Thursday, June 23, 2011

Bass Mojo: Fishing with Montana Fly Co.'s Jason Goodale

Assorted Deer Hair Candy by Chef Goodale
Cottonwood seeds floating on a calm surface, shorelines choked with overhanging branches, the steady cadence of a Red Wing Black Bird's song, fallen timber, flooded cattails, spider webs, snakes, frogs, skeeters, deer flies, horse flies, and the noxious smell of Deep Woods Off.  Yeah baby!  These are just a few of my favorite things.  This is bass fishing.

A few days ago, I contacted Jason Goodale, signature tier with Montana Fly Company, and confided that I was going through a phase of being a little bored with trout fishing, having been bitten particularly hard by the warm water bug and a pull to explore some new tying techniques.  Mind you, I whispered my temporary disinterest with trout so as not to upset the fish gods.  Knowing exactly where I was coming from, Jason later told me a story about some guys he once met from Missouri while on a family camping trip who were amazed with his trout fishing skill, yet were stunned to learn that he'd really rather be bass fishing.  Puzzled, they inquired, "But you're from Colorado.  You have all these amazing trout everywhere you turn and you'd rather be fishing for bass?"  The grass is always greener I suppose, or in this instance, the pond.

Jason is a bug slinger extraordinaire, master deer hair spinner, and warm water aficionado.  He was born and raised in Colorado, fishing trout streams across the West.  Several years ago, at a fly tying show in Colorado, he spent three marathon days sitting next to Tim Jacobs who was tying bass flies. Jason was churning out size 22 thread midges by the dozens as well as an assortment of Baetis flies while peaking over his shoulder and talking with Tim about all those crazy psychedelic flies spun with deer hair.  That was it for Jason.  After the tying demo, he got to know Tim a little better, spent some time learning a few secret tricks for spinning hair, and then took things to a whole new level.  Having inspected his flies, I can confidently say Jason is one of the best deer hair stackers anywhere. 

I called Jason to talk with him about my warm water project, explaining that I wanted to expand my tying knowledge and wanted to spend some time exploring warm water fishing in Colorado.  Then he said, "Well, I'm off work tomorrow.  Want to go? "  The next thing you know, I found myself on a bass pond banging huge topwater flies against the shore and chasing schools of shad trying to evade prowling White Bass from below.  "Just explode (strip), explode on it Mr. Bass, (strip), blow that fly up, (strip)," Jason would repeat.  It's good to coax the fish a little.

During our cruise around the pond, and in between fish, we got acquainted and I got a valuable lesson on the art of tying bass plugs with deer hair, plus we outlined plans for a more detailed post to properly illustrate the techniques Jason uses when crafting his flies.

We had some time to talk about rigging fly rods for bass fishing.  There is very little information available on the subject when compared to the bombardment of trout fishing tips, techniques and know how.  "People just don't tie flies for bass much [or fly fish for them].  They're either addicted to it or intimidated by it.  There's not much in between," Jason shared.

We both like two outfits handy at all times.  In Jason's case, the first is a 9' seven weight fast action rod with a double shad streamer rig flung with Scientific Angler's 30' head 200 grain Streamer Express Line.  The head and handling line is small diameter so it sinks quickly.  I liked everything about the line with the exception of the running line - the memory sucks.  Only a few minutes after stretching it, the line coiled back up, making it difficult to handle in the boat.  I'd be temped to remove the running line and attach a 50' section of Shark Skin .032" running line so that line would really shoot, without the complication of a coiled up mess.

The goal in fishing the shad patterns on the pond was to lay out a cast to the bank, make one or two strips to deeper water, let it sink, and then strip like hell back to the boat.  A two handed strip with the rod tucked under your arm worked most effectively.  "Streamers are what we throw when we have to.  It's like nymphing, not something you want to do, but something you gotta do when necessary," Jason commented.

Top water was what we were after.  As the sun started to set, rings and boils started popping up all over the pond, which brings us to rig number 2.  The witching hour was upon us.  The second outfit was a stiff 9' eight weight rod rigged with Rio's Clouser Line, ideal for turning over huge flies using its reverse compound taper and bullet front end taper.

As we crept along the shoreline, we fooled more than a few bass.  The trick was to land the fly within inches of the shore and strip it back through the fallen timber or submerged cattails.  We started with a terrific top water popper and then moved to a couple of Jason's amazing diver patterns (pictured top post, left side).  The diver imitates bate at its most vulnerable, allowing the bass to remain under the surface in relative security before the ambush.  The trick to fishing this bate is to draw most of the slack out of your cast and then make a quick firm strip drawing the plug under the water with a distinctive BLOOP.  I like to rest the fly at the surface until the rings disapear and then give it another strip.  Quite often bass will hit a topwater plug when it's sitting very still.

I enjoyed an amazing evening of bass fishing with Jason and look forward to getting into the details of the techniques employed for stacking deer hair.  I can't wait for the next go round.

Get out and do some bass fishing!


Brk Trt said...

Deer hair bass flies are effective.
Although I don't tie them I'm always impressed with their looks.

carlp said...


awsome job on the pictorial

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