Let’s Look Back: Fly Rod Bass – Part 3

I tied my own bass bugs in a variety of sizes and colors.  The bugs I'm holding here were usually among my most effective.  Photo Stan Fagerstrom.

I tied my own bass bugs in a variety of sizes and colors. The bugs I’m holding here were usually among my most effective. Photo Stan Fagerstrom.

Finding an experienced guide when you’re on water you’ve never fished before is likely to save you both time and money.  This applies as well to the angler just getting started in fly rod bass fishing.

In last month’s column I talked about some of the gear I liked best for my own fly rod bass fishing.  Also, I should have mentioned just how darned important it is to have the right balance between your rod and line.  Get an experienced friend to help you in this regard or look for one of those hard-to-find sporting goods stores that has people with experience in fly rodding for bass.  You’ll never regret it.

In my last column I did talk about the importance of having the right kind of equipment to go after bass with a fly rod.  Let’s assume you’ve got the right gear.  How and where should you go about using it?  Now, as planned, let’s take a closer look at the lures I selected for my own fly rod bass fishing.

As I’ve already mentioned, I learned early on I got a much bigger kick in the butt when I fished bugs off the top than messing around with anything else.  I also found that the bugs I tied myself work just fine for the approach I usually wound up taking.

Like many newcomers to fly rod bass bugging, I started out by trying to handle some of those monstrosities I used to see on the store shelves or magazine pages.  Many of those supposed fly-rod lures were as big as a small mouse.  Maybe there were experienced fly rodders who could cast ‘em out there with no problem – but I couldn’t.

I’d been tying my own trout and panfish flies for some time do it was no big deal for me to put my own bugs together.  My favorites turned out to be deer hair bugs about the size of one of my fingers.  I tied them on Number 4 and 6 fly hooks.

The bug pictured here was my number one favorite.  I've always figured those light rubber Hula Skirt tails I used in tying it was why it often turned out to be the best of the bunch.  Photo Stan Fagerstrom.

The bug pictured here was my number one favorite. I’ve always figured those light rubber Hula Skirt tails I used in tying it was why it often turned out to be the best of the bunch. Photo Stan Fagerstrom.

I’ve always figured that it was the tails I used on certain bugs I tied that helped make them as effective as they turned out to be.  If you’ve been bass fishing long enough to know your bass from a hole in the ground – you’re certain to have heard of the lure called a Hula Popper.

I fell in love with the bait-casting version on this beautiful old bait the first time I got to use it.  It didn’t take long to determine that it was the lure’s flexible tails, tails that kept moving even when the lure was setting dead still in the water, that were largely responsible for the lure’s success.

My past experience with the bait-casting size Hula Popper helped me finalized the design of some of the bugs I wanted to use with my fly rod.  I wound up simply cutting two strands off of a Hula Skirt and tying them in as the tails on my bugs.

Did it work?  You can dang well believe it did!  And I’m just as convinced that those two little strands of rubber that Fred Arbogast, one of the real pioneers in this business of building baits and who got the patent on them way back in 1938, put in the Hula Popper work just as well in the field of bass fly fishing.

I’ll be telling you more about my thoughts on my bugs and how I fished them in my final column in this series on fly rod bass fishing.  You’ll find it featured in my Let’s Look Back column for the month of June.

  • Andy Williamson

    It is hard to beat the undulating, flat rubber Hula skirt.