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How to Fish for Bass

Five Parts:Knowing Your Fishing ConditionsChoosing the Right LureChoosing the Right LineChoosing the Right RodEmploying the Right Technique

Whether you’re a competitive sports fisher or just want to spend a fun afternoon with your family on the lake, bass fishing is a difficult pastime if you aren’t properly equipped. Nature is unpredictable but if you understand the habits of bass and the conditions that you are fishing, you can employ the most effective techniques and equipment for landing a spectacular catch.

Part 1
Knowing Your Fishing Conditions

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    Understand the habits of Bass during each season. During Winter and lower temperatures, bass will not expend much effort and will only bite when your lure is immediately within their strike zone.[1] Bass are erratic during Fall but will feed closer to shore as the temperature drops. Spring and Summer provides ideal fishing conditions as Bass will feed closer to shore early in the morning and move out into open water around creek channels and structures later in the day.
    • Divide Spring into 4 segments to optimize the spawning behavior. Pre-spawn, spawn, post-spawn, and late Spring require different approaches.[2]
    • Pre-spawn has you fishing at around 8 - 15 feet in depth, spawn moves you up to a shallower depth towards their spawning beds, post-spawn moves you back down to 8-15 feet, and late spring is the optimum time to fish around structures and the shore.
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    Optimize your terrain. Bass like to stay close to certain areas or hide within debris depending on the weather, time of day and which phase of their spawning cycle they are in. Vegetation, rocky bottoms, shallow flats, fallen trees, structures, bushes and grass are all great places to set your cast.
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    Choose your location based on the time of day. Bass like to feed closer to shore in the morning and move out into open water later in the day. Fish off structures in late afternoon as Bass will look for shade and deeper water.

Part 2
Choosing the Right Lure

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    Fish with crankbaits when you want to cover a lot of water in light vegetation, rocky bottoms, shallow flats, and through bushes and grass. These lures are quite versatile.[3]
    • Crankbaits come either lipless or with a lip and each is effective dependant on depth and the speed at which you reel.[4]
    • Use lipless crankbaits if you’re fishing in 1 foot of water or if you’re fishing as deep as 50 feet. You will have to reel faster or use a lighter lure in shallow water, whereas you will reel slower or use a heavier lure when fishing deeper water.[5]
    • Use a specific lipped crankbait depending on the depth of the water because they are classified as shallow, medium or deep diving based on a 10 pound nylon monofilament or fluorocarbon line.[6]
    • Use square bill crankbaits or crankbaits with round, stubby lips and sharp angled off noses when fishing for bass in shallow water, around wood or rock.[7]
    • Deploy medium-diving crankbaits when fishing in a 5-10 foot range. If you’re fishing 12 feet or deeper, use deep-diving crankbaits.
    • Lipless crankbaits can easily be ripped out of grass or bumped along a clean bottom whereas a lipped crankbait will hit something and kick outwards because the lip acts as a deflector.[8]
    • The shape of your crankbait determines how much movement you will get, which is important depending on the temperature of the water as bass are less active in colder temperatures.
    • With a more rounded-bodied crankbait you’ll get a wide wobble that is attractive to bass that are aggressive, usually when water is warmer; in contrast, a flat crankbait with narrow sides will have a tighter wiggle that is more appealing to bass in cold water who won’t react to large movements.[9]
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    Fish with Spinnerbaits when you want to cover a lot of water and fish through quick cover. Thanks to their unique blade shape, they can dive and be retrieved quickly.[10] Spinner baits work best when it’s windy and cloudy because they are meant to cause a reaction from the bass. Use faster spinner baits in clearer water and slower ones in muddier water.[11]
    • Choose spinnerbaits in standard or weedless. A weedless spinnerbait is a good option if you are fishing in a lot of cover, but are also harder to set the hook on. Add a cheater hook to catch short striking fish.
    • There are 3 major blade types: leaf, Colorado, and Indiana. Each blade type is effective for different conditions.
    • The leaf blade is most effective when fishing through grass and in clear water when you want a fast retrieval. It is a long slender blade with rounded points on either end to allow a faster spin and less water resistance.[12]
    • Deploy the Colorado blade when fishing at night or in muddy and murky water. The rounded shape allows it to spin slower giving the bass more opportunity to bite.[13]
    • Utilize the Indiana blade as a compromise to the slower Colorado blade and faster leaf blade.
    • The larger the blade means that it is easier to maneuver around stumps, rocks, and other debris, while narrow blades move quickly through sparse grass.[14]
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    Fish with Topwater lures in very shallow water, or in areas that are covered in surface vegetation, such as lily pads. These lures are meant to ripple the water surface with popping and splashing as you retrieve it.[15]
    • In the spring, bright colors work best, and in the fall and winter, black white or gray work well.
    • Choose topwaters that produce a lot of noise and splash to get the bass' attention.
    • Topwater lures come in walkers, poppers, wakebaits, minnows/twitch baits, prop baits, buzzbaits, and frogs. Each different type of topwater lure is most effective in different conditions.[16]
    • Walkers are most effective when covering a lot of top water quickly because it keeps the bait in striking distance for the bass.
    • Poppers should be deployed when fishing around stumps, docks, bushes, rocks, and small areas that are covered because these lures will aggravate bass into biting.
    • Wakebaits work best in clear water when fish are attracted to the V shaped wake.
    • Minnows/twitch baits excel in clear lakes or small areas where bass may spook at aggressive lures. They are great during spawning when bass are guarding their nests.
    • Prop baits should be used in places with a lot of grass, especially during spawning season. They create a lot of movement even without moving a great distance, which keeps them in a bass’ striking range longer.
    • Buzzbaits should be used in sparse grass and places where you feel your lure might get snagged but you still want a topwater presentation. These are most effective after spawning during the late summer.
    • Frogs are meant to mimic real frogs so use them effectively around heavy grass. They can also be used around cover as they are one of the toughest lures to snag.
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    Fishing with Jigs when you want a very accurate feel on the line, and are using short-range flipping and pitching techniques instead of casting out into the distance. The common plastic skirting attracts bass all year round.[17]
    • Bass will usually hit a bait while it is falling, so after it has sat on the bottom for a bit give the rod tip a small twitch to see if anything has picked up your bait.
    • Jigs are most effective when employed in cover or closed to cover so be aware of the risk of getting snagged. Jigs are meant to imitate crawfish so try to make them scoot along the bottom.[18]
    • Both jigs and plastic worms are best used slowly.
    • Use a ¾ ounce jig when fishing through thick grass.
    • Jigs are also effective when fishing on docks and piers because they provide protection from predators.
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    Fish with Plastic and Rubber Lure to imitate worms or lizards. These lures are the most versatile and the most effective because they are so lifelike. They can also be fished weighted or weightless.[19]
    • Floating plastics can be used just like a topwater, and any type of plastic can be fished weedless to allow fishing in extremely heavy vegetation.
    • Fish with plastic/rubber lures in the Winter when bass are not very active. These lures can still be effective in warmer weather if you employ slightly more movement but the only time these lures are ineffective are when bass are very active.[20]
    • Plastic/rubber lures work best when water is over 55 degrees. Use large lures that are 7-10 inches when the water is murky but shorter lures that are 4-5 inches when the water is clear and the bass are lethargic.[21]
    • Both rigs and plastic/rubber lures are best used slowly.

Part 3
Choosing the Right Line

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    Match your line with the diving depth. Pair the correct size of line with your crankbait according to how deep you want the bait to run.
    • For example, use a 10 pound fluorocarbon line to lighten up a deep diving crankbait or you can use the same 10 pound fluorocarbon line to get a medium diving crankbait to stay at its deepest range.[22]
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    Choose lighter spinnerbaits for shallow water while heavier lures should be used for deeper depths. The weight will range from ⅛ ounce to 2 ounces.[23]
    • Remember that the slower you reel, the deeper your lure will swim while reeling fast keeps your lure shallow.[24]
    • Blade size also affects how deep your lure will go but you can also add a trailer to your hook for buoyancy and movement.[25]
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    Use a floating plastic/rubber lure, around 7 inches, with a light wire rig. Plastic/rubber lures come in different shapes and sizes but remember they are meant to mimic worms or lizards so use lines that won’t easily get snagged in vegetation or debris where worms or lizards would commonly be found.[26]

Part 4
Choosing the Right Rod

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    Employ a lightweight rod for buzzbaits and spinnerbaits. The ideal rod is lightweight, 6 ½ - 7 feet, with a medium action and medium soft tip. It’s important to ensure you use a sensitive rod because bass will often bump the blade before it strikes.[27]
    • A shorter rod will give you more accuracy in your cast but a longer rod will give your more power to set your hook, leverage when reeling in your bass, and distance to your cast.
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    Employ a sensitive and lightweight rod for crankbaits and topwater lures. The ideal rod is lightweight, sensitive, 6 - 7 feet, fiberglass, and has a medium action tip or a light action tip based on the weight of your lure.[28]
    • A medium action rod can also be used if it can set the hook and be flexible during your cast. A ⅛ ounce lure needs a light tip while a 314 ounce lure needs a medium tip.
    • A sensitive rod helps you determine what type of structure you’re coming into contact with.
    • A 7 foot rod is effective when casting out a far distance and when using heavier baits. A 6 foot rod are more effective for accuracy when trying to cast towards fallen trees or in between structures.
    • Fiberglass rods allow bass to inhale the hook before it’s set as the flex on the rod keeps the hook from becoming dislodged.
  3. Image titled Fish for Bass Step 14
    Employ a sensitive and lightweight graphite rod when using jigs or plastic/rubber lures. The ideal rod is lightweight, extremely sensitive, 6 ½ - 7 ½ feet, graphite, and has medium action and a medium light tip.[29]
    • When fishing deep water, sensitivity and weight are imperative so you can feel the bites without getting fatigued from holding up the rod in a 9 to 10 o’clock position over long periods of time.
    • Use a 6 ½ foot rod when fishing structures 20 feet or deeper and a 7 ½ foot rod when fishing anywhere shallower than 20 feet.
    • Graphite is faster and more sensitive than fiberglass, which allows you to set the hook fast. It’s vital to have a soft tip to ensure that there’s tension with the bass at all times as you can easily lose a fish if only the point of the hook is embedded.

Part 5
Employing the Right Technique

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    Pitch your bait into or near visible brush and underwater debris. Bass hang out near and under structure to wait for an ambush opportunity to feed. As you become more confident with your cast, try skipping your bait off of structures to solicit a reaction strike from a nearby bass.
    • Bass will strike lures when they are hungry and when they are irritated.
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    Cast your line and bait parallel to the shore, treeline or brushline you are working and draw the bait back toward you. This will give your lure/bait a longer time in the strike zone and will, in time, increase your strike percentages because you're extending your bait's exposure to bass.
    • A savvy angler will work the percentages but don’t be discouraged when you don’t get a bite.
  3. Image titled Fish for Bass Step 17
    Mimic fleeing or helpless prey with erratic movements when using topwater lures to activate the feeding and agitation response from bass.[30]
    • Create a back-and-forth or zig zag pattern on the surface of the water when you employ a walker lure. Snap your wrist and rod tip downward at a sharp angle and then point the rod tip back to the lure quickly so it glides. Give a series of fast snaps to make the bait move from left to right.
    • Snap your rod tip downward to activate a poppers concave mouth and narrow tail.
    • Steadily retrieve your wakebait to utilize its sharp angled lip to cause it to shimmy back and forth.
    • Twitch and float minnows/twitch baits back to the surface to attract bass guarding their nests during spawning.
    • Use a series of short jerks on your rod to spray water with prop baits.
    • Steadily retrieve your buzzbait to employ its blade to curl the water, spitting and spraying during quick jerks.
    • Twitch frogs along the top of grass and water to get bass to explode onto your lure.
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    Cast out a jig lure and give the line plenty of time to hit the bottom. Jigs and plastics are fished differently than other types of lures. Instead of reeling in to produce the "action", the bait is retrieved by moving the rod tip.
    • After the bait has hit the bottom and you have given it a twitch, slowly lift the rod tip until it points straight up in the 12 o'clock position. Let it sit there for a moment and then drop it down to the 9 - 10 o'clock position and reel in the slack. Repeat these steps until your line is in.
    • You'll have to have a good feel for your line to tell when a fish is biting so most people hold their finger against the line while lifting the rod tip.
    • Look for sudden resistance or bumping on the line, a line that goes slack suddenly or veers sideways. To set the hook, drop the rod tip very quickly to the 3 o'clock position, and pull back hard to 12 o'clock.
    • Use jigs around fallen trees where bass are hiding.
    • Brush piles on a rocky bottom, standing timber, thick grass, and flats are all prime locations to employ a jig.
    • Pitch or flip a jig around the angles where limbs connect to the trunks of fallen trees. Let the jig fall to the bottom with a semi-tight line.[31]
    • Drag or hop your jig down ledges or drops to mimic the movements of a crawfish.
  5. Image titled Fish for Bass Step 19
    Don’t reel Plastic or Rubber lures in but rather retrieve it with purpose by lifting and dropping the rod as you take up the slack of the line. To fish a plastic/rubber lure, use the same technique as you would when using a jig. Cast out and give the line plenty of time to hit the bottom.
    • After the bait has hit the bottom and you have given it a twitch, slowly lift the rod tip until it points straight up in the 12 o'clock position. Let it sit there for a moment and then drop it down to the 9 - 10 o'clock position and reel in the slack. Repeat these steps until your line is in.
    • You'll have to have a good feel for your line to tell when a fish is biting so most people hold their finger against the line while lifting the rod tip.
    • Look for sudden resistance or bumping on the line, a line that goes slack suddenly or veers sideways. To set the hook, drop the rod tip very quickly to the 3 o'clock position, and pull back hard to 12 o'clock.


  • Don't ignore the creature baits and artificial worms -- many experienced bass anglers will confirm this suggestion: without fail, the largest bass ever caught have been snagged using these simple baits and techniques with a spinning reel/rod combo.
  • Scents and weights may increase your chance of catching a fish. Try a wide variety to see which one is right for the area you are fishing in.
  • Don't depend solely on artificial lures -- a nice night crawler may also produce spectacular results.
  • Don't get discouraged if you don't catch fish the first time. You have to know the lake. Consider getting a map for the specific lake.
  • Natural color baits work best -- greens, browns, watermelon red.
  • Check to see if you need a fishing license, fees from these licenses help ensure safe and sustainable fishing opportunities!
  • Just like anything else, bass fishing takes practice. The more you fish and learn the more luck you'll have on the water.
  • Use a medium sized hook and use minnows for bait.
  • Banjo or bionic minnows will increase a beginners chance of catching a bass. That specific bait is so life like and easy to use.
  • Nightcrawlers are perfect for bass, cast it without a floater and sinker and yu have a good chance to get a Largemouth.


  • Be sure you have a license to fish.
  • Think twice about eating a bass you may catch. Reservoir and retention ponds can produce some large bass; however, retention ponds collect runoff wastes and toxins from groundwater. Eating these fish may be hazardous to your health. Conversely, bass caught from larger lakes and rivers are your best bet for fish not as likely to be toxic with metals such as mercury and other contaminants. This is due, in large measure, to the fact that lake water is replenished to varying degrees by feeder-rivers and underground springs.

Things You'll Need

  • Bait
  • Rod
  • Reel
  • Bass boat, if possible
  • License

Sources and Citations

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Article Info

Categories: Fishing