Fly Fishing for Bass – Ways to Double Your Success Rate

Many anglers believe that you need special gears for fly fishing for bass. Well, that is true. I use several fly rods and lures for both smallmouth and largemouth bass fishing. But the good news is they are not necessarily expensive. 

Nonetheless, gears are not enough. I also need to learn certain techniques to increase my chances of catching those big fishes. One expert bass fisherman claimed that you have to act like a bass to catch one.

Not literally of course, but knowing where they gather and the best time to fish can double your success rate. Here is a list of what I have learned through the years about bass fly fishing.

Things That You Will Need

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    Fly Rod

Fly rods are designated in terms “weight” instead of “power”. For example, the 4 weight is the same as medium light, the 5 and 6 weights are equal to medium and so on. Your choice of fly rod will depend on the kind and size of bass, lures and other factors.

For Bass fly fishing you would normally need a rod with a length ranging 7 ½ and reaches to 10 feet. Personally, eight feet is the maximum rod length I use for my weight. For my rods, the sizes are varied. 

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    Fishing Lines

This is where things can get confusing. There are four kinds of lines used in fly fishing for bass and you need to use all of them.

The line is used to back up the fly line. It’s thinner, cheaper and quite useful in case the bass managed to strip off all the fly line.

Fly lines are designated by weights and if they are either floating or sinking. You use the floating type for surface fishing. Meanwhile, the sinking type is suited for catching bass hiding in deeper waters.

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Fly reels are also designated by weight with a 1:1 retrieve ratio. You need to match the rods with a suitable reel but weighs as little as possible.

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You need several floating, and diving lures depending on the size of the bass you are targeting. In fly fishing lures are called flies while the bigger ones are called bugs.

The flies and bugs that you will need include the Clouser minnow, Dahlberg diver, damselfly, dragonfly, hare jig, hopper, and micro popper, as well as the wooly bugger.

Step-by-Step Guide to Fly Fishing for Bass

1. Find a Good Fishing Spot for Bass

It’s good to know that most if not all freshwater lakes and ponds in the country have a sizeable bass population. You don’t even need a boat, just go to the nearest pond.

You will need a boat though if you plan to fly fish for bass in saltwater. But you don’t have to worry about winds or tides to catch a bass or two.

2. The Best Time to Fly Fish for Bass

Bass thrived on mild weather with spring usually the best time since the fishes are moving to shallow waters for spawning.

When summertime comes, the best time for bass fly fishing is early morning, late afternoon or at least under the shades. Their preferred temperature is usually between 75 to 85 degrees.

3. The Lures You Can Use

You could use a variety of lures, floating or diving depending on the size of the bass you are targeting.

You could use deer hair as bugs for the bass. Since its only hair, you can adjust its size to suit your target fish. You need to catch the attention of any bass nearby by slowly moving the fliers.

You could also create your own fliers and bugs out of hair, fur, feathers, and Styrofoam. Use fliers like damselflies and grasshoppers to attract the smaller bass.

4. Fly Casting and Retrieving

Fly casting and retrieving is different from the conventional way. Strip the line off the reel by hand before casting it out in the water. Wait for the weight of the line to carry the lure to the bass.

Once the fish took the bait, retrieve by stripping the line by hand. Do not crank the reel handle until all the excess line has been pulled by the bass.

If you don’t have any experience with fly casting, don’t attempt to learn on your own. Get an expert to teach you how to do fly rodding. You may have to pay for pro or ask a friend who is willing to teach you for free.

Additional Tips

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    If moving a fly is not working for you, perhaps a slower approach is more effective. Once you cast the fly on the water, don’t move it. If no bass bites after a very long time, you can give it a tug. Perhaps another pull or two if there’s still no bass biting.
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    You could also make use of flies light enough to sink slowly. A two-inch Marabou body fits this bill. Another similar lure is the Wooly bugger. To a bass, this kind of diver looks like a meal moving through water.
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    Be informed about the fishing line. For one, the leader line is either made of monofilament or fluorocarbon and it’s attached to the fly line. The leader’s length line also depends on the clarity of the waters. In clear water, you can extend the leader line by a maximum of nine feet. But murky waters can limit that to six feet at the most.
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    When the leader line gets too big to fit in the hook’s eye, you need a tippet line to pass through the hook. For bass fishing, you need a heavier leader and tippet lines. To connect the leader as well as the tippet line, I use the knot for the small hook eyes.
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    For larger hook eyes, I sometimes use a different hook line. You are probably aware that the leader and the lines are designated by pound test and line diameters (“X” ratings). Unfortunately, manufacturers have their own pound test to X ratings. 
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    As a general rule, 0X is equal to 0.11 inches with 12 pound test. 1X is equivalent to .10 inches and 10 pound test, 2X is .009 inches and 8 pound test and so on. 
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    The lightest is the 4X which is .007 inches with a 4lb test. For bass fly fishing, you can use the 16 pound test leader and tippet line of 8 weights. To give you a better idea on how to use fly fishing to catch a bass, you can watch this video


Fly fishing for bass needs several gears that don’t require expensive equipment. All you need are several fly rods, lines, reels, and suitable lures. Finding a good spot and picking the best time for fly fishing will increase your catch. You will need several lures and even customize some of them to suit your target bass. 

I hope this article can help you how to fly fish with a bass. Please feel free to share any comments, ideas and thoughts you have about fly fishing for bass on the comment section below. 

John Morris

Hi, I’m John Morris. I’m an avid outdoorsman and fisherman, blessed with an awesome wife and 2 kids. Fishing is not my passion, it is my lifestyle. I fished before I knew how to walk! I’m obsessed with all things related to fishing, even the fishy smell. I’m always willing to extend a hand to novice anglers looking for fishing tips and tricks thus I created this blog. This blog is a collection of my experiences, knowledge, and also research from other blogs.

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