Each spring, fly anglers across the country sort through their fly boxes to decide which patterns they’ll put to good use in the upcoming season and which won’t make the cut. Let’s take a moment to check out a few bass patterns, and learn why they were created, and find out how to put them to good use.
Jim Hickey, a longtime Shenandoah River guide who now lives and guides near Jackson Hole, Wyoming, regularly guided clients in Patagonia, Chile—land of the condor—during the off-season in Virginia. While in Chile, Hickey noticed that the resident trout went nuts for what looked like damselflies. Back at camp, Hickey experimented at his vice until he came up with a respectable imitation of the trouts’ favorite fly. His pattern was a hit in Patagonia and Hickey’s Condor was born.
I’ve fished Hickey’s Condor with tremendous success for several years; on my best day, I landed 22 smallies in a single afternoon without changing flies. Though originally tied for South American trout, North American bass take the Condor without a second thought. Hickey’s Condor comes in chartreuse, brown, black, orange, and blue in sizes No. 6 through No. 12.
Walt Cary has been tying his classic Walt’s Poppers for 50 years. Cary calls them “workhorses for the everyday angler.” It is an apt description indeed because day in and day out, these flies will take a tremendous amount of abuse. Both popper and slider are painted seven times, rendering them nearly bulletproof.
Walt’s Poppers feel like throwbacks to the days when an angler would go into his local hardware store to pick up his fishing supplies. You won’t find them in hardware stores today—but you will find them in many fly shops across the country. Walt’s Poppers come in a huge variety of colors and in sizes No. 2 through No. 12. And don’t be surprised if these flies last longer on the river than you do.
A lot of people just throw patterns that are just too small. If you want big fish, you have to stop thinking about casting tiny flies and give them something to bite into. The CK Baitfish is a minnow imitation that seems to swim as one draws in line and that is best fished with a strip-and-wait approach. Sometimes the fish will attack the CK Baitfish as it moves, but more often than not I’ve found this pattern is hit while it sits suspended in the water. Do yourself a favor and pick up a handful of these flies. This is a pattern no fly angler should be without. The CK Baitfish is available in white, chartreuse, and black in size No. 1.
One of the natural wonders of the aquatic world, crayfish live in nearly every stream in the country. These small crustaceans—which look like miniature lobsters to many of us—may comprise 40 percent of the diet of an adult bass. The Claw-Dad, which mimics this favorite food source, is great for finding big bass. The Claw-Dad is available in olive, tan, black and blue/black in sizes No. 6 through No. 2.
These are just a handful of some of the best bass flies I’ve found on the market today.
For more information on Hickey’s Condor and Walt’s Poppers call Brookside Flies at 800-258-6336. For information on the CK Baitfish and the Claw-Dad contact Kreel Tackle at 434-296-9715. Now that you know the hottest bass flies on the market, what are you waiting for?