Fly Fishing for Bass: a Beginner’s Guide

fly fishing for bass

Everything you could possibly want to know about fly fishing for bass, from equipment to methods, is covered in this guide.

Although fly fishing for bass is one of the most accessible types of fly fishing, it can be intimidating to some. From New York City to Hawaii, bass can be found in rivers, ponds, and lakes, so there is no reason not to wet a line.

We’re going to discuss the appeal of fly fishing for bass even though there are many different techniques you can try.

Further Reading:

What Rig to Use for Fly Fishing for Bass?

Everyone who fishes for bass is aware of how difficult it can be to catch them, so it’s important to be ready with the right gear. This entails using the best fly line and baits for bass fishing. The fact that bass is opportunistic predators means they will seize any chance that presents itself, even if they are not actively seeking food.

You can always catch something if you can hold their interest long enough. Casting where the bass is located is the main problem that people encounter. It’s difficult to get out there and find them because they prefer to hide in the muckiest, most densely forested areas on the water. Further Reading: 6 Best Braid For Bass Fishing: Fish More Bass!

fly fishing for bass

Which Bass Species Can You Catch on the Fly?

You can land pretty much any Bass on the fly, including Peacock, White, and Hybrid, but Largemouth, Smallmouth, and Striped Bass are favorite catches. “The Big Three” are all opportunistic feeders, they’re not picky eaters, and they’ll fight you with everything they’ve got.

You have just as much of a chance of finding Bass waiting for you whether you cast a line in a far-off river or visit the closest urban pond.

Largemouth Bass

If there’s one thing we know for sure about largies, it’s that they have the mouth of a voracious eater. They are easy to identify due to their deep green color and a distinctive black line running across the body.

One of the most well-liked Bass in fly fishing circles is created when you combine these characteristics with their enormous mouth, which enables them to inhale virtually anything.

Largies can be found in both the shallows and the deeper areas of streams, ponds, lakes, and rivers. They gather near weed beds, rocks, and any other type of submerged structure and prefer warm, murky water.

Smallmouth Bass

You’re missing out if you adore Bronzebacks but have never attempted to catch one on the spot. They distinguish themselves from other relatives by having a dark red color and vertical black lines. Fly fishing for Smallmouth Bass is just as exciting as pursuing Largies, but their preferred environment is a little different.

Smallies enjoy colder, swifter water and can occasionally be found in the same areas as trout. This does not preclude the possibility of finding Largemouth and Smallmouth living nearby.

fly fishing for bass

The only difference between them is that Smallies hunt in riffles, deep holes, and around rock ledges and ledges with moving currents. They otherwise have similar movement patterns throughout the year. They can also be found in still waters, particularly near tree roots and other food sources.

Striped Bass

Go after Striped Bass if you’re willing to compete against the best heavyweight in the world. The average Striper weighs between 10 and 40 pounds, while most Bass remain in the 10 to 15-pound range. They are aggressive and fight hard, and can be found in both freshwater and saltwater, and all of these characteristics combine to make them great flies to catch.

Wherever there is plenty of shad, the striper’s preferred food, search for them in rivers, lakes, reservoirs, and close to coastlines. Similar to Largies and Bronzebacks, Striped Bass enjoy congregating near submerged objects, weeds, docks, drop-offs, and rocky banks.

In search of gizzard and threadfin shad, they can also be found on the flats. The countdown technique works best for positioning the fly so that your prey can see it.

Gears for Bass Fishing

The necessary Bass fly fishing gear doesn’t have to cost a fortune to purchase. If you’ve been fly fishing for a while, you may even already have everything. You will need the following to get started.

Fly Rod

Like most fly fishing, fly fishing equipment for bass fishing can be as simple or as complex as you like. Tossing large, wind-resistant flies is best done with any 9′ fast action 6-8wt weight rod. If you already have a 4 or 5 weight, you can get by just fine.

Plan to cast more delicate flies, such as the Micro Game Changer when using lighter rods. The G is a good option to think about if you want a rod that is specifically designed for bass fishing. The Loomis NRX+ Swim Fly Rod is ideal for pursuing large and smallmouth bass because it was created specifically for large baitfish patterns.


Select a large arbor reel with an adjustable drag that is the right size for your desired rod weight when fly fishing for bass. Although click and pawl reels can be used to play bass, an adjustable drag system is preferable.

fly fishing for bass

The American-made Ross Reels Animas reel is fantastic and has a very smooth drag. There is a model for your preferred bass rod that is available in 45, 56, and 78.

Fly Lines

Your location and the type of flies you use will determine the line you use. Opt for a weight-forward floating line when fishing in shallow, calm waters like lakes and ponds. A line with a short front taper is the best option if you’re fishing areas with a lot of underwater structure.

A sinking fly line is your best choice for deep-water bass fly fishing in rivers and lakes.


Fly fishing leaders can be quite long, but for the majority of situations, a 6 to 7-foot leader works best for catching bass. This length of leader can withstand the tenacity of Largemouth and the gymnastics of Smallmouth.

Where to Fly Fish for Bass?

First of all, since every body of water is unique, if you’re just starting out fly fishing, now is not the time to try out new waters. If you do that, you might discourage yourself or become frustrated.

Use this new technique where you are comfortable and where you have previously caught bass. The techniques I’ve always discussed will still be used by you. Where the bass feed and lay their eggs, you should fish close to structure and cover.

Pay close attention to any fallen trees, stumps, debris, boat ramps, docks, and even the amount of shade provided by the trees. These locations, which all call for the same technique, are where bass frequently congregate.

I would recommend using a weedless fly, such as the weighted or jig choices we discussed above when you’re fishing near weeds. You want to cast where the weeds drop off into the water if you can find those spots. The base of the water body, which is the best place to find bass, will change as a result of that drop-off.

Cast there as well if you notice any anomalies in the weeds, but take care not to drag your fly too much through the weeds as this will detract from your presentation.

When to Go Fly Fishing for Bass?

Barring the coldest days of winter, bass is active throughout the majority of the year. In the winter, they relocate to the deep waters and become apathetic because they prefer warm water and comfortable temperatures. The best times to catch bass are in the spring and summer.

fly fishing for bass

Spring is an amazing time to pursue In the shallows, where they can get warm and gorge themselves in their pre-spawn frenzy, you can find bass in the months of late March and April if you go out on the water. This time of year, streamers like Clouser minnows, wooly buggers, and deceivers are particularly effective.

Bass spawn far from the shore as the water warms. They can be found in the deep water near well-defended structures, large holes, ledges, and drop-offs. Even though there is still good fishing, it is always advised to release spawning fish.

During the summer, right after spawning, Although they are not particularly interested in food, bass quickly recover. Despite preferring to hang out in the shallows near weed beds, Largemouth prefer to stay in the deeper, cooler waters. Smallies favor cool, swiftly moving water.

The best time of year to use surface flies and floating lines to attract bass is during the summer. Poppers are generally the best choice when fishing, depending on where you are. Dragonflies, gurglers, deer-hair poppers, and even frog impersonations can all be effective.

To prevent your line and fly from getting tangled up in underwater plants, don’t forget to bring your weed guard.

Brisk fall temperatures chase Before winter, bass will return to the shallows and feed there for a while. Since they move in packs and follow the bait fish, you can hook up with several fish fairly quickly.

Bear in mind that in the fall, the bass is warier and more easily startled. It becomes crucial to maintain silence and blend in with your surroundings. Use cork poppers, mouse and frog patterns, and other techniques freely in September and October.

Conclusion: Fly Fishing for Bass

Fly fishing might sound intimidating to those who haven’t tried it yet, but it doesn’t have to be. All you need to fly fish for bass is some practice, some time, and some reasonably priced equipment.

This guide should improve your fly-casting skills and give you the confidence to go out and catch lots of basses. Many people avoid fly fishing because they don’t understand it or they believe it to be difficult, which prevents them from taking advantage of many enjoyable fishing opportunities.

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