Been thinking of getting into fly fishing? You wouldn't want to drop 50K on a truck before you ever got it on the road, and I don't advise wifing up that sexy girl before taking her for a spin either. Same should apply to fly fishing... Before making a costly commitment to an entire fly fishing outfit, I recommend taking a test run on a local pond. You don't need an expensive fly setup, a lot of time or a boat. And neighborhood ponds are often surprisingly rich in opportunity.
What you Need
We are going bare necessities here. Your first fly fishing experience probably will not be sneaking up on a pod of skittish reds and cutting through 25 yards of wind. Go ahead and knock off a low cost 4 wt rod and reel, a small deer hair popper and a tapered leader. You can rig up for less than $125 (including fly line and backing), just to see if you're actually into fly fishing.
My small water rig consists of a Temple Fork Outfitters Bug Launcher and a Sage reel
When to do it
If I were going after pond bass, I'd be out there in early spring. This is a timing game. Once spring time sun raises water temps to about sixty degrees, bass begin to move shallow in search of bedding areas to spawn (www.bassmaster.com). You want the water warm enough that the bass are active again, but you don't want to wait so long that the females are stuck to their beds. In a pond, the spawning cycle is going to play out much faster than on a large lake or reservoir. Bass on their beds are on a serious mission. Although you can trigger reactionary strikes with soft plastics quite easily, doing the same with fly gear is not as effective.
That the bass are moving in shallow plays right into your wheelhouse as a fly angler. Your best bet is to sneak up to a corner of the pond, mindful not to cast a shadow into the water, and cast across said corner, towards the adjacent bank. Throw that damn popper ONTOP of the bank, then drag it into the water from the dry bank. This will make your fly look more natural; like a frog or a mouse slipping into the water. I always study a body of water for a moment, and pick out the fishiest looking spot on the whole place. That's where I want my very first disturbance of the water to occur.
Why Bother with Suburban Ponds?
My favorite thing about fishing small neighborhood ponds is they mimic a freestone environment, meaning fish in these ecosystems are forced into being more opportunistic feeders. There is no infusion of blue gill or shad traveling down river to restore a food source for bass in your neighborhood pond. As a result, I have found bass with big appetites and very little discretion.
Another plus of fishing a back yard sized pond is cutting down on the need to read water or find the fish. In a pond that you can effectively cover 100% from the bank, the fish are either in there, or they aren't. You still contend with a bite that can turn hot and cold, but gone is the pressure of wondering should I be fishing in five feet, or fifteen feet?
Other obvious perks are proximity to home, and sometimes a surprising lack of fishing pressure. If you do a little scouting, you will likely find small ponds in urban areas that are right out in the open that no one fishes. Look for a pond with no sidewalk running alongside it, and no where to park a car right next to. If you are comfortable with a short off-road walk, there may be a high reward honey hole at the end of that rainbow.
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I am a passionate outdoorsman with over 25 years of hunting and fishing experience across the state of TX.