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March 15, 2016

How To Choose The Right Fly Rod For Bass

What’s the best fly rod for catching big bass?1280px-Bass_on_a_Fly

BassHoles use many different types of rods and reels, and certainly fly rod are a very popular choice.

It can be expensive to start, but I’ve found what I believe is a most affordable way for a BassHole to start fly fishing!

How is a fly rod different?

All the rod types discussed thus far use a thin line (more on matching lines to rods later):

  • Monofilament (nylon)
  • Fluorocarbon (polyvinylidene fluoride)
  • Braided (Spectra, Kevlar)

With these types of lines, it is the weight of your lure that generates the cast. So, the heavier the lure, the further the cast.

Fly line’s the key

With a fly rod, however, it’s the weight of the line that generates the cast. Fly fisherman can cast tiny hooks with nothing on them but a few wraps of thread, some hair, and feathers.

Fly casting is a different kind of casting

FF1The best description of casting a fly rod I’ve ever heard is imagine you have a knife with an apple stuck on it. Your cast is the same action you would use if you wanted to swing that knife in the air, and have the apple fly off into the air. First behind you, then in front of you (how that apple got back on after going behind you, I can’t say.)

That action will create a tight loop in the fly line, and that loop energy is what delivers your fly on the cast.

Fly Rods

With fly rods, to a great extent, you get what you pay for. So if you decide you want to enjoy catching big bass on a fly rod (and it is a TON of FUN!), don’t think you can get a $30 rod and get the job done. You don’t need to buy the most expensive rod, but you should choose a quality rod from a reputable rod company.

How many fly rod companies are there?

fly rodsThere are many! Here’s a few:

  • Sage
  • G. Loomis
  • Thomas and Thomas
  • Orvis (where I worked!)
  • Redington
  • Albright
  • R.L. Winston
  • Cabela’s
  • Temple Fork

And those are just the top rods used to set world records!

Here are a few more notable makers:

  • St. Croix
  • Fenwick
  • Scott

So, there’s a lot to choose from!


If you are starting out fly fishing and so this is your first outfit, then I want to tell you:

Practice! Practice! Practice!

Here are some things that will help you shorten the learning curve.casting pond

  • Take a fly casting class. Visit your local fly rod shop and find out if they offer casting lessons. Either for free, or for hire. They are worth paying for! I know Orvis offers classes.
  • Find out if there are fly casting ponds in your area. If so, find out how you can use them to practice. I belonged to a fly fishing club in San Francisco with casting ponds used in the International Fly Casting Competitions, but it was open for use by anyone.
  • Practice casting on your lawn. Though the grass will cause some wear and tear on the line, it’s a great idea to get as much casting in as you can.
  • Leave your other rods at home. Trust me, learning to fly fish takes time and effort. The end result is totally worth it, but don’t tempt yourself to quit and pick up your other gear.
  • Here’s a video that shows how you can use a simple band (that supports your favorite cause) to help you stop breaking your wrist when you fly cast.


For the rod, I recommend a 9 foot 8 weight rod. You will be throwing some big, hairy bugs, and ff POVyou’ll need the weighted line to be able to do so. You can also catch bass on streamers, but the stouter rod will also come in handy for battling the big bass.

Invest in a quality rod! Otherwise you’ll be frustrated and give up!


If you want to save money anywhere, here’s the place. Your reel will basically just be for storing your line. You don’t need to worry about bass running 100’s of yards. Though if you want to include steelhead or salmon fishing, then you’ll want a more rugged reel (and plenty of backing!).


Don’t scrimp on the line. Get a high quality line from a proven manufacturer.


Orvis Encounter 8-weight 9′ Fly Rod Outfit

orvis rrPrice: $169.00
Length: 9 foot (4 piece)
Line: 8 weight
Reel: Large arbor Encounter reel
BONUS: Includes weight-forward floating line, backing, and leader!
Rating: 9 out of 10 BUY!

Orvis is a great company (I know, I’ve been both a customer and an employee!). You can trust their quality and they stand behind their products. I own several Orvis rods, and all my reels are Orvis, so I can personally attest to their durability and functionality.

The “Encounter” series are very affordable items. Orvis says:

Instead of “entry level,” we think of our Encounter rod outfits as “affordable awesomeness”.

Due to the incredibly affordable pricing of this combo, it is NOT eligible for Orvis’ 25-year guarantee, but it does come with a limited warranty against defects in the original workmanship. So if you close the rod in the car door or fall on it and crush it, no replacement. But if it should break while casting or fighting a fish, check with Orvis to find out if that was due to a defect (that happened to my St. Croix rod, and St. Croix replaced it for free).

I really recommend this combo!

Bass Flies

Top Water Bass Fly AssortmentBass TW

Price: $19.99
Includes 6 bass flies
Various colors
Both hair and foam bodies
BONUS: Fly Box Included!
Rating: 9.5 out of 10 BUY!

Here’s a sweet assortment of topwater bass flies under 20 bucks! Get ’em and catch some big bass on top (remember to count to 3 before setting the hook)!

Clouser Minnow & Deceiver Baitfish Fly CollectionBass Flies minnow

Price: $18.99
Includes 6 bass flies
Various colors
Both hair and foam bodies
BONUS: Fly Box Included!
Rating: 9.5 out of 10 BUY!

These baitfish bass flies are also under 20 bucks! Add these to your arsenal!

With the 2 lure collections above, you can fish both on the top and deeper down, so add them to the Orvis outfit and you’re ready to catch some fine bass on your fly rod!

OK, BassHoles! Get out there and catch some big bass on your fly rod, and be sure and tell us all about your fly fishing successes, challenges, and results!

Tight lines,

Roger, The Smiling BassHole

Catch-Big-Bass http://catch-big-bass.com/ is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.

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How To Choose The Right Fly Rod For Bass

The Smiling BassHole

I'm a BassHole!Kickin' Bass and lettin' them go.

Roger, The Smiling BassHole

  • I have some friends that have been pushing me to get back into fishing. I haven’t been since I was a teenager, but even then I fished since I could literally remember. I always loved the sport, but life got in the way and I just ended up walking away from it.

    I always liked the concept of fly fishing have been looking into it. You have definitely given me a lot of food for thought here and my work is cut out for me.

    • James,

      Fly fishing is a gas, man! (OK, I’m old and remember the 60’s.)

      I definitely recommend you get into fly fishing! I’m writing about catching bass, and you can often catch bass in streams and rivers, but you can also fly fish for trout, salmon, steelhead, and other fish species.

      I recommended the 8 weight rod because it will handle the big bass lures. If you want to do fly fishing for trout, you could do a 6 weight, or even 5 weight. Orvis does offer an Encounter outfit for those, as well. Definitely check them out if your plan is to fish trout.

      AND, just to confuse things even more, I often fish for bass with my 5 weight rod. Of course that rod was about 4 times the cost of the Encounter outfit (just the rod!), and I’ve fly fished for 2 decades, so I thought to begin an 8 weight (which I also have — hey, a BassHole can never have too many rods!) was good advice for beginners.

      I left fishing for about 15 years until my wife asked why I never bought any of the rods I shook at Sears (that’s how long ago I resumed fishing!).

      So I did. Does that mean I can blame being a BassHole on my wife?

      Let me know when you get back out there! Happy to offer any advice.

      Tight lines!

      Roger, The Smiling BassHole

    • Thanks, Elektra!

      I’d love to hear from your friends!

      * What kind of fishing do they do?

      * Are they BassHoles? (I am!)

      * What’s their favorite rod, reel, line, and lure? (They’ll understand this question.)

      I’m always anxious to collect more information and knowledge from fisherfolk.

      Tell them I said, “Tight lines!”

      Roger, The Smiling BassHole

  • Yeah , well done sir ! Awesome explanation with every detail imaginable ! Way to go ! 😉
    All the very best !
    And ive already referred the site to some of my friends !

  • Hey Roger,

    Very interesting post you got there! It’s been awhile since I fished actually, really bring me back some good memories! I see that this site is about catching a sea bass, although I never caught one before! I come from Singapore and it’s hard to find a sea bass in Singapore sea…Maybe one day I would travel to some countries to fish! 🙂


    • Samuel,

      Thanks for the comment!

      Actually, the site is about freshwater bass: largemouth and smallmouth mostly. They live in ponds, lakes, and rivers. They can tolerate lower oxygenation levels than, say, trout; and so can live in warmer waters (warmer water holds less oxygen).

      But they are fun to catch! And fight like a bull!

      Sea bass are probably quite a blast to catch, but I’ve never had the pleasure!

      I hope you get your chance to travel and fish; maybe I should join you! 🙂

      Let me know if you need any pointers.

      Tight lines!

      Roger, The Smiling BassHole

  • Hi Roger,

    How I wish I could have that fish in the photo above! Yummy 🙂
    As you can tell, I like the eating process and leave the fishing to those capable. Nevertheless, I like your review and will recommend your site to an acquaintance I know that love fishing.

    • Thanks, Chuka!

      Of course I let all the fish I catch go. But the first bass I ever caught as a BassHole (over 20 years ago) I did keep and brought to a Chinese restaurant (my sister- and brother-in-law were both Chinese, so he was able to arrange it with the restaurant) to be prepared and served as part of a delicious Chinese dinner.

      To be honest, I’m not really much of a fish eater! So doing catch and release is easy for me!

      Thanks for inviting your friends to become BassHoles, I will welcome them and answer any questions they may have (if I can!).

      Tight lines,

      Roger, The Smiling BassHole

  • Great question, Aidan!

    Whether to start with fly fishing or not really depends on what is your goal. There is really no reason NOT to start with fly fishing. The first cast you should learn is called the roll cast. Here’s a link to a video about roll casting. The roll cast is easier to master, and comes in very handy when you are fishing with a lot of brush or trees or other obstacles behind you.

    If you want to experience catching fish, it is probably easier to start with a spinning or spincasting rod and reel. The cast for those is very simple. Here’s a video on spinning reel casting, and here’s one on spincasting reel casting.

    But since you agree that fly fishing is “cool” (and it sure is!), I’d say spend your time learning to fly cast. Start with the roll cast, which you can start using right away. Once you catch fish on a fly, you’ll be hooked (pun intended)! Soon you’ll be tying your own flies and loving it!

    Meanwhile, let me officially welcome you into the club as a BassHole!

    Tight lines!

    Roger, The Smiling BassHole

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