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New Fly Guy - The Fly Rod Bass Rig

About eight years ago, I had an epiphany as I wandered the aisles of Bass Pro Shop. Up to that point, I had pretty much been a fisherman who relied on spinners, top water plugs, and crank baits. But on this day, as I looked up and down the aisles in the fishing section, the products sent me a message. The message was simple -- use plastics!

By far, the type of lure that was allocated the greatest shelf space in the store was the infinite array of plastic everything -- grubs, frogs, worms.... you name it, they make it. A key advantage plastics provide to the fishermen is the ability of the manufacturer to impregnate them with various scents that allegedly produce longer harder strikes. In that instant, I resolved to get good with plastics and ever since then my catch rate on bass improved.

In early 2007, I switched from being primarily a spin guy to being a fly guy. While I still use my spin gear in pursuit of largemouth bass on lakes, I prefer the fly rod when I go after smallies on rivers. When you think about it, it's exactly the same as pursuing trout; both live where the water is moving.

In my first few forays after bass, I relied on the standard fly gear -- streamers, terrestrials, dry flies, poppers and nymphs. While anything that floats on top like a terrestrial or a small popper works just great, I found that I was getting continually hung up when I used the streamers and nymphs. It also occurred to me one day as I  cleaned up my bass gear, that I was probably missing the boat on smallies by relying solely on traditional fly lures.

So I resolved to see if I could create an effective bass rig for my fly rod. The key thing was that it had to be small and light enough to be flipped effectively using a six weight rod. As I poked around the aisles of Bass Pro Shop, I discovered that the crappie fishing section had a large number of small plastic grubs and worms impregnated with the same type of scent that I would use for bass if I were using my spin rod. Excited, I wandered down to the weight and swivel section to see if I could find something compatible down there. Sure enough, there are 1/32 ounce sliding weights and small swivels available. Granted, you could just squeeze on a few split shot instead of using the sliding weight, but I wanted to approximate what I use for bass on my spin gear. After all, an endless number of BassMaster tournament winners have proven the effectiveness of plastics rigged a certain way.

The pictures below show what I came up with - Texas rigged small crappie lures. If you want, you can attach a very small split shot at some point between the hook and the swivel to keep the sliding weight from going too far or just peg it. I typically tie on about 2 feet of 4X or 5X tippit to the end of the swivel. You need the swivel to deal with the line twist as the grub will spin a bit as you strip it in. 

As you can see from some of the pictures of the smallies that I have hauled in over this last summer, this rig has proven very effective.

You can drag this thing across logs, grass and other debris on the bottom of a river and not worry too much about getting hung up.

2 inch grub, 1/32 oz sliding sinker and a very small swivel

Rig it so the hook is on the outside to keep it from getting in the way of the bite,


Unless stated otherwise, this article was authored by Steve Moore

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