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So how's the top water bite treating you?

Rob G

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So how's the top water bite treating you? What flies, techniques or situations seem to be producing. Yesterday I was out and tossed my usual favorites of Crease flies, black or white poppers, and the Big Black Bug shown below. I also tossed a Jude bug (disclaimer: it was only a fair facsimile of a Jude Bug since no one can tie one of those darn things other than Jude himself) Way too many surface flies just got tail slapped by the smallies so as to tease me but were never taken. By far most of the fish taken were on subsurface streamers though the best of the day, a healthy 18+"er did fall for the BBB.



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Very pretty fish Rob. That Big Black Bug produces quite well for you. How do you work that thing? I have had little luck for smallies on top this year. I don't believe I have one yet and have fished them on three separate streams. Other species had been hitting them well up to a few weeks ago.


I throw a variety of popping baits. The 2" bandit popper is my favorite when using the ultralight on small streams. On larger water I like a 2 1/2" Storm chug bug or a Heddon Chugger Jr.. I like a 4" Rapala I Skitter Pop for hybrids and often catch smallies while throwing it if they are in the vacinity. I usually work them aggressively unless the fish tell me otherwise. With the fly rod I use various cup mouthed poppers and crease flies.

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Poppers and Chug-Bugs with the spin gear and with the fly gear I've been using a foam hopper.

I think the fly gear is better than the spin gear this time of year because you can lay the fly on the water without much splash, whereas a

big fat Chug-Bug or popper will splash and spook. Sometimes the splash is good and will entice an attack, but right now I think the easy lay

on the water surface is best.

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Terry, I think you're correct. I know during low, clear, and slower water conditions such as now, that if I butcher a cast (which I'm prone to do more than occasionally) and my fly line collapses or I land my bugs with too much authority, everything nearby spooks and smallies are on high alert. I am a big believer in using a 12' long clear fluoro or mono leader at this time of year because the fish are so susceptible to being "lined", heck even one too many false casts and they scatter. The mantra that bass are not leader shy may be true when the water is fast, when it's stained or when the aggressive bite is on but I think a long leader makes a huge difference right now. A friend of mine who guided for years tipped me off to the long clear leaders and making longer than normal casts at this time of year so as to remain more stealthy.


John, as to how do I work a big black bug?......slowly, more slowly than any other topwater fly that I fish. I like to cast it to the edges or slower water near cover, and twitch it only an inch or two at a time, with long periods of motionless drag free float if possible, mending my line as needed. You definitely want a piece of hi-vis foam tied on top because of the bug being black and sits low in the water, also you're not moving it much and you're casting it so far away, you won't be able to follow the thing and you'll miss subtle takes, like the gal above. Quite often, takes by larger fish will be subtle, but the smaller fish will crash it.

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