Fall Bass On The Fly

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In the outdoor community, cooling weather, changing leaves, and the heart of football season, often signal a switch from time on the water to time in the fields or woods.  Fall is hunting season for many of those that enjoy the outdoors in Texas.  Doves, deer, turkey, ducks, and more, all become the object of pursuit, and especially here in Texas.

However, Fall can be, and should be, the time you really find time to get out on the water.  In Texas, this time of year can be great for many species of fish, from Rio Grande Cichlids to Trout.  But more than anything, the Fall is one of the best times of year to head out and catch Bass!

Fall is a time of transition, for the weather and the bass.  The season starts with late summer patterns and begins the transition to winter fishing.  Fall is also a great time to fish big!  Here is Texas Freshwater Fly Fishing's guide to Fall Bass on the Fly.

Early Fall

As summer begins winding down and you feel the first real cool-down of the year, most of the bass are typically still going to be in late summer patterns.  Keep fishing those late summer patterns.  I especially love to fish large hoppers early in the day.  Deer hair divers fished along the banks and around vegetation can still be very productive as well.

As the sun gets higher and the hopper or diver bite slows down, its usually time to slow yourself down also.  At this point, knowing what food the bass are keying on is important to figure out.  Early fall, bass will often start keying on crawfish, and when they are keying on crawfish, that is what you should fish!  My favorite crawfish pattern is the Crawfish Bite, but their are others (like a Foxy Clouser if you want to downsize) that are successful as well.

Mid to Late Fall 

After a couple of cold fronts, the water will begin to cool off more, the crawfish bite will slow down, and baitfish will start moving shallower becoming the key.  Bass will even begin to "school up" (although I don't think they are schooling, I think they are just following the food) to gorge themselves on these baitfish.  On colder days, find the baitfish in areas where the sun will warm the water (sunny side banks, shallow flats, etc.)

At this point, the bass can be super aggressive and fishing slow is (almost) pointless.  Move quick, strip your fly quick.  I like to key on fishing the areas of vegetation that are still alive.  Stripping large streamers in baitfish or baby bass patterns over and around this grass can generate violent strikes from big bass.  If their isn't vegetation to fish, I will look for areas where bass can chase baitfish into the shallows, but still allow quick access to deep water.  Shallow points that run to deep water can be great, as well as the backs of deeper coves.  Quickly strip those same streamers over and around these areas.

If you are not getting hits in an area, don't be afraid to move on.  Keep your eyes peeled for baitfish activity, especially if you see them skittering along the surface.  Once you find the baitfish or catch a bass, stick in that area for a while, you will more than likely catch a few more bass there.

Quick Fall Re-Cap  

Early Fall - Fish like late summer, Hoppers, Divers, and Cawfish!

Mid to Late Fall -  Fish baitfish patterns over grasses or shallow warmer water areas with access to deep water.

Top 5 Fall Bass Fishing Flies

1) Large Hoppers and Froggy Divers

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Deer Hair Diver (Frog Pattern)
I love to fish divers and hoppers along the bank, mimicking frogs and terrestrial bugs that have fallen into the water.  Early in the fall, the hoppers and large and the frogs are still around.  These can produce great takes from bass, and provide real excitement when fishing.

2) Crawfish Bite

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Crawfish Bites
The Crawfish Bite is my favorite crawfish pattern.  I typically fish it slow around structure, often with longer pauses in the retrieve.  It is deadly for bass, but also catches a ton of other species.

3) Game Changer

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Marabou Gamechanger
I don't have a specific place I get gamechangers from.  I usually tie my own, and usually with marabou because I LOVE the way it all moves together.  I fish these a little different.  I make a couple quick, long strips, then let it sit. It still moves as it very slowly sinks.  Once it barely touches something (grass, rock, etc.) I make a few more fast, long strips and repeat. 

4) Clouser Minnow (Marabou or Bucktail)

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Clouser Minnow

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Marabou Clouser
If you can't tell, I love marabou on baitfish patterns, and a Marabou Clouser is about as good as it gets.  Sometimes though, I do want a little large of a fly and will upsize to a larger Bucktail Clouser Minnow.  In the fall, I fish them quickly and erratically.

5) Improved SMP

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Improved SMP
The SMP is a sunfish fly.  The Improved SMP is an upsized and upgraded SMP.  It larger and has some extra "legs" tied in.  It is super effective for Guadalupe Bass, especially fishing it quickly across shallow flats and points.

Be sure to comment with your favorite fall flies and patterns!