Bass On Fly – Another Addiction

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So it’s Bass on Fly! Chris Adams talks about his addiction to catching brilliant Bass on Fly. Another addictive form of fishing to lure you in!

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The level of commitment that you want for top water Bass fishing on fly is easy to achieve when it’s fuelled by outright addiction. The time of day, the visual aspect of the eat and the blingy flies are all part of it. My family and friends just don’t understand how I could sit at the vice for an hour to tie only one fly then set the alarm for 2:30 am in anticipation of glassy conditions and a dam all to myself, only to return my prize back to the water if I end up successful. You know I don’t think anyone could get it at first glance, and how could they if they haven’t done it. The drive to put the effort into your gear, casting and stealth in addition to launching in the dark when most others are sound asleep would have any angler appear crazy to onlookers, but believe me, top water Bass on fly is absolutely worth every second of it.

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Be Early

For me, I would climb over a dozen deep caught 50cm Bass only to have one 35cm Bass launch itself clear of the water to engulf my fly, but feeding this obsession takes a very specific approach. Let’s expand on the bite window. It’s often short and explosive most times only an hour after first light, although in certain scenarios it can drag out to mid morning if your lucky. I like to get on the water while it is still dark so knowing the water your fishing is essential, not only to navigate obstacles but also so you can be where you want to be as first light approaches. Stealth is paramount as a lot of topwater fish are very susceptible to presence, this is not the place for high speed boating or rigging and banging around the boat or canoe, as they say, silence is golden. Most of my experience for topwater flyfishing for Bass is in impoundments which are open and can allow the light to hit the water very early. It’s not long after the sun hits the water that Bass slow down to an eventual shut down on the surface, but if you can pick your run so to work your way into the shade, you will give yourself the best chance to have that extended bite window on sunny days. Some of the best sessions I have had have been during rainy overcast days, again I believe the low light is the key here again. Perhaps with the rain breaking the surface of the water visibility from above is obscured allowing Bass to have a heightened sense of security against predators or an advantage over prey, either way rainy days are always an extended bite window.

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The Right Fly

Fly selection is a widely debated issue, and for me it’s hard to beat a Deer Hair fly. Whether it’s a diver, popper, frog or slider, Bass seem to react a lot better to the sonic signature and natural crunch of natural Deer Hair in comparison to other materials. The Dahlberg Diver developed by American fishing icon Larry Dahlberg, was originally developed as a subsurface fly to be fished on a fast sinking line. Nowadays the Dahlberg Diver’s modern use as a surface fly has become synonymous with successful topwater techniques for a variety of species but for Bass they are hard to beat. These fly’s are capable of pushing bulk amounts of water but are most effective when used in short waking type retrieves. They require a far shorter distance to travel than a foam type popper only to create twice as much action. They can be hard to cast when your not used to them or if they are not tied tight enough. With recent tying techniques, it is very possible to get your Deer hair sandable tight, which means less wind resistance and the ability to float all day without any sealant.

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You cannot discount foam poppers all together, there have been some great flies developed for this purpose. A popular pattern known as the Gartside Gurgler or Gurgler, is well known to account for many species in fresh and salt, but this patterns recent adaptation to Bass fishing has been a good one. Recently, I have been impressed with the Grabhams Gurgler, developed by Andrew Grabham, that has specifically been created for impoundment Bass . The fly sits almost vertical in the water and has little to no flash, a very sparse bucktail tail and very little foam. The fly has an oversized head if you like, that creates a unique action in the water that Bass climb all over. Although I prefer Deer hair, this fly cannot be discounted and has accounted for many Bass for me.

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The Gear

Like all flyfishing the approach to gear is pretty simple, Bass don’t need heavy rods. Gear choice should consist of rods between 5-7 weights. These will be fine if your new to the sport and still on your “L” plates as a caster. An 8 weight will be fine also. Depending on the quality of your rod there is nothing wrong with overlining your rod, it will help to load your rod with bulky flies, however be more mindful that overlining will reduce your casting distance. In preference to overlining, I prefer a correct taper flyline. A bulky weight forward head is ideal, there are number of lines designed for bass bugs and these are great. Recently I purchased a Scientific Anglers Sharkwave line in Titan taper from Tie N Fly outfitters. Being able to go through the various coatings in the new Scientific Anglers range with a professional outfitter was ideal as I had trouble deciding between a few options, and as a result, this saved me blowing my coin online with something that wasn’t correct. The Sharkwave Titan taper line is ideal for this type of fishing. I fish a 5 weight GLX streamdance in most circumstances and comfortably throw out 80-90 feet with a 1/0 Dahlberg Diver on, standing up in my canoe. Learning techniques specific to casting Deer hair flies is a whole new subject and although fishing Deer hair poppers does require a specific approach a correct setup helps a lot, a local outfitter is the go for such advice. Leaders are very simple. A rod length consisting of 70% butt section and 30% tippet gets that fly to turn over even into the wind. I use a hard mono butt section so it doesn’t sink fast and is stiff enough to deliver the energy from the flyline to the fly, I use a light fluoro tippet to connect the fly. Construction for me is usually a 20lb butt and a 10lb tippet, it’s a light tippet but it’s a light rod.

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Missed strikes are unfortunately part of the gig, there isn’t much you can do about that. Recently, a group of friends and I have noticed that quick reactions and straight line strip strikes have not converted as well as unintended “trout strikes”. Likewise, eats when your not concentrating and cannot put hook setting tension on the line have also got a few runs on the board. I think it is worth noting that although slack line is commonly seen as the enemy with flyfishing, you can’t ignore the stats. Lifting the rod on the eat and trying to set the hook over the rod (trout strike) rather than pointing the rod at the fish and setting the hook while pulling the line (strip strike) seems so wrong and would require learning again for most tropical fishermen, but again, you can’t argue with the stats.

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At the end of the day, if you hit the water during low light conditions, in either impounded waters or wild waters your in with a chance. Putting the fly in tight where the structure is will increase that chance again and walking a well tied Deer Hair diver back to the boat increases it again. As with all fishing, nothing is guaranteed, but it’s that anticipation that pumps the adrenalin, it’s the Kaboom that keeps you coming back. Bass on fly is highly effective and I am not sure if this breed of fisherman is more driven than their conventional fishing comrades, but this season, fly is accounting for more and bigger Bass in my local puddle.

Chris Adams

About Chris Adams

My name is Chris Adams, I am based on the Sunshine Coast and have been fishing my entire life, from simple hand lines and a prawn on a hook off jetties as a kid to nothing but artificials from the age of 10. I cut my teeth on bass in the local creeks and from there, progressed from Lures to Flyfishing. Having been Flyfishing exclusively for the past 12 years, I have been to many places all over Australia and the world all thanks to my love of sight fishing. I have previously been the president of the Saltwater Flyfishing Association and a certified casting instructor with the Federation of Flyfishers (FFF), I am still a practising casting instructor and most recently a low volume commercial fly tier. These days I have evolved into a more all rounder and will mix it up between conventional and Flyfishing whenever I feel as though one has more of an advantage to the other. My favourite type of fishing is any type of sight fishing, from bream on the flats in landlocked lakes, to the pelagics cruising the flats inside Fraser Island, saratoga both wild and impounded to nones and GTs on the flats of Kiritimati. Sight fishing is my preferred style is of hunting but my heart will always be with Aussie bass.


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  1. Chris Adams
    February 22, 07:50 Reply
    Ahh, just need to point out that I am not Rod Harrison, I wish I had his fishing experience but I don't hahaha. I hope you like MY article.
  2. Macca
    March 18, 19:59 Reply
    Another awesome write up mate! ?

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