I have been on a diving bug kick as of late. To be totally honest, a lot of that stems from me using a diving bug one day, and leaving it on the fly patch in the back of my car. Every time I open up the trunk it is right there staring at me, begging to be tied on. I oblige. Not to make it happy; but because I want to.
These days, diving bugs can be found in deer hair or foam variations. Walking the line between fly and lure, their motion in the water is unparalleled. Obviously, the design and action has taken cues from century-old bass plugs. The curved lip hits all the necessary boxes: movement up and down, movement side to side.
Where I believe that flies of this design actually outperform similar lures is in terms of the benefits you get from materials. First of all, the “chew” of a soft fly is going to be more appealing to a bass than the hard plastic or wooden lure. Also, the bucktail, rabbit strips, marabou, or whatever else is trailing off the back is going to impart a lot more motion when moving or still than anything you’ll find on a traditional plug. Furthermore, I am not anti-traditional gear or even anti-treble hook. That has a time and a place. Yet I think that the benefits of a single hook in its weedless and hookup characteristics make the diving bug superior.
Additionally, here are six diving bug tips that I think will improve your fly fishing:
Use them on more than bass. Trout eat mice. Toothy critters eat frogs. Divers look like a lot of foodstuffs, so throw them at any fish you can think of.
Stop! Like a popper, you should give a diving bug a few beats on the surface before you begin the retrieve. Not all mice, lizards, and frogs sit still when they fall in – but a lot do. The more patience you have, the more fish you’ll catch.
Vary your retrieve… or, don’t. The movement of a diving bug is tantalizing to fish. But so are the jerks and stops you can put in it while you twitch your rod tip or alter what your line hand is doing. Mix it up: steady retrieves catch fish, and so do erratic ones.
Switch up your knots. I am not in the camp of “loop knots all the time!” I’m not even a proponent of always using loops on streamers and poppers. That being said, try out a loop knot and a clinch knot on your diver. Notice the differences in the retrieve, and use each knot when you think it would work best.
Buy, buy, buy. There are so many different variations on the Dahlberg Diver, which itself is a variation on a bass plug. Pick up a handful, see how each behaves (wiggle width, diving depth, buoyancy, etc.) and employ each as necessary.
Don’t bring a knife to a gunfight. Big bugs are, well, big. We all like to use lightweight rods so we can feel the fish. You have to remember that the same resistance that makes these bugs do what they do underwater is also at play when they’re flying through the air. Match your rod to the fly as if it were a weighted streamer.
Fish diving bugs. You’ll be happy. They’ll be happy. After all, isn’t that what fly fishing is all about? You and your flies, living in harmony.