The Fly Fishing Revolution : No Fly Rod Needed

Why the DragonFly for Bass

by Ken Daubert

DragonFlies are one of those things that bass yearn for. Ever since they were yearlings, they spent much of their days looking up at those that were taunting them. They fly low over the water and even hover above them. Many times they would leap into the air before they would actually grab one. They will not let go when they get one. Even younger bass hunt and eat dragon fly nymphs under the water as hatchlings. They don’t forget those things when they grow bigger, especially with giant size helicopter- like dragonflies teasing them overhead throughout every day. Imagine if one fell on the water in front of a big bass in shallow water !

In spite of all the interest by bass in DragonFlies of every shape, size & color, very few bass fishermen are offering something in that category to the fish. Perhaps a few fly fishermen. But all  across the country and all over the globe, bass are doing their utmost to grab a Dragonfly with very little success every day. One of the key points to understand is that the bass are not being punished for eating them. Many are caught,  released and educated against eating other lures and food choices but not Dragonflies.

Many years ago I fished a very quiet small northeastern state lake that bordered between a state forest and extensive farmlands. It was a very clean but very fertile, stream fed lake covered with lily pads. There were many pockets of open water scattered throughout the lake, especially where the old creek bed channel ran.

I liked to visit that place in the middle of summer on a sunny day with the highest temperatures in the middle of the day with the lightest winds, usually about 88 degrees in the middle of July. At such times there was an enormous population of dragonfly activity hovering over those lily pads and dead calm water. The constant teasing & daring by the winged clan kept what seemed like half of the yearling bass in mid-air at any one moment of time. The action with almost any type of bug imitation would be great on my flyrod,  but I discovered that I could design flies that would actually hop off the water after landing by sending a loop of line rolling down the fly line. That behavior of the fly greatly increased my success ratio with most of the smaller bass on the lake up to about 2 pounds.

When they saw it touch down lightly without breaking the surface film and then lift into the air from the water surface, and they would snatch it just as it touched down again and sometimes even out of mid-air. My favorite memory of that sport was a 5 pounder that leaped high and snatched the fly about a foot and half over the surface and gave me the fight of my life while tubefloating with a Featherlight Hardy Bamboo fly rod. I wish I had the video of that one, but the memory is still very vivid, and the lesson has not been forgotten by me. I see lots of small bass jumping for dragonflies here in Florida also, but I don’t expect to see many 5 - 10 lb. bass leaping out of the water to snatch dragonflies out of the air. But a Dragonfly that crash lands on the water of a bass inhabited lake is in serious jeopardy of being eaten, especially a very big, very juicey looking specimen. Both the big bass and I remember the lessons of our youth, and every bass out there, big or small, agrees with me --- a “Dragonfly Down” is a very, very tempting thing ---- especially a big one !

The exact DragonFly Lure in the photo below caught the bass in the photo above in January. The big bass went for a skittering retrieve over the surface ripples in the background at the end of a long cast.

It is a Monster Bass Killer.