If you’ve checked out our guide to bass fly fishing and you’re raring to give it a go, you’ll need some great bass flies to up your chances of making a good catch. Which gear and flies you use can make a big difference to your fly fishing experience and to how many fish you catch.
Whether you’re a beginner looking to buy bass flies for the first time, or you’re just looking to update your fly box with some exciting new patterns, you’ll find all the best fly fishing flies for bass right here. There are patterns that imitate baitfish, crayfish, emergers, and surface bugs, as well as soft hackles flies, streamers, poppers and more.
We’ve trawled through all the bass fly fishing flies that you can buy, new and old, so that we can share with you our recommendations for the best bass flies on the market today. You’ll save time, energy, and money, by kitting your fly box out with our recommended gear, and ensure that you’ll get more fish at the same time!
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The Best Bass Flies (The List!)
If you’re planning on some epic bass fishing this year, you’ll want to have your fly box well stocked with the best fly fishing bass flies. Here are our recommendations for the top bass flies on the market today:
Clouser Deep Minnow
The Clouser Deep Minnow is a pretty big deal among fly fishers. In fact, ask any fly fisher what their favorite fly is, and the chance of it being the Clouser Minnow is pretty high. But even more so when it comes to bass fly fishing.
Bob Clouser created this fly in 1987 specifically for fly fishing for smallmouth bass, and it’s been popular ever since. The Clouser Minnow is an essential fly for bass – bass fishing just wouldn’t be the same without one (or several) of these in your fly box.
Made from maribou feathers and cervidae hair, it’s just the right weight and because it rides hook-side up, it rarely snags. The most common colors for the Clouser Deep Minnow are white and chartreuse, but it has been tied many different ways across the years. You’ll be amazed at how many fish you can catch with just this one fly. It’s one that I promise you won’t get tired of. Everyone from amateurs to professionals should carry a Clouser Deep Minnow with them for bass fly fishing.
You’re not a fly fisher if you don’t know the Woolly Bugger! It’s just the most popular fly for fishing anything outdoors in lakes, rivers, and streams. You can catch everything from trout to bass and much more with one of these beauties. You’ll want this one in your fly box for fly fishing bass, for sure.
The Woolly Bugger is a wet fly streamer that is incredibly versatile and successful. It closely imitates everything from leeches to nymphs and even small sculpins.
A Woolly Bugger is made up of a chenille or fur body, a hackle that runs to both ends, and a marabou tail with a bit of flash. You can use it in both salt and freshwater and get amazing results.
The Deceiver was first developed as a saltwater fly but has become a big deal for freshwater bass fishing as well. This baitfish fly is lightweight, making it perfect for imitating emergers – dance the Deceiver around just under the surface, above weeds, or around lily pads.
However, the Deceiver is versatile too. Hook it up to a sink line and drop it down deep into the darkest river holes and pond bottoms to find those lurking smallmouth bass and tempt them out from their hiding places.
You can choose the color you use depending on what you want to imitate, but chartreuse and white make for a classic look that performs.
This little beauty, designed by John Barr, is ideal for those early days in the season when the water is cool and the fish are still feeling lazy. A Meat Whistle will get down to the depths where the bass are lurking and provide enough enticement to tease them out of their lethargy.
To get your fly to the right depth, use a floating line paired with a mono leader, and give it a few jerks around to make it look life like and catch the fish’s attention. The Sparkle Brush Flash definitely helps here! Many a bass will submit to the temptation of a tasty bite to eat, and you’ll soon be reeling in a whopper!
Deer Hair Bass Bug
Another popper that works wonders for bass – bass fishing with this little fly will bring you lots of joy. Not all anglers are crazy about flies made from deer hair because they assume that the hair from a deer quickly become soggy and heavy. But don’t judge it until you’ve tried it yourself – you might be pleasantly surprised!
The deer hair bug is brightly colored and constructed (as the name suggests!) mainly from the hair of a deer. It’s just the thing for making a splash and catching a lazy fish’s eye!
Dahlberg Diver Frog
It’s a good idea to have a fly frog in your arsenal, and the Dahlberg is one of the best out there. Bass are partial to a tasty frog, and the Dahlberg Diver Frog imitates a frog’s behavior by plunging into deep water and hopping around on the bed, before climbing back up to the surface at an impressive speed when you pull on your line.
If you’re looking for a fly that will cause a disturbance and create commotion, then this it! The Dahlberg Diver Frog makes a lot of noise and captures the attention of hefty bass who are looking for a decent-sized meal, so your chance of catching a big’un is high.
This is a fun one to fish, and a classic that has been a favorite for topwater fishing ever since it was invented by E. H> Peckinpaugh in the 1920s. The best way to fish a Peck’s Popper is to let it be still for a moment, and then strip the line in a life like manner to catch any nearby bass’s attention.
Soft Shell Crayfish
Spring is crayfish season for bass! This is when you’ll want a whole variety of crayfish flies in different colors and body sizes, as they lure in the bass and they’re so fun to use too.
If you’re getting bored with using the same techniques every time you cast, shake things up a bit by packing a crayfish fly or two for your next flyfishing trip. The Soft Shell Crayfish is a wet fly that is weighted to get it down to where those bottom-dwelling crustaceans are hiding.
Once you’ve got the hang of casting a Soft Shell Crayfish fly and drawing it along the streambed, you’ll love watching the bass chase and eat it.
If you’re more of a minimalist fly fisher who likes to let the fly do its job, the Tequeely may be just what you’re looking for. With its bright orange shade, long legs, and marabou plume tail, a Tequeely will be sure to get all the bass hunting down your fly!
Now this little number is the complete opposite of the Tequeely listed above. An articulated fly that is the work of Mike Schultz, you won’t hear minimalism mentioned in the same sentence as the Swingin’ D pattern.
With mallard flanks, grizzly soft hackles on the side wings, a large glass bead, a tail with two saddle hackles, and a foam diver head, this fly has it all goin’ on! Dart this fly around to get the bass biting! For flyfishing in still water, use a full sinking line to submerge it to your desired depth.
When you’re looking for top flies – bass flies especially – you don’t want to overlook the Gartside Gurgler. It might not look like all that much at first glance, but it works wonders for fly fishing bass.
The designer of the Gartside Gurgler, Jack Gartside, wanted to draw in fish by creating a disturbance on the surface of the water. But because you can customize the Gurgler to the exact environment you’ll be fishing, from color to size, this clever little pattern is one of the best fly fishing bass flies around.
You can modify this fly to your exact requirements, making it one of the most versatile flies on the market. Wherever you’re headed, this one is a must-have in your fly box.
Although the Muddler Minnow is most often associated with trout, it can be one of the best fly fishing flies for bass, too. It is a great imitation of baitfish, like the sculpin that bass just go crazy for.
You’ll get the most use out of your topwater poppers on hot, sunny days in late spring and summer. If the weather is warm and you feel like having some fun, choose a topwater popper and see whether the fish bite! You might have success, you might not.
There’s a bit of a knack to it: you’ll need to be patient and hold off a second or two when you feel a tug, to make sure you nab that bass. If it doesn’t seem to be working, put it back and save it for another day. Topwater poppers sure are fun for bass fly fishing though, if the conditions are right!
Bunny Bass Leech
This great fry was specifically designed for catching bass, unlike some of the all-rounders out there. The Bunny Bass Leech gets its name because it is basically just dyed rabbit fur on a hook! Simple as that, but it works just as well as hackles flies.
It’s also an excellent one to start with if you’re new to tying your own flies, as it’s really easy to tie. You can try any color you like, but purple or black tend to get the best results from largemouth bass.
Bass Hopper Fly
This one won’t be one of the flies you use most often throughout the year. But for a short period in the summer when grasshoppers can be found everywhere outdoors, the bass hopper fly is just what you need.
Bass will happily eat a grasshopper if it ends up in the water, and as they tend to be poor fliers, this happens pretty often. The Bass Hopper Fly imitates a grasshopper perfectly with a foam design, making it very tempting to any hungry bass around.
A perfect summer fly to use when the bass are hunting out the abundant surface bugs – you must have a Boogle Bug in your fly box! If you’re hoping to haul in a decent catch of smallmouth, the Boogle Bug is about the best bet you’ve got.
Your technique here needs to adjust to the depth of the water: Aim for a small pop on shallow water, and make a bigger splash where the water is deep. You’ll want to move the fly just slightly so it appears to be moving its legs. Get the hang of this, and you’ll soon master the art of topwater bass fishing.
The Wrap Up!
So there you have our round-up of the best flies – bass flies particularly – that you must have in your fly box when you’re heading out for a day of fly fishing for bass. In this list, you’ll find streamers, poppers, jigging flies, and more.
From the Deer Hair Bass Bug to the Clouser Minnow, all the flies here will work well and get the bass to submit to your tempting flies. For fishing bass on the fly, you want a range of different fly fishing flies to choose from depending on what the fish are doing and which technique you want to use.
So just head over to your nearest fly fishing shop, grab a few of these trusty bass patterns, and get out on the water!
If you’ve found this article helpful, make sure you share it with your fishing friends. As always, drop us a comment or leave your questions below, and I’ll get back to you!
Hey, I’m Ben, a fly fisherman for over 20 years and also an aspiring blogger. I’ve been into fly fishing since my graduation from spin fishing when I was 12 years old. I started flyfisherpro.com to help introduce as many people into this amazing sport. Tight lines everyone!
You can read more on our about page here.
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