Best Bass Flies – 13 Amazing Suggestions to Increase Your Catch Rate


So you’ve arrived at the water, and the bass are around. But what to tie on first?

Bass are absolutely ferocious, but they can also be a little picky.

I’m going to show you some effective patterns that will work to help entice them. My list of the best bass flies has been specially chosen, and all of them have features that bass love.

Let’s dive straight in!

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Top 13 Best Flies for Bass Fly Fishing 2021

I could recommend individual bass flies, but having a variety in your arsenal is what it is all about.

That way, if you find that they prefer one color or size over another, you’ve got the tools to do the job. Here are some of the top picks that I use when I’m out hunting for bass.

Betts Pop N' Hot Popper Fly

Betts Pop N' Hot Popper Fly

When fishing for bass, bright and bushy nearly always wins the day!

And let me tell you…

They don’t come brighter than this. Your choice of color is up to you. I find that bright pink and white seems to work the best. This fly is a plastic body formed on a size 10 hook. It has realistic embossed eyes.

And there’s more.

The key when fly fishing for bass is to create plenty of movement. The thick white rubber legs on this bass fly will twitch enticingly and create plenty of disturbance on the surface of the water. This should be enough to encourage bass to take a bite!

When to Use it?

If the bass are on top, and there’s no ripple on the water, this could be an excellent choice. They also work really well when all is quiet. The movement and ”pop” is often enough to trigger a take.

Cabela's Clouser Freshwater Deep Minnow Flies

Cabela's Clouser Freshwater Deep Minnow Flies

If there are bass around, the last thing you want to be is a small baitfish. Bass love nothing more than speeding in and decimating shoals of minnows.

As the saying goes, if you can’t beat them, join them.

This little fly is made of a mixture of hair and tinsel. The end result being something that is highly mobile with a little bit of sparkle. Just like a real-life minnow!

One feature I like about this particular fly is that the head has been finished in epoxy. This will give your fly a longer lifespan after being continually hammered by hungry bass… Which it will be. The shiny lifelike eyes seem to work really well too.

When to Use it?

If you are fishing and see shoals of baitfish breaking the surface, this should be your go-to choice. Cast in among a shoal or give it a slow pull and twitch to mimic a wounded baitfish.

Cabela's Galloup's Peanut Envy Fly

Cabela's Galloup's Peanut Envy Fly

This one is a little bit different. Essentially it is two flies tied in tandem. It’s a great one to use on a floating line when the fish are down deep.

Why?

Well, for a start, it is rigged with a heavily weighted cone head. This allows it to sink down quite quickly regardless of its bulk.

What is it designed to represent? Don’t forget it is going to be soaked when fished sub-surface. Those plumy hackles become sodden and lower in profile. This fly is designed to mimic sub-surface species like leeches. The iced dubbing body also gives it a hint of sparkle, which could also be used as an effective baitfish pattern.

Bass often like to sneak up behind their prey, biting the tail and then coming back for another go. The good news with this fly is that the bass will be hooked at first bite. The trailing part of the fly contains a second hook, meaning no missed chances.

When to Use it?

If you’ve tried the surface and failed, it’s time to go down deep. I tend to fish these on a singling line, hard on the bottom. It’s where you’d find leeches.

On bright sunny days, this is a killer tactic! It also works well when fishing for bass in winter when they tend to sit on the surface.

Wild Water Fly Fishing Deer Hair Bass Bug

In the height of summer, there are plenty of bees and wasps around. If you’ve ever seen them land on the water, they make a hell of a commotion… Before a bass spots them.

Part of fly fishing is mimicking nature’s behavior. This fly does so in several ways.

First…

The deer hair body will make sure it stays afloat. Just like a real bumblebee.

Second…

The yellow and black finish acts as a visual cue to the bass. It seems to act as a bit of a ”switch” that makes them drop their guard, as it will be something natural they have seen before.

And finally…

There are loads of wiggly rubber legs. Ok, this might be overkill, but these work really well to emulate a bug thrashing for its life out on the still water.

When to Use it?

If you’ve seen the bass taking big bugs off the surface, or you are fishing in an area that sees plenty of bees, wasps, or hornets, this will prove to be a deadly pattern to try for bass!

Wild Water Fly Fishing Deer Hair Diver

If you can’t decide what the bass are eating, then it might be a good time to tie on something that could (at a push) look like various things.

This deer hair bodied bass fly could be mistaken for any of the following:

  • A frog
  • A mouse
  • A baitfish
  • An alien creature…

Ok, I’m kidding about the last one, but it does look out of this world. The first three all form a large part of a bass’s diet.

One nice thing about these flies is that you’ll find each has a monofilament weed guard. This prevents the hook from getting snarled up on grass and weeds in the water. This is a great feature if you are fishing in water covered with heavy vegetation.

When to Use it?

Because of the protected hook shank, this is a great choice if you want to work the weeds and reeds. Both are areas where bass will sit waiting in ambush.

It is designed to replicate many different species, all of which are regular prey for bass. You tend to get weeds on still water, so this is one of the best flies for bass in ponds.

The Fly Fishing Place Muddler Minnow

Muddler minnows are an all-time classic fly fishing fly. They’ve been around a long time for a reason.

They work!

They are designed to be cast out and fished on top of the water. You pull them back in little twitches, and this leaves a large wake behind them, which is exactly what a hungry bass looks for. The deer’s hair head keeps it afloat and ensures that it makes a suitable amount of commotion.

Anything else?

Yeah, the golden body is designed to give this particular fly a little “baitfish chic“.

It always pays to have one or two of these in your fly box.

When to Use it?

These are best fished when there is a little ripple on the water. If the bass are being cautious, start with something subtle that is unlikely to spook them. This all-time classic bass fly can work wonders!

Rainy's iEL901-PK Ehlers Signature Bass Assortment

Ok, so there will be days where the first thing you tie on doesn’t work. And neither does the second or the third.

Hey, that’s why it’s called ”fishing” and not ”catching”, right?

As I said at the start, it pays to have options. This pack will certainly give you that.

It consists of a set of fritz and maribou streamers. All of which come with a big beaded head. As they are pulled through the water, the tail swims enticingly, all the while giving little flashes and sparkles.

Within, you’ll find many colors, all of which are favorites for bass. Bright oranges, lime greens, and purples all work well to pique a little bit of interest.

When to Use it?

If you are fishing sub-surface, these are always worth a go! With sets such as these, I tend to change fly every five or so casts until I find a color and depth that comes up with the goods.

The Fly Fishing Place Bass Bug Collection

We’ve all had those days when you can’t be sure what they are taking.

Well, this is the answer.

Invest in a bass bug collection, and you can work your way through the box until you find out what they are after.

You’ll find a range of frogs, deer hair, bass poppers, mice, and a few ”hybrid” flies within this set. They are all designed to be fished on the surface, so if you know the bass are up on top, then any of these could be a potential winner.

Want to know what the best thing about this bass fly kit is?

It is actually really great value. Sure, you could pay $10 for a single fly… But the bass don’t care about how much you paid, and these look every bit as good as some ”premium” flies.

When to Use it?

You can use this set any time, as there is plenty of choices. When there seems to be no rhyme or reason with the fish, your best bet is to adopt a scattergun approach. This set is great value and gives you the ability to do just that.

Xfishman Popper Flies

It doesn’t come better than twitching a large popper over the surface when it comes to excitement and fly fishing. Sometimes you get bass following ”Jaws’ style. It’s a really visual form of fly fishing, and it’s also really active.

You are going to need one thing to make these flies work for you.

The answer?

Plenty of movement. You don’t ever want these flies to be sat still on the water. The substantial face pops, spits and gurgles as you pull it along. The more noise and mess, the better!

These are really great value. 24 bass flies, for the money, is an amazing deal. You’ll find various colors and sizes in each pack, making them perfect to work out what they are feeding on.

When to Use it?

Popper flies are one of the best for bass fishing. They tend to work better on days when the water is calm; otherwise, the pops and spits can be hard to see.

Rainy's Riendeau's Hairy Fodder Fly Assortment

Rainy's Riendeau's Hairy Fodder Fly Assortment

When another angler asked me if I wanted to try ‘Rainy Riendeau’s hairy fodder’, I didn’t know what to say…

It turns out “No thanks, I’m a devout Catholic” wasn’t the best answer!

Joking aside, these are a sort of cross between all the best bits of successful bass flies. You’ve got realistic-looking eyes, some wiggly legs, and a fur body that, when submerged, wriggles and swims.

And here’s a great feature…

You can change the weighted eyes depending on the conditions. If they are up on top, take them off completely or put something heavier on if they are deep below. They really allow you to work the water column from top to bottom.

When to Use it?

These are great when bass are feeding, but you don’t know at what depth. Change up the weights and work your way down from top to bottom until you find the feeding level.

Wild Water Fly Fishing Deer Hair Assortment

Mice, minnows, and more!

This is what this set is all about. If you are being troubled by smaller fish, it might be time to buck your ideas up. Tying on bigger flies ensures that you only get the specimens showing any interest.

This set is also ideal if the conditions are rough or choppy. They are far easier to see than tiny flies and would work well in windy conditions.

My particular favorite is the chartreuse rabbit, tail diver. If there is a bit of color in the water, the darker patterns can sometimes get missed. This ensures that if the bass are there, they’ll know about your fly!

When to Use it?

This is a good set to bring with you if the conditions are variable. You’ve got plenty of options. Oh, here’s a top tip when fly fishing for bass. Bright day, bright fly. Dark Day, dark fly. Give it a go!

Flymen Chocklett's Finesse Changer Fly

Flymen Chocklett's Finesse Changer Fly

If you are fishing in clear summer conditions, then this fly is the one to go for. I’m amazed by how realistic it looks. The body is tied to be especially mobile. When pulled through the water, it looks exactly like a tiny baitfish.

And we know what loves baitfish, right?

Each body segment is hinged, allowing it to wriggle and thrash as you strip it through the water. This is a great one to fish over weed beds and rocky outcrops where bass love to hide.

I’d have liked to have seen a smaller hook mounted in the tail, but regardless, the bass smashes this with such ferocity that it doesn’t seem to matter most of the time.

When to Use it?

This is another great one if you can be assured that there are minnows in the water. This tends to be during the warmer months. I’d go as far as to say this is one of the best bass flies for summer.

Thor Outdoor Topwater Bass Fly Kit

Bass aren’t too choosy when it comes to deciding what to eat. Often, if you put on something that resembles a naturally found bug, they’ll relish the chance to gobble it up.

These flies all look like things that would drop out of a tree. Dragonflies, crickets, and grasshoppers all feature on a Bass’s menu!

If you are getting a bit tired of stripping and jigging mobile flies, this could be the answer. These dry flies are best fished static with the occasional twitch to attract a bit of interest.

When to Use it?

If you are looking to be a little lazy, or it’s a red hot day where the water is still, and nothing is moving, these are great for fishing static. If you see dragonflies around, they are an exceptional choice.

They do have a little downside. Because the bodies are made of foam, they are fairly susceptible to wear and tear. The good news is they are inexpensive, so perhaps get a backup set too?

Best Flies for Bass Fishing (A Quick Guide)

If you are on the lookout for some great bass flies, you’ll have already seen a hell of a lot of choices around. It can be pretty tricky to pick.

But I want to help you.

So, here are the things I normally think about when I’m choosing.

fisherman looking for a good fly to fish in the lake

Top Features to Look for in Effective Bass Flies

Most decent bass flies have a few common features. They can be a little different than other types of fly fishing flies. These features are designed to appeal to a Bass’s predatory nature. Look for things like:

  • Moving legs
  • Bulky bodies
  • Swimming tails
  • Realistic eyes
  • Popping faces
  • Bright colors

Any of the above or a combination will help you to catch fish. Anything that creates vibration, sound, or general commotion should be a good choice.

Brand

Now here’s a word to the wise…

Do you want to buy the best brand of bass fly?

It’s a bad idea to look at brands when it comes to choosing flies.

Bass don’t care where your fly was made or how much you paid for it. Some big-name brands catch more fishermen than they do bass. And they come with a seriously hefty price tag.

Here’s my advice.

By all means, take a look at some big named brands… and then go elsewhere and find something that looks similar. I promise you will catch just as many fish, provided you look for the key attributes I mentioned above.

large striped bass in fly fishing kayak

Cost

Have I ever spent $15 on a fly?

Yup, sure.

Did it catch me more fish?

Nope.

The only thing more heartbreaking than losing a big fish is losing your ‘gold plated, all singing, all dancing’ mega fly on the first cast.

Do yourself a favor…

Keep it as cheap as you can. That way, if you get the odd crack off or snag, you won’t waste time worrying about it.

Sinkers or Surface?

I’d advise you to go for a few different options when choosing a bass fly. You want to give yourself options. This includes the ability to fish up on top or deep down below.

Get a range of flies that allow you to fish in several different ways. It helps if you have a good floating and a sinking line for bass fishing. That way, you are covered in all eventualities.

largemouth bass close up

Durability

If you’ve ever caught bass on a fly, you’ll already know…

They hit hard! If you’ve hit the jackpot and found the ‘right’ fly for bass, you can be sure it will take a pummeling.

Imagine having found the ‘golden ticket’ for the day, only for it to fall apart in the middle of your session.

Cue, frantically searching through your box for something similar… With no luck.

There are two options here. Get a few of the same fly, or pick something super durable. Things such as epoxy bodies or even hard plastics can be a really effective way to prolong your flies’ lifespan.

Conclusion

Find the right fly, and you are in for fun times. The key to successful bass fishing is to mix it up until you find out what produces fish. With my selection of the best bass flies, you are bound to find something that works.

What’s your guaranteed bass catcher (if there is such a thing)? Let me know in the comments. I’ll see about adding it to my list!

Bob Hoffmann

The author of this post is Bob Hoffmann. Bob has spend most of his childhood fishing with his father and now share all his knowledge with other anglers. Feel free to leave a comment below.

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