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THE DARK KNIGHT

An over-sized fly that is sure to temp that next cow bass from the surf on the long rod.
By Derrick Kirkpatrick
Tags: surf, fly-fishing

I have always felt that the saltwater fly-rodder who also wields a surf rod has a better shot of landing a truly large bass on the fly than one who limits themselves to only throw the long rod. When I think of large fish, I am referring to those fish of 35-plus pounds and really 40 on up for a truly large specimen. Not that a 30-pounder on the fly rod isn’t an accomplishment, but I like to take the tool out of the equation and think more generally about large fish caught from shore; 50 pounds is the mark of angling immortality.

In my opinion a hardcore surfcaster has a better understanding of large bass and their behavior than the average fisherman targeting this same species. In my neighborhood, when you cut open a “big” bass its stomach contents more often than not reveal skate, fluke, blackfish, bunker, eels and lobster to name a few select meals. The common trend for most saltwater fly anglers is to throw the equivalent of a tic-tac on the end of their line while the fish are feeding on fillet mignon.

Big bass are an intelligent kind of lazy; generally they couldn’t care less about chasing down your 4-inch Clouser minnow. I believe that for the wading saltwater fly-rodder there are few exceptions to this observation. Examples of these exceptions include times when spectacular events involving moon, wind, tide and weather align to bring so much prey into an area that bass of any size would be fool to miss it. Other situations occur when regularly feeding fish find small prey items their easiest feeding opportunity. The Cape Cod flats in June, when large fish readily feed on small sand eels best represent this scenario. Other situations could include a worm or crab hatch. But the fact is, unless you are retired (which I am not), you can’t wait for things to happen; you have to seek out your target and use the best methods available to you to that put you in the path of a large fish.

DEVELOPING THE PATTERN
The Dark Knight mimics an eel, a bait that has accounted for many large bass in the surfcasting community over the years. For me it was a no brainer to attempt to replicate this offering to the best of my ability on the fly rod. Roughly nine years ago marked my first attempt at manipulating an eel in fly form. I remember being in John Posh’s basement, picking his brain about eel patterns which have proved successful for him. His favorite was one made of wig hair and flex-cement, but the one fly he showed me that really sparked my interest incorporated fly line and rabbit strips. What caught my attention was the advantage that this combination of materials offered, mainly the breathability of the zonker strips and in turn, their lifelike behavior in the water.


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