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25 Aug

How to Catch a Largemouth Bass: #1 Fisherman’s Guide

Bass Fishing Tips

The largemouth bass is the most popular game fish in North America. It’s extremely common in nearly every waterway, grows to exceptional sizes without being dangerous to target, and of course, puts up one of the hardest fights you can get in a freshwater environment. The fishing is fast-paced, intense, and requires a bit of skill to master.

So, if you’re new to fishing, or you’ve been trying for a while and just don’t have much luck with bass, the team here at BassForecast is ready to help you out. We want more anglers on the water participating in our sport the right way so the good times keep rolling and the sport stays strong for generations to come.

If you’re having a bit of trouble getting the bass to bite consistently, keep reading and learn how to catch largemouth bass like a pro.

How to Catch Bass: The Basic Kit Checklist

Whether you’ve been cutting your teeth on pan fish and cats, or you have never cast a rod before in your life, bass fishing is going to require you to pick up a few pieces of kit. Especially if you’re looking to target them specifically.

Don’t get us wrong. You can technically catch them with worms on a bobber rig with a $10 Walmart rod, but if you want to get good at it, you’re going to want to invest a little bit of money into proper gear.

Don’t worry. Besides the rod and reel, you can put together a great kit for less than what you’d spend on a standard first date.

1: Rod and Reel

There’s no need to get anything fancy here. You’re just getting started. So, feel free to go look at the combos at your local big box store. UglyStik makes some affordable combos, and there are a few other brands that are inexpensive but reliable.

Go for a medium to medium-heavy setup. That’s what most of your bass lures are going to require. We also recommend getting a spinning rod and reel. Spincast reels are iffy as-is. Let alone when you get one in a combo.

Once you get the hang of things and enjoy it, you can look into more expensive rods you buy separately from the reel to fine-tune your setup.

2: Terminal Tackle

Bass fishing requires a few pieces of specific terminal tackle. For your line, start with a basic 12-pound mono, or get a braided line that is the same diameter. The line that comes on a combo is usually garbage.

Next, you’ll need a variety of “worm hooks”. These are not the J-hooks with bait keeper barbs that you use while pan-fishing. They have a short bit of straight shank and a large curve, and then the hook and barb straighten out and align with the eyelet. You’ll need these for almost all your soft-plastic rigs.

Split shot, bullet weights, and drop shot weights in a variety of sizes are also staples of bass fishing.

Bobbers aren’t used very much with the most popular techniques, but we do recommend at least having one or two in case you need them.

Finally, get some jigheads. These are lead weights, which are sometimes painted, with a hook molded into them. They’re useful for a variety of techniques. Most of your fancy lures will already have one included, but you want to have a variety of normal ones, too.

3: Lures

Live bait fishing is possible, but it’s a lot easier to target largemouth bass with lures. Plus, it adds to the fun of tricking the fish with a stellar presentation.

Since you’re starting out, we recommend buying soft plastic worms, flukes, and crawfish in a variety of colors. If you hit up your local tackle store’s discount bin, you can usually find these for a dollar or two per bag. So, feel free to load up on them.

It’s also a good idea to grab a topwater frog, a couple of crank baits, a few spinnerbaits, a variety pack of in-line spinners and rooster tails, and some swim jigs. Spoons are also flexible but cheap lures you can consider.

You’ll inevitably dive into more lures as you go, but these are what you need to start out and tackle any situation.

Starting Your Bass Fishing Journey

Once you have some basic gear ready to catch bass, it’s time to set up your rod and head to the lake. You will have the most difficulty learning this portion of the process. So, we’ll spend the most time on this.

Kit Selection:

Once you’re at the lake, take a minute to scout out the spots and get a feel for what the water is like. Is it murky? Are there any structural pieces nearby? Where are the boat ramps and piers? Take notes, and choose a lure to match the situation.

For your first cast, we recommend setting up a Texas rig with a soft plastic worm that matches the water clarity. Use natural colors for clear water, and bust out the neon and funky colors for murky water.

A Texas rig simply requires you to slide a bullet weight onto your line, tie on a worm hook, and then thread the lure on. We have multiple guides that cover it more in-depth.

That is a go-to rig for most anglers, and it simplifies your choices down to the color of the lure.

Spot Selection:

Next, you need to pick a spot to start casting.

The best places to start, as long as people aren’t using them, are boat ramps and piers. Bass love to hang around these spots, and it’s not uncommon to get a bass within your first few attempts.

If you don’t get any bites, it’s best to look for downed trees, submerged stumps, drop-offs in the lake's bottom, weeds, lily pads, and similar places. Bass love to take cover, and just casting out into open water is not the best way to do it.

Basic Strategy:

Finally, you need a strategy planned out once you get to the water. For this example, we’re going to pretend you’re only able to fish a long stretch of the lake from the shoreline. You don’t have a boat, and you certainly can’t walk around the entire lake several times, or even once for that matter.

It’s best to keep moving. The old idea that fishing is just sitting still and waiting for a bite is a horrible way to catch fish.

A good rule of thumb is to pick your starting spot, scout out the spots that you’ll move to throughout the day, and keep that plan in mind.

Cast, present your lure, and repeat about 20 times. If you don’t get any bites while casting at every structure within your reach, move to your next spot. Repeat that process until you get to the end of your planned route. Then, switch your lure, and work your way back to the first spot you were at in the same manner.

This will ensure you’re not wasting time on spots that just aren’t producing fish, but you’re also not wasting a bunch of time constantly switching out lures.

If you get bites, keep doing what you’re doing until the bites stop, and then resume your planned strategy.

You want to use a strategy like this regardless of the area you’re fishing in and how you’re doing it. If you’re in a boat, or if you’re fishing a small pond you can fully walk around, you’ll do the same thing, but you’ll adjust the route to get as much coverage as possible.

How to Attract and Fight a Largemouth Bass

Now, we’re at the part where you’re actively trying to catch a largemouth bass. There are two parts to this. First, there’s the presentation of your lure, and then there’s the fight itself.

We’ll cover each one individually.


Every lure you use is meant to be used in a specific way. Soft plastic lures tend to be the most flexible. You can move them slowly, hop them off the bottom, buzz them through the middle, twitch them, or any combination of those things, and soft plastic will work. 

That’s great because you can often switch your presentation instead of switching the lure entirely, but it can get overwhelming.

The key is to cycle through presentation techniques until you find one that works.

However, if you’re using another type of lure, such as a spinner or jig, it’s always best to research the recommended presentation for that specific lure. Luckily, most manufacturers will mention it on the packaging. Don’t get too caught up in the recommendation, though.

There’s plenty of room to tweak the preferred presentation to your liking to match the scenario you’re in. For example, a lot of anglers rip crankbaits back to them, but sometimes, adding pauses into the mix is the key to getting a bite.

Just make sure you don’t ruin the action of a lure by presenting it in a way that doesn’t work well with its design.

The Fight:

Alright, you’ve got a bite, and you’re excited. You’re about to catch your first bass. This is going to be intense, but it’s well worth it.

Here are the steps that you’ll take throughout the fight.

1: Hook Set

First and foremost, you have to set the hook. If you fail at this, there won’t be a fight.

Learn to recognize when you have a bite. At first, it will be difficult to differentiate between your lure bouncing on rocks and a bass actually hitting it. You want to look for a hard yank.

Keep your rod tip low throughout your retrieval, and when you feel that hard yank, rip the tip skyward. You want enough force to pierce the bass’s lip. However, don’t swing like you’re Babe Ruth. You’re looking to pierce the lip. Not rip it off.

With topwater lures, you’ll see the bass explode out of the water to grab it, or simply pop up to gulp it, and you’ll be tempted to act fast. Don’t. Count to 2, and then set the hook. The bass needs time to take it into its mouth.

2: Rod Positioning:

Throughout the fight, keep your rod tip high. This will put pressure on the fish and help wear it out. Moving your rod tip away from the direction of the bass helps, too.

3: Adjusting Drag

It’s not enough to just wave your rod tip around. On your reel, you’ll find the drag adjuster. If your drag is too loose, the bass will pull the line out with zero resistance, and it’ll go wherever it wants. That makes your job a lot harder, and it greatly increases its chances of breaking the line on structures and hazards. If the drag is too tight, the tension will snap your line, or worse, your rod.

If the line is coming out fast and easy, tighten your drag. If your drag isn’t activating at all, and your rod is bending badly, loosen it.

Beyond that, just reel it in, lip it or net it, and celebrate your catch.

Releasing the Bass Properly

This technically doesn’t help you catch bass, but we want to preserve the bass population, our sport, and our ethics as a sporting community. If you’re going to catch bass, you need to know how to release them properly

This is a catch-and-release endeavor. If you toss the bass in a cooler, be prepared for every other angler to take issue with it.

To release the bass properly, you need to move fast. In a position that doesn’t allow the bass to fling around, hold the bass with one hand, and remove the hook with the other. If you have fishing pliers, they can help with stubborn hooks.

Don’t be shy. Just because we don’t eat them doesn’t mean we want you to hide your catch. Take a quick photo.

Finally, the most important part is to not fling the fish into the water. The fish is tired. With your hands cradling the fish, slowly lower it into the water. If it doesn’t take off, help it move water through its gills by moving it forward and backward gently. In most cases, it’ll rocket off thinking it got one over on you.

That’s all you need to know on how to catch a largemouth bass to get started. 

Download the BassForecast Fishing App

If you need tips for improving your bass fishing technique, or just want to get a top-of-the-line fishing companion to help you find the best fishing spots, check out the BassForecast fishing app

We’ve got all the bass information you could ever need, including tackle tips, detailed maps, in-depth real-time data, spot-on solunar, and more.