Striped bass, a.k.a Stripers, are slowly creeping to the top of the list of best fish to target with a fly rod. They’re found in both salt and freshwater, so their numbers are plentiful. Depending on the part of the world you’re fishing, you’ll find these fish weighing upwards of 40 pounds.
Striped bass are massive, fight extremely hard and give you a thrill that’s hard to find with any other fish.
Due to their size, fly fishing for Striped Bass requires the right gear. Once you’ve gathered your gear, choosing the correct striped bass flies are where you should focus your time. If you have the correct flies, you’ll five yourself a chance to land these beautiful fish.
Striped bass are big and aggressive. You’re going to need to get their attention and with the following 11 patterns, you’ll give yourself a great chance at landing a few trophies.
1. Dustin’s Destroyer- Size 2
Dustin’s Destroyer is also known as the EP Shad. Many anglers will recognize this pattern as a classic bass fly. What makes this fly special is that it is designed to represent any baitfish you can find. Striped bass love to eat things like Gizzard Shad, so as long as you choose the proper color pattern, you have a chance at landing a Striped Bass on a fly rod.
These flies actually become translucent when they’re underwater, so it’s easy for a striped bass to nab one. They’re not an overly obnoxious pattern that’s going to move all sorts of water. They move smoothly through the water and look like an extremely healthy baitfish. Fish deep or shallow and you’ll give yourself a great chance at these fish.
Guide Tip: Striped Bass grow to enormous sizes. It’s not uncommon to hook +30 lbs. fish. Wondering how big they get? Read – What is the Biggest Striped Bass Ever Caught
2. Clouser Minnow- Size 2
It’s not overly shocking that the Clouser Minnow is making the list for Striped Bass. If you’re chasing big fish, do it with a Clouser Minnow.
Do some research on the water you’re going to be fishing, and choose the best color that fits the water clarity and baitfish that Striped Bass will be chasing. You can find these flies somewhere between size 2 and 6. These flies have large dumbbell eyes that are great for getting the fly lower in the water column. They’re an ideal deep water fly.
Guide Tip: Clouser Minnows are a foundational fly to most fly fishers. Heck Amazon even sells them. Here’s a shortcut link -> Clouser Minnow
If you know the Stripers are feeding deep, then tie on a Chartreuse Clouser Minnow and see what you can find. These are great to fish with a decent amount of action. Make them move and change up your retrieval motion. It won’t be long until you find a method that works best for you.
3. Hud’s Bushwacker- Size 1
Hud’s Bushwacker is a great, unique pattern that fishes extremely well. Stripers love to feed in areas covered with heavy foliage. As a result, you’re going to need flies that are capable of fished in heavy cover. Hud’s Bushwacker is a weedless pattern with a deep bend in the shank that bounces over rocks and under weeds.
With the lack of worry about weeds and getting snagged, you can fish this fly in areas where it might be hard to fish less wide hooks. Take a chance with one of these flies if some of your other patterns aren’t working.
If you know the Stripers are in deep cover and the baitfish you want to represent are a bit smaller, Hud’s Bushwacker is the pattern for you. Even if you are fishing in more open water, this fly will still show itself well.
4. Mushmouth- Size 2
If you are new to fly fishing and you’re looking for easy flies to use, the Mushmouth is great for you. The fly itself is a nice baitfish pattern and it has a massive amount of flash.
Combine that with the synthetic material and you have yourself an easy-to-use fly that attracts all sorts of fish. The bright white material as well as the chartreuse or blue options make the Mushmouth stand out quite well.
This fly isn’t going to dive extremely fast, so you can fish for Stripers in freshwater with it. If you see them on the move and they’re feeding, attach this and you have a great chance at attracting them. Let the fly do the work. The flash and synthetic material are enough to bring in fish.
5. Woolly Bugger- Size 6
What predatory fish fly list is good without a mention of the Woolly Bugger. If you know that you shouldn’t be using a massive fly, but still need a baitfish representation, use a bugger. It adapts to whatever environment it’s in and will do just enough to make the fish want to check it out whenever it’s around.
Depending on where the fish are feeding, you can purchase a bugger with or without a beadhead. It’s good to have a mix of both in your box in case you stumble upon a few of these feeding in shallow areas.
Cast near them and strip it across their faces. It won’t take long for the fish to find your fly and pounce. Again, do some prior research on the baitfish in the area and then make a decision on the color you need.
6. Lefty’s Deceiver- Size 4
If you’re fly fishing for Striped Bass in saltwater, Lefty’s Deceiver needs to be the pattern at the top of your list. It’s one of the most famous saltwater fly patterns, but that’s mainly a result of the number of fish you’re able to catch with it. This fly doesn’t have an excessive amount of weight to it, but it will fall in the water column as it gets more wet. You can fish this in all levels of the water column depending on what the fish need.
You can pick a bright and obnoxious color or find one that’s a bit less intrusive. The versatility and the consistent production make this fly a wonderful option. You don’t have to try too hard with Lefty’s Deceiver. Short or long strips will provide plenty of action. Try a few different retrieval styles and identify what works best for you.
7. Gamechanger- Size 4
The Gamechanger is one of the most realistic looking flies you can find. It works for a variety of fish and it’s especially productive with Striped Bass. Stripers love these flies if you’re targeting them in freshwater. They’re not as well-received in saltwater, but they can work. These flies look a bit like a rainbow trout minnow, but the dark green coloring on the spine of the fish can be a nice representation of a variety of other fish depending on what you need.
Due to how realistic this pattern looks; you won’t have too much trouble finding fish that are willing to eat it.
8. Big Bandit- Size 02
The Big Bandit is a double articulated streamer, so make sure you check the local regulations of the water you’re fishing to ensure that it’s a legal fly to use. Thankfully, most southern lakes and coastal waters are okay with double articulated fly patterns. The Big Bandit is a nice representation of Creek Chubs, Suckers and Shiners. Many lakes have at least one of these, so Stripers will be familiar with similar looking prey.
The three-color options are all great depending on the water clarity. It has large dumbbell eyes, so it’s the ideal pattern for the big Stripers feeding near the bottom. Fish it low and slow. Large fish can be especially picky, so make sure they have to take a long look at it. This will make it harder for the fish to ignore!
9. Gummy Minnow- Size 06
While soft plastics are usually reserved for spin fishing, they can be found in the fly world as well! The Gummy Minnow is an amazing recreation of a baitfish. You have four color patterns to choose from depending on the type of bait fish you’re going to target. This fly floats easily through the water column.
Since Stripers live near moving water, it’s a great choice to fish in a creek mouth or something similar. Let it float out of the creek into the still water and watch the fish go after it hard. It’s a fairly simple pattern to fish due to how realistic it looks. Land it softly and don’t give the fish too much of a chance to find out that it may not be a minnow!
10. Surf Candy- Size 6
The Surf Candy is another unique streamer that’s tied with a tough epoxy and synthetic material. If you’re fishing saltwater, you’ll find that it represents silversides, sand eels and small anchovies. It’s an extremely durable pattern that will survive many Striper bites.
Last but not least, the Cruiser. It’s a big, obnoxious fly that continues to produce more fish year after year. The synthetic materials and heavy eyes can bring it to low levels in the water column. You can fish this fly in both saltwater and freshwater.
An Easy Striper Fly to Tie
When you have your flies chosen, it’s time to set up the rest of your gear to start targeting these fish!
For your Striper rig, a 7 to 10-weight rod is ideal. If you are going to be fishing saltwater or target these fish in a well-known Striper lake, then a 9 or 10-weight would be smart. It’s better to be safe than sorry with these fish. You don’t want to put yourself through the agony of breaking a rod. Make sure it’s a fast action rod! You need the power.
Sage has a new model rod out called the R8 CORE. Why do I mention it? Because you can find last years TOP OF THE LINE Sage X discounted. Check the prices and get it before their gone with this link -> SAGE X FLY ROD
Your reel needs to match the weight of your fly rod. For example, if you have a 9-weight rod, you want to make sure you’re fishing with a 9-weight reel. This is going to keep the proper balance of your rig! Also, if you’re fishing in saltwater, make sure the drag system on your reel is fully sealed. A fully sealed drag system will help prevent corrosion from saltwater.
Finally, you want the reel to have a large arbor. A large arbor reel will prevent you from getting spooled. You can fight the fish and let it run.
You’ve seen me recommend the same reel all over, why? The Sage Spectrum C Fly Reel is a great value. Read the reviews and current prices on Amazon – Sage Spectrum C Fly Reel
Depending on where the fish are feeding, you may need to use a couple different types of line. It’s a good idea to have two or three different spools that are easy to attach when needed. If they’re feeding near the surface, a floating or sink tip line is a good option. Make sure the weight of the line matches up the weight of your reel and rod.
Guide Tip: You’ll cast farther and with less effort with a good fly line. For the last couple years, I’ve been using SA Amplitude. I prefer the textured line, but be sure to get a striping guard for your fingers. Here’s a shortcut link to Amazon -> Scientific Anglers Amplitude Fly Line
If you’re fishing for the Stripers deep in the water column, then you’ll want sinking line. This is going to get you as far down as you need to go. Depending on the overall depth, you can choose different types of sinking line that will fall faster than many others.
You’re going to want to use an extremely strong leader for stripers! Make sure they’re around eight feet and are 12-to-20-pound test. Recommendation, RIO makes a leader specifically designed for striped bass. I like the tapered 7 foot – 20 lbs. Sort cut link to Amazon -> Rio Fly Fishing Striped Bass Leaders
Since Stripers aren’t a common fish to target on the fly, anglers have many questions on how to best go after them.
How do you fly fish for Stripers from Shore?
When you’re targeting Striped Bass from shore, make sure you are fishing near a drop off. Stripers like to hang out right near drop offs due to the large amount of bait that can be found in these areas. Throw your fly out near the edge of the drop off and strip it towards yourself. You’ll be able to find fish this way.
How do you fly fish for Striped Bass in a River?
If you’re targeting Striped Bass in a river, then you’ll want to fish near structures and cut banks. Large stripers need deep water to thrive and cut banks can provide them with deeper water and privacy. Cast your fly along the cut bank and let it dead drift until it’s about to swing. Strip the fly as it’s swinging and you’ll find fish.
If you find yourself in the southern United States or somewhere along the coasts, you have a chance to fly fish for Striped Bass. These fish don’t always see very many flies, so you have a great shot at landing them. Stay patient and utilize a variety of retrieval methods and you’ll be in good shape.
Looking for more Striper articles?
- Everyone wants to talk about how big….So what is the biggest striped bass? READ -> The Biggest Striped Bass Ever Caught
- What flies do you need? Read about my favorites in -> Best Flies for Stripers
- Want more about Bass gear? How about -> Best Rod, Reel and Line for Bass
- Want more “How To” Read -> How to Fly Fish for Striped Bass
Danny Mooers is a high school English teacher in Arizona with a love for fly fishing. Growing up in Minnesota gave him the opportunity to experience all types of fishing and grow his skills. After living out in the Western United States for several summers in college, his fly fishing obsession grew. Having the opportunity to share in his passion for fishing through writing is a dream come true. It’s a lifelong hobby and he strives to make it understandable for people of all skill levels