We all fish better when we feel confident. For me confidence comes first and foremost from the choice of fly. The variety of flies and styles we can choose from is immense but that huge choice can lead to uncertainty and doubt. Take sea bass for example. These supreme predators feed on a wide variety of marine creatures: just look in the sea angling magazines at the variety of baits used to catch them. I’ve caught bass gorged on sand eels, smashing shoals of whitebait or with crunchy stomachs packed with shore crabs. I’ve experimented with shrimp flies, crab flies, poppers and all sorts of weird and wonderful saltwater flies from around the world. But when in doubt I reach for these three flies which seem to work regardless of what the fish are feeding on.
Chartreuse Clouser – This fly style – the Deep Minnow – is a brilliant design created by the American angler and fly tier Bob Clouser. It is simple, hard-wearing and deadly. The weighted eyes ensure it sinks quickly and gives the fly a very lively action as it is retrieved. It fishes hook point up so is less likely to get snagged on the rocks and kelp. It looks good enough to eat. This colour combination, chartreuse and white, is consistently my most productive bass fly.
Pink Clouser – Clouser’s minnows can be tied in a variety of colours but rather than arm your box with all the colours of the rainbow, I suggest you add just one alternative – the pink and white variant. This provides a contrast in shade to the vibrant chartreuse. The pink and white combination makes for a translucent and less showy alternative. Try it over sea weed or on sunny days when the chartreuse seems to be just a bit too bright.
Livebait – This pattern was designed by Austen Goldsmith, a bass fishing guide In Cornwall, and is simply the most lifelike sand-eel imitation you could want. It is another simple and hard-wearing fly, essential when you are fishing over rocks or catching large numbers of toothy school bass. The Livebait is unweighted and a great choice for fishing in shallow flats and over reefs where a Clouser may sink too fast. It features a bend-back style of tying that helps mask the hook point from weeds.
I like to keep my bass fishing as simple as possible and would happily set out for a session armed with a line try, a 9 ft 8 weight rod, a clear intermediate line, a spool of tippet and a box of these three flies. One final tip: don’t think you always have to strip the flies as fast as you can. These flies are so lively in the water you can fish them slowly and that is often the way to pick up the larger bass.
At Blue Zulu Fly Fishing, we’re offering a 12-fly selection box containing four hand-tied examples of each of these three patterns tied on top quality stainless steel hooks for £45 plus delivery.