Bobbers for Bass

  STRIKE INDICATORS! Now that sounds way more hard core than a bobber. Not sure what it is but there is something about saying strike indicators that makes using a bobber with a fly rod sound more appealing. But whatever you feel like calling it if you've got a few monster indibobbers sitting in your fishing bag you're on your way to the style of fishing that I commonly refer to as 0-60mph fishing. One second you’re bored watching your bobicator and the next you’re trying to figure out why your hands are burning and your line is plunging out of sight into the depths below. Indicator or Balanced Leech fishing for Bass of all types is a really fun way to get out on the water near you be it the bays or local lakes it should provide some fun fights and memories. Now this is a good ol down and dirty fishing blog explaining some basics.… LETS GO!

Balanced Leech For Bass




  I like to use the one inch Air-Lock Biodegradeable Indicators personally because they can hold up a double bug rig with plenty of weight under it to keep a tight line and minimize the drift slack. If you are planning on fishing depths of 10ft or greater you will want to pick up a BREAK AWAY INDICATOR like the Taped Slip Strike Indicator. Those allow you to fish any depth you want but still give you the ability to reel up and land your fish without having to hand line in your leader when you've reeled up and have your indicator at your rod tip. 


  Balanced leeches are rather easy to tie and we have some kits at the shop and online in sizes 6-8-10 with a bunch of different bead color choices and a nail included to take some of the guesswork out of the guts of the fly if you want to make your own. We also have a bunch of them available for purchase already tied in all the solid go to colors that we use for the wide variety of fish that love these as a snack. We carry a few differnet Balanced Leech Patterns


   The Loon 6 way assortment is what I have on hand for my split shot selection. The 6 way covers you from the biggest ones being the SSG all the way down to a size 4 split shot. The amount of weight you add depends on how fast of a drift is happening when you have your bugs in the water. The faster the current or wind drift the more weight you will need to add to take the slack out of the line between the bugs and your indicator. Always stay on the side of more weight rather than less but obviously don't sink your indicator with what you've added.


  Now this part varies and the major player is going to be the depth you are planning on fishing at. If you are fishing water in the 5-8 ft range then you can stick with your standard tapered leader. When you're looking to hit depths beyond that I would recommend doing a straight shot of Rio Fluorocarbon. Normally I stick with 1x or 2 x for the top section here of line and depending on the type and size of fish you are targeting.


  Floating fly line is all you will need here. I prefer to use something with a pretty aggressive short taper like an RIO OutBound Short or the Rio Grand line. That will help to throw longer casts with the long heavy indicator rig you will have on.


  Keeping your line out of the rocks and out from under your feet is key so make sure you bring your stripping basket. A personal favorite is the AHREX FLEXISTRIPPER. 


  Bass can fight and they are angry so personally I am a fan of using a fast action 7-8wt rods. Its not a necessity but I have a few 10ft 7wt rods that I prefer to use for this type of fishing. A little extra rod length makes casting easier and I feel like it gives you a little more advantage on the hook sets at longer distances. I really like to use the Echo EPR and Echo Ion XL. Also using a Trout Spey or Switch in a 4 to 6wt.


  a Belgian style of casting is great for indicator rigs that are long or heavy and big streamers. It will do two things for you. First it will keep your bugs from tangling up with each other or your indicator. Second it keeps all those hooks further away from the person casting. 


  It is way too easy to drone on and on about the infinite combinations of flies, knots, depths and tricks that you will over time come across while experimenting with this type of still water fishing. What I am going to do here is keep it as simple and straightforward as I can. Then it is up to you to get creative with different combinations so you can fine tune your rig for the fish you are targeting and waters you are fishing. For this blog we will concentrate on Largemouth, Calico and Spotties mainly but EVERYTHING that swims and eats bait fish will eat balanced leeches so let your mind wander with this and don't be surprised when you pull up a few monster bluegill, crappie or a halibut. 

 Calico Bass on a Balanced Leech


  In a boat or from the shore this can be a solid way to fish for these guys but you’d better be quick on the set and ready to strip line FAST! These two fish are not subtle and your indicator will disappear as they dive back for the cover to try and break you off. Minimizing slack in your system is very key in a quick solid set. From the reel all the way down to your fly you want to try and keep that slack as minimal as possible. 

  The overall appearance we are trying to achieve here is a couple of bait fish just hanging out ready to be eaten. For the calico and spotties I normally try to fish an overall depth of about 8-10ft in the bays. You are going to want to find structures such as rock jetties and other spots where the drop off is close to shore. I start the rig with a 9ft  2X  Tapered Fluorocarbon leader. I am targeting a max depth of 10 ft most times with this style for these fish so a tapered leader is fine and will help with turning over your heavy set up. When adding the indicator to this tapered leader make sure that you don't add it too high in the thick section of line. I try to add it on the thinner end of where the most dramatic section of taper is. With a 9ft leader it seems to be about 5ft down the tick section on line. The thicker line will be held up in the current and make slack in your system so try to keep it thin coming out of the indicator to your flies. 

  At the end of the tapered leader I add a 25 LB SA Micro Swivel or a Rio 30lb Tippet Ring. Use whatever knot you're most comfortable with. Off of that you wiladd about 5 ft of 2X fluoro tippet remembering that we added the indicator roughly 5 ft down a 9ft leader so 4ft plus 5ft. Overall depth at this point should be about 9ft so add your fist fly. Tie on a balanced leech with a perfection loop or any loop knot but it should be free to jig itself around with no restriction from the knot.

  Now this next step is how I do things and by no means is it the right way because there is no right way in fly fishing but this is how I do it and it works for me for a couple reasons. Take another section of fluoro tippet either more 2X or drop to 3X if you want. Add it to the end of your fly line using a double surgeon knot. You'll have to put the fly through the loop twice just as if it was the regular end of your tippet so give yourself enough room. Now tension your knot and try to make the tag end with the fly attached about an inch and a half long. Snip off the top tag end. Then you tie the second fly below on the tippet you just added using another loop knot. What this does is keep your flies from tangling up as often and keeps it out and away from the added line for free movement and jigging ability. Almost ready! Add a BB sized split shot just above the double surgeon knot that you tied. This way your weight can't slide down and you don't have to crimp the life out of it to get it to stay place which results in a crimped line often and snaps you off on trophies. Now you have a double balanced leech rig set up with a depth range of 6-10ft.

  Far casts are really not ideal in this type of fishing unless you want to challenge yourself on the hook set. You'll want to maybe throw it 30-40ft max. If your line is super far out there you have a lot of slack to take up and gain during the hook set and a lot of times you will miss the fish because it was just too long of an attempted set. The longer the time you can soak your flies for the better your chances. That being said, the more movement you can give your flies, twitches and short jigs and strips, the more productive you will be as well. So that together is a fine line to walk. I use a mending technique for the jigging motion that seems to give you a little more soak time while still moving the flies around enough to get the fish's attention. I call it the JUMP ROPE because that's what your line looks like when done correctly. You do a short fast flick with the tip of your line lifting about ½ to ¾ of your line off the water about 2 ft high and in a small circular motion. This will jig your indicator and lift your flies forward a few inches but the slack created by the JUMP ROPE will be taken up as your indicator is pulled slightly back out with the weight of your bugs as they sink back down. If your line is too tight your flies will simply sink under your indicator making everything move back in further rather than your indicator moving back to your flies. That probably makes no sense now but go try it a few times and you'll see what i mean. 

  Now just go fish. Throw that rig out by the rocks and off drop offs and slowly work your flies back in. When you get bit you will be ripping that slack in trying to get that fish back up and out of the cover or structure that they are diving for so be ready.



  All of this can be applied for largemouth bass as well in the same concept. You will want to locate structure or drop offs and try to use the same basic techniques of jigging it with small flicks and twitches. Working shorelines from a boat or walking should be equally effective. I've been out fishing large balanced leeches at lots of local san diego reservoirs for a while and the bass go nuts. When spring comes around make sure you give this style a shot. This works for everything that swims and eats other fish though so if you're curious if something will eat this try it!

 Bluegill on a Balanced Leech