Fly Lines and Leaders for Clear Water Bass Fishing

Late Summer brings around our hottest weather and some of our most difficult fishing conditions in Eastern NC. Low and clear rivers and high water temps make fish both weary and lethargic. Two of the most important pieces of gear for a fly angler hoping to catch a trophy Largemouth in these conditions are the fly line and the leader. While these are important during every season, here are a few reasons why they are so critical for this time of year.

Clear water might mean that we can see the fish we are targeting it also means they can see us. It's important to make a cast that both lands softly and is accurate. A misplaced or overly aggressive cast can result in a fish spooking and the angler losing a chance at catching it. We are rarely able to get a fish that has spooked off a cast to eat again. The best line I have found for delivering a heavy or wind resistant fly accurately is the Scientific Anglers Mastery Bass Bug fly line. This line is specifically designed to throw Bass bugs and has a heavy front tapper to help deliver those flies with ease and with a longer rear taper to help control longer casts and deliver them delicately. I use this line when throwing any topwater flies and weighted streamers.


If the Bass are keyed in on batfish I like to switch to the Scientific Anglers SONAR Titan Tropical Clear Tip. This line has a similar taper to the Bass Bug line but with a slightly more aggressive front taper and a 15' section of clear intermediate line at the tip. The 1.25 inch per second sink rate of the clear tip helps keep neutrally buoyant and diving flies in the strike zone. The clear tip also allows us to fish a shorter leader, giving us more room to work with when we have a fish follow the fly close to the boat. This has become my go-to line for fishing wiggle minnows, game-changers, and any fly I want to suspend in the middle water collum.


A well-built leader is important to have your fly turn over correctly and making a straight cast. For fishing with a floating line this is the leader formula that I use:


24" of Scientific Anglers Absolute Leader material 50 lb. (.026")

18" of Scientific Anglers Absolute Leader material 40 lb. (.024")

16" of Scientific Anglers Absolute Leader material 30 lb (.020")

16" of Scientific Anglers Absolute Leader material 25 lb (.017")

18"-24" of Scientific Anglers Absolute Fluorocarbon Tippet 16lb (.013")


This leader build comes out around 8' and turns over large topwater flies very well. I like to connect my sections with blood knots, even with some of the larger diameter changes I never have a problem with knots pulling out. If I am fishing the Clear Tip line I will just remove the 50 lb. butt section making the leader around 6' in length.


If you prefer to buy you leaders I like the Scientific Anglers Absolute Bass leaders in both 20 lb. and 16 lb. but I do like to add on a small 1'-2' section of fluorocarbon tippet to these pre-built leaders.


Having your gear dialed in is an important part of finding success during this challenging season. Having the right tools for the job makes for a more enjoyable and successful day on the water.


See you on the water!

Capt. Will



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