I know... I know.
Catching bass below the surface isn't nearly as much fun as having one explode on a surface bug.
We've all heard about the small percentage of time that fish actually spend feeding at the surface, but numbers and statistics are so boring. Catching a bass on a popper or Stealth Bomber is so much more fun.
If a bass can be lured to the surface, I'm always going to choose that option.
I often choose to forget that bass can even be caught subsurface, but sometimes you just have to face reality.
In an effort to prepare for those (hopefully) rare times when the bass just don't want to play on top, I've begun tying a new subsurface bass fly. I found the pattern by searching Ebay for "bass fly." The tier and seller of these flies, Jim Green ("texperd" on Ebay), calls them "Bass Crawlers." His versions are probably a little prettier than mine- more color variety and better looking striped bunny strip tails. So far, I've only tied a few in crayfish color schemes (olive/orange/rust)... because that's all I could do with the combination of materials I have on hand. I'd like to tie some in other colors (especially black, white, and chartreuse), but I just don't have the materials at the moment.
Jim's Bass Crawlers are tied on 1/0 size wide gap bass hooks with stiff mono weed guards- which I think would be ideal for stillwater Largemouths around vegetation. I've tied mine on long shank size 4 streamer hooks which I think will work well in the river settings where I plan to fish them for Smallmouths and Alabama Spotted Bass. I also opted to leave off the weed guards to save time... and because they won't be terribly valuable in the bass creeks and rivers where I wade.
I think these flies may be the closest thing I've ever seen to a skirted jig or spinnerbait for a fly fisherman. The only other fly I've seen that comes close would be the "Calcasieu Pig Boat" pattern by the late Tom Nixon. I know our friend Josh, of the blog "Josh's Flies & Adventures," is a big fan of Tom Nixon's flies. I imagine Nixon's Pig Boat pattern may very well have inspired the Bass Crawler. The Bass Crawler is probably a bit easier to tie than the Pig Boat thanks to the cone head, bunny strip tail, and the pearl chenille body.
I've never tried a fly quite like this... so oddly enough, I'm kinda looking forward to that first time of the season when the bass aren't willing to feed on the surface.
This year, I'll be ready for them wherever they want to eat.