How to Catch Bass: Fishing Tips for Beginners in 2024

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Bass are America’s most popular freshwater sport fish and a national institution when it comes to fishing. There are bass fishing tournaments, bass fishing shops, and websites devoted to bass fishing – so we thought we’d get fishing guide and resident expert Shawn Chapin to explain its appeal and provide some bass fishing tips for beginners.

How to Catch Bass: The Basics

Largemouth Bass are not a difficult fish to catch in most conditions. They are aggressive and opportunistic feeders and they are found in a large variety of waterways throughout the US. They tolerate a big range of conditions and are renowned fighters when an angler gets them on the line.

Lures and Artificial Baits for Largemouth Bass

Lure fishing is by far the most popular way to fish for largemouth bass (although fly fishers are starting to get in on the act too and targeting bass on a fly rod).

We’ve written a whole article on the best lure types for bass, and we recommend that anglers – particularly those who are used to fishing for bass with lures – read it.

But for beginners, we’ve broken down below the types of lures that are effective for catching largemouth bass.

Soft Plastic Baits for Bass

We recommend using soft plastic lures to target bass for beginners for a few reasons. First of all, they are cheap compared to crankbaits, jerkbaits, and topwater lures. If you lose a soft plastic lure, you just tie on another jig head and pull another worm or crawdad out and thread it on. Whereas with other types of lures, you are up for at least $10 to replace them. Jig heads are very cheap, and if you really want to save money, you can make your own soft plastics with some of the kits on offer.

Of the soft baits used to fish for largemouth bass, Senko style worms and finesse worms are the most popular. Rigging these worms (and other varieties of soft baits to achieve the best results) is a science in itself!

For info and simple instructions on rigging worms and other soft baits for bass, check out these articles:

See also: the Neko Rig, and Toyko Rig and other key bass rigs

Jigs for Largemouth Bass

More bass have been caught on jigs than any other lure type. They are deadly, fun to fish, cheap and produce trophy bass. Check out this article if you are keen to try jigs for catching bass and want to learn which jigs are most effective for largemouth bass.

Crankbaits, Jerkbaits and Swimbaits

These realistic, shimmying hard and soft bodies lures are great imitations of shad and other prey types for bass. Each of these types of lure has its purpose in bass fishing, and feel free to read our specific guides on each type:

Topwater Lures for Largemouth Bass

Topwater lures such as frogs, poppers, and other floating lures are our favorite way to fish for bass simply because this form of fishing really gets the adrenalin flowing. Nothing can match the thrill of a surface take when a largemouth bass zeroes in a frog you’ve been pulling over a lily pad and smashes it.

In this article, we break down the best choice of surface lures for largemouth bass.

Spinnerbaits for largemouth bass

How to catch largemouth bass: FAQs and Tips

1. u003cstrongu003eWhy Is Bass Fishing So Popular?u003c/strongu003e

There are many reasons! Bass are found in abundance in every single state in the continental United States. They are found in u003cstrongu003ealmost every body of water u003c/strongu003ethat fish can survive in with very few exceptions and they can tolerate a wide variety in the water temperature.u003cbru003eu003cbru003eWhen you put together the abundance of fish with the fact that catching bass is relatively easy (but they do put up a good fight for their size), it is easy to see why u003cstrongu003ebass fishing is popularu003c/strongu003e. Bass – either largemouth, smallmouth or spotted – give anglers from beginner to elite level a fun and exciting time on the water.

2. u003cstrongu003eWhy Is Bass Fishing So Fun?u003c/strongu003e

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Bass fishing for beginners is fun they are an u003cstrongu003eexciting fish to catch u003c/strongu003eand you can fish for them using a variety of tactics and a range of bass fishing lures from soft plastics (especially combined with u003ca class=u0022ek-linku0022 href=u0022 target=u0022_blanku0022 rel=u0022noreferrer noopeneru0022u003escentsu003c/au003e), jigs, crankbaits and topwater u003ca href=u0022 target=u0022_blanku0022 rel=u0022noreferrer noopeneru0022u003eluresu003c/au003e too.u003cbru003eu003cbru003e Another reason bass fishing is so fun and popular is because of the ease of entry-level fishing. Compared to other species like u003ca href=u0022 target=u0022_blanku0022 rel=u0022noreferrer noopeneru0022u003ewalleyeu003c/au003e, or especially u003ca href=u0022 target=u0022_blanku0022 rel=u0022noreferrer noopeneru0022u003emuskyu003c/au003e, bass are reasonable easy to tempt. And with the abundance of them in most bodies of water, you could be able to cu003cstrongu003eonsistently catch bass all dayu003c/strongu003e.

3. u003cstrongu003eWhat Types of Bass Are There? And Where Are They Found?u003c/strongu003e

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The most common bass found in the United States is the largemouth bass, but there are also spotted and smallmouth bass as well.u003cbru003eu003cbru003eLargemouth bass are found in every state in the continental United States. Largemouth bass can also be found naturally in northern Mexico and the southern half of Canada. They have also been stocked in other parts of the world, such as Japan, where they are now a u003cstrongu003epopular sport fish for Japanese anglersu003c/strongu003e. (For a fascinating look at bass fishing in Japan, check out u003ca href=u0022 target=u0022_blanku0022 rel=u0022noreferrer noopeneru0022u003ethis articleu003c/au003e).u003cbru003eu003cbru003eSpotted bass inhabit a smaller portion of the United States and can be found from the gulf coast of Texas across the southern states to Florida and up to the Ohio River and Mississippi River basins.u003cbru003eu003cbru003eu003ca href=u0022 data-type=u0022postu0022 data-id=u00221009621u0022 target=u0022_blanku0022 rel=u0022noreferrer noopeneru0022u003eSmallmouth bassu003c/au003e are naturally occurring in the u003cstrongu003enorthern areas of the United States and Canada,u003c/strongu003e but over the years they have been stocked in lakes all over the United States west and south of their native ranges.u003cbru003eCheck out our u003ca aria-label=u0022fishing locations page (opens in a new tab)u0022 class=u0022rank-math-linku0022 href=u0022 target=u0022_blanku0022 rel=u0022noreferrer noopeneru0022u003efishing locations pageu003c/au003e for more detail on the best bass fishing spots in the US.

The largemouth bass is a key target for the majority of US anglers

RELATED POSTS: Best Spinning Rod for BassBest Bass AttractantBest Baitcasting Rod

An angler with a smallmouth bass – another popular species for American anglers

4. u003cstrongu003eWhat Type of Habitat Do Bass Like?u003c/strongu003e

The preferred habitat of bass varies not only by bodies of water you’re fishing for them in but also by species.u003cbru003eu003cbru003eLargemouth bass are u003cstrongu003ecommonly found around vegetation, timber or drop offsu003c/strongu003e – good areas to catch bass can be found using a u003ca aria-label=u0022fish finder (opens in a new tab)u0022 class=u0022rank-math-linku0022 href=u0022 target=u0022_blanku0022 rel=u0022noreferrer noopeneru0022u003efish finderu003c/au003e.u003cbru003eu003cbru003eSmallmouth can be found in all the same areas but also like structure such as deep rock piles and rubble, or shoreline rip rap. Smallmouth bass are also found in a lot of clear lakes and reservoirs and tend to live deeper in those bodies of water.u003cbru003eu003cbru003eSpotted bass can be found in all the same places as largemouth bass, but also like to inhabit areas that are u003cstrongu003ewarm, turbid and slow movingu003c/strongu003e that largemouth bass would avoid. Spotted bass can also be found in areas of faster current – again, that’s a spot that largemouth bass would normally avoid. For learning to pick out bass on a fish finder, check out our u003ca href=u0022 target=u0022_blanku0022 rel=u0022noreferrer noopeneru0022u003eguide to reading fish finder imagesu003c/au003e.

A bass in typical bass structure near a submerged log. Targeting structure like this is one of the best bass fishing tips

RELATED POSTS: Best Jigs for BassBest Fishing Line for BassBest Bass Worms

5. u003cstrongu003eWhat Is the Best Gear to Use for Bass Fishing?u003c/strongu003e

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Sorting out a good rod and reel is a u003cstrongu003etop priority for bass fishing for beginnersu003c/strongu003e. The common rods and reels used to catch bass are baitcaster rods and reels (check our summary of the u003ca rel=u0022noreferrer noopeneru0022 href=u0022 target=u0022_blanku0022u003ebest baitcasting reelsu003c/au003e if you are looking to buy one). Spinning rods (our u003ca class=u0022rank-math-linku0022 rel=u0022noreferrer noopeneru0022 href=u0022 target=u0022_blanku0022u003ebest spinning rods for bassu003c/au003e are listed here) and u003ca aria-label=u0022spinning reels (opens in a new tab)u0022 class=u0022ek-linku0022 rel=u0022noreferrer noopeneru0022 href=u0022 target=u0022_blanku0022u003espinning reelsu003c/au003e are also popular too. u003cstrongu003eSpinning reels are easier to useu003c/strongu003e and should be the first choice for beginners.u003cbru003eu003cbru003eSimilarly when it comes to u003ca aria-label=u0022choice of fishing line (opens in a new tab)u0022 class=u0022rank-math-linku0022 href=u0022 target=u0022_blanku0022 rel=u0022noreferrer noopeneru0022u003echoice of fishing lineu003c/au003e, a u003ca class=u0022rank-math-linku0022 aria-label=u0022good monofilament line (opens in a new tab)u0022 href=u0022 target=u0022_blanku0022 rel=u0022noreferrer noopeneru0022u003egood monofilament lineu003c/au003e if probably best for beginners as you don’t have the issues you can have with u003ca class=u0022rank-math-linku0022 href=u0022 lineu003c/au003e tangling and it is cheaper than u003ca aria-label=u0022fluoro line (opens in a new tab)u0022 class=u0022rank-math-linku0022 href=u0022 target=u0022_blanku0022 rel=u0022noreferrer noopeneru0022u003efluoro lineu003c/au003e. [For help with the 7 basic fishing knots beginners should know, check out u003ca aria-label=u0022this post (opens in a new tab)u0022 class=u0022rank-math-linku0022 href=u0022 target=u0022_blanku0022 rel=u0022noreferrer noopeneru0022u003ethis post u003c/au003ewhich has full tying instructions and illustrations and covers the top knots for each type of fishing line.]u003cbru003eu003cbru003eNormally a bass angler has a variety of types and sizes of outfit to cover multiple different tactics and situations. These can include a jigging u003ca rel=u0022noopeneru0022 href=u0022 target=u0022_blanku0022u003erod or a fiberglass rod for fishing for bass with crankbaitsu003c/au003e. When you are starting out, it’s a good idea to choose one of the u003ca rel=u0022noreferrer noopeneru0022 href=u0022 target=u0022_blanku0022u003ebest bass attractantsu003c/au003e to put on your bass fishing u003ca class=u0022ek-linku0022 aria-label=u0022lures (opens in a new tab)u0022 href=u0022 rel=u0022noreferrer noopeneru0022 target=u0022_blanku0022u003eluresu003c/au003e to help your catch rate. Check our our guide to the u003ca class=u0022rank-math-linku0022 href=u0022 lure kits for bass fishingu003c/au003e for some cheap ways to assemble a u003cstrongu003edecent arsenal of bass fishing luresu003c/strongu003e for your tackle box.u003cbru003eu003cbru003eAn overall rod and reel combination for all around fishing once you get a bit more experience would be something like a seven foot heavy u003ca rel=u0022noreferrer noopeneru0022 href=u0022 target=u0022_blanku0022u003ebaitcasting rodu003c/au003e with a fast action paired with a u003ca rel=u0022noreferrer noopeneru0022 href=u0022 target=u0022_blanku0022u003ebaitcasting reel u003c/au003ein the 6.4.1 gear ratio and spooled with some 16-pound u003ca aria-label=u0022fluorocarbon line (opens in a new tab)u0022 class=u0022rank-math-linku0022 rel=u0022noreferrer noopeneru0022 href=u0022 target=u0022_blanku0022u003efluorocarbon fishing lineu003c/au003e.

6. u003cstrongu003eWhat Are the Best Seasons to Fish for Bass?u003c/strongu003e

One of the best bass fishing beginner tips is to pick the best time of year to fish. u003cstrongu003eBass fishing is primarily the best in spring and summeru003c/strongu003e as the water temperature warms up. Big bass move up into the shallows to spawn in the spring making beds to lay eggs. u003cbru003eu003cbru003eThis can make them u003cstrongu003eeasy to target for beginnersu003c/strongu003e, but catch-and-release fishing during this time is strongly recommended, as smaller fish will eat the eggs in an unprotected bed.u003cbru003eSummer bass are found widely in a variety of locations from the same shallow areas where they spawned through to deeper weeds and drop-offs.

7. u003cstrongu003eWhat Are the Best Times of Day to Fish for Bass?u003c/strongu003e

Like most fish, u003cstrongu003ebass feed more actively in the morning hours and in the eveningu003c/strongu003e, and these are top times for targeting big bass. But bass are known for still feeding pretty consistently throughout the day. They can be tempted with u003ca aria-label=u0022lures (opens in a new tab)u0022 class=u0022ek-linku0022 href=u0022 target=u0022_blanku0022 rel=u0022noreferrer noopeneru0022u003eluresu003c/au003e throughout the day, especially if you are fishing something like u003ca aria-label=u0022jigs (opens in a new tab)u0022 class=u0022ek-linku0022 href=u0022 target=u0022_blanku0022 rel=u0022noreferrer noopeneru0022u003ejigsu003c/au003e or u003ca aria-label=u0022plastics (opens in a new tab)u0022 class=u0022ek-linku0022 href=u0022 target=u0022_blanku0022 rel=u0022noreferrer noopeneru0022u003eplasticu003c/au003e worms in cover.

8. What Is the Best Weather to Catch Bass In?

For bass, like most species, weather details such as wind and water temperatures have a major impact on their feeding habits and their location in a given body of water.u003cbru003eu003cstrongu003eApproaching storms or changes in atmospheric pressure can cause a spike in fish feeding activityu003c/strongu003e.u003cbru003eHigh wind days can make it difficult to use some of the more popular tactics for catching bass, like u003ca aria-label=u0022fishing jigs (opens in a new tab)u0022 class=u0022ek-linku0022 rel=u0022noreferrer noopeneru0022 href=u0022 target=u0022_blanku0022u003efishing jigsu003c/au003e or u003ca aria-label=u0022soft plastics (opens in a new tab)u0022 class=u0022ek-linku0022 rel=u0022noreferrer noopeneru0022 href=u0022 target=u0022_blanku0022u003esoft plasticu003c/au003e worms, as the wind creates a big bow in the fishing line and makes it difficult to sense strikes. Remember to choose a heavier jig head to punch through the wind if you are fishing soft plastic worms or other soft baits on these days.u003cbru003eu003cbru003eBut wind can also be a fisherman’s friend. Bass will use wind direction to their advantage when feeding and u003cstrongu003ehone in on structure and weedlinesu003c/strongu003e where the wind is pushing waves onto the pieces of structure or blowing into the weedlines. This wave action jostles the water around and makes it hard for bait fish to swim and evade predators. And it pushes them near the ambush positions of a predatory fish such as bass. Finding these sort of spots is u003cstrongu003eone of the best bass fishing tips for beginnersu003c/strongu003e.u003cbru003eu003cbru003eBefore a storm comes in can be an excellent time to be on the water and these periods offer u003cstrongu003eexcellent opportunities for beginners to catch bassu003c/strongu003e. Generally any time the barometric pressure increases or decreases can be good. After a storm has passed and high pressure and clear skies return, can indicate that u003cstrongu003efishing for the next day or two might be pretty toughu003c/strongu003e. Your best tactic in these situations is to fish slop or heavy cover with u003ca class=u0022rank-math-linku0022 href=u0022 and get reaction strikes, as most fish will be laying low for the next one or two days.

Before a storm comes in can be an excellent time to be on the water, and generally any time the barometric pressure increases or decreases

See also: Best Time to Fish for BassDo Bass Have Teeth?Bass Fishing After a storm

u003cstrongu003e9. Do You Need a Boat to Fish for Bass?u003c/strongu003e

Absolutely not. And let’s face it, most beginners are not going to rush out and buy a boat before trying bass fishing from the shore. While having an u003ca class=u0022rank-math-linku0022 href=u0022 bass boatu003c/au003e or u003ca aria-label=u0022kayak (opens in a new tab)u0022 class=u0022rank-math-linku0022 rel=u0022noreferrer noopeneru0022 href=u0022 target=u0022_blanku0022u003ekayaku003c/au003e to fish from gives you more options in the form of mobility on the water and the ability to fish midlake structure, people who want to catch bass from shore have a ton of options! Since bass have a tendency to stay fairly shallow for most of the year, u003cstrongu003efishing from shore can be pretty productiveu003c/strongu003e. Bass love hanging out under docks, pontoons, lilypads and wood along a shoreline. Targeting structure is one of the best bass fishing tips for beginners. Tie on a skirted jig, or a u003ca href=u0022 riggedu003c/au003e u003ca aria-label=u0022soft plastic (opens in a new tab)u0022 class=u0022rank-math-linku0022 href=u0022 target=u0022_blanku0022 rel=u0022noreferrer noopeneru0022u003esoft plasticu003c/au003e, or for an even more exciting time, slap on a u003ca class=u0022rank-math-linku0022 href=u0022 lureu003c/au003e and have a blast!

See also: Best Fall Bass LuresBest Summer Bass LuresBest Spring Bass Lures

bass fishing for beginners
Bass don’t have sharp teeth, but watch out for the trebles on the lure when you are handling them and support their stomach . Consider a Boga Grip or alternative grips to be safe.
Top bass fishing pro Mike Iaconelli shares his best lures for bass. This is one of the best ways to fish for bass!

u003cstrongu003e10. What About Hooking, Fighting, and Handling Bass?u003c/strongu003e

There are a few bass fishing tips and tricks for beginners to pay attention to when it comes to hooking and fighting bass:u003cbru003eu003cbru003eWhen fishing u003ca aria-label=u0022jigs (opens in a new tab)u0022 class=u0022ek-linku0022 href=u0022 target=u0022_blanku0022 rel=u0022noreferrer noopeneru0022u003ejigsu003c/au003e, keep your rod tip at no more than roughly a 45-degree angle point up and keep tension on your line so you can feel a bite. When a bass bites, don’t immediately set the u003ca href=u0022 data-type=u0022postu0022 data-id=u00221010582u0022 target=u0022_blanku0022 rel=u0022noreferrer noopeneru0022u003ehooku003c/au003e – bass have a tendency to hold on to it, so give it a few seconds before you set that hook. But the obvious and general rule of thumb when fishing other types of lure is when a bass eats your lure, set that hook.u003cbru003eu003cbru003eThere are a few helpful tips and tricks for fighting bass as well.u003cbru003eIn most situations, u003cstrongu003eif you hook a bass it’s going to want to jumpu003c/strongu003e. A good tactic to use on a jumping fish is to keep your u003ca aria-label=u0022rod (opens in a new tab)u0022 class=u0022ek-linku0022 href=u0022 target=u0022_blanku0022 rel=u0022noreferrer noopeneru0022u003erodu003c/au003e tip low and keep reeling so you don’t don’t allow any slack in your line. This applies for most situations.u003cbru003eu003cbru003eThe general rule of thumb for u003ca aria-label=u0022crankbait fishing (opens in a new tab)u0022 class=u0022rank-math-linku0022 href=u0022 target=u0022_blanku0022 rel=u0022noreferrer noopeneru0022u003ecrankbait fishingu003c/au003e is set the hook in a longer sweeping motion and not as violent of a hookset, while keeping the u003ca class=u0022ek-linku0022 href=u0022 tip low to avoid jumps. This is mostly due to the small treble hooks, and the potential to come out during a hookset or from the fish getting airborne.u003cbru003eu003cbru003eHandling a bass is fairly simple: there’s really only two concerns when handling your catch, and that is u003cstrongu003ewatch out for the dorsal spinesu003c/strongu003e on the top of the fish, and watch out for hooks from your lure! A wiggling bass in your hand can put hooks and other pointy things where you don’t want them to be. When it comes to handling a bass, simply u003cstrongu003ecradle the fish under the belly or grab it by its lower lip with your thumbu003c/strongu003e (or au003ca aria-label=u0022 Boga grip (opens in a new tab)u0022 class=u0022rank-math-linku0022 href=u0022 target=u0022_blanku0022 rel=u0022noreferrer noopeneru0022u003e Boga gripu003c/au003e) , bass don’t have big sharp teeth. Their teeth and lips are actually like sandpaper to help them grip and hang onto prey.

u003cstrongu003e11. Is Catch and Release Important?u003c/strongu003e

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Catch and release is a very important practice in angling to help sustain a stable fisheries population. Government agencies such as the u003ca aria-label=u0022US Fish and Wildlife Service (opens in a new tab)u0022 href=u0022 target=u0022_blanku0022 rel=u0022noreferrer noopeneru0022 class=u0022rank-math-linku0022u003eUS Fish and Wildlife Serviceu003c/au003e and state bodies set regulations on fish size and quantities an angler is allowed to harvest. But over the years, with more and more fishing pressure, most sporting anglers fishing for fish such as bass, u003ca aria-label=u0022walleyes (opens in a new tab)u0022 rel=u0022noreferrer noopeneru0022 class=u0022ek-linku0022 href=u0022 target=u0022_blanku0022u003ewalleyeu003c/au003e, and u003ca aria-label=u0022muskie (opens in a new tab)u0022 href=u0022 target=u0022_blanku0022 rel=u0022noreferrer noopeneru0022 class=u0022rank-math-linku0022u003emuskieu003c/au003e have transformed their perception of what angling is all about. The good news is that u003cstrongu003ecatch and release for sport fish is becoming the new normalu003c/strongu003e. There is nothing wrong with taking home a fish dinner! But the key is to only take what you need. We need more fish in lakes and less filling up basement freezers.

How Do You Get Children Enthusiastic About Bass Fishing?

As well as actually taking them fishing, kids love drawing things around them. So, when you’re fishing, they can draw a great-looking bass with this u003ca href=u0022 target=u0022_blanku0022 rel=u0022noreferrer noopeneru0022u003eeasy how to draw a bass tutorialu003c/au003e. You catch a fish, they draw it! Fun for everyone.

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Shawn Chapin is an experienced fishing writer and guide based in Wisconsin, where he loves targeting muskie and a range of other species. Shawn's fished extensively for pike, largemouth bass, smallmouth and panfish species. He's developing a passion for chasing trout on the fly rod.
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