I grew up in Northeast Pennsylvania, which in many respects is far more synonymous with trout fishing than bass fishing. Some of my earliest fishing memories are actually of browns, bows, and brookies on the fly. At first glance it might seem like flyfishing for trout and conventional fishing for bass aren’t very similar. Bass often hit big, bulky, shiny things, even under some of the most pressured situations, while catching trout on the fly often requires the utmost finesse and precise presentation in order for them to even think about biting. That’s why there are probably some master trout fly tiers out there that would look at a bass guy’s well trimmed, homemade jig like a modern day surgeon being forced to evaluate a hack job civil war leg amputation. Truth is, though it took years to realize, understanding the trout fly game has made me a much better bass angler.
You sort of have to look at this through a wide-angle lens to see how these two very different methods compliment each other. For starters, bass fishing can be just as much about matching the hatch as trout fishing. I’ve had the most finite skirt modifications to a massive 1-ounce spinnerbait be a game-changer during tournaments. I wouldn’t have put as much weight on little tweaks like that if I didn’t flyfish. I’ve used my past knowledge of how trout set up while feeding in current endless times in my national bass fishing pursuits. I can honestly say bass act very similar to trout in most cases, and that prior trout knowledge was extremely valuable in identifying where and how bass feed in all levels of flow.
Flyfishing teaches you that for every situation, there is the best angle, the best drift speed, and the best place for you to stand. It also teaches that the first cast should be the one that matters most. Understanding how to get a fly in the strike zone without spooking the fish is critical. Knowing that when you are stalking a fish it’s to your benefit to stay as low as possible in order to increase the glare between you and the fish is key. Being taught the hard way that the noise and waves you make stomping downstream is not going to win any brownie points with the 20-inch native brookie in the next pool is a lesson I only had to learn once. Flyfishing means having the ability to decipher if you should be working the surface, mid-water, or the bottom. It’s knowing before the fish even bites that one twitch is too little, three twitches is too much, but two is just right. Now, I don’t care if you’re working a pond on foot or fishing a reservoir in a bass boat; you should be able to remove the trout from every one of the aspects of flyfishing I described and relate them to countless situations in bass fishing. If you can’t, maybe it’s time to take a break from the lake and try a little fly. One good day on a challenging stream will teach you tons about fooling bubba bass next time out.