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How to Catch a Bass on a Fly Rod – Part 2

Part 2 – Your gear is all wrong 

If you’re a full time trout guy that’s just starting to get into the bass game, I hate to break it to you, but you need new gear.  I know we’re all just waiting for an excuse to go shopping for new equipment, and this is it.  When you show up at the dock with your 6 wt “streamer” rod all set up with a floating line thinking your going to do some damage, you’re going to have a bit of a surprise.  If you’ve read Part 1 of this series and sized your fly arsenal up accordingly, you’ll find that a 5-6 wt rod will have hard time accurately placing even a modest sized bass bug.  If you want to do it right, a 7 or even 8 weight is almost mandatory, along with a solid reel to go along with it.  As a general preference I fish 7wts almost exclusively.  I like medium to slow action rods but if I find I need more power…like for casting gurglers…. I pick up an extra fast action model that I over line with an 8wt bass taper.   Fast or medium action, whichever you prefer, just make sure rods are strong enough to stop a small beast.  Reels should have solid drags.  Think saltwater.  They don’t

Three of my favorite setups. They cover every depth from surface to 20 feet deep and have plenty of power to haul in whatever tree branch I can break loose.

need to be sealed for saltwater use but the drags need to be plenty strong.  Bass don’t make long runs like salt water fish but they are tough to move away from obstructions and will hang you up quick if you don’t move them fast.  Add ten pounds of weed bed salad to your line and you can see what you’re up against.  I like reels with a large arbor that take up line fast and that are tough enough to take some abuse of being tossed around the boat.  If you fish from a bass boat room is not an issue.  I have rigs for every different set up I plan to use and can fish from top to bottom without changing spools or set ups, which means have anywhere from 3 to 7 fully rigged rods lying on the deck.  When I float tube it,  I use two rods minimum.  One rigged for a floating line and one with a mid depth sink tip. If there’s no top water action I switch the floating line out and choose and intermediate sink tip and a mid or deep sinking rig. This can cover the majority of situations you encounter in a day.

—A word about lines.  

Lines are probably the most important part of the set up.  There are literally line tapers for every type of fishing nowadays.  I didn’t buy into all the hype at first and used to fish a double taper for most of my life.  But now I take full advantage of the spectrum and have lines that are intermediate sink tips from 1-2 ips, all the way to full sinking Deep 6 lines. Neutral buoyancy on your flies are usually the goal and this means the line has the job of getting the fly to the right depth and keeping it suspended there.  Giant profile flies are wind resistant enough so adding weight complicates casting even more as well as destroys some of the neutral buoyancy properties I’m trying to build into the designs.  This means you need to match your line to the fly and style of retrieve.  It may sound complicated and technical but its just a matter of experimentation.  An intermediate sink tip and a medium sink rate lines will cover most of your needs.  Add a fast sinking full sink line for direct bottom bouncing and you’re all set.  I only use one floating line with a heavy weight forward or “bass” taper to do all my topwater fishing.

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