Learning how to fish for bass can seem a little daunting if you’re new to fishing or taken a walk through your local fishing tackle shop recently. Maybe you’ve been at it a while and have accumulated a lot of tackle, and you’re still not really sure how best to put it to use.
We have created a bunch of bass fishing content to help you make sense of it all and learn how to fish for bass. Everything from learning to cast to knowing what lures to throw when. We’ve got a ton of resources to help you catch fish when you get the chance to go.
Below is a bunch of basic topics on how to fish for bass that you need to know.
For many anglers, there’s nothing more exciting than catching a bass with a topwater bait. The sound of the lure, the sight of an approaching fish, and the exhilaration of seeing a big splash when a largemouth finally strikes can be enough to get anyone’s heart racing.
Unlike pitching or flipping, topwater lures are meant for hungry, active fish. It’s a true “lure,” designed to attract attention with noise and dramatic movements.
There are several kinds of topwater baits, like poppers, jitterbugs and frogs. Some topwaters are easy to use and work best with a slow, steady retrieve, like a jitterbug. Others take some more technique. An aptly named lure, the “popper’ requires an angler to literally pop the lure as it is retrieved, pausing every few seconds and allowing it to go steady, imitating a wounded fish. The sporadic stopping and moving can drive bass crazy.
Another popular retrieving method is called “walk the dog,” commonly used for soft-frog or Zara spook-type baits. Walking the dog is where you quickly twitch the rod tip up and down for the duration of the slow retrieve
A crankbait is all about reflex for a bass. They won’t want to chase it down the same way they would for a topwater bait, but even so, noise and presentation is still key to using a crankbait correctly. Crankbaits are a favorite for many tournament anglers because they can be used to cover a lot of water, both horizontally and vertically at a variety of depths.
Crankbaits work best around solid objects, like rocks, logs and stumps. It is possible to use a crankbait along the side of a weed bed, but generally drop-offs and rocky shoals with plenty of solid cover works best. The more you get to know the feel of the way your crankbait swims through the water and bumps into objects, the better you will be at catching bass.
Think of crankbaits as a teasing lure. Grab the fish’s attention by reeling quickly, then stopping and allowing the crankbait to slowly rise. Then reel up again and make another stop.
Spinnerbaits are a little trickier than crankbaits because it can be harder to successfully hook a fish given the design of the lure.
However, once hooked with a sprinnerbait, it’s harder for a bass to throw the bait than when compared to a crankbait. Spinnerbaits are a great year-round lure that can produce results on any given day on any given lake. Retrieval should range from slow to medium speed and works best around solid cover and vegetation.
There are several different ways to use the versatile spinnerbait.
One method is to allow the bait to fall to the bottom near a dropoff. As it hits bottom, reel up the slack, give it a few cranks and then allow it to fall to the bottom again. Keep repeating.
For the most part, however, you’ll be reeling in continuously at different paces. The slower you reel in, the deeper the bait tends to swim through the water column. When you reel in at a faster rate, it will swin higher in the water column. Running a spinnerbait just below the surface will create a wake that some fish will find irresistible.
You can even break the surface from time to time to mimic active bait fish.
Time Your Trip
Let me start off by saying that the best time to fish for bass or any other type of fish, is when you have time. I know how it can be tough finding the time in general so it becomes even more of a problem if you are further limited by only fishing when the conditions are perfect. Just go when you can and enjoy your time no matter what.
The best time of year to bass fish is after the bass have recovered from spawning. After female bass spawn, it takes a few weeks for them to regain an appetite. Although, once they do, it’s likely that they will begin feeding heavily again for another couple of weeks. Figuring out the best time to fish for bass is easier once you understand these spawning patterns.
This varies from region to region as it heavily depends on water temperature. The general rule of thumb is in the warm South, the best time is during the late winter.
Up north, try it out during the late spring. Look for water temperature over 60° F and you’re good to go.
For the best time of the day, early morning is best as the fish are starting to wake up and have an appetite.
During the late afternoon and early evening hours, bass are taking advantage of the low light to sneak up on their prey. This is a great time to fish as they are easy to trick since they can’t see as well as when the light is strongest.
How To Fly Fish For Bass
You definitely want to use the same principles stated above for the best time to fish for bass when you are learning how to fly fish. This will increase your chances of having a successful outing and learn how to fly fish for bass.
Aside from that, there are some major differences in how to fish for bass when using the fly.
The Right Set Up
The go-to gear for bass on fly is simple. Think about going with a 5-weight rod. Choose to go a bit heavy with an 8-weight, but you won’t have a problem with using a 5 or 6-weight. Fishing with the 8 because of convenience since you can use the same rod for other species. And the bigger rod allows you to throw bigger bass bugs whereas You’ll have the advantage of fishing for bluegill or bass with the smaller setup, however.
Technical leaders are not necessary. A sturdy, 25-pound butt section with a 10-12 pound tippet will do the job for medium and small poppers and hold up against most bass.
Get A Guide
If you are new to fly fishing then hiring a guide early on can have you set up for success for years to come.
A guide will explain everything you need to know regarding how to find the fish, what to look for, what gear to use and when and other little tips all along the way.
If you are serious about learning how to fly fish for bass then think of this as an investment. It will pay dividends like you won’t believe.
Be Creative With Lures
A little-known fact is that frog, rat, and duckling lures are highly effective. Because of the rarity of these lures, you often catch massive, prize bass.
The really cool thing about using frog, rat, and duckling as lures is that while they will help you catch fish during low lighting (the prime time), they also help with fishing in the dark. Bass are drawn to these lures and will come out at any time of day or night to try and snag them.
You’ll have better luck fishing at any time of the day if you use a heavy (10 to 12 weight) fly rod and if you’re using a good-sized topwater fly.
Keep Your Fly Basic
There are some real works of art out there when it comes to hand tied flies. And you may want to be creative when it comes to making one yourself.
But remember this – The best flies are the ones that catch fish. They don’t have to be elaborate to do this.
If you look in your tackle box and nearly have to squint at the cacophony of colors, you might want to look for more natural-looking flies before you go bass fishing. While fish can be attracted to the bright, neon-colored lure, bait, and fly options out there, just remember that fish bite because they’re hungry. Not because they think it’s pretty.
Sometimes, if you really need some extra help, you can add some weedless Senko to your bait, or try a fly that looks like something other than an insect, but still natural.
Match The Hatch
There are all sorts of options when it comes to what fly you are going to choose to use. Some have found that the “big fly, big fish” phrase is not always true. Many have found success in opting for smaller patterns.
Using a large and flashy fly may seem fun and exciting. Sometimes it even makes sense. However, when the water is dead calm on the surface, that can spook away any possible catch.
When using a smaller slider you will find that it just slips and slides right under the water without drawing unwanted, just necessary, attention to itself.
You can try using a Sneaky Pete, small Dahlberg style diver, or maybe even a Gaines bass duster.
Don’t Seek Too Much Attention
Contrary to popular belief, you do not have to place the fly fishing line atop the water and chug it up and down two or three times to get the attention of a fish. Instead, try letting it simply sit without doing anything dramatic.
If the water is clear enough, you will eventually see a fish approaching. Give the line a slight tug to create a twitch which bass would notice in actual bugs or insects, and BAM: the bass will try and snap it up.
This tactic is great in stiller water. If you’re fishing in a windy atmosphere or where the water naturally moves quite a bit, a still fly will have a harder time attracting the prize bass. In general, you want to make your fly seem as realistic and move as realistically as an actual fly would.
In still water, flies may sense that a fish is nearing and will move around more to find safety, which helps the bass know it is, in fact, a real insect/bug/fly. To mimic a fly’s natural movements, you don’t have to constantly be moving for attention.
When it comes to learning how to fish for bass, you can read guides like this all day. But, there is no substitute for experience. The best thing you can do after reading this guide is to just get out there and have fun while you figure out what works and what doesn’t.
If you’re having fun then how to fish for bass becomes secondary to just enjoying the experience.
If you have any questions then let me know by dropping a line in the comment box below!