Bass fishing is full of ups and downs. One day you can catch them nonstop, while the next, is met with zero bites.
Many different factors cause bass to bite or not. From gear choices to weather conditions, every little factor has a role in having a successful day on the water.
In this article, we organized the top proven bass fishing tips to increase your confidence and get you more bites.
Use the Right Gear for the Situation
Bass Fishing Tip 1: Rod Length, Power, and Action
Aside from choosing casting vs. spinning, there are three main attributes you need to consider when purchasing your next rod.
Rod length affects accuracy and casting distance. The shorter your rod, the more accurately you can throw your bait but at a shorter distance. The longer the rod, the farther you can throw but with less accuracy.
Rods typically fall into a range from 6’6” to 8’, with 7’1” to 7’3” being the sweet spot that a lot of anglers gravitate towards.
Rod power is how stiff or flimsy the rod is. In bass fishing, common powers are light, medium light, medium, medium heavy, and heavy. All get a little stiffer as you move up in power.
Medium power is usually the go-to for an all-around option.
Lighter power (L and ML) rods are best used for finesse techniques when using a light hook and line, which is often required when the bite is tough, or you are fishing in super clear water.
Heavier-powered (MH and H) rods are best used in single hook applications like Texas rigs and jigs or when fishing around thick vegetation.
Rod action is how far down it bends when pressure is added to the line. For bass fishing rods, fast and moderate are the two actions that are seen the most.
Fast actions are best used when you need a quick reaction and hookset. You feel a bite and need to set the hook now, which is needed in single hook techniques like the Texas rig and jig mentioned earlier.
Moderate actions excel in techniques where you want to avoid pulling the bait away from a fish too soon, like when using crankbaits.
Bass Fishing Tip 2: Match the Reel to the Application
Reels come in many different styles and sizes. One of the most important features that is a mystery to many is the gear ratio in casting reels. Most bass fishing reels are slow, medium, and fast retrieves.
Slower gear ratios (6.9:1 and below) are great when you need to work a bait really slow, or the bait you use is oversized.
Medium gear ratios (7.0:1 to 7.9:1) are a happy medium between speed and torque and make for great all-around reels adaptable to many different scenarios.
Fast gear ratios (8.0:1 and above) should be used when you want to move a bait or pick up line fast.
Bass Fishing Tip 3: Choose the Appropriate Line
The three main line types for bass fishing are monofilament, fluorocarbon, and braid. Each one has its properties and excels in different scenarios.
Monofilament has been used for many years in bass fishing. While still very popular in all applications today, this line shines when using a topwater bait or wanting a softer hookset because it floats and has the greatest stretch of all the lines.
Fluorocarbon is the newcomer and has outgrown monofilament in clear water and tough conditions. This line is more invisible for stealthy presentations and has a much lower stretch, giving you better sensitivity.
The third common line type in bass fishing is braid, which is used around thick vegetation or when an angler needs extra sensitivity. Braid has zero stretch and is the most visible underwater. If used in clear water situations, it is common to tie a fluorocarbon leader to the end before attaching a bait.
Bass Fishing Tip 4: Simplify Your Bait Selection
It’s easy to get caught up in the trends of the hot new bait, but keeping it simple will give you more success. Fish what you have confidence in, or pick baits that have caught fish for years.
For soft baits, gravitate towards the names and designs that have been around forever. A Yamamoto Senko is the most bass-catching bait ever made. It doesn’t matter if you are brand new to bass fishing or a seasoned pro, a wacky-rigged Senko is the tried and true way to get bites in tough conditions.
For crankbaits, pick a diving depth that matches the depth of the area you are fishing. You want to be crashing into the structure as you retrieve it. Look for diving depth and pick a color that matches the forage where you are fishing.
Understand the Current Conditions
Bass Fishing Tip 5: Understand Seasonal Patterns
Seasonal patterns greatly impact where the bass will be located and what kind of mood they will be in. Understanding their seasonal movements will save you a ton of time when locating and catching bass.
Springtime for bass means reproduction, also known as spawning. They move up shallow to the warmest water to create beds (males) and lay eggs (females). Depending on what stage they are in will dictate what you should use.
Summer bass can be located everywhere. Some bass live shallow, while others will group up in numbers out deep. This is where they act the most “normal” and will take an easy meal if one presents itself.
Fall is a time of feeding up for the long winter ahead and is the best time of year to catch a giant. The key in the fall is bait. Bass have one thing on their mind, and that is to eat! Backs of coves or near currents are great places for bass to ambush an easy meal.
Winter bass are lethargic. Once they make it to their deeper wintering holes in the main lake basin, there isn’t much movement or aggressiveness to eat. Downsizing and slowing your bait down are two great ways to get bites during this tougher part of the year.
Bass Fishing Tip 6: Break Down the Structure in a Lake
When first getting to the water, assess what structures are present and pair that with what you learned in bass fishing tip number five (seasonal patterns) to narrow down where to start. Depending on the structure that is available to you will determine what baits can be used more efficiently.
Time of day and weather greatly influences how bass relate to structure. Keep in mind these few common occurrences and what that does to bass:
Bass will be tucked under or on the bottom of whatever structure they are relating to. Cast under docks as far as possible or work the roots of a lilypad patch. Bass can’t wear sunglasses, so they will be tucked under cover to stay protected.
Low Light – Morning/Evening/Cloudy/Rainy:
Low light conditions provide a better ambushing scenario for bass. Their range increases and they are more likely to position themselves outside the structure. Moving baits are a great way to target them.
Middle of the day:
The middle of the day lul is very real. Bass tend to hang out and become more lethargic. They will be tucked under cover pretty closely. Bass aren’t actively feeding, but if an opportunity lands right in front of them, they will most likely take the bait.
Bass Fishing Tip 7: Notice the Baitfish (Forage) Present
It’s obvious that bass can only eat what is in their ecosystem, but many anglers overlook the small details that baitfish can provide. Here are a few questions to ask yourself when you start fishing.
What species of bait is present?
Bass will pretty much eat anything, so looking around will clue you in on matching your bait appropriately. If you see crawfish, look for a bait that can be worked along the bottom to mimic them scurrying across the floor. A jig would be a great choice for this.
Baitfish can range from small minnows to larger panfish like bluegill and perch. If you see tons of medium size bluegill around, a spinnerbait with gold blades might be the ticket.
How big is the forage?
The size of bait in any given body of water is important. You want to use a similar size so that bass are not hesitant when your bait goes by them. Keeping things consistent won’t alert the bass to any differences.
What color are they?
There is a common saying in fishing called “match the hatch.” That simply means to imitate the forage when choosing bait. That is extremely important when it comes to color.
If there are crawfish present, opt for more browns and reds. If there are perch, go for more yellow and green. If you see tons of shad, choose more silver and black. Choose colors that imitate the forage already present in the water.
Fish Effectively and Efficiently
Bass Fishing Tip 8: Figure Out How the Bass Want Your Bait
Every day is different when it comes to bass fishing, and just because they bit on something yesterday doesn’t mean they will bite it today. One of the important overarching themes in these bass fishing tips is that change is constant.
Cadence, the pattern for how you work the bait, is extremely important to figure out what the bass react to best on that given day. No matter what bait you are using, cadence can be adjusted.
As you try different cadences in your retrieve, the most important thing is to pay attention to when the bite occurs. Was it on a long pause or a sharp jerk? How about when the bait was moving slowly or fast? Figuring out what triggers them to bite is unlocking the key to a successful day on the water.
Bass Fishing Tip 9: Be Precise With the Areas You Decide to Fish
High percentage spots allow you to pattern a lake and “figure out” what’s working much faster than if you were to just start fishing the bank. It’s all about finding the spot within the spot.
Bass love lily pads if available, but where are they located in the expansive mats? They could be in the thickest clumps, in the holes that show light to the bottom, or maybe in small clusters just outside the main patch of pads.
It doesn’t matter what the structure is. There is a sweet spot. Once you discover it, your day has become more targeted.
Bass Fishing Tip 10: Visualize What is Happening Underwater
It’s very easy to throw a bait out and then go through the motions while bringing it back. Cast after cast of doing the same thing, and you feel like you could do it in your sleep.
Well, don’t! Sleeping on a missed fish is an obvious one, but there are many other learnings you can get by paying attention to your bait as you bring it in.
If you are dragging a bait along the bottom, pay attention to the feel. Hard scraping can alert you to a gravel patch, or a thump could indicate running into a boulder. Did the bait suddenly feel heavier? There could be a patch of grass you never knew about.
Moving baits are hugely important to pay attention to during retrieval. The smallest leaf or blade of grass could throw off the action of the lure.
So instead of thinking about what’s for lunch, pay attention to every crank of the reel. You made the cast to that location, see it all the way through to give you the best chance of catching a bass.
You will become a better angler If you take these 10 proven bass fishing tips into consideration. Oftentimes in bass fishing, the smallest adjustments provide the largest results.
Bass fishing is available to everyone across the country. It can be done in the largest of lakes or the smallest of streams. Minnesota is one of those states with an abundance of opportunity among its more than 10,000 lakes. If you are interested in fishing up north, here are a lot of great resources for fishing in Minnesota.
- About the Author
- Latest Posts
Brad Novak is a lifelong angler who enjoys catching many different species of fish.
He currently resides in Minnesota and loves exploring the many fishing opportunities the state has to offer, including the world-class walleye fisheries up north to the diverse lakes within the Twin Cities metro.
While currently working full-time in the fishing industry, Brad has a passion for sharing his knowledge and increasing participation in the sport.