I had it in mind to fish surface flies for bass on my recent outing with Steve Lawler. This can be a lot of fun if the fish are well disposed to hanging around close to the surface. For the hotter part of the summer they seem to prefer to stay deep and surface flies are likely, not only to be ignored, but very probably not even seen. But maybe in the autumn, I began to think, might they be inclined to look up?

I can understand why Americans have this thing for their black, or largemouth, bass. When the mood takes them, they can be real brutes (the fish not the Americans). If they were characters scripted in some drama they would be thugs or gangsters or assassins. If you offered one of these guys a glass of your finest cabernet sauvignon they would just scowl at you and, in a cloud of cigarette smoke, turn their back on you and noisily neck a neat whiskey. Or maybe meths.

Black bass are bad boys. They laugh at delicate patterns. In the eyes of bass, fussy trout flies are for the birds. If you want to tie something for one of these mafiosos it should be big and black and hairy and ugly.

Or at least that is what I persuaded myself might be the case. By the time I sat down at the vise the evening before our adventure, I had myself become a character of fiction – Victor Frankenstein. It was not a fly I needed to create. If I wanted to catch one of these shady figures from the underworld, I needed a monster. And I succeeded in creating not just one, but two! When I was done I looked at my handiwork and realised I had breathed life into two ugly and horrible creations. There was little to them: bushy black bucktail tied onto the biggest hooks I could see lying around.

The following evening I took one and tied it to the end of my leader. A fly as ugly as this deserved to be swallowed by only the biggest, meanest, badass bass. It was just a question of finding it.

I threw my bucktail monster into to margins and let it sit for a good while before I started to retrieve. Bass are often seem to need a bit of time to investigate something which shows up unexpectedly. I forced myself to be patient. I must have cast this thing hundreds of times. And no interest was shown at all. One cast followed another and each time that fly was ignored. Every cast, except one.

I can visualise it clearly. The fly had been sent out and landed, perhaps three feet from the margin. There is deep water all around here and drop off is quite sudden. The fly settled. Three, or maybe four seconds pass. The water swirls.

I tightened and the line pointed to something, yet unseen, moving beneath the surface. Given that this was a big fly and was sitting right on the top, the take was actually pretty delicate, but it was confident, deliberate, assured. The fish really meant business. This was a hit job.

And the bass, when I finally had him to hand was just the kind of brute that I had hoped for.

Inside the mouth of the bass the fly doesn´t look all that big. But it was!

I was over the moon. I don´t think I have taken a better bass than this one.
Here are the two big flies. The lower one took the fish and was still wet when I took the picture. I don´t know what to call these two, the Kray twins?