Striped Bass is fast becoming one of the most popular species to target in fly fishing. The striped Bass are found on both the East Coast and west.
Striped bass fly fishing, done in still and moving water provided the water temperature is low enough.
With the ease of accessibility to striper lakes and rivers, many more fly anglers are starting to target Striped Bass. Fly fishing for these fish is great fun, and your heart rate tends to be a little higher when casting to an actively feeding bass.
Understanding Striped Bass
Striped Bass, also called Stripers, or Atlantic bass, are an anadromous species. These fish hatch in fresh water and then move out to the saltwater, much like a steelhead trout would do.
The success of striped Bass in freshwater was made by accident in the 1940s when a dam was built on the tidal Cooper River and trapped thousands of stripers heading out to sea. Over the years, the adaption and hybrid transformation have seen these fish thrive and become a widespread species over the years.
On returning to freshwater to spawn, you can target the largest fish.
Stripers spawn from March through to May, so fly fishing for striped Bass can produce mammoth results. When targeting these fish, it is essential to use the correct flies, and fishing at the proper depth in the water column is also essential.
Choosing Striped Bass flies
There are two kinds of stripe bass anglers, freshwater and saltwater anglers.
When it comes to the freshwater fly fishers, they have a relatively simple fly box to work with, as there are only a few types of baitfish patterns that the stripers will feed on in the local lakes and reservoirs.
Threadfin shad and Gizzard shad are the most popular in these waters, and the key is matching the size of what you want to imitate. Blueback herring is also a popular bait to cover, especially in Southeastern waters.
The saltwater anglers have a much more extensive array of species to cover. It is here when the surroundings and environment need to influence what to fish when. Sand eel, menhaden, crabs, shrimp, and mullet are only a few of what you will need to cover with your fly patterns when chasing striped Bass in saltwater.
An important note for freshwater and saltwater striper fishing is that if the angler is getting continual refusals, change to a considerably smaller pattern than the current pattern. Stripers ‘scream’ big flies, but a smaller pattern will often change the success rate in these tricky circumstances and result in a killer session!
Our Favourite Saltwater Flies for Striped Bass
The Bush Pig
Originating down under in Australia, tied to catch barramundi, this deceiver style pattern works in many different situations, especially in clear moving or still waters.
It has a body made from DNA holo fusion tied with a body flash material, and stripers can’t seem to leave it alone.
The fly comes to life in the water and has proven to be an effective sub-surface at medium depths on a slower retrieve.
The Bush Pig fly is tied on a 2/0 hook and is generally used to imitate larger baitfish. When fishing this pattern, it’s important to get the size of the fly spot on. Sometimes the size of the fly is more important than the actual color in this circumstance.
The good thing with the Bush Pig fly patterns is that synthetic Holo fibers don’t clog with water too fast, which has good results when fishing it as a surface pattern during the fall and winter months when stripers feed on the top.
Flash tail Clouser
Bob Clousers famous ‘Clouser Minnow’ pattern can catch anything. It is, however, very efficient when tied with loads more flash in it and put in front of hungry stripers.
Many patterns have been born from the Clouser minnow, and the flash tail clouser is no different. What makes the Clouser so deadly is its heavily weighted eyes that help the fly cut through the water to the correct depth and into the feeding zone.
The clouser deep minnow used with a sinking line can reach great depths if you need to pull the fish up from the bottom.
This versatile fly can also be used on a floating line as a sub-surface fly and is great to use in shallow water with a fast retrieve or deeper water with a slow retrieve.
You can check our post here on how to tie a clouser minnow for a step by step guide.
Crease flies and The Surf Candy come to mind when talking about a topwater fly. These flies are excellent in both fresh and saltwater, and very little can beat a topwater eat. The main things to make your fly push water!
The Surf Candy is excellent with floating lines as it rides just below the water film. Blind casting over drop-offs, casting out and stripped back with speed, will often yield good results.
Another great tip is to fish the Crease Fly on sinking lines. The fly line pulls the buoyant fly down, resulting in a neutral buoyancy of sorts that can prove very effective.
You can also check out our post on Fly Fishing with Sinking Line.
Bucktail Deceivers and Hollow Fleyes are great patterns for more significant baitfish imitations. Larger baitfish will be found in and around the bay and are great patterns to fish.
Invented by legend Lefty Kreh, the deceiver has proven to catch over 100 different species. This is because the bucktail naturally moves and gives the fly a life-like motion.
Bob Popovics’ Jiggies
For smaller baitfish, imitations such as Bob Popovics jiggies and the peanut bunker are incredible imitations to have. They cover the sand eels and smaller baitfish that you would find in-shore.
Bob is known for his larger hollow head flies and skills, but the jiggie is a super effective pattern, especially when the Striped Bass feed on tiny bait.
It is a great confidence booster with such an array of flies to choose from, and the knowledge that the Bass will generally eat the fly on most occasions you can head out on your next trip is confidence.
That said, it’s important to read the water and to surroundings to decide what to use. Tie on a fly that you are confident in fishing and know works.
Remember to mix it up if you are getting the results you want. Sometimes the slightest change can do the trick.