There are a lot of flies to choose from, when you pick up a
'Fly Shop' Catalog. That is why I headed down to the local fly
shop, like most fly fishermen I asked, "What do you think they
will be takin' today?" The young skinny kid said in his best
college English,"You are in pursuit of Rainbow Trout or Brown
Trout?" Maybe he just assumed that I was looking for the hatch
of the day. In any case he led me to a display that had about a
'billion colorful little flies,' some that would require you to
have a magnifin' glass just to tie it on the line. "Here is what
Doctor Cutslow was using on Wednesday when he took that big
cutthroat from the tailrace at Broken Bow." He informed me
beaming with pride in his knowledge. "It is a "Klinkhamer Special,"
tied on a number 16 Partridge K12ST long-shank. Doc said that
he thought that, 'The light tan dubbing was very close to the
Cedar boar'." He was offering more than I needed to know.
At this point I was almost to intimidated to say that I was
looking for Bass flies. When the president of the local
bank came in, the preppy clerk's attention was diverted to the
new arrival. He left me standing there looking at the 'Billion
colorful little flies' case. I stood there with my good ear,
the one without the hole in it from the jig head fly my 'fishin
buddy' decided to use to take a gar with, straining to hear. The
Bank President, not looking like an executive in his blue jeans
and state college tee shirt, started asking about some 'Deceivers.'
I knew that was a bass fly. So I moved a little closer just to get
a better light on the 'Killhammer Special' I was still holding
in my palm.
I could look like I knew what I was looking at. After all, I had
looked at flies before. What I wanted to hear was what the 'Pres.'
was saying about the largemouth bass he was taking on the
lake. Now here was someone I could relate to. A real fisherman
and he had been using a fly rod for a while. Maybe I could absorb
some knowledge about the flies I should be using. "Along the point . . ."
He was saying, wait what point? There are several points on the
lake. "Bendback in the lilies" What was a Bendback? A dive or
a duck? I had to get closer. I was missing so much.
I started to put the little "Sledgehammer Special" back in its
tray along with the other 'Billion colorful little flies'. Hoping
that it was the right tray. So the preppy clerk, with his tweed
pants, would not think I was stealing a fly or that I did not
know where the "Slidehammer" went, I just placed it on the edge
of the tray.
Now the President was telling about "Working a high profile up near
a bank." Was he still talking about fly fishing for bass? I saddled
a little closer, if only Jack had not tried for that turkey from
the pick-up. The blast rang in my ear for a week. Now I can make
out the conversation. Mr. Dunn is giving the clerk all the latest
on the bass fishing on Opossum Kingdom Lake. Hey, I know where that
launch ramp is! At this time he turned toward me to ask if I had
tried the black bass on PK. "Well not this week, but last week I
did a little Fly Casting. Took a couple on Deceivers," I said,
remembering what it was he came in asking for.
Well that broke the ice. Forever after, when I get around fly
fishermen I will just throw out a name like Deceiver. If I could
work a 'Deceiver' in to the conversation then they would know
I was a Bass fisherman and not a highbrow trout fisherman. Just a
good ol' bass fisherman. OK, so I used a flyrod that put me just
a little further up the gene pool ladder.
"Well Mr. Dunn," I started.
"Stop, just call me Mike" he corrected. " In here or on a lake
or stream it is just Mike." I put out my hand in a good ol' Texas
hand shake. The same one that had held the little "Doc's Killbammer"
but a short time ago. He returned the courtesy and started asking
about what type of leader I was using on my outfit. Now here is
where I had some knowledge. Just last night I had read all about
the leaders and tippets. Man I was rocking and rolling so to say.
Standing here talking about leaders and flies with an Executive
officer and fellow bass fisherman put me in 'high cotton'. About
the time I was running out of leader information, having covered
the sinking lines' short leader and the new Fluorocarbon mono lines.
He asked if I would like to go with him this very afternoon.
"We could take my bass boat and try the weed bank along the south
shore., be back before the dogs start howling." It only took a
half breath for me to accept his invitation.
What I learned that afternoon about fly fishing and flies could fill a
book or two. Mike was a great teacher and if he were real would
have become my best fishing buddy.
This is what I can share.
'Bend-back' is a fly that has the hook's shank bent up about a quarter
inch from the eye. Not much, just enough to kick the point down to almost
the same plane as the hook eye; the hook point is bent open about five
degrees. The hair is tied on the hook shank between the hook's eye and
the bend. This makes the fly almost weedless, as the hair forms a weed
guard. The hook rides point up, so that you can fish it right close
to the bottom and not hang-up.
You can cast the fly right up on a lily pad and then work it off very
slowly. Stripping it in eight to ten inch pulls, makes it act like a
wounded minnow. This is a deadly fly for hungry bass that take up a
hunting position under the lily pads.
The second fly that will do some bass catching is Lefty's Deceiver.
This fly is no longer a special fly like a Griffins' Gnat, or a
Klinkhamer Special, but more a style of tying a fly. What makes
this fly special, other that it will take Bass; largemouth, smallmouth,
spotted, striped, and even trout, is that the hair and feathers do
not entangle in the bend of the hook, due to the way the hackles
are tied to the hook shank. The fish hair and hackles can be
about any color to look like about any baitfish. The Deceiver can
be from one and a half to nine inches long. This fly when fished
in fast water or slow is a very effective bait fish imitation.
Much of the food for a bass in the lakes are Shad and Bluegill.
These fish have a body that is higher than wide and the flys that
best imitates these are the 'High Profile' flies, often tied of
wool or a synthetic hair with a weighted body. These are fished
in deeper water or along the bank working it slowly with a fast
short strip every once in a while.
The surface flies are varied, with the time of the year, as to
what is hatching. There are always the 'Terrestrial' flies, like
the grasshoppers, crickets, beetles, and ants. There are 'frog'
patterns and deer-hair mice.
One of my favorite top-water flies is the Elk Hair Caddis,tied on
a number 12 or 10 hook. This fly looks much like a moth that is
often seen around the water in the evenings.
I guess I should include poppers made of foam, wood, plastic and
deer hair. The simple to the very accurate, all catch Mr. Bass.
There you have some of the best flies for bass. Do not be afraid
to enter 'The Fly Shop' just because you do not know what to ask
for. Just go ahead and tell the 'preppy kid' that you go after big
ol' bass that would destroy most trout outfits. That should
establish you as a Fly Fisherman Texas style. Of course now you
can use names like Deceiver or Bend-backs and get away with it.
The bigger flies will require a heavier weight outfit like an 8 or
9 weight. The stronger tippet is required when fishing thick brush
or where the bass can wrap the line around an obstacle.
I have found that if you can stop the first run, or the attempt
to escape, you will disorient the bass and half the battle is over.
He only knows one way out and if you stop that he will just be fighting
with you and not able to use the natural hang-ups.
Good luck and remember, casting is as easy as flysoup.
~ Allan Crise, FFF Certified Fly Casting Instructor.