…Bass By Fly Fishing
Whether lake or river dwellers, both smallmouth and largemouth black bass are great fly fishing fodder, mostly
because they feed on so many different forms of life that can readily be matched with artificials. And they have such tremendous appetites that while they may sometimes get selective and
go for one dish only, they can still be had by matching the hatch, whatever it is.
They like frogs, the different types of minnows such as shiners, darters, chubs and small catfish. They eat leeches,
nymphs, small eels, natural flies, and all kinds of things that fall into the water, such as ants, worms, bugs, even mice and small snakes. And one of their favorite snacks is old pinchnose the hellgramite. The largemouth is such a stuffer that when hunger pangs assail him he’s sudden death to almost any living thing that comes near him. He’ll eat his nearest and dearest relatives, and has even been known to snatch a squirrel running along a log in the water, and to take birds of assorted sizes.
With such a wide variety of items to match or imitate, the bass fisherman should have a well stocked fly box and when you’re so armed, you’re certain at some time or other to have fine sport. There will be days, of course, as with any kind of fishing,when hits are few and far between, and a fellow should
have gone to the movies, or “stood in bed”; but in general, with the right equipment plus a little thought and the right technique, you can have a banner day with bass.
And because one or the other of the basses is found reasonably close to almost any spot you can name in the United States and Canada, the bass fills a mighty void for the thousands of avid fly-rodders. The largemouth does more than his share to provide sport by moving into brackish water in sounds, bays
and river mouths; and there, with that touch of salt to spark his fight, he seems greater than ever.
If I were to choose a single fly-rod artificial, for both smallmouth and largemouth black bass, it would be a popping bug. A popper does something special to a bass as it makes a popping sound, caused by water action against the collar.
Probably the best-working model is the bug made of balsa wood.
This has lightness for casting and for effective lure play, even in large sizes. It can be popped or slid or skidded across
the surface, or pulled under, according to the way it is constructed, and generally can be played with real zip and pep so as to appear to be something very much alive. Other materials may be more durable, but none performs with the same lifelike actions as does the balsa wood popper.
The various plastic popping bugs, however, while a little heavier per size, also do a workmanlike job and are more durable and retain their finish better. And in Southern canals, tiny poppers made of either balsa, plastic or cork, all with rubber legs, get a great play from fishermen out for bream but taking
bass on the side.