Bass fishing is an incredible sport and an enjoyable hobby for many people all over the world. The sport of fishing dates way back, and since then it’s been bringing families together. It might seem intimidating to pick up a rod and some lures without ever fishing before. You might not be sure where to start or what steps you need to take to learn more about bass fishing.
If you’ve never fished for bass before there are quite a few things you need to know. You want to learn about the rods, lures, and lines.
Once you understand the rod and lures, you’ll be able to at least line your rod and get yourself on the water.
When you hit the water however, you’re faced with a completely new issue, how do you actually catch the fish? You’re sitting on this giant body of water that is most likely full of fish, but how do you find them?
You could immediately cheat and head out for a fish finder, but even then, you still need to understand where the fish are. At this point, you need to know where the bass hide and how their behaviour affects your ability to catch them.
At the point where you understand how the rod and reel work, and you also know more about where to catch the bass, you’ll finally be able to hit the water successfully.
To help you with this process, we’ve compiled one of the most extensive articles on bass fishing available anywhere online. If you read through this from beginning to end, you’ll know more about bass fishing than 99% of people. (we have no proof of that, but it’s still a comprehensive article)
Let’s get to it!
Best Bass Fishing Rod
Not all rods are created equal and having the right bass fishing rod is essential to your success. You can't choose the best rod for bass fishing if you don’t entirely understand what impacts the rod and makes it good or bad. The type of rod you choose depends entirely on what you are looking to accomplish.
For example, fishing for bass is a lot different than fishing for walleye. Generally, walleye are larger and put up more of a slow but dense battle in the water. Bass are quick, they strike fast, and they put up quite a fight when you’re retrieving them.
You would need two different types of rods for these situations. The same rod would not perform best for both walleye and bass, so it’s crucial that you understand what makes a good bass fishing rod.
Things to Know About Bass Fishing Rods
Let’s think about it for a second. If you’re planning on taking the kids or grand kids out once a month, then you don’t have to worry too much about the finer details. If you’re looking for a rod that will get you results in the water, then here is where you want to take out the notebook.
There are a few factors that will impact the way your rod handles not only for you but also how it handles the fish on the end of the hook. Here are some of the things to understand.
The amount of power that your rod has refers to the level of pressure it can withstand. Naturally, you would want a stiff rod if you deep sea fish or plan on fishing along with the deepest areas of the water. If you are attempting to catch average size bass, you don’t need the most gigantic rod on the shelf.
There are a variety of different power ratings on fishing rods, but they usually go something like this:
- Heavy - Large deep-sea fishing
- Medium - Average sized fish
- Light/Ultra Light - Small panfish and bass in lakes and rivers
The graphic bellow explains the different power ratings of a fishing rod:
A lot of the time, you will also see the power of a rod given a number between one and five. One is the lightest, and five is the heaviest.
For bass fishing, I recommend going with a light power rod because they offer plenty of strength to handle the bass and you still want the rod to be responsive enough so you can feel the nibble on the other end. Sometimes when you have a big bulky rod, all the nibbles blend in, so you bring your lure back, and you find it destroyed.
Make sure you choose the right power on your rod for your situation. In most cases, a light or even an ultralight rod will do the trick for bass fishing.
The most important thing to look at when shopping for a bass fishing rod is the action on the rod. This is a confusing thing to understand, but it is as essential as the lure you use on end. The action of your rod refers to how far the tip of the rod bends down the blank. The blank is the actual “rod” itself and some bend a lot while some bend a little.
The amount of bend in the rod impacts the way you can set the hook and feel the bite. For example, a slow action rod means that the rod bends almost a third of the way down. So, your rod is bending quite a bit which is ideal for larger fish.
The more bend you have, the more drag you’ll be able to give the larger fish. This is important because a fish that is too big for your rod will either take off with your lure or snap your rod if it’s not the right action.
For action, you have slow, moderate, fast, and extra fast. We talked about slow so now we’ll talk about fast.
With the slow action rod, it bends almost the entire way down. The fast action rod only bends right at the tip. The bonus to this is that you’ll feel every little nibble because the rod is stiffer. When it bends a lot, it’s easy for you to miss all the small bites from smaller fish. A fast action rod is meant for smaller fish because you can feel the nibble and you can set the hook faster.
When the rod is stiffer, you can quickly jerk the rod and set the hook at the first sign of a bite.
For bass fishing, I recommend using a fast action rod because you’ll never find a bass large enough to require a slow or even a moderate action rod. Bass strike quickly and they also move on quickly, so you want to make sure you set that hook while you have them there.
A general rule of thumb is that most anglers shouldn’t have a rod any larger than eight feet and no smaller than six feet. This factor is completely subjective to the individual, but for bass fishing, I would entirely agree with those numbers. Bass always run between a specific length, so you never need a rod larger than eight feet.
A good rule to follow is that you should never use a rod you can’t handle. If you feel like it might be too big, it is certainly too big. If anything, I prefer to use a rod that might be a little smaller than what I think I need. Smaller rods give you more control, and they also allow you to set the hook faster.
The bonus of having a larger rod is that you’ll be able to get more power into your cast and you’ll have an easier time reeling in larger fish. The downside is the fact that you need to have a lot of space around if you plan on casting a ten-foot rod. You also better make sure you have a strategy for storing and transporting a rod that big.
Overall, you don’t need anything larger than eight feet if you plan on fishing mostly for bass.
We have all types of technology, and with that technology comes advancements. We’ve come a long way from the materials we used to use in our rods. Today's fishing rods are lighter and more durable.
When you’re shopping for a fishing rod, you’ll typically see them come in two different materials: fiberglass or graphite. Fiberglass works best with lighter action rods because they provide more flex in the rod. Graphite rods are lighter and more reactive, but they are also more expensive. The reason people like graphite rods is because they are sensitive, which makes them great for smaller fish.
The type of material you choose should depend a lot on how serious you plan on taking your fishing. If you’ve made it this far in the guide, you’re probably serious, so maybe you could throw a few extra dollars towards a graphite rod. Either way, try both if you can before you make a purchasing decision of your own.
If you’re unsure about what type of material you should choose for your rod, go with the fiberglass because it’s more affordable. You can often find fiberglass fishing rod and reel combos for less than $100, so you don’t have a lot to lose if you make a bad choice.
The line guide allows you to detect any pressure from the line to the blank. There is a wide variety of these available on the market, and they vary dramatically from great to low quality. You want to make sure you always shop from a reputable fishing gear dealer or store.
There is the micro guide which is intended for a very thin line on fly rods due to their sensitivity and reactiveness.
There are also traditional line guides which are used more often on casting rods because they are intended for a larger line, but micro guides are becoming more popular for all kinds of rods due to their sensitivity.
Your choice in line guide is a matter of opinion, and if you do not have experience with them, you should experiment to see what works best for you.
If you intend on fishing for many hours at a time you want to make sure the rod is as comfortable as can be. This part of the rod usually doesn’t offer a lot of variations, but you do have a choice of material and grip. Make sure when you pick the rod up that it feels comfortable in your hands.
Check out the grip on the rod and make sure that you can hold on tight without losing grip if you’re battling a larger fish. If you think that the rod does not feel comfortable in your hand, you should move on and maybe consider looking into a more expensive one. The best reel seats on a bass fishing rod provide plenty of padding for long fishing trips.
Baitcasting or Spinning Reel? The Differences
Now that you have a solid understanding of the size, shape, and design of a bass fishing rod. It’s important to understand the two most popular fishing rods on the market. At some point, you will have to choose between a casting or spinning rod, and if you don’t understand what they are, you’ll never be able to make the right choice.
Before diving into this, it’s worth mentioning that casting and spinning don’t have much to do with the actual rod itself. They refer to the reel that you use with the rod. The type of reel you use completely impacts the way you fish in terms of feel and mechanics.
Baitcasting reels are also known as a casting, casters, and conventional reels. When you’re shopping around you can look for a C in the model name to know if it’s a casting rod or not. When you read the name baitcasting, you probably think that it’s like any other fishing rod that you’ll cast a lure out on the water and reel it back in.
That’s not always true. Casting rods commonly get used for something we call trolling.
Trolling is the process of letting your lure or bait scoot across the top of the water or slightly underneath the surface while you run along with your boat. You’ll find anglers doing this along the shoreline, and they call it trolling the shore. This is popular in deepwater fishing as well.
Casting reels come in many shapes and sizes. Lighter reels get designed for precise casting and accuracy. You can still cast with these rods so don’t let the trolling thing confuse you. Heavier casting rods have a lot of drag and line capacity. These are the rods you see on the side of deep-sea fishing rods while anglers are battling tuna and marlin.
One misconception is that you can interchange a casting and spinning reels regardless of the rod you are using. This is entirely untrue. While casting and spinning does refer to the reel, you need a specific rod that works with a casting or spinning reels.
If you buy a rod with a spinning reel on it and you try to put a casting rod on it, you’ll lose a lot of distance, and you might even compromise the rod.
The main way to tell that your rod is a casting rod is if it has a trigger on the seat of the reel. The trigger looks like a place for you to put your index finger during your cast. It looks like that because it is. The trigger helps you get more power into your cast, which results in longer more accurate casting. You’ll never find that trigger on a spinning rod.
Why Choose a Casting Rod?
If you’re wondering what the benefits of a casting rod are when compared to a spinning rod, they go something like this. You’ll want to have a casting rod if you are trolling or fishing a down-rigger. Casting reels are more comfortable to use with a rod holder, and they generally have better drag and larger line capacity for battling larger fish.
If we’re relating this to a bass fishing situation, I would say in most cases you don’t need a casting rod for bass fishing. They are usually too bulky and unnecessary for this situation.
Without getting too technical, I’ll explain the differences between these two types of reels so you can understand why this is the better choice for bass fishing. First, spinning rods are much easier to use. They don’t get tangled up as quickly, they are much lighter, and they are more affordable.
Spinning reels are the choice of most beginning anglers, so I suggest you follow suit and pick yourself up a spinning rod for bass fishing. When you look at a spinning rod compared to a casting rod, you’ll find that the location of the reel is different.
On a casting rod, the reel is on the top, and the line gets fed through one primary eyelet at the end of the rod. On the spinning rods, the reel is on the bottom, and the line gets fed through a series of eyes that run up to the tip of the rod.
Understanding the Spinning Reel
The next part of learning about your rod is understanding the reel you’re using. There are a few main components of every spinning reel, and I’ll break them down in detail for you:
- Spool - The spool is near the northernmost section of the reel where you’ll wound the line around.
- Handle - The handle is the part you’ll hold in your hand and crank, which will retrieve the line and lure.
- Bail - The bail is the little piece of metal on spinning rods that you’ll use to control your line. When the bail is open, the line can come off the spool freely. You’ll open the bail when you’re casting. When the bail is closed, the line cannot escape from the spool. You’ll close the bail when your lure is in the water and when you’re retrieving.
- Foot - The foot of the reel is the part that will get attached to the blank of your rod.
- Drag knob - The drag knob is one of the most critical components of a spinning reel because it will determine how easily the line can release from the spool. This factor is important when fishing for larger bass because you want to have enough drag to allow some space between you and the fish, but if you allow too much, you’ll have a harder time battling the bass. If you don’t allow enough drag the bass will snap your line and take your lure.
Understanding the Casting Reel
A baitcaster is the choice by many professionals for landing trophy bass. The feel of these reels increases casting accuracy, which can help anglers pinpoint the exact position they want to cast to.
Baitcasters have more advanced parts, and while the design might look less complicated than a spinning reel, the function is much more difficult to understand. If you plan on hitting the water with a casting reel you want to check out the following section.
Drag - The drag works the same with a casting reel as it does with a spinning reel. The main difference is the location of the knob. With these reels, the knob or dial is usually on the handle of the reel. With a casting reel, you want to pay close attention to where you’re fishing to determine how much drag you need to allow.If you’re fishing in densely vegetated areas, you want to keep the drag tight so you can quickly pull the bass out of the cover. If you’re fishing lightweight lures in open water, you can loosen it up, so you allow the bass a little room to pull away.
- Braking system - Another significant difference between a baitcaster and a spinning reel is the braking system on the casting reels. Casters tend to get tangled up more frequently as many anglers call it a “birds’ nest.” This is when the line gets all wrapped up in the spool, and it could put you out of commission for the rest of the day.
The braking system is in place to prevent that. When the brakes are tight, it will provide resistance in your cast which will slow down the movement of the line from the spool. When the brakes are loose, you’ll be able to cast much further, but you’ll run the risk of tangling up your line.
Tension knob - This knob functions precisely like the braking system does, but it provides you with even more precision. Many expert anglers use this knob to fine tune their reel depending on the type of lure their using.
Naturally, heavier lures cast further than lightweight lures. As a result, you would want to tweak the knob enough to guarantee you get the perfect cast every time.
As you can tell based on the function and design of the baitcasting reel, this type of reel is not intended for novice anglers. The amount of knowledge you need to get the right cast is intimidating, so I recommend starting with a spinning rod and working your way up to a baitcaster.
What are the Best Bass Fishing Lures?
Since you have a complete understanding of your fishing rod, it’s crucial to also think about the lures. The lure you put at the end of the line is one of the most critical factor to understand. If you don’t use the right lures, you’ll never catch anything, plain and simple. Using the right bass fishing lure is a critical step that each angler needs to understand.
So how do you find out what lure is right for bass fishing?
There are quite a few different ways to approach this situation, and there is no right or wrong answer. Most people use their experience with specific bodies of water to guide their decisions with bass.
In my experience, certain situations call for particular lures, and some cases will never merit the use of specific baits. We’re going to cover all of that in this section of the bass fishing guide.
Jigs are always considered one of the most versatile lures on the market and for a good reason. You can catch bass in water that ranges from 40 degrees to 90 degrees. You can bang jigs off of rocks, and you can maneuver them through weeds, it doesn’t matter the situation.
Jigs are so versatile because there is so much you can do with them. You can even use them in cold water in the dead of winter as long as the lake isn’t frozen over.
Where the finesse and strategy come in is when we talk about the size and type of jig you use for each situation. Skirted jigs are most popular as a year-round lure because the hard head protects you from getting hung up on rocks and stumps while the skirt allows you to make your way through weedy areas without getting caught as well.
No matter how you hook it, jigs will get the bass fishing job done all year long.
You want to play crankbaits smart, and if you do, you’ll have nearly the success of a jig. With crankbaits, you do have to change them a little depending on the time of year. With all lures, bass bite more in the mild weather than they do in extreme heat or cold.
When it's extremely cold or hot their metabolism slows down, which forces them into hiding.
During this time, they don’t bite quite as much, so you want to lower the size of your crankbait and change the color to something more neutral. They aren’t going to be interested in chasing after a large lure because they aren’t up to the fight.
Square bills on the end of your crank are most effective at deflecting light and causing the ornery bass to make a strike.
Jerkbaits are similar to crankbaits as they follow a lot of the same principles. These are generally cold weather lures, but that is not entirely true when it comes to bass. You want to make sure you’re throwing a jerkbait that is the right size for the time of year and that it offers plenty of light reflecting features.
You have to think of it this way. A lot of the time the bass aren’t biting because they’re hungry, they’re biting because you pissed them off. Bass are high temper fish, so they will often bite out of sheer anger instead of hunger.
Jerkbaits work well in a variety of settings from shallow riverbeds to deep lakes. You want to make sure you keep a few of these on you especially if you’re taking a trip to a weedy lake.
I call them wacky worms some people call them finesse worms. They are simply a rubber worm, but the difference between wacky and finesse is the way you hook them on the end of your line. Hooking a finesse worm is much like any other worm, you hook it to try and cover as much of the hook as possible.
When you hook a rubber worm “wacky style” instead of hooking it the usual way you keep it laying flat on its side, and you hook it straight through the middle. Doing this creates a nice bounce on the worm which closely mimics how one would behave if it were trying to make its way through the water.
There are so many different types of worms to fish with and many different ways to hook them, so this is one of the most versatile lures you can use for bass fishing.
Bass love biting worms and these lures are great even if they get a little beat up. Bass might be ornery fish, but they are also somewhat lazy. If you can make your lure appear injured, they’ll be more likely to bite it.
These are usually found in shallow weedy areas as well as rocks along with dams and inlets. The crawfish are most active during the colder weather times of the year, so you want to fish these right at the beginning of spring and right at the beginning of fall.
You don’t want it to be so cold that the bass have stopped biting, but you also don’t want to do it during a time when the bass aren’t prone to eat crawfish.
You can use a plastic craw along with your jig, and you’ll have incredible success, especially if you fish at the right time. Make sure you also keep size in mind when fishing with crawfish. These lures come in sizes ranging from both sides of the extreme ladder. They run very small to extremely large, so keep that in mind when you’re planning on fishing craws.
Lastly, we have swimbaits. These come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes, and they intend to mimic specific baitfish. One of the most common swimbaits is meant to look like a shiner, which is a common baitfish that bass eat.
The great thing about swimbaits is the fact that you can keep quite a few of these on you at all times so you can fish different types of baitfish depending on the time of year. If you want to emulate a shad in the fall, you could do that, and if you want to imitate something else for the spring, you have the freedom to get that done.
Swimbaits are new to the market, and not a lot of people know how to fish them yet. I think in the coming years we’ll see more mainstream information and professional anglers using swimmers.
Lining Your Rod
Knowing and understanding your rod is only half the battle; if you don’t know how to line the rod properly, you’ll have a hard time fishing. (obviously) It’s vital that you know the correct way to line your rod and reel. Based on some of the previous sections that you have read, you should have a solid understanding of the design of your rod and how that reflects the way you line it.
If you don’t have any previous knowledge of fishing and you buy a brand-new rod, you might not understand exactly how to line the rod. Luckily, the process is incredibly simple and should take you less than ten minutes.
Let’s learn how to line your spinning rod first.
What You Need to Line a Spinning Rod
The first thing you’ll need is your spinning reel. If you haven’t picked up a spinning reel yet make sure you read the above section on these types of reels, so you understand if this is the right setup for you.
One of the most important things to understand is that you either need to buy a combo rod and reel or if you buy them separately, you need to make sure they are compatible. For example, you cannot buy a spinning reel and put it on a casting rod, it won’t work that way properly, and you could damage the reel.
The next thing you need is the right fishing line for bass fishing. There are many different kinds of line, and they all vary in size and strength, so if you’re fishing for bass, you need to make sure you have the correct line for the job.
The last thing you’ll need is a hook and bait that work well for bass. Remember to keep the time of year in mind when you’re shopping for hooks and bait. Make sure the two are also compatible because if the lure is too small for the hook, you’ll be showing too much hook which will turn the bass away.
On the opposite side of the spectrum, you also want to have the right size lure as well. It always helps to research multiple types of lures so you can carry a few of them on you at all times. Research the body of water you plan on fishing and get a solid understanding of what type of bass are in there and then find out what they bite most and when they are feeding.
Connecting the Reel
If you bought a rod and reel separately, you'd need to connect the reel to the rod. First, you’ll have the loosen the reel seat and make sure there's enough room to fit the reel on the blank. Once you place the reel into the seat, you can then tighten it until everything feels snug.
Make sure there is no movement of the reel in the seat. If it wiggles around even a little bit, you’ll want to do this again until you have a solid fit.
Spooling the Reel
Let’s rewind for a second; now we have the rod and reel attached perfectly, so you have a completed rod without any line. The next step is to get some line in there so we can move along with the next steps.
Here are the steps you need to take to line your reel:
- Open the bait
- Wrap the line around the spool
- Tie an overhand or arbor knot
- Cut the loose piece of line hanging off
- Close the bail
- Hold the line tightly with one hand
- Spool the line by cranking the handle until you have the desired amount of line
To determine how much line you need on your reel, you need to check the specifications. On the specs sheet, you’ll find something that says, “line cap” or “max line.”
Once your reel is spooled up, you’ll want to line the rod up to the tip. To do this, you simply grab the end of the line, open the bail, and run the line through all the guides. Once the rod is entirely lined up, you want to tie a hook or lure to the end of the line.
For this, you want to use a Palomar, clinch, or Albright knot. We’ll be covering some of these shortly. There are a wide variety of knots you can use, but you don’t want to tie a sloppy knot or else you’ll find yourself losing a lot of lures.
Setting the Drag
The last thing you’ll need to do once you have your rod entirely set up is you want to set your drag. To do this, you’ll turn the knob clockwise to tighten the drag and counterclockwise to loosen it. While you’re doing this, you’ll pull the line from the spool to see how tight the drag is.
As we said, you want a loose drag if you’re fishing open waters for bass so you can give them some room to get away in free space. If you’re fishing tight quarters or densely vegetated area you want to keep the drag tight, so you don’t get hung up on anything.
The drag also plays an essential role in setting the hook. If the drag is too loose, there will be little tension on the hook and fish so the hook could easily fall out of the bass's mouth. Similarly, if the tension is too tight, the line will break easily.
Different Kinds of Line
One of the most overlooked portions of a fishing rod is the line. Many inexperienced anglers think they can head down to the local pro shop and pick up anything and throw it on the reel. That might be true, but you’re doing yourself a severe disservice.
You want to have the right line for the job so you can not only catch fish, but so you don’t have to re-line the reel when you find out that you screwed up.
There are three primary types of fishing line that most people use, and they each have their own unique qualities and drawbacks that make them apply only to certain situations. As always, we’ll go into intense detail to make sure you understand every line and when exactly you should use them.
Monofilament line is the most common and most popular for a couple of different reasons. Mono is a single piece of nylon fiber that gets spun with other polymers. You’ll wind this line on the reel precisely as we described in the previous section.
This type of line comes in different tensile strengths, and we called this pound test. If you’ve ever heard anything about fishing, you’ve likely heard of pound test before. You have to have the right pound test depending on what type of fish you’re looking for.
Your line also comes in varying colors as well depending on the time of day and time of year. You can find a fluorescent yellow line that will make it easier to see at night, but you’ll also sacrifice some trust with the bass in the water.
There are three main things that everyone needs to keep in mind when shopping for a fishing line.
- Pound test
Let’s start with the pound test. When you’re looking at the test of the line, you’re looking at the diameter of it. The heavier the test, the larger the diameter. The smaller the test, the smaller the diameter.
How does this relate to fishing?
If you plan on catching a nine-pound bass, you would want to have a much larger test on the spool than if you were after a three-pound bass. The test will help keep the hook and the fish on the line without snapping it. You might be starting to see how everything comes together and why all the small details are so important.
The diameter of the line also affects your cast. If you have a larger line, you’ll have an easier time achieving a higher casting distance because of the weight you have. With lighter monofilament lines people will generally add weights to them to get a better distance behind their cast.
Lastly, the diameter and test of your line also impact the way you set the hook. A 20-pound test will set better because there is less flexibility in the line. It might not seem like much, but it does matter.
A four-pound test will have a bit of play which will result in the line flexing a little, so you’ll have a harder time setting the hook. This detail will go nearly unnoticed in the grand scheme of things, but it is worth mentioning.
This type of line is growing in popularity as more and more people start switching over to it due to improved research and testing. The primary components of the line are the same, but the major difference is the light reflection and refraction of the line.
This line has less optical density, so it’s harder to see in the water. As a result, you would not want to use this line if you are in a low visibility area, and you want to see the line moving through the water.
Fluorocarbon also does not absorb water like monofilament line so you’ll get better wear resistance over time and the line will last longer. This line is also more dense and rigid, so there is less flex, which results in a better hook set.
The primary upside to this line is the low visibility for you also means low visibility for bass. The ultimate goal of an angler is to do as little as you can to spook the bass. If the bass sees the hook and the line, you’re decreasing your chances of getting a bite.
Having a nearly invisible line is a significant advantage for the angler.
It’s not all good news though; fluorocarbon line does have some downsides. First, the line sinks due to its weight, so if you plan on fishing topwaters, you’ll have a harder time. The line will continuously pull the nose of the lure down beneath the surface, which will reduce the quality of your presentation.
The line is also more rigid, which causes it to spool up, resulting in a less successful retrieval. Fluorocarbon line is more prone to tangling, especially with larger pound tests.
Fluorocarbon line is much more expensive than monofilament so many anglers will use a backing to cover the first 50-75 yards of line. Since you won’t often reach this section of the line, you don’t have to worry about it as much so you can use a cheaper line for this portion and then tie the fluorocarbon line to make up the difference.
Doing this allows you to make the most of your expensive line, and you’ll make the spool last longer while still maintaining strength and quality.
The last option is the braided line, which is woven strands of material intended to provide a taut and solid fishing line. In years past, these lines were cotton or linen, but today we have special materials made precisely for braided fishing line. These materials include Dacron, spectra, or Dyneema.
The woven design of these fibers prevents them from stretching, and since you’re getting multiple lines woven into one, you get improved strength and abrasion resistance. The braided line varies dramatically in size from small diameters to large diameters intended for deep sea fishing.
You have many options, and as you would expect, the braided line is the most expensive. I don’t typically use this line unless I’m using a big 80-pound test for serious cover areas or deep-water fishing.
5 Fishing Knots to Know
One of the keys to success in fishing is knowing how to tie the right knots to get the job done. Even if you aren’t fly fishing, you still want to know a few basic knots that will ensure you aren’t continually losing lures to ornery bass. Here are five of the most crucial fishing knots every angler should know how to tie.
You’ll want to use the Palomar knot to tie your hook to the end of the line. This knot is considered a 100% knot, which means that it is of the highest quality, but the key is to tie it properly.
Here are the steps you need to take to tie a Palomar knot:
- Take two six inch sections of line and pass them through the eye of the hook. If you’re dealing with a small hook eye, you might not be able to do this, so you want to pass the line through and then pull it back. You want to leave six inches of doubled line on the outside of the eye.
- Next, you want to tie an overhand knot with the hook hanging below.
- Hold the overhand knot section between your forefinger and thumb and pass the line over the hook and slide it back above the eye of the hook.
It sounds complicated, but it’s not as bad as you think. This one is the most powerful knot when done correctly.
Improved Clinch Knot
If you’re not up for the complicated Palomar knot, you could learn the improved clinch. This is a time-tested choice used by many anglers to secure the hook to the line. The improved version of this knot is so successful that most professional anglers who use this completely forgot about the regular version.
Here are the steps you need to take to tie an improved clinch knot:
- Take your line and run it through the eye of the hook. On the way back, you want to make at least five turns around the line that you ran through the eye.
- Bring the line back around through the first loop and then through the big loop you created.
- Pull on the end to tighten everything and then slide the line up until it’s tight. You’ll want to clip any excess line as well.
This knot is much simpler and just as strong if done correctly. I recommend the improved clinch knot for beginners who aren’t looking for anything too involved.
The loop knot is commonly used in and outside of fishing. This knot is considered one of the 12 best fishing knots to know, so you want to make sure you take a look at the loop knot.
Here’s how you tie a loop knot:
- Make a loop at the end of the line by moving the end around the rest of the line.
- Turn around the line and make a second loop. Hold all of that together and then move the line around again but cross it on the topside, making a second loop.
- Hold the line in place and pass loop two through loop one.
- Pull on loop two until the two loops and jammed tight.
The snell knot is a lot like the improved clinch knot except you are performing most of the steps on the hook instead of the line. The key to a snell knot is that you have a large enough hook to complete the knot properly. If you’re dealing with a small hook, you might not be able to do this one.
Here’s how you tie a snell knot:
- Take your line through the hook eye and down the shaft of the hook. Make a loop with the line.
- Pass the end of the line around the hook four to six times and keep them tight as you do this.
- Pass the line back through the big loop and pull it tight to make everything nice and snug. Trim the end of the line to finish the knot.
The Albright is considered one of the most reliable fishing knots there is. This knot works excellent for lines of all types and diameters, and you can use this knot at any stage of the lining process. That reason alone is what makes the Albright knot a favorite for fly anglers.
For the Albright knot, it requires that you tie a smaller line to a more prominent line. This practice exists in fly fishing when tying the line to the backing or leader. Here are the steps you need to take:
- Take your heavier line and make a loop. Run at least ten inches of the light line through the loop.
- Hold all three lines and wrap the line over itself
- Make at least ten turns around the line and feed it back through the main loop that it entered through.
- Hold both sides of the heavy line and slide the wrapped portion to the end. Pull everything tight and clip any excess line.
How to Catch Bass: Where to Fish
Having all of this knowledge is useless if you don’t know where to go to catch. Catching bass is what you’re looking to accomplish, and if you can’t locate them across each type of water body, you won’t have a successful fishing trip no matter what. Here are some of the locations you’ll find bass and how to find them there.
Be aware there may be laws and regulations depending on which state you fish in.
The main thing to understand about river bass fishing is that you need to pay close attention to the river levels. When the levels are low, you have a better chance of catching bass because they have fewer places to hide. When the water levels are up, bass move to shallow areas and new areas that are created by the rising levels. This makes it more difficult to locate them.
Certain signals usually stand out in the river, and these will help you find bass. You want to look for sparse rocks, muddy banks, waterfalls, drain pipes, and low hanging trees. These areas make the bass feel safe and secure, so they will spend their time wherever there is cover.
When you’re fishing the rivers, you want to keep your presentation quick and light, especially if the water levels are low and current is moving quickly. Bass don’t like to move from their hideaway in the rivers, so you have to get their attention quickly and catch them quick.
Fishing for bass in a lake makes things much simpler. When you’re lake fishing, there are many more clear signals for where you’ll locate bass, and you can use a wider variety of lures and rods. Fishing in lakes makes the time of year and day a much more important factor.
When you’re scoping out the lake trying to find a place where the bass are hiding you want to look for any structure. You want to fish around docks, houses, boat launches, low hanging trees, stumps, dams, rocks, brush, and anything out of the ordinary. If the bass feel like they can hide there, they will.
Bass are most active when the water levels are cool but not cold. This means that you’ll have the best chance of catching the most bass in the early morning and at dusk.
You’ll have the most success if you’re on a boat and you move along the shoreline fishing any structure along the shore.
Bass fishing in a pond is the same as fishing in a lake, but you need to pay more attention to the structure and water levels. When you’re fishing in a pond, you might be dealing with a smaller body of water, but the principles are the same.
You still want to look for any stumps, rocks, dams, or structure that could help you locate the bass. You also want to fish the early morning and at dusk. The primary difference between a lake and a pond is the size of the body of water. You may even catch a larger bass in the pond than you would in a big lake.
You might also want to lower the size of your lures in a pond because the bass might be used to seeing smaller baitfish, so you don’t want to spook them.
Comparing a stream to a river is similar to comparing a lake to a pond. The challenges you’ll deal with will be nearly identical, but you’re fishing in a smaller body of water, so you have to take that into account. When you’re fishing in a stream, you’re likely having a faster-moving current and less water, so you’ll have an easier time finding bass.
The problem with fishing in a stream is you might be limited to where you can fish because of the water levels.
For example, in a stream, you might only be able to fish small pools throughout the stream because most of the water levels might be too low for the fish to move freely through the water. This increases your chances of catching something, but sometimes there might not even be anything to catch.
Tidal fishing for bass is an entirely different animal. If you’re fishing the Great Lakes or some other incredibly large body of water, you want to try and cast past the tide otherwise you’ll spend the entire day untangling your line and replacing lures.
Fishing the tide requires a much larger rod and lure with weights to cast beyond the tide. The reward of fishing more substantial bodies of water is the opportunity to catch much larger bass, but the chances of doing this from the shore are slim.
Fish don’t usually run that close to the shore in tidal waters due to the current, so your best bet for fishing vast lakes like the Great Lakes is on a boat.
The 6 Spawning Seasons
We’ve touched on this a little but one of the most important things to understand when bass fishing is how each season affects the way you catch bass. You have to know the different spawning seasons and what lures to use for each season. The weather and temperature outside should always guide your presentation and fishing strategy.
You won’t ever fish the same in the fall as you do in the summer and with each season comes new lures, new presentations, new colors, and new strategies. Let’s take a look at how the six spawning seasons affect your bass fishing.
During the winter when water temperatures are below 48 degrees, bass hang on to the rigid sloping structure. They’ll hang out around standing trees, bluffs, and steep drop-offs. During the winter, bass are lethargic, and they don’t move much, so they aren’t willing to travel far to change depths.
When they hang out around the sloping structure, they can swim up and down to change depth based on the water temperature.
For your presentation, you need to think much slower. The metabolism of bass slows down dramatically in the winter, and they don’t move nearly as much. This means they won’t chase a large lure halfway across the pond as they did on those cool summer mornings.
Suspending jerk baits work well in the winter because you can leave them in the same place for a long time which is enough to push the bass to bite.
The pre-spawn period is when water temperatures move towards 50 degrees. Bass spawn in flat areas amongst the most protected areas in the water. You want to look for banks along the northern section of the lake because they are usually the warmest.
If you find open areas that seem to get hit by a lot of wind, you want to avoid these areas. Bass will not lay spawn in areas that are wide open and susceptible to anything.
During this time, you also want to pay attention to travel routes for bass. They’ll be moving to their spawning locations, so you want to look for ditches and other changes in the bed of the lakes.
You can speed up your presentation a little, but you still want to keep it generally slow overall. Use lures that mimic baitfish and keep your colors as neutral as possible.
When water temperatures climb as high as 70 degrees, you want to look towards large areas of shallow water. For this, I’m talking less than ten feet. Not all bass spawn at the same time, so you want to make your way around the spawning areas after a long period of clouds.
When it’s cloudy out, you aren’t able to cast shadows which makes it ideal fishing weather for bass. You’re more likely to sneak up on the bass when it's cloudy.
Stick to the northernmost section of the water where there is plenty of protection from wind.
During the spawning period, you want to decide if you’re going to target post-spawn bass or pre-spawn bass. As I said, bass, do not spawn at the same time, so you have a choice to make here.
Once bass leave their beds, they’ll hang around the area for a while, so the patterns are similar but a bit more difficult after spawning season. This is the time when you want to fish around docks, tree trunks, and dead brush. They’ll still spend a majority of their time in cover, but they are not as aggressive as they were before spawning season.
That said, bass are an ornery fish, and they will bite no matter what if you put the right lure at the right time in front of their face. At this time, you want to fish top waters and beneath the surface. Spinners are popular at this time because they are highly visible in muddy waters.
During the summer, I’m a firm believer in fishing rivers and moving water because it helps to keep the bass moving.
When water temperatures heat the bass act, how they would if it were really cold. They try not to overexert themselves, and they feed in short bursts but highly aggressively during that time. It’s impossible to figure out when their feeding time is but your best bet is always early morning and at dusk.
During the hot summer months, your best chance at catching the most bass is to speed up your presentation with something like a bright colored spinnerbait. You want to hit the water and make a lot of noise and light penetration so you can draw the bass out of their structure. Troll along the shoreline and heavy coverage and you’ll have the best chance of catching bass in the hot summer months.
Once the water temperatures have dipped down around 55 degrees again, it causes the bass to move to the shallowest points of the water, and you can fish similar to how you did during spawning season.
At this time, the bass are looking for a larger amount of food, so you want to fish baitfish style lures. Bass are usually chasing schools of baitfish at this time, so you want to do your best to blend into the group.
Remember when you were a kid, and you thought you could simply reach into the water and catch a fish when you saw one? That is essentially what sight fishing is. Sight fishing works best in shallow and clear waters when it’s warm outside. The bass move towards the shallows during this time, and they tend to set up shop there.
The first thing you need to figure out is whether or not they are guarding their spawn. Keep in mind what season it is to help determine that. If the bass are spawning, you want to drop your lure right in front of them because spawning bass will bite out of aggression.
If they aren’t spawning, you can try and lure them away a little bit.
For sight fishing, I always like to use a shad or shiner style lure or a rubber worm. With sight fishing, you usually don’t have to put too much thought into the lure because fish are typically biting out of anger.
When I think of bank fishing, it also reminds me of being a kid and fishing with my dad. He had a hard time fishing from the shore, and he never believed in it, so we almost always had a boat growing up.
Me, on the other hand, I believe you can do plenty of quality fishing from the bank because you’re essentially reversing what you would do if you were in the boat. The only downside to shore fishing is access points. You want to make sure you have a solid access point that allows you to cast freely without getting hung up on low hanging trees or brush along the shore.
My personal belief is that you want to slow down your presentation a little when fishing from the bank because you want to give the bass a chance to check out your lure.
When you cast, you might have to draw them away from the shore into the deeper waters a little which can take some time and coaxing. I like to use loud lures like spinners and flipping jigs to get the bass going.
Summing it Up
No matter your level of experience, I hope you’ll be able to take something of value away from this guide. Bass fishing is rewarding and enjoyable for people of all backgrounds.
Best of luck with your next big catch!
Want to find out if you're a spinning or baitcast rod type of person? Check out our fishing rod review here. After you've selected the rod, you can take a look at our fishing reel review, where we take a look at some of the best spincasting, spinning and baitcasting reels on the market.
Also don't forget to sign up to our email list for fishing related updates, news and much more!