We had passed by the creek countless times. It was always just scenery. It was never the destination. If anything, as a small tributary, it was an afterthought. The Potomac is a big river. It is intimidatingly big. There are bass and musky and who knows what in that waving grass and off those rock ledges. But there are a lot of those spots and a lot of water. That is why we usually just drove over the Potomac. That is why we usually drove past the creek.
To be fair, we didn’t know about the creek for a few years. The mouth of the little creek is obscured by dense foliage. You can’t see it from the highway. It was a wrong turn that took us west and over the little culvert-bridge. Even then we didn’t have any desire to fish there. The NO TRESPASSING signs were the first deterrent. The real reason is more embarrassing now. The creek didn’t have a name or a reputation. Why fish there?
As the line twitches in their fingers, the angler is careful in keeping his count. With each jerk of the fly line, the cork popper makes another theatric lap across the surface of the pond. Behind it, a peculiar ripple boils up to the water’s surface. With one more gentle strip, an explosion of water engulfs the fly and the angler rips their rod back. The line goes completely tight as the rod tip plunges downward. It feels as if there’s a bowling ball attached to the leader. suddenly, there is another explosion and out from the pond flies a tenacious, yet beautiful largemouth bass, its skin glowing in the setting sun’s light.
Fishing for freshwater Bass (specifically smallouth and largemouth) can be one of the most intense and rewarding experiences on a fly rod. Between their geographical abundance, hyper-aggressive nature, and the power they can impose against a taught line, bass are a great opportunity for anglers to diversify their regularly targeted species, as well as have a great fight.
In this guide, we will break down everything you need to know about targeting American freshwater bass such as smallmouth and largemouth. We’ll cover where to find bass, how to catch em, and what gear you’ll need. This being said, saltwater bass, including the popular striped bass, as well as sea bass, will not be covered, however, keep an eye out for a guide in the near future. If you would like to move around the page, just click on any of the titles in the contents below.
The difference between Largemouth and Smallmouth Bass
No, It’s not a stupid question. Many anglers spend years in unknowing silence because they’re shamed into believing that the difference between the two fish is simply the name. However, this could not be further from the truth. Here is a quick glance at how these fish differ.
Mouth Size: While this is the most obvious distinction, not all anglers know how to identify it. Largemouth bass’ upper jaw will extend past their eye, while smallmouth bass’ upper jaws will stop in line with their eye.
Striping: Another easy way to identify between the two is the striping of the fish. Smallmouth bass possess vertical strips that line their bodies, while largemouths have horizontal stripes located around their bellies.
Dorsal fins: Another easily identifiable detail that separates smallies and largemouth bass is the break between a largemouth bass’ dorsal fin. Smallmouths do not have these breaks.
Location: Largemouth Bass are generally considered the lazier of the two. They prefer hanging out in calm water, specifically in ponds and lakes, and waiting for their food to come to them. When targeting smallmouth, remember that they tend to hunker down in faster moving current, and can often be found chasing minnows in streams and rivers. Smallmouth also prefer colder water, and will retreat to deeper pockets of rivers and lakes once the water temperature begins to rise.
Fight: When you hook onto a largemouth bass, it oftentimes feels as if you’ve hooked onto a bowling ball. Once these fish realize they’ve been hooked, they will often take off towards the depths, only to come up and jump out of the water. However, they will usually only jump once or twice. Smallmouth, on the other hand, are more unpredictable. Once hooked, smallmouth will attempt an array of gymnastic feats in order to try to shake your hook free. So, make sure to keep your eyes peeled for submerged obstructions where they could break you off, as well as watch out for their leaps.
What to Expect when Fishing for Bass
Fishing for Bass on the fly is oftentimes an angler’s secret addiction. The entire process is great fun and can be a more than satisfying relief from targeting finicky trout or non-existent musky. So, when prepping to land some of these underwater bullies, there are a few things to remember off the bat.
Bass (usually) hit HARD. like an ornery brown defending its territory, the bass often attack flies with tenacity. If unprepared, a hungry largemouth will make light work of your fly. Now, we noted usually because like any other factor, there are exceptions to behaviors. Often times, when they spot a gently floating fly, they will simply inhale it. So, stay alert.
Thick skin means a hard set. If you’ve never fished for bass or other thick-skinned relatives, make sure to understand your sets. Once you feel a bass has grabbed your fly, give the hook a strong set. You’ll often see professional Bass Fisherman send their entire body in their hook set, and while this isn’t entirely necessary, Bass have much thicker skin than trout. Because of this, hooking them securely requires a slightly more powerful set than just an upwards flick of the wrist.
Expect an airborne attempt. As mentioned before, Bass (Smallmouth especially) will oftentimes take to the skies when they realized they’ve been hooked. Don’t let their size fool you, these monsters can fly. In preparation, once the hook is set, keep some line available and let it loose if the fish jumps. By giving it a small amount of momentary slack, the fly will be much less likely to shake from the fish’s mouth.
Expect a good long fight. Once you’re hooked up on a Bass, know that the battle has only just begun. Bass are meaner than trout, and do not wear out as quickly. Because of their lack of dependency on specific water temperature and oxygen levels, bringing in a Bass will often be a more rigorous and lengthy procedure. By capitalizing on their robust, thick skin designs, bass will often mix in a variety of maneuvers in an attempt to break you off, or toss your hook, only to settle for an instant then try it all again. Remain patient with Bass, put in the time and understand that you’ll be bringing them in on their time, not yours.
Where to look for Bass
Bass are warm-water fish. This means, unlike cold-water fish such as trout, Bass have the ability to thrive in most areas of the United States. With this in mind, ideal ecosystems for bass will be areas that provide an abundance of food, space, and shelter. Due to their aggressive habits, bass do better in large ponds and lakes where they have the ability to move around and grow with minimal harassment, as well as minimal dietary interference.
Ponds and Lakes)
When fishing for bass, ponds and lakes are where you’re going to find a majority of large-mouth, as well as some decent small-mouth. In order to properly target these fish, check which techniques to use based on the season HERE.
Whether you’re casting from the shore or a boat, aim to land your fly around any large submerged structures. Drainage basins, downed trees, and even patches of weeds or lilly pads make a great target area. Bass, like many fish, spend most of their time around these submerged structures in order to stay protected from predators, out of the sun, and hidden from oncoming prey. By placing your fly, around these areas, you greatly increase your chance of hooking up an unsuspecting fish looking for an easy lunch.
When fishing in bodies of water with substantial depth, pay close attention to the topography of the area, and look for submerged ledges and drop-offs. For Bass, Drop-offs are an instant food delivery service where they can sit cool and out of sight awaiting an unsuspecting minnow or crayfish to wander too close to the ledge. When it comes to fishing these zones, don’t be afraid to let a lot of line out in order to get near the bottom of the dropoff. By getting your fly down deep, you’ll be able to cover the entirety of the drop off zone and hopefully entice anything that’s hunkered down there.
During the hot summer months, smallmouth and largemouth will head to the deeper sections of the pond in order to avoid the increasing heat. As mentioned before, smallmouth have a greater sensitivity to temperature change, but both species like to stay cool. Note, both species will most likely not cohabitate, so you’ll be able to figure out which fish your targeting pretty quick after your first catch.
Streams and Rivers)
When fishing for bass in moving water, you’ll primarily be targeting small-mouth. Smallies prefer slightly colder water and running current compared to their largemouth counterpart, and therefore will oftentimes thrive in streams and rivers. Lots of the time during the warmer summer months, anglers will begin to target smallmouth bass in their local rivers in order to compensate for unenthusiastic trout.
While the fish couldn’t be less alike, fishing for Bass in rivers is fairly similar to trout fishing. By utilizing current and keeping to riverbanks and deep holes, anglers will find great success in their pursuits. However, something to keep in mind is that while smallmouth Bass love strong, oxygen-rich current, they also love still water. Bass can often be found near the end of tributaries, in eddies, and in low current pockets culminating and chasing around smaller baitfish. If you see a glass water hole with a few submerged trees, you’d be a fool not to send a few casts in that direction.
When to fish for Bass
Time of Year
When it comes to Bass, warm water is the way to go. However, this is not to say Bass can’t be found during the winter, but in the spring and summer is the best time to target these fish.
In the spring, Bass will begin their spawning season. Before that, they will be in pre-spawn (April-May depending on the region). During this time, Bass will be feeding rampantly in preparation for spawn. This is an excellent time to target bass on large, shiny streamers.
Once the water heats to approximately 55-65 degrees Fahrenheit, bass will seek out deeper, more sheltered water to begin spawning. In areas such as lakes, it is important to remember that the water does not all reach the same temperature at once, so there will be hot spots where bass will be located, as well as dead zones.
Once spawning has concluded, near the end of spring, bass will be rather apathetic as they’ll be recuperating. However, within a few weeks, they’ll be back to their normal feeding habits. As the summer sun heats up the water to the high 80’s, largemouth bass especially will be targetable throughout all levels of ponds. During this time, smallmouth will be spending much of their time in fast-moving current in order to maintain their preferred temperature.
Time of Day
Bass are never really reluctant to feed, but like many other freshwater fish, they prefer to do their feeding in the early hours of the morning, and dusk. As temperatures rise and fall, fish activity usually possesses a negative correlation to temperature. On hotter days, larger fish will swim deeper in order to combat the heat (smallies especially).
The best times to shoot for would be 5am-9am, and then (depending on the time of year), 6pm-8/9pm. During these times, not only is the heat comfortable, but many animals that bass like to feed on make their way near or onto the water this time (mice, frogs, and certain insects).
What Rig to Use for Bass
When fishing for bass, whether it be shallow creek smallies, or deep pond Largemouth, it’s important to have the right rig. The most important thing to remember, is that bass spook less easily than trout, and tend to fight harder. With this in mind, it never hurts to pack heavy.
A 5-6 will almost always do the job. However, as previously stated, it’s better to overcompensate rather than underestimate. You never know when you’re going to hook onto the fish of a lifetime. If you want to be really safe, especially when fishing big lakes or rivers, pack an 8 weight. The extra durability will most likely benefit you in the long run.
Flylords Recomendation: Sage IGNITER (6 wt.)
When choosing a reel, just try to match it to whichever rod you’re using (weight wise). Using a large arbor is never a bad call, as sometimes monster bass can take you deep into your backing. Another factor to take into consideration is the drag on the reel. For bigger fish, we recommend using a “disk” drag over a traditional “click and pawl” system. While there’s nothing necessarily wrong with the click and pawl system, the disk drag accommodates for more gradual resistance as line is pulled from the reel.
Flylords recommended reel: Abel SDF (olive)
While your fly line requires less subtlety than with trout, it’s always important to have line that you can depend on, and can turn over heavy flies. some folks prefer sinking fly line, but when it comes to fishing ponds, a sinking leader will usually do the trick. As always, make sure to replace your line regularly, and to always let line dry after a long day on the water.
Flylords recommendation: Scientific Angler Amplitude Smooth Titan Long Taper Fly Line
This is all dependant on what kind of fly you’re fishing. Most likely, you’ll be using some sort of wet fly like a streamer. In this case, any leader between 4-2x should do the job. Make adjustments based on the average size of the water, as well as fish caught in it. For fishing poppers and dries, aim for no larger than 4x. Also, feel free to tie on some tippet to allow for a more gentle presentation. Total leader size (tippet can be included if used), should be around 7ft. by finding a solid middle between 9ft. and 5ft., you can improve presentation without making casting awkward.
Flylords recommendation: Scientific anglers 4x, 7.5 ft. , tapered leader
What Flies to Use to Fish for Bass
Like many other elements of bass fishing, it’s not about the specific flies, but instead about their presentation. Below are a few guidelines that will help you to find the perfect fly for catching that pond monster.
Let it shine
Flies (primarily streamers), that implement a shiny or colorful element are a great way to catch bass’ attention. By utilizing flies with sparkly, shiny, or otherwise attractive elements is a great way to draw bass out from hiding. In murky pond water, bright flies are the difference between getting skunked and landing a PR.
Using poppers is not only an extremely enjoyable method for catching bass, but an extremely effective one. Popper flies, or just poppers are built to replicate the movement of a large topwater animal (usually a frog). Unsuspecting frogs as a perfect snack for a sneaky bass, and are commonly a large part of their diet. By stripping these flies in with small, abrupt strips, the commotion of the fly is sure to bring a hungry lurker your way.
By using weighted flies, you greatly increase your chances of getting a fly down to a big bass’ feeding lane. These flies are especially useful in the late summer as fish are hunkered down in deeper water in attempts to stay cool. Using heavy flies is also an important aspect when fishing big moving water, as it assures you that your fly will spend less time sinking, and more time looking delicious.
Movement is Key
Flies with moving parts is just another way to get the attention of apathetic fish. By using zonkers, rubber legs, or articulation, bass are more likely to fall into the hypnotic daze an easy meal presents. Without overdoing it, the more going on with your fly, the more likely it is to stand out to a fish.
If fishing for bass at night, all other rules apply. However, also feel free to break out that large mouse/rat pattern that’s been burning a hole in your flybox. While mice can be fished effectively at most points of the day, it’s at night when the monster fish make their rounds, preying on clumsy nocturnal rodents distracted by dangers above.
Can’t seem to get the attention of a fish with your olive woolly bugger? Try getting creative! in areas where food is in abundance, bass can sometimes grow content in their ability to find food, and will become less inclined to feed. If this seems to be the case, throw on something new. Perhaps it’s time for that pretty pink streamer you got as a gag gift to shine.
Flylords top 5 flies:
-Articulated Conehead Minnow
-Umpqua Swimming Frog
In closing, by following the tips in this guide you should be ready to get yourself on some serious bass. However, something to remember is there are techniques that work for some that don’t for others. Depending on factors far out of anyone’s control, sometimes certain methods work better than others. With that in mind, get on the water and experiment! Implement new techniques and get creative in order to find out what works best for you.
Most importantly, just enjoy your time on the water. Whether you’re catching bass, trout, perch, or trees, one of the best parts of fly fishing is being outside and living life. That being said, catching the bass of a lifetime never hurts either.
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In many ways, largemouth bass are alike whether the fish live north or south of the Mason-Dixon Line.
Trying to identify a Northern-strain largemouth and the Florida-strain largemouth that frequent waters throughout the Southern states is almost impossible due to cross-breeding. The only way to truly identify each species is by advanced genetic analysis.
However, there are some variances between Northern-strain largemouth and Florida-strain largemouth that make the two bass different. The two most noticeable differences between the two bass are in size and growth rates. Northern largemouth bass will rarely grow bigger than 10 pounds, while the Florida-strain bass have the genes to potentially grow up to 20 pounds or heavier. Fisheries biologists report the Florida transplants can reach 14 inches in two years and add one pound per year thereafter. Northern bass have a similar growth rate for their first three years but then lag behind the Florida-strain bass in preceding years.
The two types of bass also have different behavior patterns. Florida-strain largemouth originates from shallow, grass-filed lakes where they ambush their prey in the shallow cover whereas Northern-strain largemouth rely on rocks and other structural habitat and are more apt to chase down prey in open water. Northern bass can change color to match their habitat, but because it prefers hiding in shallow, thick habitat the Florida bass commonly has a very dark coloring. I do notice some Northern bass that live in deep, clear waters also have a dark coloring, but not as dark as the Florida bass.
Another big difference between the two species is tolerance to cold water and weather. Northern largemouth are acclimated to the cold and can even be caught by ice fishermen. Florida-strain largemouth are unable to survive in long periods of cold water so fisheries biologists know not to stock Florida transplants in northern climates.
When cold weather or even a cold front settles in Southern waters, Florida-strain largemouth become inactive making it tough for anglers to catch these moody fish. While in waters north of the Mason-Dixon line, bass sometimes become more active during cold weather. On my home waters of Lake of the Ozarks, I have covered tournaments in November when the winning anglers caught their fish on buzz baits. I have also caught Northern largemouth working a suspending stickbait along the edges of ice during the dead of winter.
When you are fishing your favorite bass waters or an unfamiliar body of water, your search for bass becomes an easier task if you target aquatic vegetation.
Here is a look at five common types of grass bass love and how to fish each type.
There are many types of grass available to bass throughout the country so knowing what type of grass best attracts bass and how best to fish the weeds will increase your odds for success. Submersed plants are the most popular type of grass bass anglers target throughout the country. These species of plants live entirely submerged in the water but will top out along the surface and most form a matted canopy.
This native plant has crowded leaves at the tips of the plant which makes it took like a raccoon’s tail. Coontail is often confused with milfoil but the plant does not have multiple leaflets around its stem-like milfoil. Flipping a Texas-rigged sickle-tail worm or Senko into this type of grass will catch bass. A plastic frog skimmed across the top of the mat also provides plenty of topwater fun.
The vertical stature of this plant prevents tangling of plants and thick matting on the surface like hydrilla so bass have an easier time hunting prey in this vegetation. During early spring you can rip lipless crankbaits through the plant’s newly formed leaves. Later in spring you can run swimbaits around its leaves.
Pondweeds come in various sizes and shapes throughout the waters of the United States. Some pondweed has small broad leaves that float and other pondweeds feature narrow leaves. Fish the outside edges with jigs, crankbaits and spinnerbaits or cast over the weed tops with plastic frogs or toads.
This invasive species grows thick mats that can take over a lake’s shoreline. It’s best to fish it in early spring when you can rip a lipless crankbait through its vertical grassline. When the mat forms later in the year, you have to punch Texas-rigged soft plastics with heavyweights to reach bass hiding in the vegetation.
There are both invasive and native milfoils in bass waters across the country. Milfoil features feathery leaves, which are typically arranged in whorls of leaflets around the plant’s stem. You can rip lipless crankbaits or spinnerbaits through the sparse grass in early spring but you need to punch heavyweights down through the canopy when the milfoil thickens in warmer water.
Croatia is a favorite holiday destination for many Europeans who are seeking a relaxing vacation with family. The country has so much to offer from the stunning Adriatic Coast with hundreds of beaches to the historical towns, and charming villages. With traditional culture still preserved and the delicious Mediterranean cuisine on the menu, it is one of my favorite places to visit.
For us flyfishers, one species comes to my mind to target in Croatia, the Mahi Mahi. The fish, also known as dorado or dolphin is as an acrobatic fighter with striking blue/yellow colors. Usually, you hear about them as a deep-sea pelagic species that live in the open ocean in tropical areas around the equator. But, Croatia can offer you something totally different. Mahi Mahi on the beaches and flats!
The last 20 years the temperature of Adriatic waters has been rapidly increased by global warming and fish species that weren’t there before, have begun to enter this area in large numbers.
Mahi in the Adriatic Sea started as nonnative predators but recently with global warming they have had a negative impact on local organisms in the sea. As the fastest growing fish in the ocean, they are irreversibly destroying local populations of Adriatic squids and needlefish. In good conditions, the fish can reach 1.3 to 2.7 inches a week up to 4 feet and 40 pounds in a single year! That is some rapid growth!
But all this aside they are a game fish that can be a blast to target and they taste really good as well. If you are interested in knowing more about these fish and how to target them you can follow these simple tips.
FIND THE RIGHT SPOT
When you fish for Mahi in Croatia the best way to start is to find a good spot where the water is rapidly dropping into deep or even better when you can find some ball of sardines or mullets around. Another option, which I personally prefer is to wade the shallow beaches, but this technique has several drawbacks. The biggest limitation is the tents of tourists, who are really curious, especially when you have fish on the other side of the line. For that reason, it is better to find your own place far away from swimming families.
The prime time is mid-July – mid-August when the water temperature is warmest. It actually doesn’t matter if you fish in the north or in the south of the country, but I most likely choose the bottom part of Croatia, due to the picturesque landscape and kind people down there.
USE RIGHT EQUIPMENT
Typically, you will not find bigger fish than 75 cm on the beaches but they are still very good fighters. The most important thing when it comes to proper equipment is the fly line and tippet.
I prefer the Rio Products Bonefish Quickshooter Fly Line. The line is primarily developed for bonefishing on flats, I would say this line is built for this kind of fishing. It works well for many reasons, but the primary purpose is to load your rod quickly and that’s exactly what you need. Usually, you will cast around 30 feet, but in a matter of seconds the school of Mahi can show up right in front of you and you have to hit them directly in the face.
I usually take a spool of 30lb, 25lb, 20lb, 16lb fluorocarbon tippet. Thicker fluoro tippet then 30lb will negatively affect the movement of your fly.
You also have to use reels with good working drag system and enough backing. These little Mahis’ will go into your backing usually and more backing is needed if you hit a good size bluefish on foot.
Remember, that fly fishing for Mahi in Croatia is hard work and it will take lots of patience. You can fish for hours, days without any strike, but when they suddenly show up you will experience one of the best fishing experiences of your life
When it comes to targeting these beauties, just remember there is no one perfect fly rod. Ironically, there are many perfect rods on the market, I personally fish Hardy HBX rods but their weight depends on the place and weather. When the wind cranks up you still need to cast long to bring fish closer, be prepared with an 8-weight rod, in normal conditions I suggest to use 7-weight rods, because the fight will be more enjoyable.
CHOOSING THE RIGHT FLY
Mahi Mahi in Croatia can feed on almost everything from little sardines, mullets, squids or seahorses. As the most common fly I use is the Surfcandy size 1/0-2/0 as an imitation of a sardine. But you can also use topwater poppers, which can be a lot of fun! The Mylar blue popper from Fulling Mill (pictured above) will do the job.
BE SURE TO STRIP FAST
Dolphin fish can swim at 50 MPH and leap to catch their prey. I never used such fast stripping anywhere else in the world than for Mahi. It’s because they are so curious and be careful do not let them check out your fly. Just move it as fast as possible.
If you decide to visit Croatia to get your first Mahi Mahi from the beach don’t forget to take in the whole experience. It can be easy that you will head back home with no fish caught but no matter what the pursuit will always drag you back to Croatia to fish for these colorful beasts on the sandy beaches!
Fish aren’t going to rise unless bugs are hatching.
Nothing in this pond is over a few pounds.
You can’t use flies – they’ll only take bait.
For an unpredictable pursuit like fly fishing, those statements sound awfully concrete. Add in a little bit of competitiveness and a dash of skepticism and you’re basically issuing a challenge. How can anyone really know those things? Is it that those statements are empirical facts, or are the majority of people content with the boring bulk of the bell curve?
Could a little bit of exploration and effort (and some remarkable happenstance) yield some interesting results?
Fishing pliers are a versatile tool that should be in any anglers tackle box. Pliers help remove hooks, cut line, and swap out hooks on the fly. Good tools, like the Googan Squad pliers, have a split-ring function built the pliers to help add to the versatility. Spray your pliers with WD-40 to prevent rust and stickiness. If you’re pliers get rusty, hit them with a little steel wool. One last thing I’ll do is add a floating lanyard to the end of my pliers to help prevent my tool from sinking to the bottom of the drink.
While many bass anglers prefer to carry digital scales, to be a simple measuring tape is an easier way to record your catch. They just seem more accessible, affordable and long-lasting than a scale. Tape measures are also compact and don’t require batteries.
I like to put a small round tape measure at the bottom of my tacklebox each season. It’s so small enough that I usually forget that it’s with me until I catch a measure worthy fish. Then, I scratch my head and quickly remember that my mini-fish ruler is buried in the bottom of my box!
Fishing harvest regulations are determined in length so a tape measure will also comes in handy when determining if a fish is a keeper.
Having a soft, flexible tape measure allows you to accurately measure both the length and girth measurements of your catch. There are places where you enter each measurement it spits out an accurate weight estimate.
Also, If you forget a tape measure, lay your fish next to a fishing rod, stick, or piece of line. Then, take note of where the fish stretches out to (or make a visible indicator). Then, once you’re home, use a tape measure to compare to the length you marked out. This isn’t the most accurate method, but it’s better than nothing.
Pics or it didn’t happen. It’s 2019 if you tell someone you caught a fish you better have some proof! I remember the days of fishing with disposable cameras, my old man would keep one at the bottom of his fishing creel, and use it exclusively for fish.
Nowadays most North America anglers fish with phones while some even mounting GoPro’s to their body in order to capture their fishing experience on video.
Always keep your phone handy when you head to the water! Even if it’s low on battery, just turn it off until you catch a fish. If you’re afraid of it getting wet, invest in a waterproof case or toss it in a ziplock bag. No pics = no fish.
A cutting tool is a must-have when fishing. Knives, razors, clippers, and scissors all work but I personally prefer scissors. A compact pair of shears like the Googan Squad Scissors are small enough to fit in a tackle box but sturdy enough to crunch through thick braid. A good line cutting tool will have serrated edges that help slice through the individual strands of the braided line much easier compared to a straight-edge blade. Save time and save your teeth with a good fishing cutting tool.
In honor of being just a day away from the global release of “Live the Stream: The Story of Joe Humphreys” Flylords sat down with Joe to learn what advice he had to give on mastering his signature move: The Bow and Arrow cast.
This cast is one of the most useful, as well as unique looking casts that can be performed with a fly rod. By eliminating the need for a backcast, Joe Humphreys’ bow and arrow cast utilizes line tension and finesse in order to accurately launch your fly, while remaining unseen and untangled. Now from the master himself, here are Joe Humphreys’ 5 tips to perfect your bow and arrow cast.
1. Take Your Time, and Pinpoint Your Target
Just like any other cast, the steps you take before you even cast are just as important as the ones taken once the fly is in the water. So, before you make your cast make sure to look around. Assess the way the water is moving, what the fish are doing, possible places to get hung up on. Then, once you have a feel for your surroundings, focus in on where you’re going to place your fly. Imagine that patch of water with a bullseye painted on it, and envision your fly landing there.
2. Determine Your Distance and Loop Your Line
One of the more technical aspects of setting up your bow and arrow cast is determining the distance of your cast. Once you have a general idea of how much line you’ll need to get the fly to your target zone, start folding it into small figure-eight loops. By stacking these loops on top of each other in your fingers, you are keeping strong tension on the line, while also keeping a minimal profile and lowering your risk of tangles.
3. Keep Your Hand ABOVE Your Fly
This is one of the most commonly made mistakes when it comes to making a bow and arrow cast. When you have made your loops, keep your fingers on them, NOT THE FLY. Many anglers believe that they need to hold the fly itself, in order to get maximum distance, but this is actually a good way to spook a fish. Here’s why:
when you hold the fly itself, then release it, you have already eliminated your “Loop” (one of the most important aspects to any fly cast). By doing so, once the fly is released, all the built-up energy will be on the fly, and once it lands, it will smash into the water not only scaring away fish, but ruining your cast’s accuracy.
By holding the fly line on its loops, the line will hold the potential energy. Therefore, once you make your release, the line will maintain a loop and gently unfold atop the water to deliver a soft and natural presentation.
4. Wrap Your Fingers for Extra Control
With your pointer and thumb holding the line above the fly, wrap your middle and ring fingers over the loops so that there are now 4 points of contact on the line. The point of this is so that you have maximum control and increased tension to your line. By using one of your fingers to press down on the line, you can greatly increase the built-up strain without having to draw your line back any further. It’s also so that you have more control over the behavior of your figure-eight loops. By adding an additional 2 points of contact, you make sure the loops are under maximum control, and that there is minimal chance for them to intertwine, tangle, or wrap.
5. Take a Deep Breath, and Release
Often times, this cast is used in a situation where you will only get one shot to make the perfect presentation. So, before casting, take a deep breath, go over the steps one more time in your head, pull your line tight, and then when you feel confident; let that line fly.
To properly release, simply make sure your clear of your fly’s flight path, and release your 4 points of contact (thumb, pointer, middle finger, and ring finger) all at once. Depending on how much line you’ve allotted yourself, the tension of the draw will unravel your loops in mid-air and carry your fly to the water. Once you’ve made contact, make any mends or adjustments necessary, and get ready to set the hook.
Like with anything else, mastering such a cast takes practice and a lot of it. So whether you’re on a local stream, or just in your back yard, break out your rod and give this cast a few tries so that when game time comes; you’re ready.
Whether your like Joe fishing between troves of mountain laurels in the heartland of Pennsylvania, or you’re in the remote wilderness far from any roads, the bow and arrow cast will prove to be a beautiful, as well as effective casts when it comes to fishing small pools and tight creeks.
Make sure to see Joe’s additional tips, as well as the story of the man who started it all in his award-winning movie, “Live the Stream: The Story fo Joe Humphreys”, which will be available worldwide on November 5th, 2019. To pre-order or purchase, click HERE.
Don’t miss the inspiring life story of Pennsylvania’s fly fishing legend, Joe Humphreys: a man who was born to fly fish, lives to teach, and strives to pass on a respect for our local waters. A visually stunning film, anyone with a pulse can appreciate Joe’s contagious spirit and, at 86-years-young, trout streams are his fountains of youth. This is an emotion-packed adventure and Joe will catch your heart in this powerful tale of tenacity, life, and love. Follow Live the Stream on Instagram and Facebook.
The Googan Squad Hummer is here! When you hear a mosquito buzzing around your head you immediately set out to seek and destroy the pest. A bass has the same impulse when the fish detects the annoying sound of a buzzbait skittering over its head.
Few thrills in fishing match the excitement of watching a buzzbait suddenly disappear when a bass engulfs it and you can enjoy plenty of exciting topwater action with the new Googan Squad Buzzbait.
How To Fish The Hummer In 8 Steps
When To Throw The Googan Squad Hummer
Available in a 1/2-ounce model, the Googan Squad Hummer has multiple holes within each of its buzz blades to help increase the lure’s bubble trail during its retrieval. The new Hummer is available in a variety of Googan approved colors.
A buzzbait is one of the ultimate lures for fall topwater action any time of the day. Although frequently used in the morning and evening, the buzzer is just as effective during mid-day when the sun has warmed the water and baitfish become more active. The noisy lure also works well on cloudy days or in the bright sunshine whenever bass are chasing shad in the shallows.
Sneaky Hummer Hacks
I usually throw a buzzbait in stained to dirty water in the spring and fall. Bass are usually in a strike zone of 5 feet deep or less and are more apt to eat a buzzbait then. The lure also seems to draw strikes from bigger bass. If you are catching several small bass on a spinnerbait, switch to a buzzbait which might generate fewer strikes but usually produces heavier fish.
Where To Throw The Googan Squad Hummer
Some favorite targets for buzzing in the shallows are laydown logs, tops of brush piles, docks and some type of vegetation, such as milfoil or hydrilla. You can run the Googan Squad Buzzbait through holes in vegetation or bump it into any hard cover such as stickups, stumps, docks or rocks.
Retrieving the buzzbait at a steady medium speed triggers strikes most of the time. Sometimes you can trigger strikes by popping it, reeling it, killing it for a split second and then just keep reeling it. The slight hesitation in the retrieve sometime causes a strike from fish that were following the lure but were reluctant to hit it on the steady retrieve.
Strike Back To Short Striking Fish
Matching your Googan Squad Hummer with the right line will ensure more hookups. I prefer throwing braided line, like the Googan Squad Braided Line because of its abrasion resistance and low stretch, which allows me to throw the lure over dock cables and get solid hook sets on long casts. Monofilament is too stretchy and tends to give too much when setting the hook, which leads to missed fish. Some anglers stop throwing a buzzbait when the water continues to cool in the late fall. However, I keep throwing it because I remember a Bassmaster tournament I covered at Lake of the Ozarks when the top three finishers in the event threw buzzbaits for three cold and snowy days when the water temperature was in the low 50s. So you can still catch northern strain largemouth with a slow retrieve in the late fall.