stick marsh Stick Marsh, Farm 13
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Fly-Fishing For Bass

by Jim Mengle

Most people associate fly-fishing with trout. As we are aware, in our area many anglers fly-fish for a variety of species of fish in our local lagoons and saltwater. If you currently have a saltwater fly rod, (7 to 9 wt.) you are already well on the way to having an adequate outfit for bass. In fly-fishing, it is critical that you have a balanced outfit, that is fly line, rod and reel match. For example, an 8-wt. rod and 8 wt. fly line. Incidentally, this wt. (weight) has nothing to do with how much the rod, reel and line actually weigh. If your outfit is not matched, the odds that you will become a proficient caster are drastically reduced and one will become discouraged quickly. The best way to get started in the right direction is to visit your local fly shop or seek advice from an experienced bass fly-fisherman and take some fly casting lessons.

The Right Fly-Line
There are two basic types of fly-lines - floating and sinking. Fly lines and fly rods are numbered by a system by the American Fishing Tackle Manufacturers Association (AFTMA) from 1 wt. to 13 wt. this system allows us to easily match fly rod to fly line properly. As an example, rod weights of 3, 4, 5, 6 are commonly used for trout and incidentally also good for bluegill and crappie! Rods of 9 to 13 wt. are used for saltwater fishing. My recommendation for bass fishing is 7 and 8 wt. lines and rods. Fly-line companies make a specific line for bass fishing, the bass bug taper. This line will allow you to cast bulky, wind resistant bass bugs much easier. A weight forward (WF) fly line is also adequate. For most all bass applications, a floating line is adequate.

The Bass Fly Rod

Fishing rods and fly rods are basically a matter of personal choice. A 7 or 8 wt. 9-foot fly rod is my recommendation for bass. The graphite fly rod is usually the choice of most. Incidentally, graphite rods do not break.....they shatter! When shopping for a graphite fly rod, one may go into "sticker shock". For your first fly rod, purchase a good quality rod, and you can do this without taking out a second mortgage on the house. Many manufacturers offer a lifetime warranty. There are many companies that offer very good reasonable fly rods. It is recommended that you cast a rod if possible before purchasing. Do not purchase a "blue light special", or you may be very disappointed with the casting ability. Fiberglass fly rods are still used by some and do have some advantages, putting lots of pressure on large fish at the Stick Marsh! I carry at least three fly rods, fully rigged in the boat.

The Fly Reel
All you need here is a smooth, single action fly reel that will accommodate enough room for your fly line. A fly line is 90 ft. in length. Most fly reels are also spooled with Dacron "backing" line prior to the fly line to fill the spool and in case a large fish runs a considerable distance. Now, I can tell you from experience that at the Stick Marsh, if you let a large bass run any distance the chances of seeing that fish are nil and none! You do not need an expensive fly reel here. It is advantageous to buy a reel that has an extra spool available, that way you can switch lines to a sinking fly line if the situation presents its self.

All fly leaders are tapered, just as the line is. The taper allows the line and leader to "Turn Over" to present the fly on the water first. A leader of 6 to 8 ft. with a 10 to 15 lb. test tippet is more than sufficient for bass. For top water bass bugs and large fish, I use a leader of at least 20-lb. test tippet and a little shorter length. Tapered bass leaders may be purchased at fly shops, but it is best to make your own leaders. Example: Butt Section (this attaches to fly line) 30-lb. test. 2 ft. next; 20-lb. test 3 ft. last section (called tippet) 15-lb, test, 3 ft. All sections are joined with blood knots. Over the years, I have learned that knots are very, very important in any fishing. So, pay close attention to your knots.

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