One of my favorite fish to pursue is the largemouth bass, with it’s predatory attitude, in-your-face fights, and jumping ability. These fish can be found in a small farm pond, or in large reservoirs where they can grow to huge proportions. My favorite thing about these fish though is the variety of streamer tying techniques you can use to tie flies for them, and that these fish will often smash these flies with such anger that it could pull you into the water on the first few headshakes.
So let’s go through some of the main techniques I use when tying my largemouth bass flies:
Gorilla glue is a very fun glue to work with in order to create buoyant bodies and buoyant sections of flies. I use this a lot in baitfish imitations that I fish on intermediate or sinking lines to have them suspend at a certain point in the water column. To do this I simply layer the underbody of a fly with gorilla glue and let it dry before tying on the rest of the materials. The gorilla glue expands and creates air bubbles which cause the buoyancy.
I also use these flies a lot during night fishing when you want the fly to be in the surface film, and these flies do an excellent job of sitting just underneath the surface film, which I’ve found to be more productive than simply having the fly on top of the surface film, as the fish can see the fly better and it gives a more realistic presentation of a baitfish in trouble.
Another way to use gorilla glue is to use it in jig flies, in which case I’ll often make an extended body type of tail section, and use gorilla glue in there in order to have that section point up while the weighted head keeps the fly vertical. This is very effective in fishing ledges and drop-offs.
I came across this technique when messing around with some jig streamer hooks, and what I discovered is that I can make a stealthy, shallow water diver using these hooks and by streamlining the foam tied in at the head. The result is a low profile wounded bait fish imitation, which I use when in need of a stealthy approach in shallow water situations. This fly tying technique is also killer for bluegill!
During spring, especially during pre-spawn, the bass go into a really aggressive, territorial mode, and in clearer lakes and ponds, I love tossing huge snake imitations to these cruising fish, as they tend to crush these flies with immense rage. I use Fish-Skull Articulated Shanks and tie them together in 3-4 different articulation segments to create long, and due to the shanks clinging together, noisy flies. I like to strip these using a stop-start motion, as to get as much out of the rattling shanks as I can. Make sure to tie these with different head weights to be able to adapt to different situations calling for more or less movement.
Body Tubing Heads:
One of my favorite streamer materials is Chocklett’s Body Tubing, which both gives the fly an attractive profile, while also impacting the movement of the fly in an irresistible motion. I personally enjoy using these on flies built from zonker strip bodies, and utilizing a start-stop retrieve, as the body tubing shines when the retrieve is stopped, making the fly dart in different directions every time. Bass love when a fly is stopped and suspended in this jerking motion, and the zonker strip gives this stop a certain type of movement that the bass go crazy for. Strikes will be aggressive, and this is killer when sight fishing for bass, or over shallow water areas, as I usually don’t add weight when using the body tubing to achieve a more mid-column presentation.
When fishing in heavily pressured reservoirs or ponds, I’ve often found that fishing something with simple movements and shapes is often great for fish that have seen a myriad of crankbaits, and other gear concoctions, offering an alternative to the rattles and spinning blades. Mostly I’ll tie these using zonker strips, some flash, and use either a Fish-Skull Baitfish Head, or Fish-Mask, and I’ve found that incorporating the Frantic Tails is also very productive to these streamers. On clear reservoirs in the spring, when the post-spawn fish are cruising along the shoreline, I’ve had a lot of success dropping these flies in front of the cruisers and letting them sit motionless in front of them, often the fish will slow down, inspect the fly, and then suck it up.
These are a fairly new addition to the Flymen Fishing Company line-up of awesome tying materials, and I use these on crayfish for bass, and they love it! I tie them in at the front, on top of the eye, and they help the fly sink hook up, and stabilize the flies as they sit on the bottom. The best thing about them though, in my opinion, is the movement they produce, as the flies have a more “darting” motion and will flutter, kind of like a crayfish, which has been an important trigger when I’m targeting sluggish bass. So far these tails have saved the day for me a couple times by coaxing up some unenthusiastic bass!
A note on gear:
A lot of these flies are wind resistant or heavy, and require accurate and often soft casts, and I’ve found that the shorter rods like the Mojo Bass 8wt, or a Redington Predator 6wt, are my go to rods when fishing for bass, as they help with the short casts with large flies, and they are a great help in tight corners. They also aid with setting the hook on the larger bass, and the stoutness helps keep the fish away from rocks and logs, and other snags.
Reels aren’t as important in bass fishing as in some more drag scorching species, but you do need a smooth drag, with ample stopping power, because they do make short runs into rocks and snags, and having a little extra drag strength doesn’t hurt in those scenarios. I also like to have a sealed, or at least a capped drag housing, since many of the places bass hide in can be muddy, or silty, and you don’t want debris in the drag system to ruin your day. My two go-to reels for bass are the Allen Kraken in size 8, Sage 2010 for a 9wt line, and the Redington Behemoth in 6wt.
I use lines from floating WF, to shooting heads, and intermediate to full on sink lines. The key is to figure out where the bass are in the water column, and pay attention to how that changes throughout the day.
I hope some of these fly tying techniques will help you in your pursuit of bass, at the vice and on the water!