Bass on the Fly:  Your gear guide for tackling this new take on bass fishing

Bass on the Fly: Your gear guide for tackling this new take on bass fishing


Rigging up for bass? When it comes to stocking your kit, fly fishing guru Tom Rosenbauer says to keep it simple.

Rod and reel

An entry level (i.e. inexpensive), 9-foot, 8-weight will do just fine.  A good quality bass rod-and-reel fly outfit can be had for around $150.

“You don’t need to spend a lot of money and you don’t need a lot of different rods,” Rosenbauer says. “One rod will do it for bass. And bass don’t pull line off a reel so you don’t need to worry about a drag system. Get the cheapest reel you want.”

Several companies, including Orvis, St. Croix and Bass Pro Shops, now offer specialized bass fly rods, which are typically slighter shorter than 8 feet with a relatively stiff spine and tip.

Do you need one? “They’re good for playing fish from a boat and they’re good for casting in tight cover,” Rosenbauer notes. “But, honestly, the shorter rods are a little bit harder to cast. For a novice, I would stick with a 9-foot rod.”

Bass fishing with a fly rod? Try it – they’re not just for trout anymore

Capt. Frank Campbell checks out his catch: a Lake Ontario smallmouth bass. (Photo: Gary Garth)


“A floating line is probably the best thing. If the bass are deep you might want to as some point invest in a sinking line. But a floating line will work most times. When fish are in 20 feet of water they can be caught on a fly but, honestly, it’s not that much fun and it’s a lot of work.”

Fly selection

“Bass are opportunists. It’s a matter of getting the fly in front of a bass that’s hungry. You’re going to want a few floating flies and a few sinking flies. The Sneaky Pete is my favorite for a popper. And you can’t beat a black wooly bugger, which will catch anything. But any big streamer fly and any baitfish imitation will work. Flies that are sold for saltwater will work. And anything that’s long and skinny and wiggles a lot in the water will work.”

Fly fishing guru Tom Rosenbauer advises bass fly anglers to travel light: "Carry a fly box you can stick in your pocket." (Photo: Gary Garth)


“You don’t really need a fancy leader. You can get away with a piece of 20- or even 30-pound monofilament. You actually don’t want a light leader because those bigger flies won’t cast very well. You just need a heavy piece of fishing line.”


“People need to know that everything they need they can stick in their pocket. They don’t need a vest and probably don’t need waders because the water is going to warm and if they are wading can wear shorts or quick dry pants. They don’t need a lot of doodads. Just something to cut their leader after tying on a fly – nail clippers of a pair of scissors. And a box of flies they can stick in their pocket.”


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