I don't need
Lefty's advice, but will listen to what he has to say. Here's what he says about fishing for bass in streams and lakes:
When fishing for largemouth or smallmouth bass in a lake or stream where the water is clear, you are using flies with hooks ranging in size from 8 to 2/0. A leader with an 8- or 10-pound tippet is fine.
A huge fly for me is one tied on a #6 4X long streamer hook. Most of the time, I'm using a Clouser tied on a #10 stinger hook, or a #10 or #8 Wooly Bugger. I also tend to use a 3X tippet when fishing for trout as well as bass, but only when I'm fishing streamers and nymphs. Why? Abrasion again. There are exceptions, however, like using a wooly bugger where I just know snags are going to take a lot of flies. I've used 3X tippet in these spots, and had to apply so much pressure to the break the fly loose, the point is hopelessly bent backwards. I just use 4X in that case, and snap the leader more easily. I tie my own flies, so I'm out a dime for the hook, and a few cents for materials (unless a bead was used
Knotted vs. Knotless.
When I decided to start tying my own leaders, I asked Jack Mickievicz (local legend in Southeast Pennsylvania, and co-inventor of the Renzetti vise) about the merits. He took a knotted leader and began casting it with his hand. It unfurled perfectly, and he had me try it. He then took a knotless leader, and asked me to try doing the same. Knotted
* just works better.
Don't go any longer than you have to, or any shorter than needed. It's already been pointed out in this thread that bass aren't leader shy (although they can be angler
shy. I fish a couple trout streams that have large native fish, and you had better crawl up to the edge, and land your line and leader lightly if you want them to even consider looking. That's where I use a 9 foot plus leader, and 5X/6X tippet because I'm using small flies. These streams are fished heavily, and smaller flies just work better. The trout have seen most everything, but smaller flies work often enough to make the trip worth it.
*EDIT: I typed "knotless just works better." I meant KNOTTED.