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Fly Fishing for White Bass

Bill Butts

Fly Fisher/Fly Tier/Fly Fishing Mentor


Bill Butts loves white bass - they're hard hitting and put on a tough fight. Find out from Bill what it takes to catch these great freshwater sport fish on a fly.
Bill Butts


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Show Synopsis

Bill Butts loves white bass - they're hard hitting and put on a tough fight. Find out from Bill what it takes to catch these great freshwater sport fish on a fly.

Bill Butts started his 40-year journey in the sport and art of fly fishing on small lakes and trout streams of the Missouri and Arkansas Ozarks. He has fly fished across the United States and Canada for many species including trout, largemouth and smallmouth bass, crappie, perch, salmon steelhead, musky, northern pike, walleye, blue sharks, and his favorites - the temperate basses, which includes the striped, hybrid striped (wiper), and the white bass.

Bill strives to share his passion and enthusiasm for fly fishing with newcomers to the sport and anyone who requests his help. He believes that the sharing attitude that permeates this great sport is the very foundation of what makes it so great.

Bill Butts has contributed several web articles on fly fishing for Temperate Basses on fly shop websites including Fly Masters of Indianapolis and the Mt. River Fly Shop in Arkansas. He also has a book and instructional DVD in development on the subject of "Fly Fishing for Temperate Basses".

A white bass is a member of the temperate bass family or what is also known in the fisheries realm as the true basses. The temperate bass family includes white bass, hybrid striped bass (wiper), and striped bass as well as just a few other minor relatives. The white bass is a native of the Mississippi River Drainage and to Bill, the white bass is truly what they call 'riverene' fish (an anadromous fish that has naturally adapted to the freshwater river and is now a resident of the river).

A white bass is a member of the temperate bass family or what is also known in the fisheries realm as the true basses. The temperate bass family includes white bass, hybrid striped bass (wiper), and striped bass as well as just a few other minor relatives. The white bass is a native of the Mississippi River Drainage and to Bill, the white bass is truly what they call 'riverene' fish (an anadromous fish that has naturally adapted to the freshwater river and is now a resident of the river).

The white bass has been a great success and is an almost non-managed fish. A lot of fisheries biologists say that it's almost the perfect game fish because they don't have to stock it. They are very easy to introduce, spawn very prolifically and they grow well. They are not a very poplular game fish but they are a very important game fish in literally hundreds of rivers, lakes and reservoirs in this country today.

Bill prefers fishing white bass over other fish because they have certain characteristics that he likes. He loves how they hit, strike, and how they fight. The way they strike-they're very aggressive. It's a really great experience and it's a very available experience to thousands of fly fishermen or all types of fishermen. The overall range that most people can catch an adult white bass is from about one three pounds. In Southern Missouri, where Bill lives, a couple of fisheries there have reported fish In the four and five-pound range. There was even a world record fish that was caught on a fly.

Spring is one of the best times to catch white bass. Most fisherman emphasize that they catch the most white bass during this time of year, which is related to the spawning run. Depending where you are, the season can be as early as early March to mid-May.

If you want to go fishing for white bass, the important things to have are the right fly lines, leaders, rod, and reel. What Bill usually advises people to do is to have a fast action rod, meaning that the rod is stiffer in the tip. This, is advised because of two reasons: One is because you are using lines with a sinking tip or sinking head and you need a stiffer rod to handle these lines. Secondly, a rod that is a little stiffer will allow you to control the line in the wind so you have better casting accuracy at a distance.

When asked what his go-to flies for white bass are, Bill said that one of the most important things he considers for his flies are the style of flies and the color. Zuddlers or deep minnow style flies will probably take in more fish whether it's white bass, hybrids or stripers than any other style fly. The style of the fly isn't nearly as critical as locating the fish and understanding that you need to get the fly down to the fish.

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