If you want to be a successful bass angler, you’ll need to have the right gear. There’s a lot of debate surrounding new tactics, techniques, and equipment in bass fishing, and it can be overwhelming to new anglers. We’ve compiled a list of specific tackle items that you can use to get started bass fishing.
In this article, we’ll list these items and explain how and why you need them if you’re going to consistently catch largemouth bass.
Essential Bass Fishing Tackle
Rod and Reel
Having the right fishing rod and reel for a specific technique makes a significant difference in whether or not you’re able to catch bass. Professional bass anglers typically have an assortment of different rods and reels which they use for a very specific purpose on the water.
If you’ve just started bass fishing, you probably aren’t ready to invest hundreds or even thousands of dollars into purchasing a half-dozen fishing rods that you can use exclusively with certain bass fishing tackle items. It’s good to start out with a rod that’s versatile enough to allow you to properly fish a wide variety of bass fishing lures and rigs.
Spinning rod and reels are generally better for light tackle and finesse fishing, but you can fish a huge variety of lures with them. Baitcasting rods and reels are obviously much better when it comes to using certain types of lures and techniques, but they come with a serious learning curve for beginners.
I would recommend starting out with a quality spinning rod and reel if you’re a beginner. A medium-heavy spinning rod that’s 6’6″ long is a great rod, to begin with. I would pair this with a good quality spinning reel that’s around a 3000 size or 30, depending on the numeric system used by the manufacturer.
Hooks & Terminal Tackle
Hooks and weights are must-have items for your tackle box. By having a good assortment of weights, swivels, and hooks, you’ll be able to create lots of different presentations with your bass fishing tackle. Most artificial lures will come with their own hooks, but you’ll need to have a variety of them for fishing with soft plastic baits.
For most soft plastic bait presentations, you’ll need a combination of an offset shank hook, bullet sinker, and barrel swivel, all of which are absolutely essential for catching largemouth bass. When the weather is favorable, I often use soft plastic baits much more than any other kind of bass lures.
It’s important that you have the right items to create certain go-to presentations like a Carolina rig or Texas rig, Wacky rigged plastics, finesse baits, and other rigs involving plastic worms and creature baits. These are the lures that are very often used by professional bass fishing anglers to win some of the biggest tournaments in the world.
When it comes to hooks, I prefer to keep a Gamakatsu EWG Worm Hook Kit in my tackle box or bag. This kit is packed with sets of 2/0, 3/0, and 4/0 standard EWG worm hooks, as well as 3/0 and 4/0 Superline EWG hooks.
When choosing weights, it’s understandable to go with the more affordable lead products, but tungsten weights are much better in terms of performance, as well as being better for the environment.
I always keep at least one or two packs of Strike King 1/4 oz. Tungsten Bullet Weights in green pumpkin or red color, as well as Fishing Vault Tungsten Drop Shot weights in either cylinder or teardrop style in 1/2 oz. and 1/4 oz.
Terminal tackle is another area you shouldn’t overlook. This includes barrel swivels, split rings, and O-rings that should be used with wacky rigs or Neko rigs. It can be tempting to purchase cheaper terminal tackle items, but you’ll risk having your lures and line break or malfunction more often.
One of the best types of barrel swivels is the SPRO Power Swivel in 4 or 6 sizes. If I’m fishing during hot weather, I always make sure I have an O-Wacky Tool and plenty of O-rings, as well as Gamakatsu Wide Gap hooks for wacky rigging plastic worms.
Most bass fishermen will bring a massive assortment of lures and a large tackle box with them on any fishing trip. However, you can usually catch fish just as effectively with about a dozen different lures that include soft plastic baits, square bill crankbaits, and topwater baits.
The following items are some of the best bass fishing lures you can have and will ensure that you’ll have tight lines more often than not.
Soft Plastic Baits
Soft plastic baits are used more often than any other type of artificial lure to catch largemouth bass. There are seemingly endless tactics and presentations you can use to mimic bait fish or other creatures that big bass often target throughout the year.
The subtle, wavy action produced by soft plastics gives them the appearance of swimming or moving in the water, which is something that’s crucial for anyone looking to catch fish on a consistent basis.
You can catch bass at any time of the year and in shallow or deep water using soft plastic baits. The following sections list three of the best overall soft plastic baits any angler can have in their tackle box. If you practice with these and gain a well-rounded understanding of how to use them, you’ll be guaranteed to land big bass with each one.
- Much faster fall rate due to higher salt content impregnated inside worm
- Distinct wiggling action
- Can be fished weightless, wacky rigged or Neko rigged
- Large buoyant claws float upward, closely resembling a crawfish in the 'attack' position
- Compact with flat belly for a smooth gliding movement
- Works by itself in a Texas rig or can be used as a trailer for jigs, etc.
- Darts, glides, and knuckleballs through the water
- Tempts both small and larger sized fish
- Salt-impregnated to keep fish biting
When fish are a bit more active, hungry bass are usually looking to chase down anything resembling a small bait fish that comes within striking distance. Spinnerbaits are an excellent choice for fishing at any level of the water column and you can retrieve them in a variety of different methods, using various speeds to match the activity level of the largemouth bass you’re after.
Spinnerbaits are especially useful for catching bass on windy, overcast days. They are an excellent lure to use if you’re trying to cover a large portion of water and find out where the bass are in relation to the water column or various depth changes. I always have at least two or three white or chartreuse-colored spinnerbaits in my tackle box.
- More compact, lightweight size is great for catching large and small bass
- Diamond-pattern Colorado blade produces more vibration and visual effect
- High-quality hook and wire ensures that the lure won't be damaged by violent strikes
- Comes in colors that match the head and skirt for more realistic look
- Two large willow blades give off a pulsating effect that mimics the same vibration caused by a swimming fish
- Tough stainless steel wire holds the bait together
Another simple, easy-to-use lure is the crankbait. Much like spinnerbaits, these lures can be retrieved at a steady speed, or you can add in a few twitches and jerks of the rod tip to entice bass to come out of heavy cover and strike.
Crankbaits work all year round and are effective in shallow and deep water if you know how to use them properly. In extremely cold or hot weather, bass are usually hunkered down in deeper water, and a deep-diving crankbait is often the answer to getting them to bite.
I like to throw a crankbait when bass are actively feeding on schools of shad around large flats or around primary and secondary points during early spring. I usually throw crankbaits with casting rods, but they also work well enough with spinning tackle to catch fish.
Many anglers often catch their biggest bass on crankbaits and these lures are often responsible for professional fishermen winning prestigious tournaments. Crankbaits can sometimes be expensive, but they are extremely effective and should certainly be part of your tackle arsenal.
- Smaller and more compact for a more subtle approach to finicky bass
- Square bill allows it to bounce off cover and structure
- Great for fishing in water less than 10 feet deep during spring and fall
- Flat sides produce a tight side-to-side wobbling action
- Short lip creates a shallow dive down to about 6 feet deep
- Made of premium balsa wood for a life-like sound and good buoyancy
A few other bass fishing lures I always keep in my tackle box are topwater lures and jigs. These are two lures that are outstanding choices for catching big fish and will work with both casting or spinning reel combo setups.
When it comes to fishing with topwater baits, there is a limited window of time throughout each year when you can catch bass using them. Most anglers will start throwing topwater lures in late spring after the spawn and when bass make their way up into the shallows at dawn or dusk.
Jigs are effective at almost any time of the year and will work in frigid temperatures or mild weather. I always prefer to throw a tungsten jig head as opposed to lead or any other type of metal. Tungsten jig heads are heavier, which means you can have a more compact profile using them instead of lead jig heads.
- Upturned nose points the lure upwards, making it easy to walk over logs and other cover
- Long shank hook helps to increase catch rate
- The buzz's wings are cupped at a sharp angle for maximum water dispersion
- Large concave mouth produces sizable chugging effect
- Internal rattle helps attract bites
- Skirted rear treble for tail-like action
Picasso Swim Jig 3/8 ounce
- Realistic Smart Mouth head produces subtle wobble
- Durable 5/0 Mustad 3X strong hook
- Can be fished at any depth, at any time of year
Bass fishing requires the use of heavier fishing lines than what you’d use for smaller species like trout or panfish. There are three types of line used when it comes to bass fishing that includes monofilament, fluorocarbon, and braided line.
Monofilament is made of one single strand of material and has the ability to stretch more than any other type of line. It’s good for using with lures that you might expect to jerk or twitch on your retrieve, as the line can stretch and maintain the right kind of action in your lure.
Fluorocarbon line is made up of multiple types of material and is much less visible underwater. This makes it a popular leader line material and comes in especially useful when you’re fishing in clear water.
Braided line is woven together from multiple strands of material and is very different from mono or fluoro. Braid is a must-have for fishing in areas where there is heavy cover or vegetation.
Essential Bass Fishing Tackle – Other Items
It’s good to have a good weigh scale/grip if you’re going to be fishing in tournaments. A quality grip and scale combo will help you maintain control over the bass you catch and get an accurate weight reading on the scale that will let you determine whether to keep or cull the fish.
This kind of tool can often be expensive, but getting a premium quality to weigh scale/grip is crucial if you’re a competitive angler. My favorite weighs scale/grip is the Rapala Digital Fish Gripper, which you can usually find for less than $50.
You can do without a weigh scale or grip tool, but it’s absolutely critical to have a good pair of fishing pliers in your tackle box or bag. When bass fishing, you will eventually have a fish that’s hooked deep into their throat, which will be extremely tough to get out using your hands. With a good pair of fishing pliers, you can quickly and easily remove the hook and ensure the survival of the bass.
Using any type of pliers might seem like it would work, but you’re likely to have them rust or break if you don’t have the right kind. Make sure that you get a good pair of needle-nose pliers that will be narrow enough to reach far into the fish’s mouth to remove hooks without any trouble.
I always have a pair of Rapala Stainless Steel Pliers as part of my essential fishing gear. In addition to being able to remove hooks, these pliers are designed to allow you to manipulate wires and hooks on your lures and can also be used as a crimping tool.
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