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How to Really Fly Fish for Bass

All photos by Brad Smith

Even though it’s winter, the time to fly fish for bass is right around the corner. 

There sure seems to be a resurgence of fly fishing booming all over America these days. Perhaps it is in large part due to the artistry and beauty that often encompasses the art of fly fishing that is eloquently captured through the many pictures on Instagram, Facebook, and even Twitter, as well as the efforts of people like this fly fishing lady.

Fly fishermen share their photos and everyone wants to share them again on their own social networks. This sure seems to be creating a whole new wave of fishermen picking up fly rods for the first time. However in America, trout just aren’t everywhere. One way or another, most fly fishermen are going to have to learn to fly fish for bass.

With that in mind, here are some things to remember.

The Rod

If you are new to fly fishing, then it’s time to listen up and take some notes. If you are a hardened fly fishermen already sharing all those beautiful pictures of perfect loop casts and sunsets on the water, then you get a pass here. When picking out a rod for bass, there are several things I always give special attention. I want to make sure that rod is going to have the backbone to handle large fish, ability to set good hooks, and also be able to turn over larger bodied flies on the cast.1278923_10100455992115264_674148458_o


In order for this to happen, I would suggest a rod in the 9-foot, 7wt range. The 6wt is great for smallmouth and smaller largemouth, but if you want to cast larger bodied streamers and big poppers, then 7wt or 8wt line is what you are going to need, and a 7wt rod can handle both sizes.

My first bass rod was a 6/7wt. It did well, and still handles nicely, but it just didn’t have the guts to handle the bigger flies that big bass eat.

It just so happens, I currently am having a custom rod built by Josh Phillips, owner of Dunamis Rods, designed exactly how I just described.

The Line

As mentioned above, 7wt or 8wt line is what you are going to need. Most of the fly fishing community prefers weight forward line, but I particularly do not. I find I have better control and better accuracy using a standard floating line. I also use a heavier leader and sometimes even a mono tippet consisting of good old fashioned Berkley Trilene as opposed to the traditional stuff. This allows me to have stronger hooksets and the ability to get a bigger bass out of cover.

The Flies 

Big streamers and big poppers are the name of the game, especially when it comes to hitting the local farm or retention ponds. Those bass are looking for big meals and big flies fill their bellies just as nice.


I try to use any sort of streamer that has the colors of a shad, bluegill, or other baitfish. Larger clouser-style flies work very well too. If you’re fishing in rivers and streams for smallies, never neglect a crawfish pattern clouser, and the same holds true for frog patterns in lakes and ponds.

Fly fishing isn’t for everyone, but it is for most. If you haven’t given it a try just yet, make it a mission for 2015. Before you know it, you will be fly fishing the Everglades.

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How to Really Fly Fish for Bass