Fly Fishing For Bream Using A Long Rod | Great Days Outdoors

Fly Fishing For Bream Using A Long Rod

It would be hard to improve on this day. There’s just enough breeze to keep things cool in the strengthening spring sunshine. The water is just perfect, not too high from heavy rains nor too low. The birds are making a joyful noise. They’re glad it’s spring, too. I’ve got my fly rod and it’s time to do some fly fishing for bream.

The best thing, my little yellow popping bug just landed exactly where I wanted to place it, right under an overhanging limb of a pond side willow tree. I let my popping bug sit and then I let it sit a bit more. Just when I’m ready to move that bug, it disappears in a gentle “plop” sound. My leader and fly line tighten. The leader starts to rip through the clear water with a powerful, tight circle from a good fish.

This bream is no baby. I can’t pull it straight to me on the light leader I’m using, so I let the strong, dark fish work itself against the bend of my fly rod. After a short, but spirited struggle, the bream comes to my hand. I lift it to remove the popping bug, which is starting to show some signs of wear and tear. Hits from 10 or so big bream will do that to a bug. This big mature bluegill is just like the other 10 fish I’m keeping for a fish fry – heavy, dark and with breeding colors that stand out in contrast to the overall dark coloration of the fish.

No doubt about it, it’s going to be hard to improve on this day, but as I remove the hooked fish and add it to my bucket of keepers, I’m going to give some more big bream the chance to make the day even better.


Fly rod for bream fishing

Bream are in every freshwater system in Alabama and anglers can have fun with them wherever they’re found. Photo by Ed Mashburn


Why a Fly Rod?

Many anglers may be intimidated by the whole idea of fly casting. There’s a lot of misinformation about using fly rods. Many anglers who never use a fly rod think that using one effectively takes years of practice and a lot of skill to master. It’s true that a lot of practice helps, but practice helps almost anything really. However, catching bream on a fly rod doesn’t take a whole lot of skill. I’ll testify to that.

‘Catching big springtime bream on a suitably sized fly rig is one of the most fun ways to fish.”

The best and most compelling reason for anglers to use a fly rod for bream fishing is that fly-rodding is simply a very effective way to catch a bunch of great fighting, great tasting fish. Bream of all kinds certainly strike at big lures intended for bass, but for the best results, smaller lures and baits that match the size of bream mouths work better. This is why fly rods shine when it comes to bream fishing.



A fly rod can present a very small fly to hungry bream in a way that no other form of casting equipment can match. Sometimes, the bream just won’t eat anything else beside a tiny fly that matches their natural food at a particular time.

Of course, the best reason to use a fly rod for bream fishing is that it is just a whole lot of fun. Catching big springtime bream on a suitably sized fly rig is one of the most fun ways to fish.


What Kind of Fly Rod Setup?

Many people who don’t use fly fish think that the rods are expensive. Well, some fly rods are quite pricey, but the same is true of some bait-casting rigs and spinning rigs, too. It’s not really necessary to spend a lot of money on a rig intended for bream fishing.

Anglers can go to just about any big box store with a sporting goods section and find a cheap complete fly rod set for around $40. These rigs work, but many times, they are not the right weight for good bream fishing.

A very good fly rod with matching reel and line already loaded can be found for around for about $90. This is the rig I use for bream fishing and it works very well for me. Anglers can spend more on a fly rod, but this type of rig would suffice for bream.

By the way, fly rods come in weights, which tell how heavy the line they use is. For instance, tiny little rods used in the Smoky Mountains to catch small brook trout are 2-weight rods. Super heavy-duty fly rods intended for tarpon, tuna and other big bruisers would be 12- or 14-weight rods.

A good 9-foot long 5-weight rod with matching line will handle the biggest bream any of us are ever likely to hook. So, a 5-weight fly rod with a matching 5-weight floating fly line is a good set up to begin catching Alabama bream this spring. Couple this line and rod with a leader. A straight section of 6-pound test monofilament line about the length of the rod makes a very suitable bream leader.

There’s no reason to worry much about the reel used for bream fishing. These reels are just used to hold the line. They’re very rarely called upon to actually help play the bream once it’s hooked. A very inexpensive reel works quite well.

For flies to catch big Alabama bream in May, anglers will not go wrong by buying a half-dozen small popping bugs or foam-bodied bug type flies in a mix of colors. I use all colors as long as they are yellow. Some folks like white or black flies. These colors do catch fish, but I like yellow.

That’s it. Rigging up for bream fishing with a fly rod is not that hard.


Where Can We find Good Bream Fishing?

Bream live everywhere there’s permanent fresh water. Anglers can go to the big lakes in northern Alabama and find a lot of bream. Lake Guntersville is famous not only for its bass fishing, but it has some monster-sized bream there also. However, anglers can also find very good bream fishing in very small ponds and streams close to home.

Near my house, a pond covers about one acre. Hundreds of people drive past this little pond on their way to and from work every day. Most folks, even those who would rather be fishing than working, never give this little pond a second thought.

I take my fly rod to this little pond and cast small popping bugs along the shoreline. I often catch a good mess of large bream that way. There are many of these small, overlooked places in Alabama for bream anglers to investigate.

Another wonderful place for bream anglers to use a fly rod to capture a good mess of bream is the backwater bayous and creeks of the Mobile-Tensaw Delta. Anglers can put a boat in and motor or paddle up one of the countless offshoots of the big rivers that form the delta and find some wonderful bream fishing. Any places where there are treetops in the water, submerged stumps, lily pads or logs are good locations to drop a popping bug.

Fly rodders should never pass up junction points where smaller creeks join with larger bayous or streams. Very often, these junction spots have shallow flats that create prime bedding spots for bream in May. A fly angler who finds a breeding flat at one of the junction spots is in perfect shape to have a memorable day catching bream with a fly rod. The bream will return to these places year after year, so fly anglers can come back often and have lots of fun catching bedding bream.


Fly fishing for bream

There’s no more fun way to catch a mess of bream for a fish fry than using a fly rod. Photo by Ed Mashburn


Don’t Forget Live Bait

Even though most fly rod anglers use small popping bugs or other flies to catch bream, there’s no reason for a fly rod angler to ignore the possibility of using live bait.

“An angler can use a fly rod like as a cane pole to lift and drop bait in likely spots, making a very effective technique for catching bream.”

Anglers can’t cast live baits on a fly rod the same as a fly because live bait won’t stay on the hook under stress of casting. However, an angler can use a fly rod like as a cane pole to lift and drop bait in likely spots, making a very effective technique for catching bream.

A live cricket pinned to a bream hook can be gently lobbed to a place where bream might be hiding. Let this live cricket struggle on the surface. If bream are there, they won’t hesitate to attack. A very tiny split shot can be added to make the cricket sink and entice a monster bluegill.

Fly-rodders can also add a tiny float to the leader with a slightly larger split shot and send a hook full of red worms deeper in the water. If big old shellcracker bream are around, they will welcome the offering.

A shellcracker can top two pounds. When a big shellcracker takes a fly or popper, it can put a real bend in a fly rod and give the angler quite a fight. When a fly fisherman finds a good concentration of shellcrackers, the angler can use live bait to have an absolute blast with these big hard pullers.


Learning to Cast a Fly Rod

It’s true that effectively using a fly rod for bream, or any other kind of fish, takes some practice and instruction. However, beginning fly anglers can go online and get world-class casting instruction from videos that give information about putting a line on the water with a fly rod. These videos can make learning to fly cast much easier.

As far as practice goes, the best place to practice casting a fly is a small pond with plenty of space in all directions. A beginner can make casts, observe the results, make changes in the speed and rhythm of the casting and in a short time, become a quite proficient fly caster.

The best thing about these practice sessions at the pond, very often the learning process will be interrupted by bream that respond to the fly. This is my kind of learning, practice that shows immediate positive results.



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