• Chris O'Byrne

Trout Flies for Bass

Because They Work

Losing sight of my bass popper in an explosion of dark water near a shaded, weedy edge is a great reward. I go after that thrill like a… well… like a bass after a popper. But bass take most of their prey below the surface. So, I use various flies, including many that are usually cast to trout. Here are some favorites, beginning with the Wooly Bugger.

Ok, that’s pretty standard. But the modular nature of the Wooly Bugger puts it in any discussion of flies. Chris Kinkaid favors a white chenille bugger with a gold bead. And the Thin Mint variation on a #6 hook has tricked more than one bass for Hunter Towery. My own adaptation is OB's Pace Bugger. I tie synthetic materials on extra-long dry fly hooks, then fish them on ponds with a three weight.

Flying insects live in still water lakes as well as in moving waters. So, their imitations attract bass. In my area, Hare’s ear nymphs fill a great deal of space in the fly boxes of bass anglers. I often tie these with my dog’s fur as a substitute for the good stuff, it works just as well. Another trout nymph, the simple zebra midge scores in late spring when innocuous swarms of midges that didn’t get eaten underwater float around boat ramps. Both of these nymphs tied on bent long shank streamer hooks build flies that seem to attract more attention in the big waters where bass live. And I sometimes use colored wire and maybe a collar of peacock hurl to increase the attractiveness of my zebra midges. I present both flies in water approximately five feet deep, allowing them to sink as much as I can stand. Then I strip slowly to mimic an insect wriggling up from the bottom and struggling through its shuck. But, when they are stripped quickly during crisp, refreshing weather bluegill attack these flies like linebackers chasing a scrambling quarterback.

Royal Coachman flies occupy several spots in the “sure thing” area of my pond fishing fly box. They imitate various insects resting on the surface, and after you begin stripping, they’ll rise and fall slowly like a weak fry or an emerging insect.

Using trout flies does not have to mean small bass. Bulky and weighted TeQueelys attract hawgs. Measure the depth of the water, cast and let the fly sink. Then strip. Slowly at first, then quickly. Or, tie bulky but lightweight streamers with Flymen Fishing Company Fish-Masks and Orvis Dragon Tails. Cast one of these danglers over a point. Then let it sink a while. Then strip it back like you’re afraid the fish will steal it!

When the top water bite is on, try a Hippie Stomper. The designer, Andrew Grillos, says the synthetic materials allow him to catch fish all day long by presenting his terrestrial with small twitches. Combining a Hippie Stomper with one of the nymph flies in a dropper rig works like a worm under a bobber for a beginner, but also allows experts to expand their chances to hook up.

Trout flies are all over the angling world. Take one with you on your next trip to bass water.

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