How to Improve Success in Bass Fly Fishing

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If you ask any fly angler about their top five fish types, bass is bound to make the list of many. Why? Because bass fly fishing is a fun, yet challenging experience. These large, witty, and agile fish are everywhere and offer an exciting, widely-accessible opportunity. Fly Fishing for bass is so popular that anglers grab their best rods and bass flies, and travel all over to compete in annual events for notoriety and grand prizes. Right now is a prime time to target both smallmouth and largemouth as they are bulking up in the fall before the long, cold winter. 

 

While catchable with a conventional setup, we’re focused on fly fishing here. Bass can be a bit tricky to figure out so you want to try different approaches and cover more area. If you don’t want to go home empty-handed, remember that trying different bass fly patterns helps adapt to the changing environments. Do you want to compete in a bass fly fishing tournament? Or is there a trip with friends or family on your radar? Some of the most reliable and versatile bass flies include the Clouser Minnow, Dustin’s Destroyer and Whopper Popper. And if you want to take home bragging rights in your group, in addition to stocking up, you’ll want to learn and sharpen techniques such as dead-drifting and double haul casting to improve your success. 

Dead-Drifting   

Drift fishing, or dead drifting, is the practice of getting your bass fly to naturally float atop the water or just beneath the surface. This means you can access an area without alerting the fish, which is especially helpful to catch bass since this technique neutralizes their keen ability to sense your presence.  

  

So, once you’ve selected the style, color and material of bass fly pattern you want to try based on the conditions, you’re ready to start your approach. The more authentic your drift, the more attractive your presentation becomes, increasing the likelihood a fish will hit your fly.  

  

Getting comfortable with drift fishing will enable you to combine that with other techniques. For example, knowing how to cover lots of water by dead-drifting can be extremely effective when paired with double haul casting.  

 

  

Double Haul Cast  

The double haul cast is used to cast further in aggressive oceans or rivers. It is ideal for launching your line 30 feet or more. Before putting your bass flies in the water, make sure to scout the distant areas for signs and hints so you know how far out to target. 

 

 Here’s the gist of the double haul cast: 

  • Use one hand on the fly rod to launch, the other to grab the line and haul about 18-24 inches of slack.   
  • Start a casting stroke and feed the line to maintain backwards momentum. 
  • Drift your rod hand back and up as the fly line straightens out. 
  • Finally, while forward casting haul and then release the line to launch your bass fly.   
  • Learn to take multiple casting strokes, hauling and feeding the line each time. 

 

Double haul casting isn’t an easy technique, particularly for beginners. Practicing and watching videos at home will help you master it when you’re not worried about catching a fish. Ultimately, your casting range increases tremendously once you’ve learned this technique, and you’ll be able to reach those cunning bass or other fish at longer distances.   

 

 

Whether you’re new to bass fly fishing or simply want to land something worth showing your friends and family, you have to sharpen your skills. Just as you prepare by learning the best bass flies and the fish’s habits and preferences, you should also learn and practice these techniques. The ability to perform the dead-drift and double haul casts will improve your chances of capturing even an experienced bass in both fresh or saltwater. Happy fishing! 

Jason Marks