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Guide To Fly Fishing For Bass

Mark Armstrong
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Fly fishing for bass can offer a pleasant change of pace if you’re more used to using heavy baitcasting gear or a spinning rod. Fly fishing bass techniques may be a little different from other fishing techniques but they can be easy to learn, even if you’re a beginner.

We’ve put some information together to help you discover a little more about it and what you might need to get started.

Guide To Fly Fishing For Bass - PinterestPin

Fly Fishing For Bass?

When you think of fly fishing, you probably associate it more with trout or salmon than with bass.

But fly fishing for bass can be a fun and relaxing way to catch bass and a nice change from using your baitcasting or spinning gear.

Video: Tips On Fly Fishing For Bass

But fly fishing can be a little different from fishing with spinning or baitcasting gear. With fly fishing, it’s your weighted line that helps to propel the lightweight fly or lure into the water when you cast. Conversely, with spinning or baitcasting gear, it’s usually the weight of your lure that helps to propel your line when you cast.

What Gear Should I Use?

Rods And Reels

When you’re choosing a rod and reel for fly fishing for bass you may want to opt for slightly heavier gear than you might use for trout. A 9 foot, 8 weight fly rod can be a good choice for targeting bass, matching it with an 8 weight fly reel.

This can be a suitable rod and reel weight for catching both largemouth and smallmouth, as well as other species but bass can also be caught on shorter, lighter weight trout rods, particularly if you want to target smaller bass. However, you may find it easier to cast with a 9 foot rod compared to a shorter one.

> Check our Best Fly Fishing Rods

Fly Reel GraphicPin


Floating line is usually the best option for bass, as it can become a little more difficult and time consuming to target bass that are holding out in deep water where sinking line is required.

Weight-forward 8 weight line to match your 8 weight rod and reel, paired with a tapered leader of around 10 to 15 pounds, should be ideal for bass. You can also a monofilament line for your leader, with around a 12 to 15 pound test strength for most bass. But you may want to increase the strength of your leader if you want to use heavier flies or if there’s a lot of cover.


Because bass will generally have a varied diet and will tend to eat whatever they can get at the time, it might be more important to think about getting your lure close to the bass than to worry about what lure it might take. However, that said, it can be a good idea to have a range of lures with you, including floating flies, such as poppers and sliders, and sinking flies, such as streamers.

Floating bugs and flies can be ideal for targeting bass that are in shallow water or close to the surface, as they tend to create noise and splash on the top of the water, which can attract bass.

Sinking flies can be useful for targeting actively feeding bass, as they can mimic swimming baitfish. They can also be great for covering water and targeting the bass that are a little deeper in the water column.

Some flies are made to look like actual creatures and baitfish that bass often prey on, such as crawfish, minnows or frogs. But others have no particular resemblance to a real life critter and can simply be attractive to a bass because it looks alive and looks like something to eat.

Where Do I Go?

Ponds And Lakes

If you normally fish ponds and lakes for bass, these can be ideal spots to try fly fishing for bass. If you’ve fished a particular pond or lake before you will probably know where the bass like to hide out and where you might find them at various times of the year.

Ponds and lakes can be good places to start fly fishing for bass because the water tends to be calmer, with less current than a lot of rivers. Non moving water can make it easier to get the hang of casting and more importantly, accurate casting without you having to worry too much about the current sweeping your lure and line downstream.

Bass will generally be found where there is cover or structure in the water; anything from docks, weed beds and timber to points, ledges, creek channels and rocks.

Rivers And Streams

Rivers and streams can also be great places to go fly fishing for bass. Just like in other bodies of water, bass will often prefer to hold out in areas with cover or structure, where they can shelter and lie in wait for prey to pass by.

Video: Fly Fishing For Bass In Rivers

Largemouth bass will often be found in areas where there is little current, compared to smallmouth bass which tend to have a higher tolerance for stronger current and can often be found right in the current or riffles.

Tips & Tactics To Catch More Bass (On The Fly)

Cast Towards The Banks

On many bodies of water, bass can often be found close to the banks where there may be various points or areas with ample cover where they can seek shelter and prey on baitish. Banks can also often provide enough structure to allow bass to move more easily in the water column.

Popper flies can be ideal to use for this, as many areas close to the banks will tend to be shallower than the middle sections of the water and so bass may be more likely to bite lures on the surface.

It can be useful to twitch and pause your line to give your fly a more realistic appearance and wait for the rings around the lure to disappear before you twitch it again.

Slow It Down With Floating Flies

Keeping your flies moving slowly on top of the water can be a good technique as it can give bass a chance to notice it and potentially take it. But you may need a little patience for this.

It can also be useful to keep things slow if you happen to get caught up on weeds or any other obstacle. Rather than try to rip your fly free, pull it in slowly and it might have the chance to gradually free itself from its predicament.

Use Smaller Lures On Bright Days

On bright sunny days when the water is clear and calm, it can be best to use smaller flies. These types of conditions can make bass more wary of your lures if they don’t look like food. And since the bright skies and clear water can make your lures more visible, they may be less likely to bite large flies.

If the weather is cloudy or if you’re fishing at dusk or dawn, larger, heavier flies may be a better option. This can also be the case when it’s windy and or the water murky. Larger flies can attract more attention, causing louder splashes and vibrations than lighter flies which can help in lower visibility conditions where a light fly may go unnoticed.

Keep Your Rod Tip Low To Set The Hook

Compared to fishing with spinning or baitcasting gear, setting the hook is a little different with fly fishing. Remember, most of the power comes from the line rather than the rod, so it can be helpful to keep your rod tip angled low to make stripping the line easier.

Strip set the hook by stripping the line rather than pulling up on your rod tip.

Guide to fly fishing kayaks

5 Best Fly Rods & Reels For Bass Fishing

1: Sage Bass II Largemouth Fly Rod

Sage Bass II Largemouth Fly RodPin
  • Length: 7 foot 11 inches
  • Weight: 39/16 ounces

The Sage Bass II Largemouth Fly Rod is designed specifically for fly fishing for bass and more specifically for largemouth bass. This means it may be easier to use when targeting bass in small areas compared to longer fly rods, as it may offer a higher degree of casting accuracy.

It has also been designed with kayak fly fishing in mind and conveniently comes in four pieces. It comes with a fly line rated at 330 grain weight, which is the equivalent of around an 11 weight fly line, which should be strong enough to handle big bass.

2: Moonshine Rod Co. The Drifter Series Fly Fishing Rod

Moonshine Rod Co. The Drifter Series Fly Fishing RodPin
  • Length: 9 foot
  • Weight: 5

This Moonshine Drifter Series Fly Rod is a four piece rod that comes with an additional tip section. It’s a 9 foot medium action fly rod that can be a good, versatile option for bass and other species.

It’s a lightweight rod that features a triple A grade cork handle and burled wood ends. It could be a good choice if you’re looking to target smaller bass or use smaller flies.

3: Tailwater Outfitters Toccoa Fly Rod

Tailwater Outfitters Toccoa Fly RodPin
  • Length: 9 foot
  • Weight: 5

The Tailwater Outfitters Toccoa Fly Rod is a 9 foot, 5 weight fast action rod that can be ideal for fly fishing for bass in a range of water conditions. It could be useful for casting lightweight flies to target smaller bass or in open water conditions when you need improved casting.

It is a four piece rod that comes in a handy travel case, making it a good choice if you’re looking for a fly rod that is easy to transport or store at home. It’s a lightweight graphite rod with durable cork grips for added comfort.

4: Waterworks-Lamson Guru Series II Fly Reel

Guru_Series II Fly Reel for BassPin
  • Length: 9 foot
  • Weight: 5

The Waterworks-Lamson Guru Series II is a lightweight 4 inch diameter fly reel that is crafted from aluminum and stainless steel for added durability. It features a conical disc drag system for added power and the spool for the 8 to 9 weight model can hold 200 yards of 20 pound line. It also comes in various other sizes.

5: Redington Behemoth Fly Reel

Redington Behemoth Fly ReelPin
  • Line weight: 7 to 8 weight

This Redington Behemoth Fly Reel is a durable die cast constructed reel designed with a strong, adjustable carbon fiber drag system for added fighting power.

The fly reel can hold 200 yards of 20 pound line and has a diameter of 4 inches. It is engineered to be easy to use and could be a good option for both beginners and more experienced fly fishers.

Finishing Up

Learning how to fly fish for bass could add another string to your bow and let you experience a different style of bass fishing at a different pace. It can be a fun way to catch fish but it may require you to change up your tactics a little.

Remember to have patience, get your fly near the bass and don’t reel in or strip your line too quickly. Experiment with flies and see what works best in your specific river or lake.

Tell us about your most successful bass techniques and share this to let other anglers learn about fly fishing for bass.

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