Calico Bass fishing in CA

My bro lives in CA and wants to start SW fly fishing for Calico Bass, has anyone here successfully done it?

What would be a good set up? He's asking me to build him a rod. I was thinking of building him an 8wt 4pc 9ft Batson Rainshadow RX8. What type of line set up would he need (a full sink striper line? Something else?) if he did it from a small water craft like a kayak or casting from a boat? Also, decent reel recommendations? Nothing more than $250 for a reel.

I'm all ears... :)
You could go something similar to a Rio Verstitip line, or depending on on the situation and distance needed, an Outbound with tips. If he's proficient with casting, the Cortland Trout Boss is a nice line too in an 8wt.
My favourite line so far is the Rio General Purpose saltwater Coldwater edition. The box has a picture of a bonefish on it for some stupid reason (the site says it's good for 'early season bonefish' but I find it to be a great coho line for the beaches and rivers, and in the 5 or 6wt is a really really good cutthroat line for searuns.

For a reel, look at the Cabelas WLX (made by Lamson...) or the Allen reels- good reels and affordable.
I will add that it is just plain a lot of fun. And it's not just calico bass- there are lots of fishy options. I only had a couple shots at doing it, but the fish were available and even the 12 inch ones were strong. I fished a 7 weight with an intermediate sink line, but that is basically what I had to bring with me.
there's a San Diego fishing forum that has tons of info on that type of fishing. Where will you be fishing?

I'll second the Wlx idea. If you're patient, they go on sale every once in a while (I have a couple that I got for less than $120 ea on sale). Seems like a solid reel. I've only tested one of them on a couple of steelhead, so that's not really going to test the drag like saltwater fish can. as an aside, I picked up aftermarket handles for them as the one that come with them are rather cheap and not the easiest to grip.


Active Member
I was in So. Calif. 2 yrs ago and we fished the kelp off Point Loma, a ton of fun! We caught Bonito, Cuda, and calicos.
I would go with an 8 wt. if your fishing the kelp you will want a rod with some backbone to turn fish from the kelp. and instead of tips I prefer 30 ft shooting heads with a running line.

Dam now I'm thinking I need to make a trip back down that way.
I have fished with some of those guys- and a lot of them throw 10wts. Heavy shooting heads, big BIG flies, and the chance at hooking a 40lb white sea bass, halibut, yellowtail or ling cod all make having the bigger rod a nice choice.
Yeah, I've seen the YouTube vids they have throwing 900 grain lines etc, those guys don't mess around, lots of r&d on their part, very cool stuff. My bro is just starting out, so an 8wt would probably be a good starting point.
So cal fly fishing is a great local shop. Great guys that give good seminars on all the local fly rod opportunities down here. They've helped me out a ton on learning where and when to get a line wet down here. Highly recommended
An 8 wt will be fine until he gets into his first yellowtail or a big white SB :) Digging into the local sites for the right info is a great idea. I caught some YT on bait while there and have never experienced anything else like it; they were like gnarly, huge chumlies on meth but much better eats. Every fish was brutal to land and of course great fun testing 15lb gear to the limit. With all the kelp some serious poundage could be required. I'm jealous...



Active Member
As far as rod choice goes it all depends how far out you are going to fish. Inshore where you more likely to run into calicos, cudas, and bonitos and the ocaasional Seabass or Yellow tail, an 8 wt. will be fine. Once you get out into blue water and your hitting kelp paddies a 10 wt is the smallest you wnat to go. Out in the blue water I have caught Dorado, tuna, and Yellowtail, all under the same paddy that was no larger then a queen size bed.
Dam I want to go!!