Photo by Greg Bostater, Maine River Guides

If you follow our blog, you’ve seen our recent posts about how to choose fly fishing gear for a specific species. We’ve posted about how to choose the best fly rod for Bass here:

and how to choose the best fly reel for Bass here:

In our mission to provide our customers and readers with the most well-rounded information possible, we’ve decided to continue these species-centered posts, this time with fly lines.

Bass are one of the most popular gamefish across the US and beyond. These fish offer a challenging target to anglers who prefer boat fishing, river fishing for Smallmouth, or targeting fish in a tournament setting. Bass are ambush feeders and are generally fooled with a baitfish imitation although they eat crustaceans, bugs, and more. Because they’re found in temperate freshwater conditions, choose a freshwater fly line. Seems intuitive, right? 

As a reminder: Trident Fly Fishing is a full-service fly shop. We spend a lot of time testing gear and writing reviews to give you all of the tools to make your next trip a success.  We are not a blog or a review site. 100% of our funding comes from your gear purchases. So if this blog post helps you on your next fly fishing adventure, please buy your gear from us.

Fly Choice

Choosing a fly line for Bass often depends on fly choice. Here are a few quick tips:

  • Bass are most often found in shallow water environments with lots of structure. That means you're not often throwing sinking flies or sinking lines. A weight forward floating line is usually the best fly line for the job.
  • Bass are ambush feeders which usually means you're throwing larger flies. Large flies into tight cover = a fly line with a short front taper and a compact head designed for tucking large flies into tight structures accurately.
  • A large, lightweight fly thrown (think poppers) in windy environments necessitates a line (and a rod) that cuts through the wind... consider a line that's a half-size heavy or heavier (especially if you're fishing a fast action rod).

Some lines that fit the circumstances above are:

Fishing Deep Structure

Like any fish, Bass aren't only found in shallow water. Bass can also be found holding on deepwater drop-offs or around submerged structure that's not easy to reach without a sinking fly line. In these circumstances, choosing a fly line for deepwater Bass is a little different than choosing a fly line for shallow water Bass.

Choose a line that achieves the sink rate that you desire. If you're fishing structure that's 5-10 feet deep, an intermediate fly line may be the best line for the job. If you're fishing a 20-foot drop-off, a full sinking line may be a better bet. Here are a few recommendations.

River Fishing

Photo by Greg Bostater, Maine River Guides

River fishing for Smallmouth Bass and Largemouth is also different than casting to tight cover on a lake or throwing sinking lines. River fishing often necessitates a longer cast and a more delicate presentation. Smallmouth can also be caught using slightly smaller flies like a Wooly Bugger so a fly line with a really aggressive front taper or compact head isn't paramount. Other freshwater lines that are designed for Trout are probably your best bet in this scenario, especially if you're casting a rod that's medium-fast or moderate action. Some recommendations include:

Key Takeaways

The key takeaways here are that choosing a fly line for Bass depends on fly choice, fishing conditions, and rod choice. If you have questions and want to discuss fly lines for Bass in greater detail, please feel free to reach out via email to [email protected] or by phone at (888) 413-5211.