Cross Pollination

Cross Pollination

Martyn White | Thursday, 6 June 2024

Our weather continues to be shitty; rainy season has firmly settled in, the rivers are swollen and brown and it's blowing a hooligan pretty much every day. I've not fished since that couple of hours I squeezed in last week. Awful.

I have managed to do a bit of tying and work on some ideas I have for largemouth bass flies that need testing to see if they behave in the way I want them to. Bass flies are one of the areas I really think we need to have more cross pollination from the conventional world. The vast majority of flies you see for bass are topwater and crayfish imitations which are fine, but it's limiting. There are some attempts at copying gear fishing rigs but more often than not, they flies are designed to look like a conventional bait or lure rather than actually behave like the conventional equivalent. Obviously fly tackle limits some of the presentations we can imitate, but there are plenty we can get close to. Top waters are the low hanging fruit, easy to copy and you don't need to put too much thought into how they're going to behave. When things go subsurface things get a bit trickier, and I'm pretty sure most flies aren't really being tested to see what they actually do and what the equivalent spin fishing rig would be. You might ask if it matters as long as the fly catches fish, I think it does matter simply because conventional anglers will almost always out-fish fly anglers when it comes to largemouth bass.

It's worth understanding how various rigs work so you can adjust your system to try to copy them. Take a ned rig for example, it's as simple as it gets and is absolutely deadly. There are several "ned rig" flies available, Some of the flies are pretty close, but many are wildly different from what the ned rig is either because they are just viewed as a jig fly on its own rather than as part of a presentation system or because the person who tied it doesn't understand how the rig fishes and has just heard of the conventional rig. I tie a ned rig fly or two, but the fly in itself doesn't do the thing if fished on a floating line as there's too much lift on the retrieve to maintain bottom contact. I've tried tips but ultimately the most effective way I've found is a non-compensated, non-stretch full sink line, a shortish leader and not too much weight on the fly. Although I don't have the same ability to stay in contact as a spinning set up allows, the system is what gets me close and I catch more fish than I did before working it out.

A great subsurface bass fly that is an example of appearance over behaviour is Rich's ultimate worm, it's supposed to imitate a Texas rigged worm, but when tied to the original design it behaves more like a slug-go, fluke or other plastic stickbait. This is great, bass and other species LOVE them, but if there are people nearby catching by dragging a 1/8 oz Texas rigged worm through a brush pile in 10ft of water, using the ultimate worm on a floating or intermediate line, as most people seem to fish it, isn't going to give you a presentation that mimics what is working. Again understanding the behaviour of the conventional rig is what allows you to make a change that gets you close. Adding a keel weight and bullet-shaped resin head has allowed me to get the fly's behaviour where it needs to be( carrying a few tungsten/brass cones to slide on the leader is als a good option and arguably closer to the real texas rig), then combine that with a full sink line and long, fairly light, level leader gets closer and lets you put the fly where it needs to be to get eaten.

There's a lot to learn from conventional anglers, and I'm sure there are other areas where we could increase our catch rates by really understanding what it is they're doing and adjusting our whole system to match it.