Bass on the Fly

As a primarily freshwater fly angler, it’s sometimes difficult to think beyond trout. After all, it may have been John Geirach who referred to them as the “most noble fish”…or maybe not Geirach, but that’s okay…

What matters is that we must remember that most every fish will eat a fly under the right presentation and therefore is a worthy species to pursue – no need to be a picky purist. This brings me to the farm ponds, golf course ponds, reservoirs and other man-made impoundments, and rivers that may hold some of the most fun fish to huck poppers, streamers and flies to – bass. 

The Water

Bass can survive and thrive in bodies of water that would make most trout species die immediately. From warm water farm ponds and slow moving rivers and streams are ideal places to find both species, while it may be possible to find smallmouth intermixed with rainbow and brown trout in some larger fast moving rivers. On a not-to-be-named river in eastern Pennsylvania, I have pulled smallmouth bass and brown trout out of the same hole and on the same fly.

The Flies

Always Carry A Few Bushy Topwater Popper Flies For Bass
Poppers don’t always work, but you should always carry a few poppers, just in case.

Bass are extremely predatory fish. They look for struggling and worthwhile prey – something that is going to provide the sustenance they need. Typically, they will be feeding on smaller fish, amphibians and small mammals. That being said, depending on the species you are after. For largemouth your fly selection will include streamers (both articulated and standard) of various sizes and colors, poppers (to imitate frogs and such) and mouse patterns. While your smallmouth selection may more closely align with what you have in your pack for trout. Streamers, dries and nymphs, but add in some smaller poppers. 

The Tackle

Learn What Flies Work For Bass This Time Of Year

Throwing larger and heavier flies will generally require a larger and heavier rod and line. So 6 or 7 weight rods will fit the bill for most situations. A rod such as the Wade Rod Co. Streamer Express is purpose built to deliver large and heavy flies to large and heavy fish. Throwing large flies with a lighter rod such as a 5 wt can be challenging, stepping up in rod weight will give you the oomph you need to get the fly where it needs to go. 

Floating lines will generally get you where you want to be but there may be some cases when a sinking or intermediate sinking line will be a better option. For top-water always go full float while streamers and nymphs may require intermediate or full sinking line to get the flies to where the fish are feeding. 

Alright, you know what to do – get to grabbing your Streamer Express and go chase some bass!

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