Fly Fishing: Big FlY = Big Fish - The Fisherman

Fly Fishing: Big FlY = Big Fish

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The author with a spring striper caught on a large fly in a back bay estuary.

Step up your fly profile for bigger bass

We all want to catch big fish. The thought of feeling your fingers burn as the fly line gets ripped between them and keeps pulling off line into your backing excites us, well me at least. I am chasing a goal of getting a 50-plus inch striped bass on fly. There are a few key components that I believe will help me achieve that goal, and a big profile is number one on the list. I was introduced to fly fishing and fly tying by not only a good friend of mine but my mentor as well, Paul Capuzzo. My first time targeting a fish on fly, Paul handed me a rod with a white and chartreuse Clouser Minnow at the end of it and I landed a solid bluefish. A few years of fishing with Paul and I have realized that the Clouser will catch almost all of the target gamefish in the Northeast, as well as just about anywhere you take it.

So why would I change to a different fly if it is catching? We’ve all seen the pictures and heard the stories of the surf guys off Montauk catching these 40- and 50-pound bass, sometimes even bigger. I used to believe that the big bass only lived there and nowhere else. What I realized is that I wasn’t using the right fly in other locations throughout New Jersey or New England. Most of the fish that are getting pulled in from the Montauk surf are caught using big plugs or big profile bucktails. When whipping a fly rod around, sometimes a Clouser isn’t working and you have to switch to a Deceiver, or maybe a Surf Candy. Sometimes the fish are picky and they will only eat a certain color. I like to think, when it comes to big fish, they prefer a bigger presentation.

I started looking closely at the larger baitfish we have in our area and took note of the profile. I noticed an adult Bunker is about 9 to 12 inches, has a wide tail kick, and is very shiny. While searching online I noticed there are some truly impressive flies out there that really mimic large baitfish. Blaine Chocklett’s “Game Changer” that he made for Musky has an incredible lifelike action in the water, yet I figured with the Northeast weather it would be impossible to cast in some wind due to the weight. I watched an interview with Bob Popovic and right then and there I was hooked on “The Beast Fly”. I started the lengthy process of tying this pattern and ended up with an all-white, 10-inch long fly that has the perfect tail waggle in it. Tied on a 4/0 Ahrex SA270 this fly is lethal. I tie in about 9 to 10 sparce ties and use all white bucktail, preferably 5 or 6 inches with some flashabou mixed in here and there.

Outfitted with the new fly and a 10-wt rod spooled with intermediate line, I started fishing in the same spots for the spring run. I began catching bigger fish right away, most of them in the 12- to 15-pound class. These big bass that are migrating through are looking for an easy meal. The Beast Fly is a great candidate in my opinion to target the larger fish because it checks off all the boxes in what you’re looking for—all around a great big profile, great action, great sink rate, and does not tend to foul on the hook. It will take some getting used to casting this mop of a fly, but it will produce. At the end of long strips, it will dart either left or right which helps trigger a great reaction bite as well. You can fish it from the beach, boat, rocks or wherever else you might be. I’m still looking for that one broom tail to take a swipe at it. I know that big fish are swimming through right now and I am eager to see what this spring run has to offer. Hopefully some screaming drag followed by a healthy release and the memory of a lifetime.

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