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Fishing the bung

By Lindsay Simpson

The bung, what is it? Well the bung has been around in one form or another for a number of years, river fisherman call it Duo or klink and dink. It is in fact a floating pattern that has the capacity to hook fish, as well as acting as an indicator to register a take. It is frowned upon by many who see it as float fishing. The ethical argument aside there can be no doubt that this is a highly effective tactic, not only on small still waters but reservoirs as well. The idea is that you can fish the bung as a sacrificial fly allowing you to fish your taking patterns absolutely static.
Originally the preferred flies to fish under the bung were buzzers, but now other flies are also very popular such as Diawl Bachs, Damsels and even Blobs. The flies themselves come down to personal preference and should be changed to match the conditions. For the purpose of this piece we will assume that the taking flies are buzzers. So how do we set up a bung rig? The usual way is to have a short leader to the bung then 3’ to the first fly a further 3’ to the second fly then another 3’ to the point fly. This gives an overall leader length of around 11’.
There are of course variations to this set up in length, but the maximum length of leader to enable the angler to safely land a fish on the point fly should be no more than 12’. Any longer length of leader than this will result in the fish playing the angler rather than the other way around.  Of course by explaining this, it is immediately obvious the short comings of this method. If the fish are sitting deeper than 12’, your flies will not reach them. As with all fishing, conditions and time of year will dictate when to use a particular tactic and sometimes the bung will not be appropriate.
So we have our bung and have picked the flies to fish under it, how should it be fished? Well as stated in the opening paragraph, you can simply cast the flies out (not too far as you need to see the bung) and watch the bung. As in course fishing, if it dips or moves at all you simply lift the rod and nine times out of ten you will be into a fish. This can be very effective but it is not the only way of fishing this technique. Another way is to cast as far as you can whilst still maintaining sight of the bung. After the initial cast, it is crucial that you pay particular attention during the first 10 - 15 seconds. This is when you are most likely to get a take, as the buzzers are sinking down through the water column. If you do not get the desired effect after 30 – 60 seconds, give the line four or five long draws then stop. This will bring all the taking flies up in the water column. When the retrieve is stopped again, the taking flies will drift down through the water just like the naturals do. Again particular attention should be taken as this can be the point the fish takes the fly.
Another criticism of this method is that you can only effectively fish at the depths you have placed your taking flies i.e. 3’ 6’ and 9’. This is an incorrect assumption as the bung can also be used to target fish that are feeding in the upper layers of the water column. The way this is achieved is by fishing the floating fry pattern New Zealand Style. This means that the taking flies are attached to the bung via the bend in the hook rather than attached by a dropper. The way in which this fishes goes against the principle of fishing the flies static. The idea in this situation is to cast the flies out as far as possible and allow the flies to settle to their optimum depth. After this has been achieved, a steady figure of eight retrieve is employed. The bung causes quite a wake in the water attracting the attention of any trout in the area. Often they will swim up behind the retrieved bung and take the trailing fly. The takes can be savage so ensure that the appropriate strength of tippet is used.
In summary, there is a lot more to fishing this method than is widely appreciated. As with any technique, it needs to be honed. On its day, this method will out fish anything else in your fishing arsenal. It is well to have it in the back pocket for those days.