I am not a fanatic about color but over the course of many years of fishing many kinds of artificials. I tend to have better success with light bellies such as white, creme, chart., yellow and dark backs in some shade of green. Light green to dark green with an olive being my best. This is of course with baitfish imitations. For surface baits I like yellow, mostly because I can see it but black is good too. Browns for crawdads ranging from rust to orange, and medium brown and even in places grey can be the best. Match the hatch MOST of the time. Many saltwater patterns will work great for bass. Even tarpon and bonefish flies.
Bass are awesome on the fly. Try some weighted leech patterns or some clawdads in addition to the patterns already mentioned. Get out as much as you can. The best info on what works is what the fish are telling you.
Bass flies have been confusing me lately as I learn more. Started out tying up and throwing a bunch of 'cat toys' because I was fishing with a friend of his boat. It sort of worked, but was a lot of work for a mostly fishless day.
For river run smallies, with which I am familiar, I have always thrown big trout streams (#6 and #4 3x or 4X long hooks).
Have been dealing with still water large mouth (and a fair sized pike) and went to Mustad 3366's in #1's and #2/0. Also have found that a Mustad 34007 #1 seems to be a good average size.
Is some of my confusion coming from some people referring to smallies when they say "bass" and and suggesting #6's and other people referring to LMB as "bass" and suggesting much larger hook?
Random, IMO, either species will take the same fly patterns. For whatever reason, there seems to be an attitude that flies for Smallmouths need to be smaller than those used for LM bass. I've not found that to be necessarily the case.
In some places that can be true, but the same could be said of LM bass in some places. If the average size of either is small, then the flies don't need to be large. However, in those waters where either grow to big sizes, the same flies & sizes can be used for either. For me, that generally means larger size flies. Either species of bass will eat the same things if those things are available to them.
There are some small streams I've caught SM's in, and yes, I used smaller size flies, even down to size 12's. These are streams where a 3 or 4 wt rod is a good choice. Tossing big flies with heavier rods in these streams is not practical
The bass in those streams don't get too big, simply because the environment doesn't allow them to get too big. There's the possibility that there could be a few larger size fish there, but the majority would be on the small size, so I'll fish flies of a size that best fits the stream & the fish. That does not apply to all Smallmouths.
I've caught some decent size (2-3 lb range) & smaller size Smallmouths in the Susquehanna River here in MD (below Conowingo Dam) on 8" long saltwater type lures while fishing for Striped Bass.
I've caught both SM & LM bass several times on the same big lures & some really big flies. IMO, either are not particular & will try to eat anything you throw at them.
I've never fished for Pike or Muskies but have read numerous accounts of some real bruiser SM's & smaller ones being caught on Muskie & Pike size lures & flies.
In the past, I thought flies for Smallmouths needed to be smaller, but I found out first hand it's a myth that Smallmouths won't strike at big lures or flies.
Whatever size flies you tie & use for either species of bass should fit the size of the fish, the size of the waters & of course the rod you're using to cast them.
Some fly patterns, by their design, are better for places with current & some are fine for stillwater or current situations, but frankly, bass are bass.
Here's the real answer. Do what you want to do, and use what you want to use.
Want a light rod, but want to throw bigger flies? Thats fine, do that. You will sacrifice casting distance, but if you don't need distance, then who cares?
Want to throw big flies big distances and don't care about how the fish feels on the end of the line? Use a heavy rod.
Large bass will eat big flies as well as small flies. I've caught some of my largest bass on flies with #10 hooks and less. I've also caught small bass on 3/0 hooks. Honestly, if you're not concerned about casting difference than the rod weight really doesn't matter.
I used to use a 6 weight rod for largemouth, now I use a 2wt. I still cast large flies with my 2wt. Sure I don't get huge distances, but I get more than you'd expect, and I'm normally in my float tube so it doesn't matter. Before I bought my 2wt, almost EVERYONE I asked said it wouldn't be able to handle anything more than small trout or bluegill, and that I wouldn't be able to cast flies over size 12. Couldn't be farther from the truth, and even a small bass is a hell of a lot of fun on a 2wt.
Right now I'm in the process of buying a spey rod for largemouth. Is it a terrible idea? Of course it is, but I know its going to be fun, so I don't care.
There's a lot of people that will tell you that you NEED a certain weight rod to do what you want. That is never true. Fishing is about having fun. Find out what you will have the most fun with, do that, and don't give a damn what people think about it.
It is amazing the different ways, flies, and tackle people use when fly fishing for bass. It's all good.
When I started getting serious about bass fly fishing, I started out with a fast 5 wt overlined with a 6 wt line. I was mostly smallie fishing while wading a river and most casts were short. I switched to a medium slow action 8 wt with an 8wt SA Bass Bug taper line when I started throw wind resistant hair bugs and now that is the only thing I throw except when in red eye only water I go back to the 5 wt.
I now mostly fish shallow rivers out of a solo canoe where 6 ft is really deep so I don't need sink tips and most of my fish are caught in 4 ft or less water so I use hair bugs, decievers, clousers and wooly buggers. I usually have a 9 ft leader. Tippet is just lain Jane mono in 12lb and 20lb test. I use 20lb when fishing really heavy cover.
I use a lot of white, yellow, chartruese, olive (for woolys), but will bring out the black flies on rainy overcast days.
Let the fish tell you what retrieve to use. Sometimes I toss the bug out making it slap the surface hard and then just let it sit. Especialy early in the season they want a slow retrieve. When it gets really hot, I pop it faster and some days I have seen them only take it slowly swimmed with NO popping.
I also prefer low clear water and avoid mud at all costs.