Top-Water Bass Fishing –exciting and addictive
As the sun is setting and the sounds of night fill the air, the water temperature starts to drop and bass begin to get active. This is Bass Bugging time.
The core diet of these fish includes a wide range of foods including bluegill, sunfish, a variety of minnows, crayfish, frogs, and so on. Bass are aggressive and opportunistic predators that may eat whatever creature they can ambush. The limiting factor in prey is size because bass swallow food whole.
Therefore, the range of bass flies covers just about everything under the sun. Some patterns swim only on the surface while others are designed to dive and return to the surface depending on the retrieve. Many patterns are designed entirely for subsurface presentation at any level in the water column. Stop by a fly shop and ask to take a look at their selection - you’ll be amazed at the range of possibilities.
Fishing with top-water bass bugs made from deer hair, cork, foam or plastic that are designed to make noise (a popping or gurgling sound as they are retrieved across the water) is a favorite way to fish for many fly fishermen. Some flies are tied to imitate specific bass foods like mice, leeches or frogs, but others are 'attractors' that try to give the impression of something living and edible.
Bass will often watch prey on the surface for a long time before striking. My grandfather used to say that one should cast a bass bug to a likely looking spot, light a cigarette, and relax for a few minutes before giving it a slight little twitch. I’ve done this (without the cigarette) and right after the slight twitch the bug is virtually sucked down in a swirl – an experience you’ll not soon forget.
You can fish your bass bug slowly, fast, erratically, or any combination thereof. All will produce results depending on what the bass want to see. I fished one night when we literally zipped our bugs across the surface of the lake – the faster the better. These bass looked like sharks, as they nailed the flies.
I like a 9-foot 8-weight fast action rod coupled with a weight-forward floating line loaded on a single action fly reel. The setup you choose needs to handle large, wind-resistant flies. I’ll use tapered and non-tapered leaders under 8 feet with a 3X or better tippet. Keep in mind, these fish will head straight into heavy cover when hooked and you’ll need to put significant pressure on them.