Bass fishing is one of the most popular forms of angling in the world. Largemouth and smallmouth bass can be found throughout most of the North American continent and these fish can be caught at any time of the year if you’re using the right tackle.
Getting started in bass fishing demands that an angler have a well-rounded assortment of tackle which they can rely on in certain situations. If you’re interested in learning the specific items and tackle you need for bass fishing, we’ve compiled this article to give you an idea of what you need to begin.
This article is part of my Complete Guide to Bass Fishing series that you might be interested in.
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Essential Bass Fishing Tackle
When it comes to bass fishing, there are some key gear items you need to ensure that you have the right tools for the job. This includes a rod that’s heavy enough to handle these feisty fish species, but one that’s also light and flexible enough to be capable of casting a variety of different lures.
While most beginner or novice anglers focus more on the lures they will use, few of them actually realize that the rod and reel you’re fishing with is likely to be the most important item you have. By fishing with a solid rod and reel that’s equipped with the right fishing line, you can get the best possible performance out of your lures and rigs.
In the following sections, we’ll cover what tackle you need for bass fishing and explain why these items are important.
Bass Fishing Rod and Reel
The first thing you’ll need is a fishing rod. It’s crucial that you select a rod that’s good for bass fishing. It’s usually recommended that beginners start out with a spincast or spinning reel instead of a baitcaster. Spincast reels are much easier to cast compared to baitcasting reels and their overall operation is simple and easy to grasp.
If you’re just getting started in bass fishing, we recommend getting a good quality spincast rod and reel combo. Be sure to get a rod that’s heavy and strong enough to handle the fight you’ll get from a sizable largemouth or smallmouth bass. If you’re lucky, you might catch one that weighs more than 6 or 8 pounds, which will put a significant strain on light tackle.
Rod Power and Action
One of the more confusing aspects of trying to find a good rod for bass fishing is understanding what power and action means. A rod’s power refers to the level of resistance it has under pressure while the rod action refers to how much it will flex under that pressure.
Power is indicated using terms like heavy, medium, medium-heavy and light or ultralight. If a rod is heavier, it will have less bend and will be thicker and stronger, which allows you to handle large-sized fish. A rod that is light will bend to a greater degree and will usually be very thin and flexible.
The different measures of a rod’s action is indicated with terms like slow, moderate, or fast. Slow action means the rod will flex throughout the entire rod while fast action rods will bend to a much greater degree, but this flex and bending will occur in the rod’s upper third.
The best kind of rod for bass fishing is one that is medium-heavy or medium-light.
Most spincast rod and reel combos will come with fishing line already on the spool. There are three types of fishing line: monofilament, fluorocarbon and braided line. Each of these three have their own strengths and weaknesses.
Monofilament (mono) is basically one single strand of material and is capable of stretching more than braid or fluorocarbon (fluoro). Fluoro is more dense than mono, which means it will sink while mono usually floats. Fluoro is also able to blend in with the water better than other kinds of line, so it’s better to use in certain situations where you’re fishing in clear water.
Braided line is vastly different from mono and fluoro. It’s made out of different kinds of fibers like Dacron, Micro-Dyneema or Spectron that are woven together to create an incredibly strong strand. Braided fishing line is great for fishing in places where there is lots of cover or vegetation that your hook can get snagged on. Instead of breaking the line and losing your lure, you can usually pull it free if you’re using braid.
Most lures come with hooks already installed, but for most bass fishing rigs or fishing with live bait, you’ll have to select your own hooks. Fishing with minnows, worms and other live bait options is the best way to get started fishing because it eliminates the need to learn how to use artificial lures and allows anglers to focus on catching fish.
If you’re going to fish with artificial lures like soft plastics, it’s best to have some 3/0 size hooks in your tackle box. For live bait, try a size 2 or 4 as this will be large enough to hook the fish you’re after, but not too big. Like anything else when it comes to fishing, you get what you pay for, so remember to invest in a good quality assortment of hooks.
You don’t always need weights for bass fishing, but they do come in handy for certain situations. If you’re using live bait, it’s good to have a hook when fishing in windy conditions, or if there’s a water current that might pull your bait away from the spot you want to fish.
There are many different types of weights for bass fishing. For beginners, it’s good to have a pack of split shot sinkers for fishing with minnows or worms. Having bullet sinkers allows you to fish with a variety of different soft plastic lures and various presentations like Texas or Carolina rigs.
One of the most popular kinds of artificial lures is soft plastics. These are usually any type of worm, lizard or other variation that can be used in simple rigs that will catch fish any time of year.
If you’re just getting started and want to experiment with soft plastics, I would recommend going with a trick worm or ribbon-tail worm that you can rig with a 3/0 hook and a ⅛ or 3/16 size bullet sinker. There are hundreds of different color options when it comes to soft plastics, but some of the best ones I’ve used have been green-pumpkin, watermelon red, and motor-oil red.
You can really get creative when fishing with soft plastics and it’s good to do plenty of research on the specific type of rig and soft plastic you want to use before hitting the water.
Spinnerbaits and Crankbaits
Some of the tried-and-true artificial lures you can use throughout the year are crankbaits and spinnerbaits. These lures are designed to mimic a bait fish swimming through the water and they work great when you want to use artificial lures to drum up some action from hungry bass.
There are wide varieties of different sizes, colors and styles of these lures, so be sure to do some research and determine what color and style is best for the region you’re fishing in. When it comes to selecting colors in any type of crankbait or spinnerbait, use brighter colors for fishing in muddy water and more natural, earthy colors for fishing in clear water.
Useful Tackle Items
There are many other things you’ll want to add to your tackle box that will help maximize your efforts on the water. Most anglers acquire these items as they get more experienced in bass fishing. Here are some miscellaneous bass fishing gear items you should consider:
- Fishing pliers – these will help you dislodge a hook from the mouth of your fish safely and in a way that will ensure the fish’s survival. Pliers are also useful for performing various tasks related to adjusting and setting up your hooks, weights and lures.
- Bobbers – if you’re going to be fishing with live bait, a bobber will help you keep your minnow, worm or other kind of bait at the right depth under the surface. They also make fishing much more simple for beginners as you only need to watch your bobber to know if you’re getting a bite.
- Polarized sunglasses – a good pair of polarized sunglasses will help you see into the water with much more clarity as they are capable of blocking out horizontal light waves that reflect off the water’s surface.
Getting started in the world of bass fishing isn’t as expensive and difficult as some might expect it to be. You don’t have to start out with a high-speed bass boat or the latest and greatest lure or other gear items. If you follow the advice we’ve mentioned in this article, you’ll have everything you need to begin catching fish.