Largemouth bass are largely forgotten about when it comes to fly fishing. We wish we knew why! They can be found in every state except for Alaska, they are easily accessible, their takes are arm-wrenching, and they will always readily eat a fly. Better yet, when rivers or inshore waters are blown out, you can always count on a good day at your local bass pond. Whether you are new to the sport or a seasoned angler, bass fishing can be made as easy or as technical as you like.
Finding the Fish:
You can fly fish for largemouth as long as there is open water. After ice out (for fly fishermen in the north) line your reel up with a sink tip line because the bass will be hunkered down deep. As soon as the water warms up, largemouth bass head to the shallows to spawn. Compared to their more mobile cousins (smallmouth bass), largemouths are stationary, structure-oriented fish. You can count on largemouth to hunker down all season long in weed beds, around boulders, and under docks, lily pads, and downed trees. As the water heats up, bass will use these areas for cover from predators, as cover to ambush prey, and to stay cool in the shadows made by the structure. While fishing for largemouth can be an all-day game in the spring and the fall, you may want to concentrate your efforts in the early morning and late evening during the summer as they are more active when it is cooler.
Catching the Fish:
Largemouth bass will eat pretty much anything with a pulse. As long as your fly looks alive, a bass will find it appetizing. If you enjoy exciting takes, gear up with poppers. Surface flies that mimic a baitfish, frog, lizard, snake, mouse, or any prey that may be available will elicit strikes. If you are fishing lower down in the water column, clousers, deceivers, buggers, and E.P. minnows are all good choices. As long as your fly matches the general profile of the forage, you will have no problems triggering the bite.
Make sure your flies have weed guards! Almost every cast you take should be at structure, and your day will quickly become frustrating (and expensive) if you are not fishing with a weed guard or a weedless presentation. When throwing a surface fly, do not be shy. Let the fly leand heavily on the water so that the bass can key into its location. Most moderate retrieves are suitable, but if you are fishing the surface, experimenting with your pauses in between strips can help you key in to the preferred retrieve speed.
A five and eight wt. setup will cover all of your largemouth fishing bases. For smaller flies (on the 5 wt.), a simple tapered leader with a 10-12 pound breaking strength is all you need. When you throw larger flies with the 8 wt., a heaver leader in the 15-20 pound class range will help enable you to rip the flies through heavy structure. Our go-to reels are the Tyro 350 (5-6 wt.) and the Tyro 375 (7-8 wt.). The Tyro Reel Series sports a smooth and powerful drag, and are the best combination of value and performance you can find on the market. When a lunker largemouth heads for cover, you can trust the Tyro to put on the brakes.