You’ve heard about a fish out of water? How about a fly fisher out of his element?
Ryan Williams used only a fly rod to compete in the Wild West Bass Trail (WWBT) team tournament at California's Lake Shasta on Jan. 2, alongside his partner Logan McDaniel, who used conventional tackle. The team won the tournament and pocketed $8,390, including money for the biggest fish.
It’s believed to be the first time a fly rod has been used to win a high-level bass tournament – the duo competed against 178 other boats.
“What a complete honor. I am still in shock this really happened,” Williams wrote on his Instagram account (@_ryancwilliams). “This victory is one for all fly anglers! Fish those flies with confidence, people!”
His efforts with the fly rod accounted for about 50 percent of the total team catch that day. They weighed five fish for 13.87 pounds, with the biggest a 4.55-pounder.
In cold, winter water, bass are less aggressive and require a subtle presentation. Williams says that’s when fly fishing shines. He used a 10-foot, 6-weight Temple Fork BVK rod, RIO Salmo/Steelhead line and a Float ’N Fly rig, which is a balsa slip float, adjustable-length leader and a small jig-type fly tied with feathers or bucktail like a SPRO Phat Fly.
Williams is a fly-fishing guide (flyfishcnv.com) for trout, steelhead and bass in the Sacramento area. He also won the most recent Costa Bass-N-Fly Tournament on the California Delta with partner Brian Pultz. The Bass-N-Fly is a fly-only tournament, so everyone is on a level playing field.