LESSON FIVE: The Bass Bug Event
and Trout-Fly Events (Lessons Three & Four) focus on casting small
flies at reasonable distances. How about an event for anglers who like
to toss poppers or bigger, air-resistant flies or streamers for bass,
pike, muskies and even snook or other saltwater species? Well, we've got
just the game for you. The fascinating, challenging Bass-Bug Event.
THE TARGETS: Remember in Lesson Two when we told you to obtain or
make six 30-inch targets? So far we've only used five targets. Here's
where we use the sixth target. Use the same setup for the first five targets
that we recommended for the Dry-Fly Event (Lesson Three), and place the
sixth target 65 to 70 feet from the caster's box. Yeah, you're right!
That's going to be a tough cast all right.
We'll use heavier gear than what we recommended for the two previous events,
because we're going to cast a bass popper, which is a lot more air resistant
and heavier than a dry fly. Here are our recommendations for this event:
Rod: A nine-foot fly rod calibrated to take a No. 8 or a 9 fly line
is ideal. If you don't have a nine footer but have an 8½-ft.
fly rod that takes a No. 8 line use it.
The Line: A No. 8 or 9 forward tapered floating line is
The Reel: Your normal single-action fly reel is fine.
The Leader: At least 6-ft. in length tapered from about .026" to
about .013" or less.
The Bug: Use a cork body bass bug. The cork body should be at
least ¾ inch in length and no less than ½ inch in diameter.
The hair tail should be an inch or longer. The ideal color for visibility
is yellow, and, of course, be sure to remove the point and barb to avoid
CAST THE BASS-BUG EVENT
start with strip sufficient line from your reel so that it is at least
ten feet beyond the far target which is about 65 to 70 feet away. Now
strip in all the line (don't reel it in) so that you have about two feet
of fly line and leader beyond the rod tip.
Round One: Start your false casting so that the line, leader and
bug are moving back and forth in the air, without intentionally striking
the surface in front or in back of you. While false casting, as per the
two previous lessons, let sufficient line pass through the rod guides,
until you think you have enough line out to hit the first target. If you
let out too much line, strip some in while false casting. After adjustments
are made, and your bass bug seems to hover above the near target on your
false cast, make the final forward presentation and allow the bug to settle
on the target. Put some force behind the forward cast. You don't have
to make a delicate presentation. You want to straighten out that leader.
Let's go to the second target. Lift the bug off the surface (land or water)
and begin false casting again over the second target. Let out line through
the guides as needed. If you let out too much line, strip some in. When
you think the bug will land in the center of the target, make your forward
cast (presentation) and drop the popper on the target. Easy, huh? Okay,
here's the catch. Except for the first target, you can only make two
false casts between the remaining targets. In other words, you have
to adjust the amount of line out quickly.
Now proceed to the third target, fourth and fifth target. You'll notice
that the distant targets are harder to hit.
Why only two false casts? Suppose you're fishing and you notice a marauding
bass chasing some minnows just beyond your popper. If you make a lot of
false casts that fish is LG (long gone). You got to deliver the
bass bug accurately, decisively and quickly.
After you make your cast to the fifth target you've got the long one!
That's a real toughie! Unless you are a very good caster (or very lucky),
that last target is a killer. And remember you can only make two false
casts between targets!
That takes care of the first round. Now strip in line (don't reel it in)
until you have only about two feet of line and the leader beyond the rod
tip and the hookless bass bug is in your non-casting hand.
Two: You do the same thing as before. Make as many false casts as
you'd like to the close target and make your presentation. You're going
to cast to the next five targets in the same sequence as in Round One,
but on this round you will only make one false cast between the targets.
I know it's tough, but these events are designed to improve your casting
by challenging your skills to the max.
That sixth target-where you go from 45-50 feet to 65-70 feet with one
false cast-is a button buster. You need to know the double haul (or single
haul at the minimum).
I said at the beginning this event is a difficult, demanding event. But
the purpose of these "games" is to make you the very best caster
you can possibly be. If you practice these casting exercises you will
see a constant improvement and the rewards are twofold: You will enjoy
the effortless casting while fishing, and your angling success will definitely
improve. You'll feel an absolute "high" when you deliver that
popper next to that stump 70 feet away!
You must be careful that you don't damage the rod when you lift up the
line from the 45-50 ft. target to cast to the far 65- to the 70-ft. target.
Yes, it requires some oomph but you have to learn to peel the line from
the surface and at the same time accelerate the back cast with the single
haul. Again refer to the casting instruction books and videos on single
and double haul technique.
If you having trouble reaching the distant targets move them in five to
ten feet and adjust the others accordingly. Then as you gain casting skill
and confidence move them out. Some fly-casting outfits were not built
to cast a bass bug 50 to 70 feet. Don't try to do this event with your
No. 5 or 6 trout fishing outfit!
SCORING: There is one demerit for each foot or fraction the bug
misses the target for the first five targets, with a maximum of two demerits.
See, the people who designed these rules have some compassion after all.
Well, not quite, because on the last target, the one that's way out there,
they increased the maximum demerits to five for both rounds. Obviously
that last target is extremely important. There are other demerits: Each
tick gives you one demerit, and if you make more false casts than the
allotted number (two false casts in first round and one false cast in
second round), you're charged with one demerit for each additional false
SCORE: As we mentioned previously, it's important to keep track of
your scores so that you can see your improvement with casting practice.
As per previous lessons, here's my arbitrary rating for the Bass-Bug Event.
(We will not count ticks or demerits for additional false casts here.)
Under 70: Something is wrong here. If you miss every target by the max
your score would be 70, since we're not counting ticks and additional
false casts here.
to 75: Hey, this is a tough event. You'll get the hang of it.
76 to 83: You've got the basics and all you need to do is practice.
84 to 90: You're casting very well! Good eye-and-hand coordination.
91 to 95: Superb! You are an excellent caster.
96 to 100 (Super-Elite Class): If you are making the right number
of false casts and not ticking, you are definitely ACA National Casting
Tournament Championship material! You're among the top 1 percent of
fly casters in the world! Very few of the top casting instructors are
going to score in this bracket!
THE BASS BUG EVENT HELP YOUR FISHING? If you fish big flies (bass
bugs, poppers, large streamers, etc.,) this event will help you immensely.
One of the lessons you will learn is that you will have to wait longer
on your back cast than when you are casting small trout flies. Being able
to pick up a lot of line and deliver a long accurate cast is certainly
very helpful in just about any sight saltwater fly-fishing application.
Bonefishing. Tarpon. Snook. Redfish. The same applies to sight freshwater
fishing: Big northern pike or muskies cruising the shallows. Steelhead.
Salmon. Just about every species.
had the experience that no matter how much power we were able to put into
the cast, we were six to ten feet short of a feeding fish. Frustrating,
right? We eventually find out that it is timing rather than "muscle"
You'll quickly learn the importance of good back cast, loading a rod,
double haul, how to pick up a longer line, how to cast an air resistant
large fly or popper with accuracy and many lessons that are so necessary
in many fishing presentations.
THE CHAMPS: After you try this event a few times, you will probably
wonder what scores win in the ACA National Tournament. Usually, 96 and
above, and yes, there have been some perfect scores. Amazingly, Luke Brugnara,
when he was an intermediate caster (age 13 to 16), cast a perfect score
in a National! And remember, they are doing it under the pressure of competition!
-Jim C. Chapralis
Next Lesson: The Angler's Distance Fly Casting Event.