Fly Fishing for Largemouth Bass

Ken Hanley

Fly Fisher/Guide/Fly Tier/Writer

★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Hooking up with largemouth bass is exciting and definitely splashy. Ken Hanley will tell you exactly how to get them on a fly using special techniques and hot fly patterns.

Ken Hanley
Fly Fishing for Largemouth Bass
Ken Hanley Fly Fishing for Largemouth Bass

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Show Transcription

The culinary world is rife with secret recipes and secret ingredients. Many a chef would rather take their recipes to the grave then share them with the world. In the arena of fly fishing for largemouth bass there are no such things as secret tips or secret flies. Seasoned fisherman and tiers are more than happy to share their knowledge and expertise. One such pro is Ken Hanley.

Around fishing circles Ken Hanley is an acknowledged expert on Pacific Coast fly fishing. Having author several books and DVDs as well as teaching over 14,000 students, Ken certainly knows his largemouth bass. For many, the largemouth bass is probably the first fish they’ve ever caught using a fly. As Ken explained, the bass is an ambush predator who loves dwelling in tight to cover. What that means for the individual who is casting is that they have to be "a thinker with the fly rod in your hand."

Part of that thinking process has to do with understanding the very nature of the bass itself. The way the fish operates in their environment has everything to do with how you’re going to hook them. For instance, the fins on the bass have a large surface area that makes these fish the perfect explosive short-strike artist.

"These fish don’t generally do well in open waters over long distances tracking down a single minnow," Ken explained. "You know, they’re going to do much, much better when they’re sitting in an ambush station, if something comes by and they explode around over or through that ambush station to get to the food, so fin structure is different right there."

Then there are the eyes. It’s not just with people where the eyes are the mirror to the soul. According to Ken, the eyes on the largemouth bass are what set this fish apart. Being high on the head and large tells you this is fish that likes digging down into cover and looking up at their menu selection. Of course, the largemouth bass wouldn’t get its name without that largemouth! On this bass the mouth is as wide as it is tall. Ken refers to the bass a vacuum feeder that will just about eat anything that can pass through that mouth. This is also a fish that feels and hear things like no other thanks to its sensitive receivers.

The best temperature to fish for largemouth bass is inn the mid 60’s to the 70’s and in soft light or low light. These conditions get the bass jumping. Ken describes what the largemouth bass likes to eat which is pretty much anything that moves in the water such as bait fish and game fish. One of the best ways to attract a bass is with frogs or salamanders. He also thinks that in the fly game, damsels and dragonflies are the way to go. There is also a wide assortment of specialized flies that Ken has found great success with. If you’ve ever cast for largemouth or are thinking about that for your next excursion, you owe it to yourself to hear what Ken Haley has to say about the sport.


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