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Fly Fishing for Bass in Lakes from Shore

Bass are excellent fish to target on a fly rod, but while I'm sitting on a park on a shoreline watching anglers on boats go at Bass with conventional tackle, I wondered how anglers without access to a boat go fly fishing for Bass on lakes from shore.

One of the obstacles when fly fishing from shore is the limited room for the back cast compared to when you are in a boat. Bass lives in structures and cover like over hanging trees, so in order to find Bass on a lake you need to look for structures and cover. But the trees and bushes around you makes casting your fly out harder when fishing from shore. Let's look into how we can work around these obstacles and maybe use them to our advantage.

Caught on my Orvis Clearwater 8wt Fly Rod Combo with a crayfish imitation fly.

Finding Structure

Believe it or not, that overhanging tree beside you might just hold a big Bass underneath it. Bass loves cover and structure as we mentioned. So look for those submerged rocks, drop offs, a branch hanging at the edge of a lake, a downed tree, and a boat dock. These are prime holding spots for Smallmouth and Largemouth Bass alike. Do not be afraid to loose some flies from these structures, you might be rewarded with a nice bass at the end of your line.

Time of Day to Fish

The best time to fish for Bass in my opinion is when the sun is not at its highest. But given that you are fishing from shore, you might be able to use the shade provided by the docks overhanging structures. Bass tends to stay in these areas when the sun is high. I usually fish early morning, take a nice lunch break (and maybe a shoreline nap) then go at it again when the trees starts casting a shadow on the water.


You need to be able to cast big flies for Bass, and to do that you will need an 8wt Fly Rod with a matching reel at the least. The line can make a big difference in your setup. A "Triangle Tapered" fly line like the Royal Wulff Triangle Taper Fly Line Salt 8I will allow you to roll cast with ease compared to Double Tapered line or the Weight Forward line.


If there is one cast that you need when fishing from shore, it is the basic Roll Cast. The roll cast will allow you to keep your fly in the water longer than any cast. The longer your fly is in the water the more chances bass can take your fly. Also, since there will be limited room to cast the roll cast is the best option you have. 

Another cast you can use for the really tight spaces is the bow and arrow cast. This can save you if you ever need to cast under some type of cover. I used this frequently when I first approach a spot since bass can stay really close to shore at times.

Flies For Bass

You'll want a variety of flies to catch some bass from shore but the main type are streamers. Something that imitates leeches, bait fish, and crayfish are a good bet for your subsurface flies. I've caught a huge amount of Bass from a simple Woolly Bugger, and some are decent sized too. Besides your subsurface flies, you will need to carry some top water flies. My favourite top water fly to use is the Bass Fly Popper. I've caught my PB Smallmouth bass on this fly. You'll enjoy seeing the takes with a top water fly.

Bass are always willing to take a fly and are very accessible from shore. They are North America's number one game fish for a reason. They fight hard and they thrive on almost every pond and lake in your area, so go ahead and target them on the fly. If you like this post or have a suggestion for a future post, please leave a comment below. You can also find us on YouTube and Instagram if you would like to connect with us.