Either way, fly fishing for bass among the pads requires a certain amount of finesse coupled with a little brute strength. It requires heavy tippet and a weedless floating fly (with a strong hook) that you can gently drag across the surface of the pads while working it effectively through the gaps of open water. I've used all sorts of weedless poppers for fishing the pads- cork, foam, and even deer hair. I prefer slider style bodies because, as you might expect, they slide easier over the pads. Casting the fly on top of the pads and then gently sliding it into the water is a very good strategy. I would say it's the bass bug equivalent of a delicate presentation.
Before we went on our trip to Florida, I was browsing Ebay for fly fishing stuff and found some really cool looking sliders that I thought would work well for fishing the pads. Meet the "Bunny Butt Slider"...
|"Bunny Butt Sliders" tied by Steven Milburn|
It turns out I was right. The design was perfect for fishing the pads, and the fish really liked them. Unfortunately, I didn't land either of the big bass that I hooked on them. Kelly also missed a few fish with the same fly and almost landed a pickerel with it. The problem certainly wasn't the flies. I did land a single 12" bass using one. We only had three in our arsenal from the start, so we switched flies a lot to try and conserve our limited resources. We just happened to land more fish on other stuff.
Kelly landed her big bass on a more conventional cork bodied slider after she lost the last Bunny Butt slider she had. The "Bunny Butt" was getting lots of attention so Kelly picked the next closest thing in her box.
The foam bodied "Bunny Butt" is a bit more subtle than your average cork or deer hair slider because it has a slim profile and no silicone legs. The bunny strip tail also has a very subtle action that elicits strikes when you're not stripping the fly. It's a simple design that works. Whether I tie them myself or not, I really like simple but effective fly designs.
The "Bunny Butt" does a good job of approximating topwater "minnows" which is probably why it worked so well in Hammond Lake. The lake had several "minnow" species that hang out near the surface including Brook Silverside (Labidesthes sicculus) and Mosquitofish (Gambusia sp.).
The fly tying genius behind the "Bunny Butt Slider" is a gentleman named Steven Milburn. He sells his flies and fly tying materials on Ebay under the name "sneektip79." He starts his auctions with low starting bids, ships his products quickly, and if you're lucky he may even send you a bonus with your order. Mr. Milburn's flies are well designed and well constructed, and I highly recommend them to my fellow bass fly fishers. They've definitely earned a slot in my bass fly box.