Simpson’s are tadpoles and the other two mentioned above are worms. There are a lot of Bass flies on the market that work well too, but I tend to use the flies that have been catching fish for centuries. So listed below are the best flies for Bass, in my opinion on different lines:
Floating line Flies for targeting Largemouth Bass:
- San Juan Worm (Fished static with the occasional twitch)
- Blood Worm With Bead (Fished static with the occasional twitch)
- DDD (Fished static, using dry fly methods)
- GRHE (Fished on the drop then a slow figure of eight retrieve)
- Flashback Nymph (Fished static with the occasional twitch)
- PTN (Fished on the drop then a slow figure of eight retrieve)
- Hoppers (Fished static, using dry fly methods)
- Floating Ant (Fished static, using dry fly methods)
- Adams (Fished static, using dry fly methods)
- Poppers (Fished with a short retrieve and then stop etc.)
Sinking Line Flies For Targeting Largemouth Bass
- Mrs. Simpson
- Zonkers (Any colours and sizes)
- Cat’s Whiskers
- Red Eye Damsel (Olive & Black)
- Clouser Minnows
- Walkers Killer
- Black Woolly Bugger
- Olive Woolly Bugger
- White Death
How To Fight And Land A Largemouth Bass On Fly Gear
When you hook a Largemouth Bass on fly you will be fighting the fish with “lighter tackle” than a spinning or bait caster set up so it is important not to give the Bass any slack and just let the Bass fight you… The bigger ones will run and take quite a bit of line but do not panic. Play them and tire them out and when you get the chance get the line back… When the Bass jump out of the water keep your rod tip low and your line tension fairly tight, not doing this often results in disappointment as the Bass ‘shake’ the fly out of their mouth.
Landing a Largemouth Bass should be done with a net as you are using smaller hooks and lighter leader and you do not want that personal best Largemouth Bass to snap off and swim away. Wet your hands before touching the fish, take a photo and then release it. When releasing these Bass it is important to not just throw the fish back, but to revive it, as they are often tired after a long fight on Fly gear. Place the Bass in the water and either face it toward the flow of the water or gently rub your fingers along the side of the fish, thus getting its gills to move and start breathing. It is important not to bring the fish back and forward through the water as this could drown it.
Other Largemouth Bass Tips For Fly Fishing
Always fish around structure, drop offs, inlets or banks (The same areas where you would fish for Bass normally).Winter fly fishing for Largemouth Bass can be quite slow especially if the water is very cold, as Bass are regarded as “warm water fish”. You will still catch them in Winter and the chances are that if you do you will catch larger fish. It is just very tough Fly Fishing but persevere and you will get your reward. The best times in Winter to target Largemouth Bass on fly would be when the temperature is at its warmest… Otherwise Spring and Summer are my favourite seasons for catching Largemouth Bass on fly. Often when the bigger Largemouth Bass are spawning and not taking a crank bait or soft plastic, a small Zonker or Nymph thrown up against the fish often produces the bite, keep that in mind.
When retrieving the fly it is important to vary your retrieve. On my more successful days I have caught Bass with the fastest of retrieves, come back a week later and it doesn’t work. Be flexible and try anything, even if it is not ‘text book style’. Tight lines, I hope these bass fishing tips will assist you in landing your dream catch.