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This may seem like blasphemy, but we are stepping away from fly fishing for trout. We need to talk about all of those other opportunities out there, the other fish in the sea. One of the most fun ways to catch any fish is on a top water fly. This style of fly can open up a world of different angling experiences and species. From Striped Bass to Largemouth, From Smallmouth to Pike, Redfish and Sea Trout, and let us not discount all of the panfish species. All of these can be readily caught on Top Water Flies.
So, in every instance before and after this, your 5/6 weight fly rod will be just fine for the flies you’ll be throwing, with top water flies you may want to load up with something heavier for anything bigger than a panfish. Panfish might drop you down to a 3/4 weight setup but because we are talking about bigger fish in general and much bigger flies, the consensus is to bump up to the heavier weight your rod will handle or to get a setup for topwater.
Black bass and Pike can be handled on an 7/8 weight, where the saltwater species might take you up to a 9/10 weight. Remember that it isn’t just the size or fighting ability of a fish that dictates the weight of the fly rod one should use, it’s the size and weight of the fly as well. Bigger flies are harder to turn over and make land properly, for lack of better terms. The heavier line casts them better and farther and is able to help an angler retrieve them better while imparting the action.
Speaking of the action, it can be had on any body of water. You should be fishing a topwater fly with your rod tip down low and ripping line in short bursts back to you. This will make the flies pop and gurgle. That spitting sputtering action can draw huge reaction bites. These strikes are the kind of thing that take nerves of steel. An angler shouldn’t set the hook on a topwater fly until they feel the weight of the fish.
Top water poppers for Panfish such as Bluegill and Sunfish are a great way to introduce children into the wonderful sport of fly fishing. With the abundance and exuberance of these tiny fighters, a day of catching them can turn any kid into a lifelong fly fishing fanatic.
So, when the waters warm up and the trout bite isn’t exactly the hottest ticket in town or when a kid really wants a fishing fix, grab the appropriate rod and some Bass Bugs and Poppers and head to the pond, or the flats, or a lake and see if you can’t get a rod ripped out of your hand!