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Fly Fishing for Bass – Beginner’s Guide

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Fly fishing for bass is a thrilling and demanding way to catch this strong yet wary fish. Bass frequently attack fast-moving fly lines, requiring the angler (the person fishing) to make long casts as efficiently as possible.

The best season for fly fishing bass is during spring and fall when they’re feeding heavily on shad and bluegills. During summer months, water conditions change frequently and the bass moves into weedy areas where it’s more difficult to present a fly without getting snagged.

This guide provides all of the information necessary to become an accomplished angler who can successfully stalk big bass in various environments. Read on for all the fly fishing tips you need to know before heading out on your first fly fishing trip for largemouth.

Baitcasting vs Fly Fishing

Before you can go fly fishing for bass, you need to know the advantages and disadvantages of each type of fishing.

Baitcasting and fishing tackle both cast a lure out to the fish, but there are important differences between these two types of gear. When you buy your first rods and reel, you need to decide which method of casting is the best for bass.

Fly rods are shorter than baitcasting rods, which makes it easier to get into tight cover. When you’re fly fishing for bass, you want to get your lure in front of the fish as soon as possible after casting it out.


Advantages – Baitcasting reels allow more lines to be pulled off the reel. When a bass makes a long, full run, these reels enable you to keep tension on the line and maintain control of the fish.

Disadvantages – Baitcasting reels are bulky and inconvenient to carry around because they’re not designed for hiking or traveling on foot. Often the sheer weight of baitcasting reels can pull a lot of energy out of you after a day of walking around on the bank.

Fly Fishing

Advantages – Fly fishing gear is generally better suited for finesse presentations where little or no weight is used to cast a light lure or fly far distances. Because fly fishing gear is lighter, it doesn’t tire out your arms as quickly.

Disadvantages Fly fishing gear is generally more expensive than spinning or baitcasting gear.

Spinning Tackle Basics

Before you can go out and fish for bass with your rods, you’ll need some basic equipment that’s necessary to make solid hook-ups.

For most freshwater fishing situations, a good medium-power spinning rod with a high-quality spinning reel is the best choice for bass.


Your first purchase should be a good quality medium-power spinning rod for bass that is around 7 feet long.

bass fishing rod of this length will help you land larger fish and help you gain experience before venturing out into slightly heavier equipment.


The best reels for bass typically have a smooth drag system and sufficient line capacity to handle running fish.

Make sure the rod matches the reel size – if you buy a 7-foot medium-power spinning rod, make sure you buy a spinning reel that is compatible with this length of pole (the most common model for a 7-foot rod is a 5:1 ratio reel).

The Difference Between Largemouth Bass and Smallmouth Bass

Mouth Size: Largemouth have large mouths which are used to caught prey. Smallmouth has smaller mouths, typically between 1″-1¼” wide.

Tail Shape: Largemouth bass has crescent-shaped tails with two dorsal (top) fins whereas smallmouth bass has V-shaped bodies with one dorsal fin.

Dorsal Ray Count: Largemouth bass has 7-9 dorsal spines whereas smallmouth bass has 6-7 dorsal rays.

Location: Typically, largemouth is found in the south-central part of the United States whereas smallmouth is located in northeastern America. However, there are some areas where largemouth and smallmouth live together happily.

Bass Feeding Habits

During warm summer days, bass will typically remain in deep pools where it’s cooler, but when the sun goes down they’ll move into shallow areas to feed, so it’s best to go fishing for bass. Bass enters shallow areas to feed in the early morning and return to deep pools during mid-day when it’s too hot for them in the shallows.

During the summer months, the bass is also very active, making them easier to get. During the colder months, bass can be harder to get because they’re sluggish and not as active during this time.

Largemouth Bass

Also called black bass or green trout, but they’re the most targeted species of fishes in North America. They live in fresh water and can be found anywhere from large lakes to small ponds.

These fishes eat anything that they can swallow, including insects, smaller fish, and crayfish.

Smallmouth Bass

The smallmouth bass is also known as bronze back or brown trout, but this species prefers rocky riffles where the current is stronger than for largemouths. Its preference for these types of waters makes it less common than the largemouth throughout the country.

Smallmouth bass spawn in late spring after ice-out when it’s warmer, which means you’ll need to look for them.

Does Bass Fishing Different from Trout Fishing?

The biggest difference between bass fishing and trout fishing is that you’re using different equipment. With fly rods, there are no reels to worry about, so they are smaller, lighter, easier to transport, and use less energy when casting. You can also attach a fly rod to a kayak or canoe if needed.

Bass flies typically imitate small fishes like shiners and baby bass.

Now that you’ve got the equipment down, it’s time to get on the water and try some fly fishing for bass!

What to Expect When Largemouth Bass Fishing

The secret addiction of many anglers is fly fishing for bass. The whole procedure is a lot of fun, and it may be a welcome change from chasing picky trout or musky. There are a few things to keep in mind while preparing to land any of these undersea bullies.

Basses are Known for their Heavy-Hitting.

They are voracious predators that will hit anything, including lures like crankbaits, jigs, and soft baits. The only thing they won’t eat is live bait, since they are even more voracious predators than a bass!

Fly fishing for bass requires some finesse while under pressure from lunkers that will snap your flies just because they’re not hungry. It is ideal to use a fly rod that is 9 feet or longer since you will need some extra length on the water to play the fish and control it.

Target Bass is Thick-Skinned.

It’s important to know your patterns if you’ve never fished for largemouth bass or their close cousins. Give the hook a good set as soon as you feel a bass grip your fly.

Bass fishermen often use their whole bodies while setting their hooks, which isn’t required since the fish have stronger skin than trout. As a result, securing them takes a stronger set than a simple upwards flick of the wrist to do.

Bass Will Attempt to Fly When Resisting.

Bass fishing is sure hard, you should know how to use your rod’s tip well because they will surely resist especially the biggest bass.

Bass is great at using their weight against fly fishermen. They might throw the rod upwards so you should lower your rod tip to prevent it.

5 of the Best Smallmouth and Largemouth Bass Lures You Can Buy:

  • Ned Rigs: Ned rigs are popular for fly fishing bass since it’s easy to rig and manipulate.
  • Soft Plastic Bait: Soft plastic bait is another good option for fly fishing because you can change the size or color to adapt to any situation you might encounter.
  • Crankbaits: An old-fashioned favorite, crankbaits are usually used for largemouth bass.
  • Grubs: Grubs are good because they are easy to get with, rig, and manipulate underwater.
  • Spinnerbaits: Spinnerbaits are great for fly fishing because they can be pitched under trees, overhanging limbs, and around boulders. There is no challenge in catching bass if you learn how to fish with the right lures at the right time during different seasons.

Where to Look for Bass?

Fly fishing for bass is a lot of fun, and it is possible to hook onto a lunker on your first cast. The best season is spring, where you have more light and warmer weather to be able to fish for longer hours.

A Lot Can Happen in One Day of Fly Fishing for Bass

Bass fishermen usually need some sort of shelter because they will wait until their prey comes to them rather than chasing after them. They are most active around dawn and dusk when the sun isn’t too bright.

If you’re looking for big game like 3-pounders or bigger, visit new spots each day or move downstream towards deeper waters (about 30 feet). If you’re looking for smaller fishes, a wider shallow area with a rocky bottom will do fine since they stay in shallower water to avoid being preyed upon.

Finding the Right Spot is Just the Start to Fish for Bass

Protecting your equipment from getting lost or damaged is half of what it takes to have a fun outing. Tie everything together so that they don’t get chewed up by rocks and tree branches when you pull them ashore.

Prepare spare lines in case one snaps while reeling in a linker, and make sure you remove any hooks before leaving. The proper release could mean not fighting the fish longer than necessary, which means avoiding broken lines and injuries to both humans and fish alike.

What Is the Best Time of Year to Go Bass Fishing?

Many fishermen prefer to go bass fishing in spring because the fishes are more active and eager to feed. This is when they get ready to spawn, so you can expect schools of them any time soon.

If you’re waiting for summertime, it’s best if you get up on some sleep instead because there won’t be any action during that season.

The Calm Before the Storm

When fall comes along, the water temperature begins to drop which makes bass retreat into warmer waters at about 25 feet deep or below. You might find fewer numbers of them compared with other seasons but they are bigger in size since they are preparing for winter by storing fat underneath their skin. It’s also a good time to stock your freezer with fresh fillets since it’s not as active anymore.

The winter months are best for fly trout because it’s off-season so you might have the waters all to yourself…or maybe not. It can be a little more challenging catching bass since they’re hiding in deeper and darker areas, but the more effort you put into it, the more rewarding it will be when you catch one.

What Kind of Bass Equipment Should You Use?

You will need a lot of equipment to catch bass, and the right fly fishing gear should be as light as possible (unless you’re planning on catching monster fish). Remember not to bring anything that’s too expensive since this activity could end up in lost or broken equipment.

You could snag your line easily, causing you to lose your lure and spend more time untangling every knot and twist every 10 minutes. The best way is to bring a friend along to avoid aggravation and enjoy catching more bass.

Final Thoughts on Fly Fishing for Bass

Fly fishing for bass is one of the most enjoyable sports you can participate in. Many anglers get hooked at their first opportunity because it’s not too strenuous on your body, but hard enough to challenge even the veteran fishermen.

All it takes is a little research and preparation before you take that first cast into open water. And just remember, catching fish is all about patience so enjoy every moment while doing it!