As a beginning fly angler, I still have plenty to learn about the multitude of flies, lines, and gear associated with this elegant form of fishing. What I do know, however, is that freshwater lakes and ponds can be found within a short walk or drive from most anywhere (even in urban areas), and don’t have the same level of current as fast flowing rivers or streams. This means that local lakes and ponds are a great place to “get your feet wet” and start learning how to fly fish. When fishing these types of freshwater areas, I particularly love to target largemouth bass since they are hard fighters and opportunistic feeders.
All you really need is a basic six or seven weight fly rod set up and a couple of flies to start out with. One of the best things about fly fishing is that you can tie your own flies and then catch a fish on something that you made all on your own. This experience is very rewarding and not as difficult as you might think. I like to keep it simple, so there are two flies that I use most often when fly fishing for bass because of their versatility and effectiveness.
The Woolly Bugger was one of the very first flies I tied because of it’s ability to catch a variety of fish in various conditions. This fly can be worked on the surface or by sinking it down deeper and is effective when targeting smallmouth or largemouth bass, but is also known for attracting rainbow trout,steelhead and salmon.
Popping Bugs are ideal for producing top water action and bass love them because they resemble a variety of insects and small frogs that they like to prey upon. With Popping Bugs, just remember to give the fish enough time to hear the popping sound and actually find the lure. I tend to be a bit impatient and strip my line too fast. Start out stripping your line fairly slow and then adjust your speed until you get a hit. I especially love casting a black popping bug just after a rain or in the evening during lower light conditions.
Where should you cast for the best chance at having a bass hit your Woolly Bugger or Popping Bug fly? As with conventional spinning gear, look for vegetation and structure. Rocks, lily pads, stumps, downed trees and piers.