Bass and the Dragonfly Pattern
I learned about this pattern many years ago while fishing in the many shallow, weedy, cedar water lakes I grew up fishing. It's hard to imagine, but in South Jersey, a good portion of the diet of a growing bass in the summertime are dragon flys. I've also seen this pattern develop in many other parts of the country, including many northern glacial lakes and the shallow weedy waters in Florida. When I first saw bass leaping 2 to 3 feet out of the water chasing airborne dragon flys, I was amazed. But, I was also determined to come up with ways to catch these actively feeding fish.
Matching the hatch. That was the first problem I had to dissect. What I found is that just as in fly fishing for trout, you must be very exact on the duplication, especially when it comes to color and size. Take a good look around and determine the color of the dragon flys. Some have a purple or blue shading, others have a distinctive red or brown, and even others are green. By matching the color of the dragon flys with my plastics, I was able to generate twice as many bites. I also tried to match the size of my plastics to the size of the dragon flys. Look around and determine the general size of the insects you are seeing buzzing around.
Now, what to use? Weightless or very lightly weighted plastics became my number one choice. I use two types of Mann's plastics. Both the Dragin Fly (Mosquito Hawk) and the Draggin Worm are my main choices.The Mann's Dragin Fly is the most realistic looking, in both size and shape, to an actual dragon fly. It actually has thin wing areas on the side of the body that perfectly emulate the wings of a true dragon fly. It also has a thicker body section that provides plenty of meat to texas rig your favorite hook. The Draggin Worm is also a great choice because of the bulk of the bait. It has a heavier weight and more bulk than other worms in the same size class. This added weight allows you to texas rig it without a weight and still have plenty of weight to cast it to those far away breaking fish. It also has a unique tail, that when slowly reeled in on the top, mimics the sound of a distressed fallen dragon fly.
Another key is the presentation itself- getting your bait to land near an exploding fish is key. It's almost like fishing for schooling fish. You scan the surface in 360 degrees for surface breaking activity. When you see one jump for a dragon fly, you know where to throw. If you can put your bait within 3 or 4 feet of the splash, within 2 to 3 seconds of the boil, you almost always catch the fish. I've heard this called the 2 second rule. By using a long spinning rod with a long cast design spinning reel, I can make those mile long cast needed to reach the slash area. I like the Team Daiwa LT 7 foot spinning rod. This rod has enough tip to let you load the rod, yet has plenty of backbone to get them out of the pads and muck. I use it in conjunction with the Team Daiwa 2500 or 3000 Tournament Gold Spinning reel.
The Long Cast design of these spinning reels is critical in enabling the line to peel of the reel smoothly. As far as line, I like Stren Magna Flex line in sizes 10 to 12 pound test under normal conditions. Under super heavy slop I go to a 'super line' with a small diameter and in ultra clear water situations I use Stren Fluorocarbon in 8 or 10 pound test. I've found this pattern to be most effective during the summer months, when the bulk of the dragon flies have hatched from the larval stages in the spring and are flying around in full force. In the Northeast this is most commonly found from about June through early September. As a general rule, this is not a big fish pattern. This is not to say that you won't catch a big fish. It's just that the average size of the fish that feed on dragon flys is probably from a pound to a two pound fish. I believe that this is because after a fish gets to a certain size, they need to feed on meals that provide a much higher energy source than just a small insect. Five and six pound bass would rather expend energy chasing a big golden shiner, than jumping 3 feet out of the water for a small insect. But, this is a killer pattern for when you need a limit, or when you need to fill a limit. It has saved many times in tournaments where my other summertime patterns have shut off. As long as the dragon flys are buzzing around, there will be some feeding fish.