How do you catch bass like the pros?
There are a lot of aspiring bass anglers out in the world today. A great deal of them pour their heart, soul, money and backs into this endeavor without a trophy fish to show for it.
At the same time, there are a select few that have made a living as a bass fisherman, reeling in one trophy bass after another, month after month, year after year.
Being a newbie bass angler myself, I wanted to know how these bass professionals were able to catch so many fish, and do it so often.
So, I reached out to 18 of the top anglers in the industry to ask them what a recreational angler such as myself can do to catch more bass.
Specifically, this is what I asked them:
If you could name one tip for catching more bass what would it be? Eg. tools, tackle, strategy...
As you will see, there is a load of great advice. Interestingly, there were some consistent themes that emerged from this expert roundup.
Lets jump in...
1. BILL DANCE, TV Personality & Professional Bass Anlger
"With the dog-days of summer coming up the best tip I could give is, to do what I do. Fish my favorite waterway and that's moving water, wade fishin' the creeks of Middle Tennessee. It's one of the most enjoyable pastimes I've ever experienced. It takes me back to my childhood. If you don't have these waterways in your area, try my other favorite method, and that's night fishin' ... both are really cool!!!"
2. CHAD MORGENTHALER, Professional Bass Angler
"There is absolutely no substitute for spending time on different body's of water under varying conditions. It's an absolute must to become a versatile angler."
3. JOEY NANIA, Professional Bass Angler
"Fishing is one of the most complex sports that a person could ever get involved with and it can be extremely frustrating if you don't know where to start.
With thousands of baits to choose from as well as hundreds of different bodies of water and fish species to chase a good solid starting ground must be found! My best advice I can give that will help anglers put more fish in the boat to not try and do to much! The key to learning and growing as an angler is first, spending time on the water but while you do that you need to start with a basic technique and stick with it. Many inexperienced anglers try to do way to much, believing that switching baits or colors will bring instant results and put more fish in the boat. Nine times out of ten it is not so much what bait or color you're throwing but the place and way you are throwing it! My suggestion is start out simple with something like a shaky head with a straight tail worm rigged on it. Go out in the boat with just the shaky head and nothing else and use it all day. Try it shallow try it deep but no matter what get a good feel for how to slowly crawl the deadly shaky head on the bottom. I promise if you stick with it you will get bites. Once you’ve mastered the shaky head or something similar put it aside for a day and choose a new bait such as a jig and craw trailer and stick with it until you find success. In fishing it is extremely important to build confidence in different baits and presentations and then put in the time on the water that it takes to have a deep understanding of when and where to use the specific bait! So just go out fishing with something simple and master it and as you do that with one bait at a time you will add to your fishing arsenal and ultimately put more fish in the boat!"
4. JAY GRAVE, Professional Bass Angler
"My number 1 tip for catching more bass would be to pay attention. Keep your eyes open!! Look for discarded plastics in the ramp parking lot. Look to see what rods, reels, and tackle other fisherman are using. Think about colors that others are using or weights or spinning and bait casting reels. Maybe you will get a little hint that might help.
Watch for birds and of course watch for bait fish. Don't forget to pay attention and start just chucking and winding. I remember a tournament I was fishing in MN a few years ago. I had found pre-fishing bass but the tournament morning I was struggling. I say a local guy throwing a spinner bait in a color way different that the spook I as throwing, so I gave it a shot. Next thing I knew I had a 7 pounder on the line. All because I was paying attention to my surroundings."
5. GARY HOLLERN, Professional Bass Angler
"Here's my tip, this is perfect timing too because my son is just starting to take an interest in fishing. It's the same tip I'm giving to him.
If you are new to fishing here is the first step to getting started. Don't go out and buy a bunch of gear. Instead get started right by equipping yourself with one good outfit (rod and reel) and a small selection of lures. In today's market for around $250 you can get a quality bait casting reel, a quality rod, good line, and a few lures.
Once you pick up your first outfit, it's time to go to work. Get home and practice casting. Overhand, side ways, under hand. Flip, pitch, and the hail merry until you come close to hitting your target on a consistent basis. This will also provide you training with getting your reel dialed in, back lashes out and tying knots. If you spend a few hours at home working on this, your time on the water will be much more pleasant.
Now comes the twist, earlier I stated to buy a few lures... let me clarify that a little more. Buy a few lures that fish the same way. I am a big believer that you will catch way way more fish once you train your hands. You do this by becoming a good worm/jig fishermen. The GREAT news here is worms and jigs have caught more fish than any other style lure so you're starting with a bait that you can have confidence in.
You see anyone can throw out a horizontal fast moving bait like a spinner bait, buzz bait, or crank bait and reel it in and catch fish but the guys who catch a lot of fish do it differently. They have trained their hands to feel the lure and the environment that the lure is in. You do this by becoming a good worm or jig fishermen.
Buy a few bags of plastic worms a few different sizes of weights and go fish. Feel that lure as it comes across the bottom of your favorite fishing hole. Feel how it feels when a leaf gets on it, or when it hits a stump, comes over a rock pile, or drags thru muck. Get your heart beating as you feel ..... how it feels when a bass flares it's gills and sucks it in... or when that big green girl nips it and is barely holding onto it before swimming off and taking it all into her mouth. ... and the best feeling of all, when your lure gets slammed by a hungry Bass as it's on a feeding frenzy.
Once you've worn out all your worms, and your sinkers are scared with teeth marks. Your ready to move on to your next lure. Hands trained to feel the lures surroundings and confident enough to repeat the work needed to train your hands again."
Follow Gary on Twitter
6. PETER LARMAND, Professional Bass Angler & Guide
"Don't go out and buy all sorts of tackle. In today's market there are lots of tackle, rods and reels that are technique specific and/or require lots of time on the water learning how to use them properly. If I have to suggest 1 rod it would be a 6'6" medium to medium heavy either in a spinning or casting, whichever one you comfortable with using.
As far as tackle/bait goes look at 1 or 2 different types of baits that will allow you to fish most situations. By this I mean a bait that can be fishing horizontally (like a crankbait) and another that can be fishing vertically (like a worm). Livingston Lures and Gambler lures offer anglers of any range of experience these options."
Follow Peter on Twitter or learn more at peterlarmand.com
7. MATT RAZEY, Professional Bass Anlger
"I can honestly say that you could have the best rod, the best tackle, the best electronics, but they all don't mean a thing without having confidence in yourself and what you are doing.
As long as you believe in what you are doing out on the water it always seems to pay off at the end of the day. Sometimes that confidence comes from time spent on the water or time spent on a given strategy but I have always found that when I have the utmost confidence that's when I always seem to put the bass in the boat no matter what the conditions.
On another note; not to go off on a tangent but I feel that it goes hand in hand with my first point. Controlling what you can control makes you a better fisherman. Prepping tackle, reels, taking care of your equipment, your boat; all of this gives you peace of mind and allows you to focus on the task at hand. You cant control weather, fishing pressure, pleasure boat traffic; but if you have good control methods on what you can control the other stuff doesn't bear as much weight."
Follow Matt on Twitter or learn more at mattrazeyfishing.com
8. CHAD DESCHAMPS, Pro Staff Angler For Lyman Lures
"Lure tip. There are so many lures out on the market. When you are purchasing a lure keep in mind -the weather, the temperature of the water , the clarity of the water, as well as general water conditions.
Consider he type of feed the bass are influenced by, kind of like the fly fishing term "match the hatch". And last, look out for spawning bass and when bass are done spawning, as this a big factor for big and small mouth bass.
In reality, if you do your homework this will save a ton of money and you don't need to have a ton of lures for your next adventure.
To clarify the spawning points - post spawn I find bass stay close to there nest in shallow water. They are not feeding as much at this point, they are guarding there nest, so I drop lures around them into the nesting area and they will take a take a hook not out of hunger but out of protectiveness. After a while, while others nest close by the bass <males> will create a school and hunt for food. That bring small shads. The females after spawn lose weight so they will be hungry so try the shallow waters for starters and aim for depth as after spawn they will go a little deeper."
Follow Chad on Twitter
9. HENSON FISHING, Professional Bass Angler
"I would have to say spend as much time on the water as possible!!
You have to be in tune to what the fish are doing at any given time. And the only way to do that is to spend time with them!"
10. ROBIN FOLLETTE, Writer & Bass Angler
"Cast, cast and cast again.
Practice as often as possible until you have it down pat, then start again before the season opens so that you’re nailing it before you hit the water. You don’t have to be on the water. I learned to land a lure any place I want it when I was a six or seven years old. Dad tied a rubber plug on my line and pointed to a Hula Hoop as my target. I backed away as I got better and learned to cast farther with accuracy. My targets and lures got smaller as my skill improved. Once in a while we luck out with a random cast and catch a bass but if we want to catch more fish we need to put the lure in front of them with accuracy and consistency. I catch a tree, dead head or rock once in a while but it doesn’t happen often."
11. GRANT HINTON, Professional Bass Angler
"I'd tell people to always check the fishing report to the body of water that they are fishing. Even if they know it well it is always good to see what other people are having success with."
Follow Grant on Twitter
12. CHRIS HOWELL , Professional Bass Angler
"With so many choices in tackle these days it's easy to get distracted from the basics of fishing. My advice for a beginner would have to be don't over think yourself, fish to your strongest ability and always keep a positive mindset. Having confidence in yourself and in the lure you're fishing with is very important. You will miss a lot of bites pondering about what else is in your tackle bag."
Follow Chris on Twitter or learn more at robinfollette.com
13. JASON PITTMAN, Bass Angler
"Some of the best lessons learned over the last 20 years for me could be best summed up as 'staying focused'. It all boils down to a mental thing, everyone knows that once the head goes the rest will too, and this will lead to spinouts on the water with an end result being something that wasn't planned or intended at all. Staying focused on the task is a must, I see too many guys out there trying to 'make it happen' when they really just need to be fishing the moment in a focused state of mind.
When people stay focused it leads to good decisions that will be made which will result in better catches on the water. After all 'it's just fishing' and focusing on that motto has helped me get through a lot of the bad days and cherish the good days even more!"
Follow Jason on Twitter
14. JASON BARNUCZ, Writer, Ambassador, Fanatical Angler
"Many bass anglers love the ease, feel and reliability of braided lines. These lines have become a mainstay for bass anglers for a variety of applications. For myself, I especially love braided lines for applications like flipping, pitching, drop-shotting, Carolina rigs, frogs and a few more. Many of these situations require careful monitoring of subtle changes to your bait/presentation to detect light bites.
I first became aware of the benefits of high-visibility lines a few years ago. I spoke to several fellow anglers who loved using hi-vis lines for helping to detect light bites. This seems very strange to me at first as braided lines are great at transmitting even the slightest bites to the angler. Through experimentation I have found that hi-vis lines allow for more than just bite ‘feel’. These lines help anglers actually see the strike as it happens.
Most braided lines are in various shades of green or brown. These shades are used to help camouflage the line while it is in the water so fish will find it harder to detect. Many anglers would prefer the masking traits of green/brown braided line versus the blinding colour of hi-vis braid. However, there may be a way to have the best of both worlds! I use a large magic marker to mask the colour of the hi-vis braid. I use a large black sharpie marker to mask the colour. Taking a large felt tipped marker you can cut a slit/groove into the felt tip. Then slowly run the marker along your line from the bait up the line for a length of 6ft to 7ft. This will help hide your hi-vis braid from wary bass underwater but help anglers better detect subtle bites above the water. It is a great one, two punch for bass anglers. My favourite techniques for this include flipping and pitching in heavy cover. One treatment from a good permanent marker will keep your line dark and unnoticeable for a good day on the water.
An additional tip is to apply the permanent marker the night before you head to the lake. This ensures the marker is dry. This helps to maintain the applied colour and reduce the chance of offensive odours in the water.
Preferred Flipping/Pitching Combo: Abu Garcia Veracity Rod, Revo Rocket Reel and Spiderwire Stealth Braid (Hi-Vis Yellow)."
15. NICK SPANTGOS, Professional Bass Anlger
"The best trick for beginners is to not over-think things. Sometimes downsizing your baits can get you more strikes."
16. JAMES CALDEMEYER, Professional Bass Anlger
"My tip for catching more bass would be "downsize"! Using as light of line as the fishing conditions will allow and using smaller profile baits such as finesse worms and smaller hard baits will increase your catching."
17. JASON GOGAN, Professional Bass Anlger
"Here is a quick tip that should help you put a few more fish in the boat. When you’re first starting out and you’re trying to pick out baits it can be a little overwhelming. I would recommend sticking to the basics and use baits that can be used all season long. Here are a few examples: Blue Fox #3 #4, White Spinnerbait and a few crank baits (natural colors).
These baits can cover lot water quickly and by adjusting your retrieval you can adapt to almost any fishing condition. Master these baits and you will see the results come quickly."
Follow Jason on Twitter
18. JAMIE WILSON, Professional Bass Anlger & Rahfish Writer
"Take a wellrounded approach when targeting bass by using a wide array of baits that cover all different water depths. Example: Tie on a popper to cover top water, roll a Colorado blade spinnerbait for sub-surface, chuck a medium diving crankbait for mid-depth, bounce a drop-shot a few feet off the bottom and have a tube ready to drag along the bottom. This will help you find the key depth bass are relating to. Do your research and find the correct line/reel/rod combination to properly present these baits. Happy fishing!"
Follow Jamie on Twitter
19. JEFF GUSTAFSON, FLW Tour Bass Angler, Guide, TV Host & Writer
"If you want to catch more bass, always be on the move to find "biting" fish. Seldom does camping out on one spot produce the most fish on a day of fishing. Instead, keep moving and covering ground with fast moving baits like crankbaits, jerkbaits and swimbaits, catching as many active, biting fish as possible, then when you find a school, slow down and throw a jig or some sort of soft plastic in there in an attempt to pull a few more from the school before moving on."
20. KURT DOVE, B.A.S.S Elite Series Angler & Lake Amistad Bass Guide
"The one tip I would let every know that is interested in catching bass is... Keep Moving!
It is very important to locate active fish and work the correct presentation but in order to find the active fish you must keep moving.
Bass will group up in locations that have the right environmental conditions for there survival. Food, Cover and Structure are the keys to locations having those correct environments to concentrate the bass. A concentration of fish will make them easier for anglers to have success while fishing and the angler can also establish a pattern much quicker once they do find the correct environments holding the bass at that specific time.
So anglers need to be sure they are not caught up staying in an unproductive location for fishing. Keep Moving until you find the right combination of conditions to catch some fish!"
21. CLARK REEHM, Touring Bass Fisherman, Elite Angling Instructor & Guide
"Earn and master one technique at a time to gain confidence for future success. Start with something versatile like a jig!"
Now It's Your Turn...
There you have it, 17 bass fishing tips from some of the most successful anglers in the industry. But we know there's plenty more great advice out there.
Do you have a bass fishing tip you'd like to share?
Leave it in the comments below, we'd love to hear from you!