Written by: Alvin Dedeaux, All Water Guides
Just like trout, largemouth bass spend most of their time feeding below the surface. And as most people would agree that catching trout on dry flies is more exciting, watching a bass explode on a popper chugging across the surface is even more of a rush. The strikes are just so savage.
But as much as a dry-fly junkie as I am, I do nymph for trout when the conditions dictate. After all, I want to catch as many fish as I can. Ditto for bass. When the topwater bite is not happening, I have a few go-to sub surface bass patterns.
1. Clouser Minnows: I have caught more warmwater and saltwater species on the Clouser Minnow than on any other fly. Favorite colors are chartreuse and white, pink and white, and gray and white. For bigger fish or deeper water, try the Clouser/ Deceiver Half and Half.
2. Crawfish patterns: My personal best largemouth bass on the fly–as well as one of our clients’ world record Guadalupe bass–was caught on a crawfish pattern. Especially when the water temps are low and you need to bounce something along the bottom to entice a big lazy bass to to eat, the Gulley Ultra Craw and the Ghetto Craw are my favorite patterns.
3. Leeches: When the water is off-color or the temps are low, it’s hard to beat a big, dark leech slithering along the bottom. Think of it as the fly-rod version of a Texas rigged rubber worm.
4.Shad patterns: Some of the main forage fish in most bass lakes are shad. If you see bass schooling and chasing bait, most likely it is shad. One of my favorite shad patterns is the Double Bunny.
5. Diving Bugs: While not truly a sub-surface pattern, divers are one of my favorite flies when bass aren’t hitting the surface. The beauty of a big deer-hair diver is how much water they move. Bass will come from a long way off to find out what is making such a commotion. The added bonus of a diver is that you still get to see the strike.