The best way for beginner anglers to catch bass is to select the right equipment, identify likely bass hiding spots, fish at the right time of day, and pick an irresistible bait.
Bass fishing is one of the most popular forms of angling in the world for a number of reasons. If you’re looking to get started in the world of bass fishing, there are a few key things you should know before you begin.
I’ve compiled this article with my top 10 bass fishing tips to help explain the things you need to know, as well as the gear and bait you’ll need to have to get started.
This article is part of my Complete Guide to Bass Fishing series that you might be interested in.
Table of Contents
1. Get the Right Gear
Being a successful fisherman or woman is all about having the right gear for the type of fish you’re going after. When it comes to bass, you’ll need a heavy rod to handle the intense fight you’ll get from both largemouth and smallmouth bass. If you’re mostly unfamiliar with fishing, I recommend starting out with a spincast rod and reel combo.
A spincast rod and reel is very easy to use and eliminates many frustrating things associated with other types of rods and reels, allowing you to focus on casting where you need to and reeling in your catch without issue. There are a number of spincast combos on the market and you can typically purchase a good rod and reel combo for well under $50 in most cases.
Try to get a rod at least 6 feet long and comes with a reel with a fishing line on the spool. Make sure your rod is medium power as you want to avoid any type of rod that might be too light to handle a large bass.
2. Baits and Lures
If you’re brand new to fishing, I encourage you to use live baits like minnows, worms, crickets or something similar. Using live baits will allow you to take the guesswork out of lure selection and let you focus more on finding the right location to fish and picking out the right spots to cast your hook.
Be sure to purchase a few bobbers as this is a crucial item you’ll need to get started in bass fishing. You’ll want to place the bobber on your fishing line about 18 or 24 inches above the hook. It’s also a good idea to have some small split-shot sinkers placed on the line just a few inches above the hook.
The bobber and sinker will work to keep your bait in place while you wait for a fish to bite. Using this approach means you won’t have to worry about using artificial lures that require you to make numerous casts and to also have a solid understanding about how to retrieve the lure. When fishing with a live bait setup that utilizes a bobber and sinker, you’ll be able to simplify your approach and get more enjoyment from your time on the water – I have also written a guide on the fishing tackle you need for bass that might help.
There are also dozens of popular lures that bass are attracted to, including spinner bait, crankbait, jerkbait, topwater lures, and soft plastics (also called fluke).
3. Setting Your Drag
The drag is often a part of fishing that many newcomers get confused about. The drag is simply the mechanism inside your reel that provides a consistent resistance level when something pulls on the other end. Understanding the right level of drag needed for bass fishing might take a while to figure out, but you want to set it at a level that will allow the fish to pull line off of the real, but not too freely.
When you catch a bass, or any other type of fish, it will initially pull and tug at your hook in an effort to get away. Most fish will swim very hard away from the spot where they bit the hook in an effort that many anglers refer to as a ‘run.’ You want to have your drag set at a level where the fish is able to pull some line off of the reel, but also hard enough so the fish will quickly tire out, allowing you to more easily reel it in.
4. Casting Your Rod
It’s important to have the right technique and mechanics when casting your fishing rod. A spincast rod and reel is the easiest rod to cast since you only have to push a button with your thumb and bring the rod back before casting it forward and letting your thumb off the button as you do so. This will take some practice to master, but thankfully, plenty of instructional videos online will help you get the right motion down.
5. When to Fish?
Bass are ambush predators, meaning they like to use their surroundings to their advantage when hunting for prey. Bass like to hide under or behind various types of ‘cover’ which they use to disguise themselves from their target before they strike. They always like to feed at dawn and dusk because the low-light situation created by the sun rising and setting allows them to do a better job of hiding themselves.
It’s best to go fishing early in the morning or late in the evening throughout the year. Bass and most other types of fish like to feed during this time since it isn’t too bright, but they also like to take advantage of the cooler water temperatures of dawn and dusk during hot weather.
6. Look for Cover or Structure
Bass love to stay in or very close to cover. This cover, which is also referred to as structure, might be trees that have fallen into the water, a submerged brush pile, rock pile, standing timber, stumps, docks, piers or any other type of object that provides shade or a place for bass to hide from their prey.
There are also other types of cover in the form of vegetation like underwater grass, moss, lily pads, and virtually any type of thick growth that bass can hide in. This type of cover allows them to hide from potential predators while also helping them remain hidden from unsuspecting prey.
7. Depth Changes
Another key to finding out where bass will hide is identifying depth changes in any waterway you’re fishing. Bass like to stay near any area where the water depth rapidly changes. This includes steep banks, ledges, holes, channels, and cliffs where bass like to stage and strike at any unsuspecting prey.
8. Pay Attention to Water Temperature
Believe it or not, bass are a lot like humans regarding their comfort level when it gets overly hot or cold outside. Any sharp change in the water temperature will affect bass behavior at different times of the year. If it’s too hot or cold, bass tend to retreat to deeper water in most lakes or ponds.
Learning how bass behave during different seasons and weather conditions is crucial.
In the summer, bass like to stay in the shallow waters while it’s dark, but will usually move towards deeper water once the sun rises and it gets hot outside. When the water temperatures cool off in the fall, bass will become more active and can be caught in the shallow portions of most waterways.
In winter, bass will venture into deep water, which provides a bit of insulation from the colder temperatures near the surface. A lake always freezes from the top-down, so the colder it gets, the deeper a bass will go.
When the water temps start to warm up in the spring, bass will begin their annual feeding frenzy in preparation for the spawn. Fishing the spawn is exciting and the best time of the year to catch trophy-sized bass.
9. Master Bass Rigs
There are dozens of ways to attach your bait or lure with hundreds of knots. Within this collection are a few popular options, including the Carolina Rig, Texas Rig, Neko Rig, Wacky Rig, and Drop Shot Rig. Learn to master these bass fishing rigs and you will have more success presenting your bait in a hard way for the fish to resist.
10. Practice Makes Perfect
If you’re going to become a successful bass angler, the best thing you can do is to get out there and practice. It’s important that you read the right educational material and watch videos on the subject of bass fishing, but you’ll gain the most useful knowledge from being out there and catching fish yourself.