How to Fly Fish For Bass: Best Weight & Size Fly Rod Selection

Every angler needs to be able to catch fish. But knowing how to fly fish for bass is the first step toward getting into the sport. As with many other sports, having the right equipment and knowing what you are doing is key to success.

These are the questions generally anglers have which they want to know the answers to:

what weight fly rod for bass to choose?

What size fly rod for bass to choose?

What fly rod for striped bass is the best?

This article will go over the essentials of fly fishing for bass, and you will be able to determine what rod size and weight are best suited to your personal needs. What type of fly rod should I use? 

Although saltwater fishing tends to be slightly different, these rules apply to freshwater and saltwater.

Essential Rules of Flyfishing for Bass

Before we get into the rules of how to fish for bass, let’s take a look at why they are such a fun fish to catch.

  1. Bass (aka crappie, white bass, or even bluegill) love to swim in shallow water. If you’re a fly fisherman, this can mean your casting and fly design needs to incorporate some light, slow-motion tactics.
  2. You’ll also want to try and cast from the side of the pool or creek, which is where most basses are found. This allows for a slower approach and provides a better presentation for your fly.
  3. A castable fly is a critical component of a good baitcasting fishing setup. This is especially true if you are trying to catch a larger bass in the deep end of a pool or stream.

Smallmouth Vs Largemouth & Where to Find Them

The smallmouth bass is the most popular catch on the fly. Its popularity has prompted many anglers to say that “smallmouth is the angler’s bass.”

The smallmouth is a freshwater predator that primarily feeds on other fish and invertebrates. They typically live in fresh to brackish water and prefer deep, clear waters.

Smallmouth bass may grow up to 22 inches long, but most are between 10 and 15 inches long. They have light olive back skin, with dark or brown spots on the back and sides.

There is a black bar that runs along the lower edge of the side of the fish. There is a light brown or tan spot on the head surrounded by a black ring.

The mouth is typically white with darker gills, and the bottom jaw is white. The smallmouth has a rounded tail, the back fins are white or yellowish, and the lower fins are pale brown or gray. The tail fin has a black band at the base.

The largemouth bass is a popular gamefish often targeted by fishing clubs and tournament organizers. The largemouth has a slightly longer body than the smallmouth and has a more pronounced dorsal fin.

It tends to inhabit deeper water than the smallmouth and is more aggressive. They are more active at night and feed at dusk and dawn. They are a great bass to keep and release.

The most common areas to find the largemouth bass include the rivers around the Great Lakes, Mississippi River, Ohio River, and the Gulf Coast.

A few states have restrictions on the size and weight of fish that may be caught. In Michigan, you can only fish for largemouth bass if the fish is at least 17 inches long.

You can only take a smallmouth bass in Ohio if the fish is between 12-and 14 inches. In Virginia, the largemouth bass must be at least 14 inches, and the smallmouth bass must be at least 9 inches.

Bass fly fishing setup / Gear

There’s nothing quite like fly fishing for bass. As soon as you cast your line, a fish will immediately snap it up, and you can begin casting again. It’s a wonderful way to spend the summer days.

In addition to catching the biggest bass, there are several other things you’ll want to be aware of while fly fishing for bass. You’ll need to know the proper equipment and have everything you need. This includes rods, reels, lines, flies, hooks, and other essential fly fishing gear.

Fly Rod

Fly rods come in different weights and lengths. Some are 5 to 8 and higher, often tied in short-handled rod form. There are a few different types of rods. Each comes with a different purpose and is used for a specific type of fish.

If you’re going after largemouth bass, you will need a shorter rod with a larger diameter. These rods are called “short-handled” or “shorts.” This rod type is used for smallmouth bass, walleye, stripers, etc. Shorter rod designs allow anglers to reach over the top of the water and cast with ease.

Short handled rod styles include, but are not limited to:





Fly Rod Length 

There are various lengths for fly rods ranging from 30″ to 60″. Each length has its benefits. A short rod allows an angler to cast further than a longer rod. The advantage of longer rods is that they are easier to handle when casting near the boat.

Fly Line 

Fly lines are used to retrieve the flies set by the angler. The line is usually made up of nylon and other materials. The material characteristics determine the line strength, which is measured in pounds per inch (lb/in).


Fly lines come with tippets, or leaders, attached. Tippet consists of multiple strands of thread, or wire, twisted around a core. The number of strands is determined by the power required to retrieve the line.

Fly Reels 

Reels are used to hold the line when casting. They are often attached to a rod or pole. Reels can hold anywhere from 25′ to 100′ of line. Most reels have a spool mechanism that keeps the line tight. When the reel is spun, the line is unwound.

Flexible Leader 

Flexible leaders are used in applications that require greater flexibility, such as in long casts. This type of line requires a leader to prevent kinking.

Leaders are often referred to as “bobbers.” They are a component that allows the angler to cast beyond the end of the rod, which is called the “butt.” Leaders are attached to the rod with a screw.

What Rig to Use to Fish for Bass

Casting is an integral part of fly fishing. It allows anglers to present flies to make them appealing to the fish. Because many bass fishing areas are near large lakes, rivers, or wetlands, the fish often swim over the surface where anglers are casting.

To catch these fish, anglers have to cast into the current, so the fly moves along with the water. This makes casting a bit challenging, especially when trying to match speed with a moving target.

An ideal rig will allow you to cast at speeds slower than those of typical spinning reels. A fixed-spool reel can be effective, but if you’re not familiar with fishing a particular area, a spinner can quickly help you find the fish you want.

The drag will slow your retrieve rate, allowing you to match the current, and the spinner will assist with keeping the fly on the surface of the water.

Some of the best rigs for catching bass fish are the Texas rig, Drop – shot and Carolina.

A good selection of flies is also essential. Different species of fish tend to respond to different types of flies. A simple way to find out which flies work best is to visit a local fly shop. In addition to purchasing live flies, you should also consider purchasing artificial flies in various sizes and colors.

What Flies to Use to Fish for Bass

When fishing for bass, the biggest factor is not the lure you choose; it’s the flies you tie. 

Understanding what to tie to fish effectively is part art and science, but you can’t get better without trying. These are some of the best lures that can be used when fishing for bass: 

  • BlockHead Popper.
  • Swimming Baitfish Diver.
  • Lunchable Streamer.
  • Shimmering Minnow.
  • Woolly Bugger.
  • DB Crayfish.
  • Muddy Bunny Streamer. 
  • Clouser Minnow.

When to Fish for Bass

There is no fixed rule to fish for bass when, but you can try to catch them on a certain day or during a certain time of the year. For instance, bass usually spawns in the spring and early summer months, and they are quite active during sunset and sunrise hours. They also tend to prefer shallow waters, so you can try fishing in the evening for a better chance of catching them.

Bass Fly Fishing Tips and Tactics

Now that you’re ready to fish, here are a few basic tips for getting started:

Get the right equipment.

Fly fishing is a lot easier than you may think, but you’ll need the proper equipment to get started. It’s important to get a good rod, reel, line, leader, and fly, which is enough to get your feet wet.

Get your feet wet.

As with any sport, getting your feet wet will help you familiarize yourself with your equipment, and it will allow you to see what works and what doesn’t. Even though fly fishing is more accessible than other sports, it’s still a skill that takes some practice. Start with easy water, like a stream or a lake, and head to a bigger body of water as you gain confidence.

Go with the flow.

Most of the time, the best fishing is done without thinking. You want to feel comfortable on the water. So, relax, let the rod and line work, and enjoy the ride. If you need to, you can always stop, take a break, and walk around to make sure everything’s working. Don’t worry if you make a mistake; your first cast will probably look terrible. Just keep practicing and get better at what you’re doing.

Don’t forget to put the float on.

A floating bobber is a must for fly fishing. It will help you determine when the fish is biting, and it will give you an indicator of whether or not you hooked the fish.

And finally, if you’re going to fly fish, don’t forget to bring your camera. That’s where most of the fun is.

How to Fly Fish For Bass Summary

If you want to learn how to fly fish for bass, you need to practice and get better at casting, and you need to have the right kind of tackle, lures, and bait.

The first step comes in, which is to find a local fishing club and start learning about bass fishing. If you want to learn more about fly fishing for bass, check out this video.

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