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I'm looking into trying fly fishing for bass and inshore saltwater fish and need some advice:

What size rod would you use? Based on my research it seems a 6 to 8 weight is ideal for bass. I'm personally leaning towards an 8 weight so it can be used for reds and sea trout as well, but don't want to get stuck with a size too big for bass and too small for the salt. I'm also thinking of going with a medium action rod as these are easier to learn on from my understanding.

What brands would you recommend? Between the rod, reel, and line I'd like to spend no more than $175 if possible.

What fly's would you recommend?

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Check out the cabelas RLS+. I just picked one of those up a couple of weeks ago as I am beginning to learn as well. They should have the weight of Rod you're looking for. 

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We've got some knowledgeable fly fishermen on here.   I am not one of them.  I do know that it is the fly that determines line weight.  Line weight has to be heavy enough to turn the fly over.  So fly size should be your determining factor along with the size of the fish you will be catching.  It isn't a good thing to play a fish for too long.  Fun for you, not so healthy for the fish if you plan on releasing it.

A quote from "Fly fishing for Bass"  You can use a 5-weight trout rod for bass fishing, but it’s not the best tool. Because bass flies tend to be large and wind-resistant, heavier 6- and 7-weight rods with a medium action are best for bass. The rod should load deeply into the mid and butt section to launch bushy bass poppers in and around thick cover.

Personally given the species you will be going after, I'd lean towards the 8wt.  To borrow an expression from hunters....I'd rather be over gunned than under gunned.
 
Can't help with brands.  Been a while since I've done any reading on fly fishing.  As I remember...Redington was noted for quality rods at a decent price.  Here is an article on trout rods, but their bass rods should mirror the trout rods.  http://sportingclassicsdaily.com/eight-quality-fly-rods-that-won-t-break-the-bank/
 
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9' 8 weight is universal. 

I can't respond fully to this question right now. (Wife time).  But, you realistically will probably spend more $$. Buy a better Rod then reel. A reel basically holds the line. 

I will respond more tomorrow. 

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Ok, I am on my PC now.

First, as I said before 9'-8# is universal.  All fly rod manufactures have a 9' 8 weight in their arsenal.  So, I think that will be your best bet.  For the $$ you want to spend I would place more emphasis on rod, then line, then reel.  Fly lines now a days are expensive, but good lines will preform better and last longer.  You pay for what you get. 

Honestly, I would get a faster action rod.  The reason I say this is I have one really old graphite Orvis rod and a fairly brand new Echo 3S boost (you guessed it) 9'-8 weight rod (fast action).  My Orvis rod is crazy slow action, because back then it was one of the newer graphite fly rods so in general the rods were slower action to be near the bamboo fly rods.  Meaning, not much of a change for the customer to become nervous and shy away from the newer graphite rods coming onto the market.  I imagine you bass fish already and have casting rods/reels.  If you do the faster action fly rods will be more similar to those rods and grant you better confidence starting out.  Plus, to me, really being able to "lean," on a rod grants me confidence the rod can handle what I am throwing at it. 

As far as brands (rods), try the BPS, Cabela's (which did well when rated in Field & Stream magazines) as well as Allen fly rods.  Basically, find one that is comfortable for you to use.  I would say a White River reel (BPS), and lines well that's another discussion.  

Flies for bass, poppers, streamers and big dry flies.  Watch some Youtube videos of people fly fishing for bass and see what they use.  Flies for bass are fairly straight forward especially compared to bass lures.   

Last, enjoy this.  I love searching for new tackle.  If you get too far "down a hole," for looking for this equipment, you probably have gone too far.  So, keep it simple, buy a rod and reel that is comfortable in your hand.

Hope this helps,

Wdy

 

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As an example of actions affecting casting....I learned on a 9' 8wt GL3 many years ago.  Has a fast action.  Wanted a rod for panfish.  Bought a 3wt off TFF from a guy known to build decent rods.  Slow action.  Very slow.  Have weight forward line on the 8wt.  Went double taper on the 3wt.  Big problem.  :(

Going from a fast action 8wt with weight forward line to a slow action 3wt with double taper line was a disaster.  Waaaay too much difference in how they cast.  Needless to say my timing sucks on the 3wt.  I can spit further than I can cast the 3wt....and I can't spit for squat.  A weight forward line is in the future, but I know it is going to take some serious practice to get my timing down on the 3wt.  Plus I have to keep in mind that casting distance isn't going to be anywhere near that of the 8wt.

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Thanks for the replies.

3 hours ago, Nathan Burton said:

Check out the cabelas RLS+. I just picked one of those up a couple of weeks ago as I am beginning to learn as well. They should have the weight of Rod you're looking for. 

While they fit in my budget, the issue is that they only had two types of reviews. People either said they were the greatest thing ever or they snapped after a couple of months, and the reviews were pretty evenly split.  Have you used it yet, and if so how do you like it?

2 hours ago, new2BC4bass said:

Can't help with brands.  Been a while since I've done any reading on fly fishing.  As I remember...Redington was noted for quality rods at a decent price.  Here is an article on trout rods, but their bass rods should mirror the trout rods.  http://sportingclassicsdaily.com/eight-quality-fly-rods-that-won-t-break-the-bank/

 

Redington is a name I've seen pop up on several Florida saltwater forums as a good choice, I'll definitely have to look into them.  

@WdyCrankbait thanks for the input, definitely some good stuff there.

3 minutes ago, new2BC4bass said:

As an example of actions affecting casting....I learned on a 9' 8wt GL3 many years ago.  Has a fast action.  Wanted a rod for panfish.  Bought a 3wt off TFF from a guy known to build decent rods.  Slow action.  Very slow.  Have weight forward line on the 8wt.  Went double taper on the 3wt.  Big problem.  :(

Going from a fast action 8wt with weight forward line to a slow action 3wt with double taper line was a disaster.  Waaaay too much difference in how they cast.  Needless to say my timing sucks on the 3wt.  I can spit further than I can cast the 3wt....and I can't spit for squat.  A weight forward line is in the future, but I know it is going to take some serious practice to get my timing down on the 3wt.  Plus I have to keep in mind that casting distance isn't going to be anywhere near that of the 8wt.

I still need to do my research on all the actions and lines.  What is the difference between weight forward and double taper?

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I'm not trying to thread Jack bigbassin' but I have a few questions.

1 Is a 6 wt. good for largemouth and smallmouth in open water?

2 What is a good line to use for bass?

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As has already been stated the line determines the size of fly that can be easily cast with the rod.  I have two setups that i primarily use for bass.  A 9' 7wt that is more heard towards smallies and smaller flies and a Sage Bass II LM rod which is somewhere around a 10 wt but it is a specialty rod that is 7'11" and with the line that is designed for it, I am pretty confident i could cast a wet sock if i needed to.

I always tell people spend 60-70% of your budget on the rod (i prefer faster action for bass fishing or weighted flies) 20-30% on line and whatever is left on the reel.  Now i do have some nicer reels but that is more because i like them :)  the key is finding a set up that is balanced.  Chucking large flies all day in an unbalanced outfit can be a hassle.

As far as DT or WF goes basically a DT is a longer tapered line that has a taper on both ends of the fly line.  I like them for trout or lighter rods that you will be roll casting frequently.  It also allows you to flip the line and use both ends.  A WF has a short compact taper that helps to turn weighted or bushier flies more easily.  This is what i prefer for bass fishing.  

As far as recommendations go, i would go to a local fly shop and talk to them.  They will help set you up and maybe even get you a casting lesson.  The quality of fly rods has gotten so much better over the past 10 years so be sure to test cast a bunch of rods if at all possible.

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OK...first of all...great advice here so far.

2nd I throw flies at bass a lot...here's my current arsenal:

  1. 8 wt.:
    1. Temple Forks Axiom with a Rio Outbound Short intermediate sinking line.  This set up is top of the pile if I'm fishing sub-surface on still water.  It's a little heavy if I'm on a small river.  Reel is a Nautilus CCF #8.
      1. Rood and reel are E-Bay buys...but we're still lookin' at $400+ here.  Line is a solid $90, no matter what you do...
      2. This is a true strip in, one back-cast and back out set-up.  It's amazing...but it ain't cheap, even used.  You get what you pay for...
    2. Scott SAS, Scientific Angler's clear intermediate sink line, Lamson Guru reel.
      1. Do yourself a favor...don't even look at what new Scott Rods cost...you'll choke...this was another E-Bay find...with the line from Sierra Trading Post.  I probably have $225 - $250 in this rig.  It excels at mid-weight streamers.
    3. Cabela's L-Tech, Lamson Litespeed (older version) and Airflo 8 wt. floating line.  This is my topwater rod, and the least expensive 8 wt. overall.  Bought the rod on E-Bay for < $100, the reel used from a friend for $100, and the line for $39.95 from Sierra Trading post.
    4. Overall...if you expect to get into a decent 8 wt. rod, reel and line for $175...I expect you'll be frustrated and will give up fly fishing for bass.
  2. 7 wt.
    1. St. Croix Bank Robber with Cabela's RLS reel, Scientific Angler's Hover line.
      1. This is my "go-to" bass rod.
      2. Cabela's RLS Reels are a crazy good deal (a little heavy, but work great)
      3. Were I going to do this over, I'd swap in a Temple Forks Mangrove, Axiom or TiCr X rod for less money and the same (or better) performance.
  3. 6 wt.
    1. Temple Forks Mangrove, Nautilus FWX reel, Airflo floating line.
      1. I won the rod at a banquet...but I'd buy another in a heartbeat at full retail ($260).  Bought the reel on E-Bay (you should see a pattern by now), snagged the line for >$40 from Sierra Trading Post.
    2. Custom on St. Croix Legend blank, Lamson Guru reel, Scientific Angler's Hover line.  Love this rig...would use it more if the above rig didn't kick it's fanny.

...so here's the deal: Don't try to do a decent 8 wt. bass fly fishing rig on a $175 budget.  You'll wind up frustrated and you'll tank fly fishing as a way to catch bass...and that'd be a mistake, IMO.

In a perfect world, for an 8 wt. topwater set-up I'd recommend a Temple Forks Mangrove, Lamson Guru reel and an Airflo or Rio floating line (the Rio Smallmouth line is excellent!).  Were I going subsurface, I'd look harder at the Axiom or the TiCr X from Temple Forks.  As a 2nd choice, I'd look at Cabela's RLS reel on whatever rod they currently have (probably the LSi). 

Echo makes some good rods too...but I have no personal experience with them.

DON'T TRY TO SAVE MONEY ON THE LINE.  Spend the $90.  Cheap lines suck and will make you think fly fishing isn't any fun.

Call this guy: http://www.lundsflyshop.com/

...or a similar shop that can guide you down a good path.  Brian will set you up with a well balanced rig as inexpensively as he can...and he won't BS you.

Again, I don't think you're going to find a well rounded 8 wt. rig for $175.  IMO, the rod alone will cost you more than that if you do it right.

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One final note: Fly rods are an extremely individual preference...far more so than regular gear.  Your casting style, how you fish, what kinds of flies you're going to throw...All of these things will channel a fly fisherman to the kind of rig that best suits them.

I have a good friend who bought an Loomis GLX 8 wt.  I loved that rod, could throw a popper 70 ft. into a paint bucket with ease.  He didn't like it, loved a an Orvis Helios II that I didn't care for.  He sold the Loomis, kept the Orvis rod...

What I've done is buy used, try them and move them down the road if they weren't what worked best for me.  E-Bay or on-line forums are a good places to shop until you zero in on what you like.  I went through 12 10 wt. rigs - yes - 12 - until I settled on three that fit my needs...all used.  I can post the write up if you'd like so you can see what the evaluation process looked like.

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1. Invest in a good rod first, line second.  Quality rods and lines mmakelearning to cast much, much easier.  Cheap rods and lines will get you very, very frustrated.  Reels aren't that important since they mostly hold line.  Bass aren't going to run so much as fight right in front of you, so the reel is the least important. 

2. Take casting lessons.  They will also save you potentially months of frustration.  

3. 6-8wt rods are standard.  However, it can be less frustrating to turn over a smaller fly with a heavier rod/line, than turn over heavy or wind resistant flies with lighter line.  Because of this, starting with a 7-8wt rod (if you're looking to use it for bass fishing only) is probably your best start. 

 

Good luck!  River smallies on the fly are awesome!

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Was out today fishing smallmouth with an 8 wt. Sage rod. I'm on a big lake where there's plenty of wind so the 8 wt. is nice when it's blowing. Otherwise, I'd suggest 7 wt. as a good all around choice. People catch bonefish and tarpon on these rods so they'll certainly handle any bass you encounter and throw a fly farther than you'll ever need. You can always go up or down a line size, too. Don't buy a gimmick short rod, get a 9 foot.

You don't need a $600 Sage, but don't make the mistake of spending $100 on junk. Fenwick World Class graphite rods are good for around $300. Orvis has decent rods in that price range as do others. I think $300 is about the minimum price for a rod you'll really want to own and enjoy using.

Slow or medium action isn't a bad thing when throwing big, wet bass bugs and lots of people love old fiberglass rods. Take a look at the new Fenwick Fenglass rods, they go for $200 and are fun for this kind of fishing. You can pair it with one of the new "throwback" Pflueger Medalist reels for a neat old school rig for around $300 to $350.

You can save money starting out by searching eBay for machined aluminum reels direct from China. You pay $20 or $30 for a no-name reel likely made in the same plant as branded stuff selling for $100 or more. Down the road when you want to spend a lot, you can buy a Hardy or something. Reels are mostly line holders and you probably won't be fishing bass off the reel. Plus bass don't run like bonefish or big trout. I like disc drags because I troll streamers for trout and salmon. I like large arbor reels. 

For flies, everything loves to eat woolly buggers, muddlers, leeches, poppers and gurglers. I like chartreuse Clousers for smallmouth. There's an endless variety to try but you can't go wrong starting out with a black woolly bugger. You don't need giant flies to catch big fish. 

Once you make a nice cast, get a monster strike on a popper and fight a big one on the fly rod you'll wonder why everyone else isn't doing it too!

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There have been some great advice so far. I applaud the responders to this thread. I think everyone is on the mark. 

Also, there seems to be an illusion with fly fishing about tackle. Barring a disaster, you buy your set up and you're good until you want to upgrade. I still use my Orvis 6 weight I bought in the early 90's. 

Another thing, when you see the specs on a fly reel and it says WFF. Weight forward lines take up the most capacity on fly reels so that is the reason for the baseline. 

Lastly, if, or when you hook into a "horse," you're done. He's gonna run on you and you're going to be along for the ride. The clouds will part, the sun will come through and (as mentioned above) you'll wonder why you didn't do this before. 

Wdy

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I flyfish bass...a lot.

Rod-

For ~$250 my TFO BVK 8-wt cannot be beat for a brute of a rod that throws line like a cannon with he best warranty in the market. Its important to remember that fly rods are fragile things. They break. We all break them. This is where you are thankful for the warranty. Do not boat your fish by lifting them aboard with your rod unles you like waiting for rod replacements. Fenwick Aetos is pretty nice this year as well and is right in this price range. You will loose a little power and it just isn't quite the rod the BVK is, but who cares. Most your casts will be 40-60 ft. Still, buy the BVK if you can afford it. Hell buy better if you can :) Another reason to buy an 8wt - where there are bass there are often pike...big pike, mean nasty pike.

 

Reel-

For your reel I suggest anything LIGHT that has some kind of drag. You make a lot of casts bass fishing and you don't want to be holding up some over weight clod of a reel. Drag is nice, but you generally aren't too concerned about protecting delicate tippet like trout fishing so don't get too fussy. Just get light! I fish a Lamson Liquid 3.5 which is a hell of a reel for $100.

 

Line-

Get a WF8F Bass/muskie taper, these tighten up on the front taper length which makes turning over those fat poppers and mice way easier, again a good reason to use an 8 weight. . Lots of companies make them. You get what you pay for here. Minimally I would spend 50-60$. SA/RIO/Orvis all make good ones.

 

Sinking?-

I don't like sinking likes too much, but I do add a 12ft sinking leader. Rio versileader 12 ft 5IPS with 3-5 ft of 8-12 pound mono is a great combo for me. anything deeper than that just gets too boring to hold my attention for long.

 

Finally, if you have any fly rod over a 5 weight, just use that for a little while. Bass will crush smaller panfish poppers, trust me. They eat everything. I fish a fast action 5-wt (St. Croix Legend Elite) all the time for 2-4 pound largemouths in the 30-50 ft range. Smaller poppers, hoppers, flies, nymphs and worms. If you are a good caster you will still be able to throw the big stuff, just not as far or as accurately as you will with an 8 weight, and in the wind forget about it.

 

Flies...See image. This is my boat box. Notice the little black panfish popper? That old boy gets a lot of mileage and has been in the mouth of many bass....ok take it back, have no idea how to post images here. Tried google photos, Pinterest...nope. This must be some old school thing.

https://goo.gl/photos/D9LMaRNzrAPbUbwR7

 

 

I know this post is late to the game, but I hope it might help someone just getting a start. 

-kp

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^ Well said.  I would agree and go 8 weight to ensure you combat any winds as well.

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