Ask MidCurrent: Best Bass Flies

June 24, 2024 By: MidCurrent Staff

Question: What are some of the best bass flies when using a 7- or 8-weight fly rod?

~ Rex from North Carolina

Answer: For starters, the 7/8wt rod is in the sweet spot for bass, specifically largemouth and those football-shaped lake-dwelling smallmouth. A quality 6-weight would also be a fine addition for tossing smaller flies in creeks, clear waters, or anytime conditions dictate you scale down. But there’s a lot to consider when it comes to flies. Will you be pursuing largemouth or smallmouth or spotted or all three, or maybe one of the more obscure species of black bass like the massive Florida strain largemouth in Southern waters? What time of year will you be fishing? Is the water clear or stained? Is the primary cover rocks, wood, or grass? All of these variables factor in to deciding which fly to knot on your leader. All that said, here’s a general rundown of tried-and-true bass flies. Somewhere in this selection is a bass-catching fly for wherever you wet a line.


Hands down the most exciting way to catch bass on a fly rod. And when conditions are right, topwater fishing can be outstanding.

Frog Patterns
In heavy cover like lily pads and grass mats, weedless frog imitations are essential. The Umpqua Swimming Frog and Bully’s Diving Frog are excellent choices. Work these flies with gentle twitches, mimicking a frog’s natural movement across the surface.

In more open shallows, or even used to call a lunker up from the depths, poppers like the Boogle Bug can be highly effective. The key is in the retrieve—short, sharp strips creating a “blooping” that sounds like feeding batifish works best except when it doesn’t. Sometimes a big “ka-bloop” with long pauses is the ticket. And sometimes a constant wiggling motion with soft burps every now and then is best. Experimentation is always important.

Mid-Water Column Flies

As conditions change throughout the day, bass often suspend in the middle of the water column. This is also known as streamer time.

Clouser Minnows Tied in sizes 2 to 2/0
Clouser Minnows are incredibly versatile. A chartreuse and white combination is a classic that consistently produces results. But remember in clearer water, muted, more natural colors typically draw more strikes. Work these flies through the middle depths, varying your retrieve to imitate injured baitfish.

Murdich Minnow
The Murdich Minnow is a neutral-buoyancy offering that excels in the mid-water column. Its ability to suspend makes it deadly when bass are holding at specific depths. Vary your retrieve speed to keep it in the strike zone longer.

Game Changer
The Game Changer is a revolutionary articulated fly that mimics a fleeing baitfish with uncanny realism. Its segmented body creates lifelike swimming action that can trigger strikes from even pressured bass. This fly is particularly effective when bass are keyed in on larger forage.

Deep Water Strategies

When bass retreat to deeper water, usually during the hottest and coldest days, your fly selection needs to adapt accordingly.

Crayfish Patterns
A well-presented crayfish imitation can be irresistible to bass holding near the bottom. The Whitlock Near Nuff Cray or a weighted Wooly Bugger worked slowly along the bottom can entice even reluctant fish to strike.

Weighted Streamers
Heavily weighted flies like a conehead Wooly Bugger allow you to reach bass in deeper water. Strip these flies slowly and steadily, and be prepared for powerful strikes.

Seasonal Considerations

As water warms and bass become more active, large, flashy streamers can be highly effective. The Sex Dungeon or a Game Changer tied in shad colors can trigger aggressive strikes, especially during the post-spawn period.

In warmer months, terrestrial patterns often shine. Dave’s Hopper or the Chernobyl Ant can be deadly when bass are looking to the surface for an easy meal. Focus on presenting these flies near banks and overhanging vegetation.

As temperatures cool, bass often feed heavily to prepare for winter. This is the time for larger flies like the Double Deceiver or Kelly Galloup’s Zoo Cougar. The Game Changer, sized up, can also be a fall standout. These substantial offerings can trigger violent strikes from fish looking to pack on weight.

Cold water calls for a more subtle approach. Small, dark flies like a black Wooly Bugger or an olive and white Clouser Minnow, fished slowly near the bottom, can entice lethargic bass to strike. A smaller Game Changer, worked very slowly, can also produce in colder conditions.

Water Clarity Considerations

Clear Water
In highly transparent conditions, opt for smaller, more natural-looking flies. A lightly weighted Murdich Minnow, a small Clouser in muted colors, or a realistic craw pattern like Hada’s Creek Crawler can be effective. Present these flies delicately to avoid spooking wary fish.

Muddy Water
When visibility is poor, choose larger, darker flies that create more vibration in the water. A black Wooly Bugger or a dark-colored Game Changer can help bass locate your offering in murky conditions.

Ideal Conditions
In slightly stained water, which is often ideal for bass fishing, you have more leeway in your fly selection. This is when you can confidently use flashier patterns or larger topwater flies. The Game Changer really shines in these conditions, as its realistic action can be fully appreciated by the bass.

 The best plan is to keep a diverse selection of flies in your box, pay attention to the specific characteristics of your fishing spot, and don’t be afraid to experiment. With practice and observation, you’ll develop an intuition for what works best in different scenarios, ultimately leading to more successful and enjoyable days on the water.