I love fly fishing for bass, panfish, and all the other warmwater species that swim with them. While a lot of progress has been made within fly fishing culture for the acceptance, appreciation, and celebration of this side of the sport, there are still plenty of people who see it as a second-tier option.
Is warmwater fishing the same as hitting a big mayfly hatch where the big browns are rising? Well, no. But in their own ways, fly fishing with poppers for big largemouth or working streamers for river smallies is close to angling perfection.
You might know that. Or, you might be a part of the “trout first” camp. If that is you, then I’ve got three good reasons why fishing for bass and panfish can help you with your trout game.
If you think that fishing for bass or sunnies is just about winging it out there and pulling it back in, you’re not fishing right. The biggest specimens of didn’t get large from being stupid. They’re up against rocks, crammed back in weeds, and chilling under a gap in lily pads.
If you can cast a frog on a six weight into a foot-wide hole in some grass, you can put a dry fly in the feeding lane of a rising trout.
I think that casting poppers and weighted streamers is much more complicated than throwing most traditional trout patterns. The smaller and lighter flies allow your rod to do what it was designed for – casting fly line. Once you add a lot of weight and/or wind resistance in, the variables of the cast are compounded exponentially.
If you can make the hard casts, you should be able to make the easy ones easily.
Do you ever feel like the trout should be giving themselves up and then saying thank you once you tie a steamer on? As if the real gamesmanship was happening with your dry fly or nymph, but now that you’ve got a woolly bugger on its game over.
Not so. You need to work that streamer. Just giving halfhearted twitches and strips isn’t going to cut it for trout.
Often when bass fishing, there is a lot of effort put into swimming streamers around structure and through cover. Like a pro bass angler jigging a dock, the fishing is deliberate and calculated. It is a methodical side to side, up and down approach. You’re fishing the fly how the fish want the fly to be fished and covering every likely feeding spot.
Trout aren’t any different. They want their baitfish crippled, their crawfish scurrying, and their leeches undulating in slack water.
More than I’d like to admit, I’ll get into streaks of pulling dry flies and mice out of the mouths of trout. For some reason I rarely mess up a topwater hook set on bass or panfish. Maybe I feel like the states aren’t as high. Perhaps I am just dialed in on warmwater fish a little more.
Regardless, I should pay attention to what I am doing right when I am bass fishing. Some of that will translate over to trout.
Poppers, sliders, and dragonflies aren’t too different than dry flies or mice. You can’t set the hook when the fish’s mouth is still open and eating the fly. You can’t set the hook when the splash of the rise is still growing. There is that moment where the fish submerges and the line begins to go tight when you need to apply pressure.
Want to get better on setting the hook on dries? Take a few foam ants and your favorite dry fly rod to the local pond and let some bluegill take you to school.
Whether your location or summer temperatures keep you away from trout, or if you simply fish for bass for the sake of fishing for bass, hopefully you’ll see how the skills you’re working on will improve your overall fly fishing. Plus, you’re catching sunfish… and there’s never anything wrong with that.