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Tuesday, 11 June 2013 19:08

First Bass On My Hand Tied Flies

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I recently dusted off my fly rod after a ten-year hiatus. I spent a majority of my formative years chasing largemouth bass and panfish using fly rods and topwater popping bugs. Along with my resurging interest in fly fishing, I began tying my own flies. I am ever searching for challenges and techniques to obsessively plunge myself into. Tying, and throwing, large, baitfish imitation streamers is very much like fishing the large swimbait imitations I use on conventional tackle.

With a few simple materials and common tools from my garage, I crafted a tackle box full of traditional and non-traditional patterns to woo weary river bass. With flies in hand, I hit a small flow with friend and flyfishing mentor Josh Tidwell. -We floated a small river known for my favorite species: huge, river-run spotted bass. I beached my Jackson Kayak “SUPerFISHal” below a rocky shoal for a rest from a stiff paddle upstream, and a chance to do some fly casting from shore.

Jackson Kayak Superfishal

I opened my fly box and selected a bucktail, hackle and flash Deceiver I had tied on a whim only hours earlier. The big streamer pulsated and undulated in the water like a living, breathing entity begging to be slammed by a vicious spotted bass. I worked the swift water below the shoals thoroughly, with no takers. Picking up my line, I waded up to the pushwater above the shoals and laid a nice, looping cast across the rushing water. Fast, long strips had the streamer darting and pulsing down the rocky riffle like a shad fighting for its existence.

hand tied bucktail hackly and flash deceiver

Suddenly, the white streamer disappeared into a golden-green flash that jolted my rod and bolted upstream. I hammered the fish with a strip-set and the aerial acrobatic display was fitting my first bass on my hand-tied flies. A round of pictures was followed by the retirement of this precious, first fly; a must for all fly tiers.

Evan Howard first bass close up

Evan Howard first bass on fly

Building momentum, I picked up several short fish on some Clousers of my own design. I was in the zone, standing and casting from my ultra-stable paddle board - laying my flies under overhanging branches, and drawing strikes, follows, and interest from many fish. Suddenly, my world was put on its head. I roll-casted a Clouser under an overhanging tree, and the largest spotted bass I have ever seen annihilated my fly. This fish far outclassed the 21” 5lb personal best I landed months ago on this same flow. I strip-set into a brick wall - a southbound semi that gave no ground, dove, pulled, shook her massive head… then my line suddenly went limp. She had broken off a 20lbfloro tippet and driven a dagger into my heart.

I was physically ill. There is no worse feeling in the world than seeing your dreams fade into the depths. We floated downriver as I casted and moaned and went through the motions of fishing. My companion hooked his first decent fish of the trip and I played cameraman, snapping some great pictures with my phone. After the release, I eyed his fly selection and tied on a Coyote (a Clouser with a small spinner blade) to match his flashy fly called a Rolex. Three casts later, I hooked and landed a nice 3lb class spot. She didn’t heal the wound left by the lost giant, but it surely helped and put a positive ending to a wonderful, terrible trip I will surely never forget.

First bass on fly clouser

Read 7426 times Last modified on Tuesday, 11 June 2013 19:48
Evan Howard

Fishing is in Evan's blood; ingrained in his DNA like thread woven into fabric. He was taught to fish by his father and grandfather as an integral, life skill. His youth was spent exploring the banks of North Alabama’s ponds and rivers, searching for big bass and adventure; daydream of tournament wins and becoming a professional angler. However, he yearned to escape those banks to explore, go farther, and fish waters I could not reach. After he graduated college, kayak fishing, spearheaded by guys like Drew Gregory, exploded onto the angling scene and provided the means to escape the banks and ply the unreachable waters he longed for. Evan quickly fell in love with paddling and fishing all waters, but his true passion lies in exploring small, remote flows to unlock their guarded secrets; hard-fighting, river fish.

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+1 # wildrover 2013-06-12 08:34
Very nice article and well written. Congrats on a truly successful adventure.
# elhoward622 2013-06-14 12:15
Thank you!
+1 # smj190 2013-06-12 08:37
Great article. I love reading the adventure. Hopefully you can heal that wound soon.
+1 # elhoward622 2013-06-14 12:16
Thank you and I too hope I get a chance for redemption!
+1 # Dschouest 2013-06-12 21:58
You have a great way of writing, better than some reports Ive read. Keep it up!
# elhoward622 2013-06-14 12:22
Thank you for the kind words!
# Kayakjak 2013-06-24 10:07
Excellent article and adventure!

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