Catching Largemouth Bass on the Fly – Fly Fishing Tips & Tactics


Trout may be the first choice for fly fishers, but Bass is the most popular fish caught in the USA. Period! Primarily targeted on artificial crankbaits.

Let me tell you that most fly fishers are secretly bass addicts and keep their addiction of chasing these fish with a fly on the down-low. I know I am!

Don’t get me wrong, I love trout, but there’s something about catching Bass, especially largemouth bass, on a fly rod.

Their intent is what gets me every time; largemouth bass will eat almost anything that crosses their path.

Below we will go through the basics, what you need and how to catch largemouth bass on a fly.

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What Gear do I need to Catch Largemouth Bass on Fly?

fly fishing rod on wooden table

Fly Rods

A 5wt or 6wt fly rod is sufficient, and you need a rod that you are comfy with fishing and one that can turn over those bigger patterns in the wind.

I like to use a fast-action fly rod for this exact reason, but a medium-action rod will be fine as well.

I know of anglers who specifically chase Bass with bamboo rods and surface poppers, you have to slow your whole process down, but man, it is fun!

Reels

Fly reels cover a few rod weights, so get a reel that covers the weight of your selected fly rod. I like a large arbor fly reel with a good amount of backing.

Largemouth bass doesn’t tend to run into your backing very often, and they tend to do a few aerial displays or deep dives.

It is always good to have the backing because they go into it on odd occasions.

Fly Lines

A floating line will be fine when targeting largemouth bass on a fly. You can have a second backup intermediate line, but it is only really needed in the cooler months.

Remember that the Bass will mostly be in the top third of the water column in the warmer months, so a floating line with a 9’ leader will be perfect.

Flies

As I mentioned earlier, largemouth bass will eat anything that swims past it. Provided it looks like a meal. I like to carry an array of flies to cover different circumstances and conditions.

Leech patterns, baitfish patterns, crabs and crayfish patterns, surface poppers, and gurglers are all very effective fished in the right conditions.

Check out this article for more amazing bass flies.

One of my all-time favorite bass flies is the “SEX DUNGEON”

Where to Find Large Mouth Bass?

It’s important to understand that largemouth bass act differently from smallmouth bass. We are lucky that largemouth are a little more forgiving and willing to venture out of their comfort zone.

  • Structure – all bass love structure, and this is where they will hold and possibly even nest down for the autumn. Look for broken stumps, old trees, or even jetties as they provide great structure for the fish.
  • Lilly pads – Lilly pads and water grass is also a great area to fish for largemouth bass. The only issue is getting caught up in the grass, but a weed guard will fix that.
  • Drop-offs – are a great zone for most fish species. Fish the shallow area moving into the deeper water to get the best results.

angler holding a largemouth bass caught by frog lure

When to Target Largemouth Bass on Fly

The thoughts that you can only catch Bass in summer aren’t accurate. Let me tell you, winter bass may be trickier to catch, but it is a lot of fun.

Spring/Summer

These are great seasons to fish for Bass. They love warmer water and will hold where they will be comfortable and quickly get food.

Largemouth bass are generally more active in these months, and following their early spring spawn, eat the fly will intent and vigor.

While it’s a great time to fish for largemouth, they don’t like it when it’s too hot. If you are fishing in the hotter part of the season, focus on the deeper areas. Early mornings and later afternoons will be best.

Autumn/Winter

This is one of my favorite times to catch largemouth bass. Autumn is when they are most active with the water temps cooling.

I like to fish a little deeper as this is where you will find the bigger fish. On a slower retrieve, the big boys come out to play! The winter can be tricky to fish, but it is still a very productive time to fish.

The fish are slower and less active as they have slowed their metabolism down.

Work the rocky areas in winter—the fish hold here due to the warmth from the rocks. Don’t be scared to fish deep along the ridges and structures to get the best results.

Check this link out for a more in-depth look at conditions – the best time to fish for Bass.

largemouth bass close up

How To Catch Large Mouth Bass on Fly?

A simple question to ask with so many variable answers. First, take a look at your surroundings, open water, inlets with structure, loads of rocks, and banks?

From there you can decide.

Open waters – fish a search pattern and cover all the water columns. If it’s hot or cold, deep is the way. If you have optimal conditions, vary the depth until you find the fish.

Flies I like for this are closures, leeches, sex dungeons, and papa roaches.

Inlets with structure – are fantastic! Fish baitfish patterns or topwater flies here. The fish will hold just off the seams waiting for the baitfish to pass or a crab to be washed down.

Sex Dungeons and Gurglers are my first choice here, and I may also switch to a crayfish pattern if I feel the waters are suitable.

Work the structure with the fly. The fish will often take on the drop, so hold on and be ready.

Rocks and banks – are the main type of terrain that I fish these days, only because the waters I frequent have them. Fishing the rocks and banks is great fun because you usually have a visual aspect to the take and fish as well. Being slightly elevated is excellent.

Identify the holes and work them out first. Depending on the time of the year, vary your retrieve accordingly.

My go-to flies for this are Bass bugs, Sneaky Pete’s, Crease flies for the surface and closures, and bushwhackers for the medium to deep holes.

fly fishing rod and reel with different types of fishing flies

FAQ

How do you rig a fly for Bass?

I like to fish a 9’ leader with a 4x tippet. If I am fishing deep holes on a floating line, I may lengthen the leader to allow the fly to swing deeper. Alternatively, I will switch to an intermediate line and shorter 8’ leader.

Line choices can also help. Check out the best fly lines for Bass.

How to fight a bass on a fly rod?

Bass don’t generally take too much line out and may only run into the backing occasionally. They are strong and often show an aerial display. As much as this is nice to watch, this is usually when they spit the hook. Keep the angle plain low when they jump. Drop the rod down to help keep tension.

Fight the fish at opposite angles to where it swims, and once she is tired, net her quickly.

What’s the best fly for largemouth bass?

If you have a selection of baitfish patterns that will cover the most depths and a few surface patterns, you will to more than equipped.

You don’t necessarily need a bunch of different patterns but more the same pattern in a few different colors.

Conclusion

You got to love Bass on the fly! They are just so much fun.

Think about every backyard pond or body of water in your immediate area.

Now go grab your fly rod and get casting. You never know what you could catch.

Happy fishing and tight lines!

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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