Beginners Guide To Fishing For Bass: It's Easier Than You Think!
“Bass fishing is a deep subject with tons of information and that is what makes it extremely fun and interesting. You will always learn and try new things.” -Joseph Bailey
The first time I caught a largemouth bass, it was with a live nightcrawler on a hook dangling underneath a large bobber. As soon as that bobber plunged below the surface, I was hooked on learning more about how to catch these bass!
The next largemouth bass I caught was on my next fishing trip to the same pondj here in the Willamette Valley, Oregon. This time it was with a small Rapala that looked very convincingly like a crayfish. I caught that bass next to shore along a section of cattails near the boat dock.
Since then, I’ve gone on to catch both largemouth and smallmouth bass. Both are insanely fun to catch and both can put on a great fight.
So You Want To Learn How To Fish For Bass...
Bass fishing is one of those things in life that makes you remember where you were and who you were with. On those early childhood bass fishing trips to that small pond, I can tell you which childhood friend I was with and can even tell you what color and design that Rapala was. Why is this?
It’s because bass fishing is an adventure! It’s something that anyone at any skill level can do. There’s bass fishing for beginners, and as you’ve probably seen, there’s even professional bass fishing which has become a major part of the $115 billion dollar recreational fishing industry here in the United States!
But what makes it so incredible, unlike many other types of fishing, is that bass fishing is not out of the reach of anyone! Every person, regardless of financial means, skill level and even physical ability can start learning how to fish for bass...and catch them!
That’s why I’m so glad you’ve landed here!
You might be brand new to the sport of bass fishing, or you might even already be an experienced bass fisherman. Either way, you’re here because you love bass fishing and you want to learn how to become even better at it.
Purpose Of This Article
The reason I put this bass fishing tips guide together is so that you only have to look in one place to to learn the best way to catch bass. When I was researching online how to improve my bass fishing game, I kept finding posts here and there that would teach 5 or 10 tips on how to toss and retrieve a crankbait or Texas rig a rubber worm.
What I didn’t find was an in depth guide telling me what I need and how to use it...all while keeping it really easy.
And that’s exactly what you’ll find in this article. We’re going to start with the very basics of fishing for bass. I’ll share with you the bare bones tackle and gear I believe you’ll need to get started catching largemouth and smallmouth bass. And I’ll teach you the best bass fishing technique that also happens to be the easiest.
Once you start catching fish, then you can come back and read about more bass fishing techniques, as I’ll be updating this post frequently and adding more info. So be sure to bookmark this page, or subscribe to my email list to be notified of the updates!
What we won’t cover in the article is pro-level bass fishing. Pro’s that read this article are going to disagree with some of my techniques, but what my techniques will do is help you catch fish.
There’s a lot of information here, so be sure to check out the table of contents if you want to skip around or go directly to a specific topic.
Let’s get started…
Bass Fishing For Beginners: The Basics
Growing up I was obsessed with fishing. I’d dream about it at night and day dream throughout the day. Pretty sure some of the comments on my early report cards can confirm this.
And one of my favorite things to do as a kid was go to the Outdoor shows with my dad and brother. For a kid who loves fishing...those fishing shows are a literal Mecca.
Start Fishing For Bass Without Breaking The Bank
But what I remember the most about the fishing and outdoor shows, was how much money people could (and would) spend on the sport of bass fishing alone. I couldn’t believe it. Bass rods, bass fishing reels, bass boats, bass lures, bass baits and even bass fishing sunglasses.
And maybe you’ve watched those Sunday morning bass shows, and you see all the nice gear the pro’s are using and all the fancy sponsor patches that are on their shirts. You might think, surely this is a ridiculously expensive hobby.
But it doesn’t have to be expensive. You can get started bass fishing right away with whatever fishing gear you have on hand! As a matter of fact, Joseph Bailey wrote an article titled, Get Started in Bass Fishing for under $125. And I agree with Joseph 100%. And if you get creative and shop wisely...you can get started bass fishing for even less money than that!
Keep It Simple
Don’t worry about going out and buying the latest and greatest. Save your money. Start on the cheap, learn the sport and then upgrade as needed. There’s a TON of bass fishing equipment and tackle out there. Just take a stroll through the fishing isle at Walmart. Or if you’re really brave, try taking a field trip to Cabela’s. Yeah...it can become very overwhelming really quick.
But I’m going to eliminate all of those things for you and give you a very condensed short list of the things you’ll need to get started to become a real bass angler.
Bass Fishing Gear
Best Bass Fishing Rod
Again, you don’t have to get fancy here. Any medium 7 foot long spinning rod should do the trick. I really like my Ugly Stik spinning rod. I’ve caught a lot of largemouth and smallmouth bass with it.
I’m not saying Ugly Stik is the best fishing rod for bass, but in my opinion, for beginners it’s the best choice. It’s incredibly affordable for the quality you get. As a matter of fact, it’s the bass fishing rod I bought for my son when he turned 8. I plan on doing the same for my daughter as well.
The Ugly Stik spinning rods have great sensitivity and backbone to really set the hook when you need to. You can check out a lot more details about the Ugly Stik in my article, The Best Spinning Rod Under $50.
If I were to have to choose a second favorite bass fishing rod, it would be the Okuma Ceymar spinning rod. You can read all about that fishing rod as well in the same article here.
Best Bass Fishing Reel
As far as getting the best bass fishing reel for beginners, again, don’t go overboard on cost here. The price of fishing reels can easily get out of control reaching into the hundreds of dollars. That’s not what we’re going to do while just starting out fishing for bass.
Instead, look for a spinning reel that’s made by either Plueger, Okuma Ceymar or Abu Garcia. Any reels made by these manufacturers are going to be a good quality fishing reel that’ll last you a very long time, as long as you take care of it.
Any one of the reels I mention in this post about spinning reels that I put together will work perfectly for your first bass fishing setup. My favorite reel for bass fishing is either the Pflueger President Spinning Reel or the Okuma Ceymar spinning reel. I actually have chosen the Okuma Ceymar the best spinning reel under $50 and is the reel that I use on my bass rod.
Bass Fishing Bait And Tackle
If you’re just getting started with bass fishing, I want you to take the advice given by Joseph Bailey in his post I mentioned earlier. Skip all the fancy baits and lures you see hanging on the wall at your local bait shop. Instead, follow his advice and just buy these few simple things.
With this simple setup, not only will you catch both largemouth and smallmouth bass, but you can easily stick this gear in your pocket or in your backpack. No need to lug around an heavy tackle box.
This is a proven bass fishing technique. Do it and you’ll catch fish!
1. Yamamoto Senko Bait
Yamamoto Senko plastic worms are magic. I’m just going to throw it out there. And I agree with Mr. Bailey on this one. There’s a million and a half different bass baits out there; plastic worms, crankbaits, buzzbaits, topper poppers, bass jigs and so on.
But the best bait for bass fishing by far is the Yamamoto Senko Bait. These guys are simple to use for beginners, don’t take up very much room in your backpack and most importantly...catch bass!
There’s many different colors of Yamamoto Senko plastic worms to choose from. But the 3 colors I recommend using while learning how to fish for bass are:
- Green Pumpkin
You’re going to also find that each of these colors come with a variety of colored flakes or glitter incorporated inside of them. Pick whichever colored flakes you like, but I prefer the plastic worms with black flakes, like these.
You’ll notice that all plastic worms come in a variety of sizes as well. This is also true with Yamamoto Senko worms. At this point, don’t worry too much about the size of the worms. Anything between 4 inches to 7 inches in length will work just fine.
Okay, you’ve got your plastic worms...now let's move onto the hooks you need to buy.
2. 3/0 Extra Wide Gap (EWG) Plastic Worm Hooks
These hooks fish the Yamamoto Senko plastic worms we just bought to perfection! Just as the name implies, these hooks have an extra wide gap between the point of the hook and the shaft of the hook. This makes it much easier to hook bass right in the side of the mouth, which in my opinion makes them the best hooks for bass fishing.
The other reason you want to use these hooks while learning how to fish for bass is because of how versatile these hooks can be. As a beginner you’ll want to rig your Senko worm in one of two ways; Texas Rig (most simple method) or Wacky Rig.
Want to learn how to rig the Senko plastic worm to catch bass? This article from Bassmaster.com is a great resource, Brent Ehrler's 5 favorite Senko Rigs.
Now lets go over the weights you’ll need for these two rigs.
3. Bullet Shaped Slip Sinker
With any Texas-rig setup, you’re going to need to start with a bullet-shape slip sinker or nose weight. This weight is positioned so that it’s on the line in front of the knot and hook. Essentially, it’ll slip down the line and rest on the nose of the worm.
There’s also a lot of different sizes of these kinds of weights to choose from. But since we’re using Senko worms for now, pick up some bullet shaped slip sinkers that are anywhere between 1/32 and 1/8 of an ounce.
In the world of bass fishing weights, these are considered lightweight. The reason we’re going with a lightweight sinker for our rig is because of the effect it has on the Senko worm.
These lightweight sinkers will allow the Senko worm to fall naturally in the water, giving it an irresistible presentation to the bass. Too much weight, and the plastic worm will fall straight down and too fast.
Bass Fishing Techniques: The Yamamoto Senko Worm
Bass fishing doesn’t have to be hard. And I question the validity of anyone who says otherwise. My 4 year old daughter caught a smallmouth bass, which happened to be her first fish ever, by simply retrieving a copper colored Blue Fox spinner in a farmers pond. I’m not sure it gets much simpler than that!
So bass fishing can be just that easy. Cast and retrieve. But as you learn more and more about how to fish for bass, you’ll see there’s many different bass fishing techniques to try and learn. And each bass fishing technique comes with its own set of advantages.
But since we’re only using Senko worms at this point, here’s a simple technique you can use with your Senko worm, or any plastic worm for that matter.
Cast And Retrieve Bass Fishing Technique
- Cast the worm where you want it and let it sink to the bottom. I ALWAYS let the worm sit there on the bottom for a few moments. I’ve caught many bass during this waiting time.
- After a few moments, lift the tip of your fishing rod up to bring the plastic worm back to life and drag it along the bottom, using only your fishing rod to move the bait.
- Now reel in the slack as the plastic worm comes to a rest and keep your line tight the entire time.
- Continue to do this lift and reel type of retrieval until the Senko worm makes its way back to you. Then repeat the process!
Pro Tip: Remember, bass are predators, so they’re always moving around from place to place looking for prey. If you’re not catching anything in one location, try casting farther to the right, then to the left. And don’t be afraid to cast really close to shore, even in the shallows. This is especially true when bass are most active in early mornings and late evenings.
A Little Bit About Bass Fishing
Bass fishing is by far one of the most popular types of fishing in North America, the largemouth bass in particular. And there’s a reason that over 14 million anglers in the United States alone are addicted to pursuing these fish.
One of the many reasons bass fishing is so popular is because of how accessible it is to everyone! Men, women and children who want to try their luck at catching a largemouth or smallmouth bass don’t have to travel very far from where they are to do it.
As a matter of fact, bass can be found in 49 out of 50 states in the USA, including Hawaii, as well as in many parts of Canada and Mexico. Granted, the fishing might not be as good in some of those areas, but the opportunities to fish for bass still exist!
Another reason bass fishing is so popular is because you can fish for bass anytime of the year, both day and night. You should note that there are most definitely better times of year and better times of the day to fish, but again...the opportunities to fish for bass are all over the place.
The final reasons I’ll mention for bass fishings popularity is simply because of how much fun it is. Bass fight hard, so even the smaller bass are fun to catch. And bass are always feeding. So if you’re not catching fish with the bait your using or in the location your fishing in...all you have to do is change it up! A simple 3 minute walk to another submerged log might produce bass when you weren’t catching anything earlier.
The Different Bass Species
There are many different species of bass throughout the world, but in this article we're focusing mainly on the type of bass known as “black bass”. And of the bass that are in this family, we’re concerned about largemouth bass and smallmouth bass.
Largemouth bass are the most popular bass to fish for. As their name implies, they’re most known for the massive size of their mouth.
Largemouth bass tend to live alone, although sometimes you’ll find several largemouths grouped together, especially if it’s in an area where there’s a lot of food available.
Largemouths are a predatory fish and are almost always at the top of the food chain in their environment. This is why you’ll soon find that largemouth bass are aggressive fish that won’t nibble at your bait, but will attack it without warning.
These bass like to hide between rocks, in and amongst vegetation, under submerged logs and branches and anywhere else they can easily hide in wait for easy prey. It’s from these hiding spots that the largemouth will come out of to attack their next meal.
Largemouth bass prefer to live in warm quiet water, which is why fishing for largemouth bass is can be so good in agricultural ponds and lakes. But you can also find these predatory fish in rivers, streams and reservoirs. Just look for the calm, slow moving water.
Smallmouth bass, also known as ‘smallies’, are another insanely fun fish to catch. Smallmouth bass can put on a great fight and display serious acrobatics once hooked, as often times you’ll see the smallie jump out of the water, flip and spin, all in an attempt to shake free that hook.
Smallmouth bass fishing is some of my favorite kind of fishing for that reason alone!
Unlike largemouth bass, smallmouths can oftentimes be found in groups together. While it’s also not uncommon to find them living a solitary lifestyle as well.
The biggest difference between largemouth and smallmouth bass, however are the habitats that each of them like to live in. Unlike largemouth bass which prefer quiet warm waters, the smallmouth bass are more commonly found in cooler clean water. Smallies can easily be found in rivers and streams as well as in lakes and reservoirs.
And because smallmouth bass are intolerant of pollution and dirty water, the smallmouth bass is a good natural indicator of a healthy environment!
So that’s bass fishing at about as simple as you can make it. I guarantee that if you just follow the very easy steps that we talked about in this article, you WILL catch fish.
Remember, bass fishing doesn’t have to be an expensive hobby to enter. You can easily get started for $100 or so...maybe even less if you happen to already own a rod and reel that will work. Don’t get caught up in all the shiny objects that are available. That time will come!
Focus on the simple setup we discussed, the Senko worm. Start catching fish with that, then come back here and read about some additional bass fishing techniques that work.
Good luck! And be sure to report back here and let us all know about the fish you catch.
And if you found this article helpful, please share it with your friends, and help spread the word about bass fishing!