Fly Fishing for Black Bass Is One of the Modalities That Attracts the Most Among Fly Anglers
Largemouth bass are fish we can catch with varied techniques depending on their position in the water; however, the surface is the most fun and explosive way to catch largemouth bass without a doubt.
Black bass, unlike other freshwater predators such as pike or walleye, are specialists in hunting their prey on the surface. The black bass diet is quite varied, from small baitfish, rodents, amphibians, to large insects.
All of these prey are a delight for black bass. Observe black bass on a summer afternoon in a small pond and you'll see them attacking frogs, dragonflies, and more on the surface.
One thing you must be prepared for is that bass surface attacks are going to be aggressive. The attack can occur at any time, so from the moment your fly touches the water, you must be totally on alert not to lose the fish.
If the bass are especially aggressive, many times the attack will be as soon as your fly falls into the water. At other times it may just be when the fly passes near cover or structure where the bass is in hiding or in open water where the bass sometimes travel a distance behind the fly until they decide to attack.
When and How To Fly Fish for Largemouth Bass on Topwater
Top Times: Spring & Autumn
Logically, the best times to fly fishing bass on the surface will be in the months when they are more active due to the water temperature. The best months to do this are during spring and autumn as the bass will be aggressive as they need an extra protein intake to prepare them for spawning or winter.
In summer, you can also have a good time fishing for bass; however, high temperatures are not pleasant for bass, especially at noon, so the best moments will undoubtedly be at sunrise and sunset.
Finally, winter will not be a productive season for fly fishing on topwater for bass; however, that does not mean that it is impossible and the few fish that we manage to catch will be monsters without a doubt.
Strategy for Fly Action
Based on my experience, when working flies on the surface you must try to imitate a living being that is in danger. Therefore, line pulls and rod movements should be short and energetic. The speed will depend on the degree of activity in which largemouth are engaged in at the moment.
If you fish in big reservoirs, the bass are usually on the margins of the banks, stalking the schools of baitfish. In these circumstances, they are usually very aggressive and attack the whole group. When you are fishing in these places, you must be attentive to possible attacks to cast your flies to where they will occur.
It is impressive to see a small fish school jumping over the water in fear trying to escape the attack of a bass. It is at that moment when you must cast our fly and try to move it quickly and energetically, imitating one of those fleeing fish.
Topwater Through Water Vegetation
When fishing in covered areas with submerged trees and branches or a lot of vegetation on the banks, make sure to work your fly somewhat slower. The fish will be hidden in that vegetation waiting for the passage of prey.
The movement of a frog pattern moving across the surface is irresistible to bass. In these conditions, it's important to be vigilant because the attacks are explosive and we must hook the bass but also take it out from the vegetation and not get entangled. Therefore, it's essential to use a thicker and stronger tippet. Fluorocarbon in these circumstances is my first choice as it has more resistance to abrasion than monofilament.
My Favorite Topwater Flies
As for the flies that we can use, there is a great variety of fly patterns that we can use to go fly fishing for bass. I'm going to focus on my favorites.
Frog Popper Tube
In situations where there is a lot of vegetation, frogs are the best patterns. Logically, in these places the use of weed guard is mandatory so as not to lose or hook our flies on branches, water lilies, etc.
In my case, before using weed guard I prefer to tie my poppers in a tube because it gives me two advantages. The first is that I can modify the position of the hook by putting it upside down, which gives me the assurance that it will not get caught when passing it over the vegetation.
The other advantage is that when a fish hits the hook, it separates from the popper. Thanks to this, the frog popper does not suffer damage because they are inside the fish's mouth during the fight and it is much easier to unhook the bass.
Howitzer Spook Minnow
This pattern is one of my favorites when it comes to fly fish for bass in places where its main prey are baitfish schools such as shad or bluegill.
The Surface Seducer Howitzer Popper Head is perfect for mimicking small fish that swim scared or injured on the surface.
The vibrations and the sound that are produced when moving the fly make it very attractive for largemouth that will not miss the opportunity to attack a fish in these conditions.
Deer Hair Divers
The deer divers are another of my preferences. A classic when it comes to catch bass on the surface with a fly rod. They are fly patterns that involve mastering the tying technique with deer hair.
Even so, they have the advantage that they are more durable than normal poppers as long as they are well tied with super pressed deer hair. We will also use these imitations when bass is hunting other minnows near the shore.
Using this concept, we can also imitate a dragonfly by making the body with foam and the wings with shiny synthetic material. This pattern works really well during summer afternoons.
Deer Hair Zara Spook
For many anglers, this is the star lure when fishing for bass on the surface. This fly manages to perform the famous “walking the dog” movement that drives the bass crazy. We will tie it on a 6 cm or 8 cm Fish-Skull Micro Spine shank using deer hair and Fish-Skull Living Eyes.
To achieve the famous movement, we must balance the fly by adding the correct weight with tungsten balls in strategic places. Without a doubt, it is the most difficult pattern to tie because of the time it takes. However, I always carry some in my box as the results are worth it.
Another classic for fly fishing for black bass on top water. This fly is not designed for people with heart problems because the attacks are very impressive and you have to have the rod firmly in your hands. This lure is one of the best to catch larger specimens. Ideally, move it close to structures as if it were a small rodent that is escaping by swimming in the water.
This type of fly drives large female bass crazy because rodents give it a large amount of protein. Just what they need before the spawn or the onset of winter.
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About Jorge Garcia Huertes:
Jorge, owner of www.universalflyfishing.com, has been fly fishing for bass, trout, pike, and carp since he was a child in Spain. His website is dedicated to fly fishing and tying, and he has a YouTube channel with a great deal of tying tutorials and fishing videos. Jorge belongs to the Flymen Fly Tyer program, the Jerkbait Pro Team, and collaborates with Madrid Fly Fishing, which is one of the most important fly fishing stores in Spain. Follow him on Instagram @jorge_g_huertes.