Fly Fishing: Bass On The Fly

Catching bass on a fly rod can take your favorite past time to a whole different level.  Action is up close and personal. The battle is Mano a Mano (or Mano a Fish). Plus, getting started is not a difficult as you might think.

Rod & Reel Selection

Although bass may be caught on your trout rod you will be more successful if you upgrade to a slightly heavier set up. For smallmouth I would recommend a 9 foot 6 or 7 weights. If targeting largemouth bump up to an 8 or 9 weights, also in the 9 foot range. Your reel should be matched to your rod weight, just make sure it is large enough to accommodate the larger diameter line you will be using. I also recommend you have two reels available, one outfitted with floating line and the other with sinking line. I’ll expand more on this later.

Fly (or lure) Selection

There is a wide range of flies tied specifically for bass anglers, and an equal number of all-purpose flies which will work. Frogs, bumblebees and mouse designs are excellent on the surface and are a favorite due to the fact that they bring the action as close as possible. But sometimes the bass do not cooperate and you need to go down below. To take advantage of subsurface action look to the popular Clouser Minnow, designed specifically to target Susquehanna River smallmouth, or even a traditional plastic worm or lizard. Deep, deep fish can easily be lured out of hiding with a deep diving frog or crayfish.

Line Choices

Fly line come in a variety of styles, but what we will focus on here is floating or sinking. When throwing top water or subsurface flies and lures floating line is the only way to go. It will offer the least amount of interference with the fly’s natural action and allows you to better control presentation depth. But when using a deep diver try weighted line. While a weighted tip may seem like and easier method it doesn’t compare to a fully weighted line. A weighted line allows for quicker sinking of the fly and prevents extra line from collecting on the surface. This is why you want to have two reels, one rigged with floating line and the other with sinking line. If top water action is hot in the morning use your floating line, but when wind picks up and bass move deep simply switch reels and you are ready. In mere minutes you will be fishing again.


Once you have landed your first bass on the fly you will wonder why you never tried this before. Next you will be wondering what else you could try your hand at; striped bass, walleye, musky and northern pike can all be caught using a fly rod and the correct tackle. Before you know it you will be wondering what all the fuss is when it comes to trout.
Good luck, good fishing!

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