Fly Fishing Bass: 5 Tips for Fishing Frog Patterns Around Grass

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The Georgia Bullfrawg is a solid bass pattern. Photo Louis Cahill

Some of my most memorable days chasing bass on the fly have come from me spending the day popping and waking frog patterns along the surface.

I grew up fishing for bass, and although trout fishing has stolen the majority of my fly fishing attention over the years, I’ve always held a special place in my heart for catching bass on the fly. I’ve got friends that don’t see the coolness in fly fishing for bass, but that’s because most of them haven’t put in enough time on the water to experience perfect fishing conditions, and witness the thrill of bass smashing their fly cast after cast. Bass are amazingly acrobatic fish, and they provide more than enough pull and rod bend to justify fly fishing for them. If you haven’t explored this area of fly fishing, I highly recommend it.

The other day, Louis and I left our houses at 2:45 in the morning to drive across the Georgia State line, and fly fish for bass on Lake Guntersville. Louis was doing a shoot for a new bass lure company, and I was lucky enough to get invited to tag along. Normally, it would be a real challenge to drag me out of bed at this hour, but Lake Guntersville is considered one of the top bass fishing lakes in the entire country. More importantly, the lake is famous for its unbelievable frog fishing that generally starts in June, and runs through the summer months. Lake Guntersville hosts several professional bass tournaments throughout the year, and in 2014, it will host the most famous of all tournaments, The Bassmaster Classic.

During the tournaments on Lake Guntersville, it’s not uncommon for bass anglers to weigh-in five fish sacs, well over 35 pounds. That’s right, we’re talking about an average fish weight of over seven pounds. If that doesn’t get you excited about visiting Lake Guntersville, I suggest you get someone to make sure you have a pulse. The reason this lake can grow and sustain such large numbers of trophy bass, comes from the high fertility of its waters, and that’s provided by it being located in an interconnected series of flowing lakes. This feature provides a constant fresh supply of inflowing water and food throughout the entire lake chain, and Lake Guntersville happens to lie smack dab in the middle.

In June, Lake Guntersville is completely transformed, as large areas of the lake are taken over by aquatic vegetation (hydrilla and milfoil) growing to the surface. So much in fact, that it’s not uncommon to find your self fishing the lake where there’s more grass than open water. Bass fisherman come from all over the country to cast and retrieve their frog patterns across the grass mats to coax giant bass into crushing them. This was exactly my plan with Louis for our day on Lake Guntersville. Unfortunately, the unusually cold nights of April and May had the grass way behind schedule. We were still able to find some grass and catch some good bass on our frog patterns, but the frog bite was nothing like it’s going to be in a month from now. For those of you interested in getting in on this amazing grass bite on Lake Guntersville or any other reservoir that has good grass concentrations during the summer, I’ve provided five tips below that should help you increase your success.

5 Tips for Fishing Frog Patterns for Bass on Reservoirs

Tip 1: Frog Patterns Need to have a Good Weed Guard

This might seem like a no brainer if you’re going to be fishing in and around grass, but you’d be surprised how many patterns don’t have weed guards. This should be a mandatory feature in all your topwater fly patterns. The “Georgia Bullfrawg“, tied by Craig Riendeau, has one of the best weed gaurds I’ve seen, and it’s also one of the most realistic and successful frog patterns I’ve ever fished for big bass.

Tip 2: Learn How to Identify Productive Grass that Holds the Most Bass

When you’re fly fishing a lake with hundreds, upon hundreds of acres of grass, not all of it will hold fish. It’s very easy to get lost randomly fishing grass. The key to maximizing your catches when targeting it, is learning how to identify productive grass from unproductive grass. Professional bass fisherman understand this, and they look and study grass in the same way they look at the banks of rivers and lakes. They look for irregularities (cover and structure) where the grass is growing in different directions. They pass by grass that grows uniformly in a straight line and is featureless. If it doesn’t have any points, indentions, holes or cuts along the edges, they won’t spend much time fishing it. Why is this? It’s because bass are attracted to these irregularities in the grass, for they provide good ambush points. Whatever you do, try to spend your time fishing the areas of grass that have character and you’ll likely find more bass. If bream, baitfish and insects are around, that’s even better.

Tip 3: Fly Fish Transitions in the Grass

Another area to target when fly fishing grass, is to target transition zones where edges are created (edges create perfect ambush points for bass to attack prey). If you hunt, picture the edge that is created from a food plot that butts up to a tree line. You want to try to find the same transitions (edges) when you’re fishing grass lines on the lake. There are many different types of transitions that create important edges that attract bass. A couple examples of this would be where two types of aquatic grasses come together, or where grass stops growing, do to a drop-off in water depth (a grass line that has a creek channel against it).

Tip 4: Avoid Windy Areas of the Lake when Frog Fishing

The best frog fishing conditions around grass is when the wind is generally less than five miles an hour. Too much wind and you’ll find it hard to work your flies effectively, and it also will decrease the distance a bass will be attracted to your frog pattern. During windy days, find grass lines where you can get out of the wind and you’ll find the frog bite to be better. Sometimes all you need to do is tuck in behind an island, cove or point to get out of the wind.

Tip 5: Fly Fish Grass with Current

If you can find grass lines with current running through the area, it can turn out to be a real hot spot. Current can be provided by the inflow of water from a creek or by lake discharge, which is my favorite current of all. It can pay off big time, if you take the time to find out the generation schedule on the lake you’ll be fishing beforehand, and then search out key grass lines where the current will be rolling through from it. Current creates hot spots because the water flow gets the food moving and the bass active. Keep in mind, that these hot grass lines that you find from the current created by dam generation may not fish well when water is not being pulled. I found this out the hard way fishing a tournament on Lake Guntersville a few years back. We crushed the bass during our pre-fishing with generation, but the day of the tournament they didn’t discharge water, and those hot spots yielded zero bass. In these current prone areas of the lake, it often seems like the fish get in the habit of primarily feeding only when there’s current.

That’s my five tips for targeting grass with frog patterns. I hope some of you get out on the water and try them out. I know I’ll be in the coming weeks. If you have any other tips to add please drop us a comment.

Keep it Reel,

Kent Klewein
Gink & Gasoline
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8 thoughts on “Fly Fishing Bass: 5 Tips for Fishing Frog Patterns Around Grass

  1. I’ve always heard about the Frog fishing on Guntersville, but I’ve never had the opportunity to take a crack at it. Hopefully I’ll make it out there in the near future.

  2. Pingback: Tippets: Fly Fishing 101, Topwater for Bass, Stock Market Parallels, New Species in the Arctic - Skiff Life - Flats and Back Bay Fishing

  3. Awesome article! I fly fish a lot for bass (going out for trout for the first time soon though), and these were some great tips. I’m just waiting to hook into a big one now! I like to tie Gurglers, and I’d like to try some poppers soon.

  4. Kent,
    Thanks for the shout out for my Bullfrawg. It’s my favorite way to fish, love slop fishing! Since you seem to be a die hard bass guy, send me an address and I’ll send you a couple of my “new” toys to play with. The Darth Baiter is going to take over fly rodding for bass. It is the best worm fly ever. It can hold its own or even beat conventional worms on gear…really!

    For some reason I know your name but cannot put a face to it. Have we met at a show or something?

    • I’d love to drop my name in the hat along with Mr. Kent. I’m desperately trying to find something/anything that’ll work. I fly the lower portion of the Coosa mainly because I live on Lake Jordan and grew up paddling the Coosa river. Kids are loosing interest and it’s getting harder to convince them (and the wife) that it’s fun.

  5. Very useful article, thanks! I live in Memphis TN own land in Al just below Guntersville Dam…father grew up in G’tersville. It is a great lake-, go there frequently and although most of my flyfishing is cold H2O love to take bass on fly. done any fishing below G’tersville Dam? hybrids striped bass? saw article on wading lake flats for bream on G’tersville Lake as well. Looked enjoyable as well. thanks
    Bill May

  6. Thanks, for sharing your info with myself & others, I’m 72 and a
    fly fisherman for the last 10 years, always have help or lessons,
    to improve my skill level, “WOW” I JUST LOVE IT !!
    I’ve just taken to making frogs and mouse flies,now, look out you
    critters i’m a coming to kick your butts !!!
    p.s. I’ve just started my 6 year old grand son on close face
    bait caster rod.
    in Australia we only in land rivers and creeks large dams !!!!

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