How to fly fish like a bassmaster all summer long


The author with steamy summer bass caught in the afternoon

Conventional fly-fishing wisdom suggests that come summer, flies are only effective for bass during the shoulder hours, when the fish feed aggressively in the shallows. For a long time, I took this as gospel and switched to hardware during the dog days. Then about 10 years ago, I went on a camping trip and forgot my spinning gear. Not willing to only fish the twilight hours, I had to find a way to fish all day long with my fly gear. And find a way I did.

As I discovered, you can catch both largemouth and smallmouth bass on flies all day long throughout the summer. After all, if bass pros can catch fish during the heat of the day, why shouldn’t fly anglers be able to do it as well? All you need to do is think like a bassmaster first, and a fly angler second.


Obviously, there’s no fly-fishing equivalent to drop-shotting in 40 feet of water or burning a double-bladed spinnerbait with an 8:1 baitcasting reel. But when bass are somewhere between the surface and 15 feet down—which they often are—you can match the form, function and retrieve of many other lethal pro presentations to catch them. Here are five flies that are up to the task.