The Best Fly Lines for Bass Fishing (Complete Guide & Reviews 2021)


How could bass fishing get any more exciting? Well, how’s about watching a big one absolutely obliterate a fly dragged along the surface.

Bass don’t mess around, so you’ll need a line that can handle them.

I want to show you a selection of some of the best fly lines for bass fishing. I’ll talk you through some great brands and the key things you need to look for.

Let’s cast out!

Disclosure: At BonfireBob, we recommend products based on unbiased research, however, BonfireBob.com is reader-supported and as an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases if you shop through the links on this page. For more information, see disclosure here.

Stuck for Time?

In a rush? No, problem.

Here are a few things that you definitely should look for in the best fly fishing lines for bass…

largemouth bass close up

Floating or Sinking Line for Bass Fly Fishing?

Here you could actually buy both.

However…

A floating fly line can be used to fish on the surface and sub-surface. With a sinking line, your options are limited. I do about 95% of my bass fly fishing with a floating line.

And you need to consider this…

For a beginner, casting a floating line is much easier than a thick cored sinker!

The Correct Line Weight for Bass Fishing

Fly fishing for bass is a little specialized. There are one or two differences from trout fly lines.

What do I mean by this?

Trout fly fishing is all about delicate fly presentation and using small flies. On the other hand, Bass fishing is often about casting big lures and making as much commotion on the water as possible.

And for that reason.

You’ll need a heavier line. I’d go for something around a weight #6 and above. Any less than that, and you are going to have to really work to cast.

Line Taper

Again this relates to the type of bass flies that you will be casting. Bass flies tend to be bigger. A line with a belly taper isn’t going to cut it.

So what do I need?

The best bass fly line will have a weight-forward taper. This means that it is thickest at the end that attaches to your leader and tapers off. It’s really good for casting big streamers.

Breaking Strain

If you are new to bass fly fishing, you may think you need to worry about breaking strain.

Here’s my advice…

Don’t.

Unlike most forms of fishing, the fly line generally isn’t rated by breaking strain, and you’ll easily be able to handle fish up to 40+ lbs with any standard line bought off the shelf.

With all of the following in mind, let’s take a look at some great bass fly lines that tick all of the above boxes.

Top 5 Best Fly Lines for Bass Fishing in 2021

RIO Products Smallmouth Bass Fly Line

If you’ve had a browse around my site, you’ll know that Rio is one of my favorite fly fishing brands.

When it comes to fly line, they are hands down, the biggest around.

Here’s what’s great.

This line is a #6 weight which is ideal. It is easy to cast but substantial enough to throw out a decent-sized fly.

I also really like the color. Rio calls this ‘bronze’… For that, read ‘yellow’. The long and short of it is that it is easy for you to see on the water, even in choppy conditions, which bass love.

And the best bit?

It has a powerful front taper. Being a weight forward line allows you to easily cast big flies, even into a breeze! It is unique in that the back of the head of the line tapers quickly to allow you to recover the line off the water quickly.

Pros

  • A high-quality line from an established manufacturer.
  • Good performance.
  • Weight forward, easy to cast.

Cons

  • The bronze color might not be for everyone.
  • It definitely isn’t a budget line.

Takeaway

There isn’t too much to dislike about any of the Rio range. They make good bass fly fishing lines. It’s that simple. If you are making a first foray into bass fishing with a fly, this one should perform well.

Scientific Anglers Amplitude Bass Fly Line

Scientific anglers have been around a little while but are still a ‘newcomer’ when held up against the big players. Not that this matters… this bass fly line is awesome.

Here’s what you need to know.

First off, it has a ‘cone head’ taper. It is pretty thick toward the front end of the line. That’s a tick in the box from me. Weight forward is definitely what you need for big bugs and streamers.

It’s also available in a range of sizes starting at 6, so it is plenty big enough to fit with a powerful fly rod.

And here’s something a little different…

If you fly fish in warmer climates (lucky you), you’ll no doubt be aware that fly lines can become softened and overly supple with regular use. Scientific anglers coat their bass fly line so that it better withstands hotter temperatures.

Pros

  • A good fly line for bass.
  • Conehead weight forward technology for easy casting.
  • Warm weather coating for better performance.

Cons

  • This isn’t a cheap line. Bearing in mind you can get a premium line from a trusted brand like Rio, some anglers may feel it doesn’t offer enough for the money.

Takeaway

Don’t let brand names put you off. Scientific anglers make a high-quality bass fishing line that does perform well. This stands up well in all conditions and should be easy to cast.

Scientific Anglers Aircel Floating Bass Fly Line

Was my last suggestion by scientific anglers a little on the steep side for your wallet?

Alright, check this out…

This is slightly simpler but fits every single one of my criteria when choosing an effective bass line.

It’s weight forward and includes an attached floating loop, making it easy to attach your leader and get fishing. The front 35 feet of the line form its head, making it ideal for casting long distances.

As with my previous suggestion from Rio, this fly line is a vivid yellow color, so you can easily spot it on the water.

It is available in #7 or #8 weight, so fishing on a heavier setup would be ideal.

Pros

  • Low price without a marked drop in performance.
  • Good for heavy rods with #7 or #8 weight.
  • Attached leader loop.

Cons

  • I can’t work out whether this fly line is really cheap or the others are too expensive. They can’t both be right!

Takeaway

For a budget fly line from an established brand, you’ve found something ideal. OK, it might not perform quite as well as an $80 bass fly line… But for the money, it is pretty great for bass fishing.

Rio Mainstream Bass Fly Line with Leader

Looking for a premium brand of bass fly line with good performance doesn’t require you to break the bank.

Lucky you, you’re in the right place.

Rio has produced an excellent middle-of-the-road bass fly line that promises to satisfy every requirement.

Here’s what I mean…

This range of lines starts from #7 and upwards. Meaning it has been custom produced with the bass fisherman in mind. As with the scientific angler’s line above, it also features a 35′ weight forward head with a small back taper for easy line handling.

This floating line sits high on the water and is bright yellow, making it perfect for stripping a frog or something bushy through the upper layers.

Pros

  • A Rio line at an affordable price. Great value.
  • Easy casting, a large front-loaded taper with a smaller back taper.
  • Perfect for surface fishing.

Cons

  • If you currently have a #6 weight rod, you are out of luck.

Takeaway

I like that Rio caters to all levels of budget. This line has everything needed to make it great for bass fishing. There isn’t a huge variation in performance between this and something much more expensive.

White River Fly Shop Bass Taper Fly Line

White River Fly Shop Bass Taper Fly Line

I really like the look of this. It is super heavy duty. This fly line doesn’t come in a lightweight version. It starts at #7 weight.

The unique point of this line is that it has been designed with the bass angler in mind. If you are looking to cast a bulky bug or a heavily weighted fly, you need something to keep up.

This might just be it.

Oh, and the line is dual-colored too. This is really nice as you can tell at a glance how far out you are and when is the optimum time to begin a new cast.

When the line changes color, it’s time to go again!

If you are fishing an area where your line might get damaged (I mean, let’s face it, bass love underwater features), this fly line represents a well-performing budget option.

Pros

  • A good performer at a relatively low price point.
  • Two-tone color for easy line pickup.
  • Excellent for casting heavy flies.

Cons

  • It has a shorter body than most fly lines. I kind of resent paying a similar amount for less line.
  • It’s the same price as the better performing Rio fly line.

Takeaway

This is a pretty good bass fly line. There are others that, for the money, perform as well or better, such as the Rio lines. However, this may all boil down to personal preference. This one is well worth a shot.

A Quick Guide to Bass Fly Lines

Are you new to bass fly fishing?

Listen, don’t worry about it. We all have to start somewhere. Fly fishing can be a little technical, but once you know a few key pieces of information, it will all become clear.

Here, let me talk you through what the different things mean and what you need to look for.

fly reel with orange fishing line

Fly Line Tapers Explained

If you’ve read the above, you’ll have heard me make reference to things such as ‘weight forward’, ‘belly tapers’, ‘line heads’, and other terminology.

Sorry if that was confusing. Here is what you need to know.

Unlike regular fishing lines, fly lines are a lot thicker. They actually have a shape.

A shape?

Exactly dude! They aren’t uniform in size or thickness. They tend to get thicker and thinner depending on certain handling characteristics.

Just remember this…

For bass fishing, you want a weight-forward fly line.

Think of a baseball bat… It is thicker toward the top and thinner toward the handle. So far, so good? This is exactly how a weight-forward fly line is shaped. The end of the line is pretty fat. This is called the head.

The first 15 or so feet is the fattest. Then you’ll find that it tapers and becomes uniform for another 15 or so feet… This is called the body. Eventually, this tapers down until it is really thin and uniform… This is what is called your running line.

So in order of thickness, we have… The head, then the body, then the running line. Easy right?

A larger head means the line is heavier toward the tip. This is beneficial because it makes it much easier to cast, both in terms of bigger distances and bigger flies.

close-up fly fishing rod and reel with fly box in background

Line Weights Explained

I’m going to keep this simple. Try not to get bogged down in detail.

It goes something like this.

Each fly rod and a line is given a number. This is called its weight… Kind confusing as it has nothing to do with what the rod and setup weigh in terms of ounces.

Here’s an easy way to understand it.

The higher the number, the heavier the rod. Fly rods run from #1 all the way through to #14!

There are two things you really need to know:

  1. The line weight must match that of the rod. So, a #6wt rod must be paired with a #6wt fly line.
  2. For bass fishing, ideally, you want to go no lighter than a #6wt setup.

Go too light on your rod, or mismatch the rod and line pairing, and you’ll find it hard to cast.

Fly Line Letters and Numbers… Explained

So are you happy with a “WF6S”?

Makes little sense? I know! But in about 20 seconds, you will understand it…

You’ll see letter and number combos like this everywhere on fly lines. It sounds technical, but it really isn’t. So you know what you are buying, here’s what these sequences mean.

Let’s look again “WF6F”.

The first two letters are used to describe the taper of the line. “WF” means weight forward. This is what you want for bass fishing. DT means double taper… and is more suitable for trout fishing.

The number (in this case “6”) is the weight of the line. This means it must be paired up with a 6 weight rod.

The final letter (“F”) tells you that the line is “floating”. If it is “S,” what do you think this means?

Sinking!

See, I told you it was simple!

fisherman using fly fishing rod and reel in mountain river

Cost

How much you spend on a fly line is entirely up to you. Some guys claim that your choice of line is even more important than your rod!

If you’ve fished a while and are looking to upgrade, you will feel the difference if you invest in a premium fly line.

But…

For beginners, I don’t really see sense in spending a fortune when a budget-mid range fly line will work just as well.

As you’ll have seen above, you can get great performance from well-known brands without having to break the bank.

Leader

There are lots of ways to attach a leader to your main fly line. I find the easiest is to buy a fly line with an included loop already attached.

However, if your fly line doesn’t have a loop, don’t worry.

Here’s a great way to attach a leader to a fly line. You can even do it at the bank!

Color

Fly line color is down to personal preference and little else.

Trust me on this…

The bass don’t seem to mind. I’ve fished with orange, blue, green, and white lines and never seen a change in my catch rate.

I like being able to see my line. Often the line giving a ‘twitch’ will be the first indication that you’ve had a bite.

Here are two guys discussing fly line color. Give it a watch. It’s only 5 minutes and is pretty interesting.

FAQ

Can you bass fish with a fly rod?

Want the short answer?

Of course, you can!

Why do you think I’ve made this guide? Fly fishing for bass is about as exciting as it gets. It’s really visual and gets the heart pumping, especially when you see that fin break the surface when a bass is in hot pursuit of your lure.

There’s no magic to bass fly fishing as a technique. Just like a more traditional fly caught species, like trout, bass are voracious predators who’ll happily slash and attack anything on the water.

What size fly line do I need?

For bass fishing, go for a minimum of #6 fly line. This will give you the minimum weight set up to cast the flies you’ll be looking to use, such as poppers, frogs, and streamers.

While you’ll catch bass by your feet, you will tend to find that they stay a little further out in the relative safety of features such as weed banks and sunken objects. You’ll need to reach them to catch them!

What size flies for largemouth bass?

Largemouth bass will eat just about anything. When I have fished for them, I’ve been shocked by the size of lures they will take.

I tend to find that big, bright, and bushy with plenty of movement works really well.

Don’t be shy when it comes to choosing a bigger fly. Big bass poppers work really well.

Want proof?

Check this out

Can you catch bass on a 5wt fly rod?

Yes, you can! When I said go #6wt as a minimum, this was based on casting a decent-sized fly a good distance.

It is possible to catch a bass on a 5wt fly rod. The rod would handle a bass easily. The only downside is that it does get a little difficult to cast the kind of flies that bass like with a lightweight setup.

If you are wondering what fly rod to get, check out my guide here, there are some really affordable solutions.

How do I remove memory from my fly line?

The easiest way to avoid memory in your fly line is to choose a high-quality line from the get-go. Lines that are more premium suffer from less memory.

However,

If you have gone budget and are looking to rid yourself of kinks and coils in your fly line, it is really easy to do.

Storing your fly lines in loose coils is a great way to reduce memory. If you want to store your fly line on the reel, make sure to choose a fishing reel with a big arbor.

If your line has got lots of memory, here’s an easy fix…

Give it a stretch a few feet at a time.

Easy right? Here’s a video demonstrating this from my friends at Rio…

Summary

The best fly line for bass fishing is actually based more around what you will cast than what you will catch.

Bass are hard fighters, but so are most fish when they are hooked!

Be sure to choose a line within your budget, easy to cast and weight forward, and you won’t go far wrong!

If you are just getting into fly fishing, have you got all the gear that you need? Check out my essential fly fishing gear list here, and make sure you are covered!

What’s your killer bass fly? Let me know in the comments. I’ll give it a go and report back!

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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