Fly Fishing: Trout vs. Bass
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My shop's selection of trout fishing flies is for the purpose of having the right stuff for my trips to the Smokie Mountains. And it would satisfy 90% of those that live up there. But this was not always the case. Andy Thornal Company is in the middle a spectacular Bass fishery. There are 554 lakes in Polk County, Florida. And within an hour's drive, there are...well I don't need to know, I am busy enough fishing around the house. And the fly fishing for bluegill and specs (you call 'em crappie) are excellent. So ten years go ago, I had not fallen in love with trout fishing, like today.
It was a beautiful Chamber of Commerce day in February. About 70 degrees with bluebird skies, and little humidity. The perfect day to live in Florida. We truely appreciate our seasonal customers (and our year-round customers.) So when a well dressed man came into the store for the first time, I figured we would be gaining a good new customer. He was not in the store for our fine apparel,jewelry, knives, or travel. He was looking for a local fly shop! My kind of guy! So when he looked at the selection of hundreds of bass and bluegill flies, he winced. And then he said it: "Fishing for Bass in a lake is worse than fishing in a toilet." Whaaaat did you just say??????? I was shocked, and for the first time in my life, I did not know what to say. He turned around and walked out of the store, never to grace my doors again.
So there it is. Folks who grew up fishing for trout, rarely appreciated bass and bluegill fishing in lakes and ponds. There are exceptions, but for most it is an aquired taste-like dark beer or blue cheese. And the reverse is true too, especially if one learned fly fishing for Florida bass first. Our bass are large enough to eat a stocked trout for a snack.
So which is truely better on the fly rod?
The scenery is different. Admitedly, mountain streams are a beautiful place to fish, but so is a glass calm lake at sunrise. The sounds of the cool breeze in the trees is alluring, and so is the sound of a pair a Sandhill Cranes trumpeting their presence. Different, but both places are beautiful.
The flies and technique are different. Most anglers on the stream will tell you that a nymph with indicator catches the most trout. To a bass fisherman, it smacks of cricket fishing under a cane pole-kid's stuff. Trout fisherman will tell you that dry fly fishing upstream is the most satisfying way to catch trout. A bass fisherman sees dry fly fishing as absolutely boring, unless the action is non-stop. And bass fisherman can't properly present the fly anyway, much less have a drag free drift. Bass fishing requires the line to be tight at all times, particularly the moment the the popping bug hits the water. No slack line presentations, no mending, and trout anglers see this as fishing with no finesse, and requiring little, if any skill.
Much of the casting is different. The trout fisherman is highly reliant on his roll cast. Making precision casts to a spot on the river, with absolutely no room for a back cast. High sticking, and/or mending for drag free drift. Wiggle casts to create slack when making a cross stream cast. Non of these is typical of the bass angler. But making a 40 foot cast that lands 5 foot underneath a 100 year old oak tree while running a trolling motor with your foot. They can do that. And placing a frog pattern on a lily that imperceptibly rippled, and making it smack hard enough to entice a stirke. That is a non-typical trout cast. And very few trout fishermen can double haul a deer hair bug into a gusty afternoon breeze.
Truthfully, the two types of fishing are very different-if we were talking birds, a bald eagle and a turkey. Both are beautiful in their own way. Both are truely American. Both are beloved by many. And if you are lucky enough to have trout fishing friends and bass fishing friends, you have it figured out.
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