Tackle, Boats, Accessories, Lures And Baits (All About Plastics, Spinners, Crank And Others- Top-Water And Specialty Lures)
Having the right equipment, knowing how to best use it, when and how, (also how not to use it and what it is not suitable for), can all help you in your bass fishing adventure.
The basics regarding rods, reels, line, hooks, weights, bobbers, sinkers, lures, sensors and other equipment (hats, vests, nets, scents, scissors etc.), gives you an appreciation for having the right tools for the task(s) at hand.
As a highly participatory and engaging sport, Bass fishing is simply almost unparalleled in the vast amount of styles and tools to use. From quiet streams, tranquil lakes to open sea and rushing rivers – there is something for everyone.
I you are looking for quick tips on the right equipment, most suited to your purpose and the techniques to master to catch bass in any conditions, might this next section enlighten and inspire you, as you delve right into the ‘utilities of the fishing trade’. Some tools of the bass fishing trade, we will be focusing on are:
- Rods, Reels, Lines and Hooks
- Tackle: Lures and Bait – live – artificial and, or, BUT YET…
Limited space does not permit large comparative explanations or ramblings on the merit of some tools above certain others. These debates are well known and well published in existing literature. We take a more practical approach and look at what you will actually need to hook your next big one, besides random chance and luck! We like to point out that picking the right equipment means a lot of different thing to different people. Each angler has his/her own interpretation of what that means, varying skill level, physical characteristics and strengths/weaknesses, so we will not profess knowing what is right for you. What we do offer are mere suggestions on which tools will stack the odds in your favor and help you enjoy preparing, rigging, baiting/hooking, retrieving and landing YOUR next BIG ONE! Ensuring that is does not join the droves of ‘the ones that got away’!
Even as you explore your surroundings and the wonder of fish species and their life cycles, patterns and behavior, experimenting, hands-on with your equipment and what is available to anglers today, is part of the exciting world of Bass fishing. From fish-finders, temperature gauges, sensors and more advanced technologies, to the art of preparing your lines and hooks, choosing the lures/bait most suited to your circumstance and purpose and more, adds to the excitement and enjoyment of the activity. Preparing yourself with knowledge on these, will boost your confidence and practicing often, will pay off in the long run as your expertise, exposure and angling mastery grows.
When it comes to equipment, the opinions are many and far between. Your condition, circumstance, purpose and goal will all figure into the final choice (oh, yes and do not forget the ever-present budget and affordability)!
Spinning or bait casting with artificial lures, fly-fishing, trolling with live-baits, are all options available to you, with specialist tools on hand to assist you make the most of it. Typically a 5.5 to 7 feet rod (spinning or bait casting), with a matching reel with six to ten pound line, fast taper, single action reel would serve you well. Weed-less hooks are a lifesaver in very dense cover or weeds.
Angling techniques and tackle keep refining, developing and almost takes on a life of its own for every angler. There is not really a one-size-fits-all approach. This personalized relationship with your equipment, might mean a basic rod to start with and then adding a couple for your different excursions and expeditions – your Bass journey has just started. Modern tackle and methods, traditional or innovative, technology-driven and enabled – whatever you’re fancy or preference – there is something for every taste and budget.
It is an ancient sport, pursued by many, with echoes of early hunters and anglers living off the land. Getting in touch with that timeline through hands-on activity, like bass fishing is very rewarding. Most beginners might be overwhelmed by the selection of equipment available on the market today. Knowing what to pick/buy, how and when to (best) apply, use it correctly, to maximize your chances of catching your next big one is key.
Good quality tackle is important – it needs to be adequate for whatever nature throws your way. You will need to build your arsenal of knowledge and equipment over time, to respond best to some of the challenges at hand. Good appropriate baits and lures and how to use them effectively, in combination, in quick succession to ensure bites, are other key components, as is importance of preparing, presenting well, accurate casting, hooking (sharpening the hooks and turning them up slightly for example to ensure that the fish stay on your hook as you reel them in), as well as retrieving and landing of the fish.
An excellent source for beginners on all things tackle-related, equipment, fish species, tools and techniques, is to be found in The Dorling Kindersley Encyclopedia of Fishing: The complete guide to the fish, tackle and techniques of fresh and saltwater angling. Our intent and purpose here is not to restate the listed facts found here. Avid and serious anglers are readers and thirst knowledge that will increase their odds of success. This source we recommend for young and old! (There are also some other references listed at the end of this text, if you choose to pursue more facts and or crave deeper insights into the art and science of Bass fishing).
All we will say is that having expensive or the right equipment is not a guarantee that you will land the next big one! In fishing, there are no real guarantees. This is a ‘contract’ and activity between you and nature. Exploring and getting you to the point where you know the feel, function and embedded strengths and weaknesses of your equipment, is the real way to wisdom. For most trail and error, practice and persistence are the roads to follow to becoming well-versed and experienced anglers.
Realizing the equipments full potential, will take time and practice. Bear in mind, that sophistication in equipment will develop in parallel to your own mastery and skill-refinement.
Your intended style of fishing (from boat or shore, shallow or deep (or both) will dictate the most appropriate choice for tackle (reel and rod, line – thickness and weight), line, hooks, baits and lures, weights, sinkers, leaders and more.
Whether you are a salt-water fanatic that enjoys shore, beach, boat or big-game fishing or a freshwater guru, preferring lure, bait, pole and or fly fishing, there are rod, reels, line, hooks, leaders, links, bait, and landing tackle just right for you.
Basic angling techniques are relatively easy to master, yet conquering and refining all the subtleties and intricate moves and maneuvers, exploring the secrets (discovered or yet to be unearthed), of in this case bass fishing (which has so many iterations and settings), will take a lifetime of pleasure and defeat!
Practice and enjoy bass fishing, according to your own niche and style, preference and location of choice – in a word – YOUR ‘specialty’. It is a very personalized and individualized pursuit and passion. Always remember, that there is a wide array of variety and enjoyment on offer, by different kinds of fishing, locations, baits and lures etc., to keep angling interesting and a growing sport – it is contagious and pervasive – once let in, it is hard to let go! You are hooked and being reeled in by this sport and hobby before you know it.
For most anglers, technique (and choice of equipment) is dictated by the species sought, established practice, conditions and more. Mostly artificial lures are suggested and accepted for freshwater predatory fishing. Some prefer live bait; others have success with hard baits like artificial rats and plastic worms are another favorite.
Whether you are fishing from the banks, boat or float tube, most would suggest you use a six to six and a half foot (1.8 -2m) medium, heavy-push-button, spinning or bait-casting rod and reel combination, with strong line (10-pound). If you are fishing in weeds, heavy cover, thick, slop, grassy wetlands, swamps, etc. a heavier line (braided), will serve you better/best. Hook sizes typically recommended around a # 4 live-bait hook, sharpened and turned up slightly (say around 10%), this is done to ensure that the fish stayed “hooked” and gives you a ‘fighting’ chance to reel it in and land it successfully. A weed-less, # 5 hook can also serve you well in these conditions. Large-mouth bass can be caught at any depth, using live baits, throughout most the year (even ice fishing)! Sharp hooks are the key.
Weights and sinkers are another element you must consider, especially in dark, cloudy waters and or when fishing deep water specifically. There are also specialty sinkers, with rattles these days to entice the fish even more. They are very sensitive to sounds, noise and vibrations in the water – so anything you can do to create that allure, tease and temptation is great to bear in mind. Do everything you can to trigger their feeding response and ensure a strike/bite!
Also, remember, fish are a lot like us – on hot, humid days, they look for shelter, food and comfort. These are their handout and feeding ground (no different than us, wanting to sit under an umbrella, or in front on the TV, in an air-conditioned environment, trying to stay cool and enjoy our snack-foods!).
Knowing and considering these habits, will help you catch more fish. Look for the lily pads, think cover, giving them shade from the sun. Find the right depth, structure and hide-away (they normally look for cover, like any other predator) and their lighting-fast speed enabled them to cover water/ground quickly and really strike/attack/hit their “prey”.
Weedy, shallow bays, hard-bottom flats, rocks, trees and or other structures, creeks, channels, deeper waters, drops, bluffs and more can all be part of their moving patterns and habitat, where they look for food. They also like being close to access point to deeper water. More later on their preferred spots and how to optimize these patterns.
Examples of luring techniques and how the right equipment can help you:
Surface, Top-water and or Buzz baits: Acting almost like a spinner bait, but with a flat blade that enables it to surface with speed, this is a popular choice for many a bass enthusiast… It attracts the attention of the bass, by creating a disturbance along the surface like a minnow, triggering their basic feeding instincts and hunter impulse to strike. Rewarding you with a handsome catch!
Carolina Rig: this can easily be described as simply a variation of the standard, so-called ‘Texas Rig’ (see below), great for use with plastic worms or other soft bait. Most expert bass anglers suggest using a heavier weight like 1/2 -1oz or more. Slide the weight onto the line, follow with three plastic beads, a barrel swivel, and a leader line (somewhat smaller than the main line).What this allows the bass angler to do is to get the bait to ‘drop down’ to the floor with speed and is especially recommended for fishing deep waters. The movement of the leader allows the bait to swim and rise above the bottom, and fall slowly down. For most beginners this is easy to do and practice and is very versatile to get your routine rigging and tackle skills to improve.
Crank bait: mostly refers to lures, which is usually made from a variety of materials, including hard plastic or wood. With an added feature of a diving lip on the front (simulating effectively the movements of natural prey, wobbling, diving and swimming actions), entices the bass to strike. The rule of thumb, normally is that the larger the lip, the deeper it can dive. Enhancements like rattles are also good for certain conditions.
Jerk baits: A seasoned favorite amongst bass anglers, for top-water, as well as suspended bass fishing. Longer minnow-shaped plugs, available in lots of different sizes and colors. As a surface, top-water bait with a slight twitch-and-stop type of retrieve, or even as a more slow-and-steady retrieves underwater. Another option is to use suspending jerk baits that typically dive deeper, jerking it, almost teasing and tempting the bass to come up and bite right at it.
Jigs: Some have described these trusted tackle as ‘lead head and hook with dressing’. Their ‘added’ features could take the shape of rubber or plastic skirts, soft plastic baits for bodies, instead of skirts. Most bass experts combine them with a frog, or plastic bait as a “follower’ (plastic worm, crawfish).
Lipless Crank bait: mostly referring to sinking-type lures, made from plastic, sometimes with many rattles inside for noise, vibrations and causing disturbances underwater.
Poppers: Top water lures that carry long-range punch. Retrieve with these kinds of lures are fast, jerky or move in one spot for duration of time. Can be quite effective if you trying to figure out ‘where the fish are’.
Soft Jerk bait: these can be used to great effect in the same manner as a regular jerk bait, but can be dropped to the bottom quite successfully as well to tease out our deep-water predator, swimming around for food and feast.
Spinner baits: another simulator of movement and prey on the go. It is very similar to a jig, but with a blade that runs above the hook, and spins to imitate a bass favorite as well: fish.
Texas Rig: this is considered and named specifically for standard rigging with a plastic worm. Use a sliding weight, usually bullet shaped, and a hook sufficient for the size worm you have chosen. Sharpen the hook and stick the point of the hook directly into the worm head, bring it out the side about 1/8 – 3/16″ below the entry, thread it again. Rotate the hook around so the point is facing the worm’s body. Lay it over the side to see where it should enter in order to hang straight. Position the work straight onto the hook if it is hanging. NOTE: if the worm is twisted, your line and action will pay the price and it will be less effective.
Walking- the-dog: this is an angling technique that usually requires some time to master, but beginners should not shy away from trying it, for it is quite effective with bass. Casting over a relatively long distance, allow the bait to sit for a brief period of time, take up the slack, and with your rod tip pointed at the water, give it a jerk to the side, then immediately move it backward and reel in any slack, then jerk again, and repeat all the way back.
More or less a darting from side-to-side. You are in effect simulating the prey’s elusive movements, enticing the hunter to follow, stalk and hit! This might be your ace up your sleeve for hooking YOUR NEXT BIG ONE.
Slip-bobbers, rigged with a ¼ ounce plastic jig, live bait like minnow, night-crawler or leech at its tip and of course, all on a sharpened hook
Jiggling, lightly shaking, presenting this close to any emerging weeds or brush, underwater logs, trees, stumps or cover, may prove successful.
Remember that fish are constantly on the move while feeding. The timing of day, amount of sunlight, temperature of the water and more all features into the angling equation.
Bobber-rigs or jigs are popular and quite successful too. Slip-sinkers, Carolina (drop-shot rig) works well too.
Free-line fishing in shallow waters may yield many a bass angler quite the haul. Casting a plain hook with live bait and feed the line to the bait, allowing it to ‘swim’ naturally will attract some certain attention.
Other experts would recommend if you are in the so-called watery salad, weeds or heavy slop, cover and jungles underwater, to go heavier is the key. 20 lb line the minimum and heavy-action, sturdy bait-casting rod and reel combos with long, straight handles to provide you with leverage to reel your BIG ONES in!
Floating jig-heads, with slip-sinker rig, with 2-3 foot leader have proven to be useful too, especially when kept close to the bottom, watching not to get snagged in the process. Weed-less hooks can help you retrieve live-bait and or that hooked fish, through very think underbrush.
Again, understanding what bass actually eat, where and when, will help you with choosing and presenting the most effective, appropriate and tempting bait (whether live or artificial). Drawing on the natural diet of the fish, can assist you in improving your baits and lures appearance, strategy, tactics and eventual success.
Bass, as a predator will be looking for certain shapes colors and familiar movement. Plastic worms and crawfish are popular choices. Part of the reason bass is such a popular species to be fishing for, is they are notorious for hitting hard, biting solid and strong pulling or fighting – a strong game fish to be sure. They are known to put up a good fight.
Spinners or spoons are artificial baits that are specifically designed for the purpose of tantalizing the fish. It is meant to provoke, make a strike irresistible, calling on the fish natural instinct to feed and or defend. It optimizes your chances of securing strikes. Rotation, color, skirts, fluttering action (Lil’ hustler spoiler is a favorite of many bass anglers) all work together to simulate movement and prey on the move.
Spoons act/move in a fishlike manner in the water, trolled behind boats they are typically very effective and can also be cast and retrieved. Plugs are made of various materials, designed specifically to float, dive below the surface or sink when reeling them back or in. They simulate surface disturbance and entice fish with propellers or plastic skirts that move and flutter in the water.
Artificial lures can be utilized alone or in combination with live or natural baits. The size and type of lure will depend on the species, location and style of fishing you prefer, choose to pursue. (For example trolling, spinning, and fly-fishing).
For bass fishing particularly, a couple of suggestions are to bear in mind that enticing the predators from below, takes skill, practice and patience. For matted weed-beds and sloppy pitches, you might have to tickle the surface a bit. When fishing in shallow waters, lures cast out fast and retrieved slowly shaking it along, might trigger a response. It is all in the tease and promise to the fish that look for signs of movement in the water.
Having a handy pair of Polaroid sunglasses are a MUST! Keep on moving the bait around and play with the presentation – it is an art, acquired skill that gets better over time. When casting the bait out, try not to spook the fish, remembering that they are sensitive to sound/noise, movement and vibrations.
Plastic worms work well (around 10”). Being adaptable, switching baits, different color etc., using a strong Texas rig for example, hooking up a worm near the bottom of the hook, sliding it onto the shank, popping it through, with a ½ ounce weight might be all you need!
Having a second rod set up and ready to go or fishing with a buddy that can help you to respond quickly (as the fish are always on the move) and when they are ready to hit, you are prepared for them! Others suggest using braided line that is stronger than mono (for when fishing in weedy areas), with no stretch that can minimize entanglement and optimize your chances of retrieval through think weeds and cover.
Stiff rods that can withstand the “fight” bass can typically put up are another base-requirement for bass fishing enthusiasts. Protecting your rods with rod wraps, to avoid dings and scrapes can also maximize not only its efficiency, but keep your angling investment in good condition! Shaking and popping along bait/lures, create a situation that lets the fish think the “prey” is getting away.
However, the right equipment, bait, hooks and location is not enough! Some basic angling techniques are required, setting up your rod and reel, knowing the basics about tying knots for joining line to tackle, forming loops and more.
Tying a secure knot is the main thing here, as every one could pose a ‘weakness’, which you do not need, when you have the BIG ONE hooked! Some suggest before tightening a knot, to wet it with some water and trim all edges and loose ends, to avoid snag/drag.
Gulp-sinking minnows cast out fast and far, allowing to let it fall and dangle, quiver down, with lots of slack, might prove just what the fish ordered!
Tube-jigs, gulp-tubes that are scented, are other options. The soft, natural-chewy substance, tricks the fish, into not wanting to let go and have another chew, thus increasing your odds of landing it safely.
Top-water baits with rattles are another all-time favorite, with slack in the line, walking-the-dog (flipping) makes for an enticing presentation for the fish.
Having a spinner-bait with some red in it, simulates blood or wounded prey to our underwater predator, triggering yet again their natural instincts and feeding response, increasing your odds of getting a bite, hit or strike.
Whether you find yourself in a jet-boat or flat-bottom bass boat, shore, rocks, beach, cliff, stream, river, stream, lake, reservoir, or other body of water, strong rods, hot hands, good tackle, appropriate preparation, the right bait and presentation, accurate casting, where you know the fish might be/move/feed naturally, fishing for structure and pattern, keeping an eye on surroundings and conditions, can all make those fleeting moments of anticipation and elation at first strike momentous!
The fights, flights, flips, turns and jumps, attacks and hard hits, struggles, retrieval and landing of bass, is what keeps us coming back!
Let us now turn to take a look at what other considerations, plan of attack, angling techniques, secrets, mistakes and specialty circumstances, can teach us about the enjoyable art and activity, that is bass fishing!