Fly fishing for redeye bass is unlike anything else. It has the experience of adventure when hiking to backcountry brook trout streams mixed with the raw power and rage of smallmouth bass on the fly. These fish don’t live at 3,000 feet of elevation and they don’t have volumes written from someone pontificating about how chivalrous it is to pursue them. However, they have been around for millions of years and offer one of the purest fly fishing opportunities left in our heavily modified landscape. You can pursue these fish in the same waters where they swam long before you were here, waters that most people never step foot in. These populations of redeye bass exist without the marring effect of hatchery-raised fish introduced to appease the masses. They are native, they are wild, and they are hungry!

redeye bass photo by Isaac Szabo

The variety of waters where redeye bass live and the number of species that exist allow for numerous challenges to the angler. You can pursue redeye bass in small mountain streams guised by native mountain laurel and piedmont azalea, or you can float down a large river with expansive shoal complexes and large bedrock boulders. Small waters offer technical fishing by placing a greater precedence on stealth and casting accuracy while the larger rivers present the dilemma of reading water and locating fish across a broad stretch of water. The surrounding beauty from both small streams and rivers will quickly become secondary to the prize you hold in your hand. The blue coloration that adorn these fish coupled with species-specific fin colorations ranging from red and orange to green and blue demand your attention and your appreciation.

redeye bass photo by Isaac Szabo

Redeye bass are not finicky eaters. The waters where they live are not productive enough for them to turn down a meal. Like all bass, they are opportunistic feeders with a diet consisting mostly of insects and crayfish. Several studies have shown a seasonal preference for adult aquatic and terrestrial insects in the spring and summer months. The fly angler will find that this preference insects on the water’s surface makes fly fishing for redeye bass with a popper one of life’s greatest joys. They will also readily eat streamers and crayfish flies below the surface, but then you’ll miss out on the heart-stopping topwater eats that captivate so many of us.

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