I spend a lot time during the season casting bass poppers and sliders from the family canoe. There’s definitely a way to do it right, and Colin McKeown from The New Fly Fisher offers some solid advice in this video shot at Hawk Lake Lodge. I remember having a long debate with my friend Bill Tapply about the merits of letting all the rings dissipate before starting the retrieve, and we ended up at this conclusion: an angler should always start out using this method, but if it’s not producing strikes on the first few strips, then it’s time to change up. (The video at the bottom of this post shows that sometimes bass want something that’s really moving.)
In general, here are my rules for fishing topwater flies for bass:
- After the cast, let the rings dissipate before beginning the retrieve. (See the caveat above.)
- Use an erratic retrieve, rather than regular strips. Alter both the length and the frequency of strips.
- Incorporate lots of pauses into your retrieve, and be ready for a strike when the bug is just sitting there.
- On a river, try dead-drifting the bug along the bank, structure, or weedbeds.
- If these things don’t work, try doing the opposite.
And, seriously, watch at least the first 30 seconds of the video below. It isn’t fly fishing, but it shows a bass doing something you’d hardly expect. . . .