Are Saltwater Fly Reels Good for Bass?

Bass are some of the best fighting fish, but choosing the proper equipment to reel in a big one is critical if you want to become a pro bass angler. However, getting and setting up the appropriate gear to catch bass can be confusing, which has led many people to try new reels, such as saltwater reels, which might be a good choice. 

Saltwater fly reels are good for bass. Saltwater fly reels are some of the best reels for catching bass since they are versatile and strong enough to handle stopping a large fish. Since bass are formidable fighters, and you will need a solid reel to counter the pull they give your line. 

Having the proper equipment makes for more enjoyable fishing. Read further to find information to help you make the correct choice to enhance your fishing enjoy experience. This article will include what size fly reel you need for the bass you are fishing, the best times to target them, and what flies work best for bass fishing.

salt water fly reels are good for bass

What Size of Saltwater Fly Reel Is Best for Bass

The type of bass you are fishing will determine how large a fly reel you need. Small and largemouth bass can be about 10 pounds (4.5 kg) at 25 inches (63.5 cm) in length. So, if you want to catch these fish, you’ll need a reel that can handle ten pounds (4.5 kg).

Striped bass, which also reside in saltwater,can weigh more and need a fly reel that can handle more weight. You will also need to know how much drag the reel can handle.

Still, no matter the weight and drag rating, a fishing reel should be solid. The best reels consist of cast and anodized aluminum. These reels are resistant to rust and oxidation, which will help them stand up to salt water, elements, and age. 

Most new saltwater fly reels also have a disc drag system. For freshwater bass fishing, a six to eight-weight reel will be sufficient. If you are targeting striped bass in saltwater, a nine to ten-weight reel may be needed.

Ultimately, the reel you choose will not only have to fit your fishing ambitions but also your pocketbook. A solid reel for the price that will withstand anything you throw at it, is the LAMSON Liquid Fly Reel.I have personally abused this fly reel with minimal care and it continues to impress me with its durability and drag. For a more in depth review of the Lamson Liquid, check out “The Best Fly Reel For The Money: Lamson Liquid Gets Battle-tested”.

How Does Drag Affect Your Reel Choice?

The drag is what helps you to stop the fish in its tracks. 

Fly reels come with either a disc or a click-and-pawl drag system, although most modern fly reels have a disc system. This system is smoother when it comes to stopping the fish. It is a sealed system that keeps debris and the elements from getting to the reel’s vital components, which is why I recommend it. 

On the other hand, the click-and-pawl system is older, and while it has an ear-pleasing sound, will not hold up as well in the elements and has less drag pressure.

You will also need to consider your fishing location. Will you be fishing from a river, a lake, or out in open waters? The waters will also affect the drag mechanism of your fly reel. You need a durable drag system to fight rivers or harsh water currents. Calm lake waters do not have the same effect on your reel’s drag system.

a click-and-pawl system will not be good since its older

Other Factors To Consider When Catching Bass

The other items you will need to consider, along with your fly reel, are the rod, the line, and the flies you will be using. 

The Rod

You always need a rod weighted similar to your reel. 

If you plan to use a saltwater reel, you’ll need a rod designed for a saltwater fly reel. It needs to be from six-weight to eight or nine-weight to accommodate a big bass. 

You also need to determine what length of rod you will need. You may want to go with a shorter rod if you are casting under overhanging trees. One with a length of 7 ft (2.13 m) will do for that, but if you will be fishing open water, 9 ft (2.74 m) is best.

The Line

You need a fly line, backing, and leader line for the reel. 

For your fly line, you will want one that sinks quickly when fishing deeper drop offs. Look for a fly line around 325 grain (21 g) to 350 grain (23 g). This weight will fall swiftly allowing you to present the fly to fish deeper in the column. For bass residing in small lakes, throwing top water flies on a floating line is hard to beat. This generally works best at sunrise and sunset. 

Your backing should pass a 20-pound (9-kg) test. You need a leader line to go from the fly line, and the fly is attached at the end.

Your Fly Choices

The two main flies that work with bass are streamers and poppers. 

Streamers are a type of wet fly and are weighted. They also have a tail and are made for larger hooks. They imitate underwater food sources such as minnows and leeches. 

Poppers are flies used on the surface of the water. They are great for bass fishing since they imitate bass’ natural food sources.

The Rest of Your Gear

While your rod and reel are your main pieces of equipment, there are other items you may want to have along with you on your bass fishing journey.

  • A sturdy net to scoop up your catch. You will want one that can hold the weight of the fish you will be catching. Make sure to check it for wear and tear before each trip. I personally recommend the Frabill Power Stow Poly Net. This net is lightweight and folds up to take up minimal space.
  • A fish finder may be something to consider adding to your arsenal, especially if you are fishing from a boat. They help you locate schools of fish and increase your chances of landing that prized bass. Hands down, the best fish finder on the market is the Humminbird 410950-1 HELIX 7 CHIRP MSI. This unit allows you to scan sideways with incredible detail, allowing you to see fish in detail.
  • Waders are essential if you will be wading in the water instead of fishing from a boat. You should test to see that they fit properly. Remember to clean and store them correctly after each trip.
no matter how good your rod is if you can't scoop the fish up you will loose your catch


Saltwater fly reels can be your greatest asset when bass fishing. These reels are ideal for bass fishing, and since they’re safe to use in saltwater, you can use them in freshwater, too. You’ll just need to ensure that your reel can withstand the bass’ weight and drag, which can be over 10 lbs (4.5 kg). 

So, get a sturdy saltwater fly reel and head out there to catch your biggest bass ever!