Bass fishing is one of the most popular forms of fishing in the world today. That's not just because of how aggressive, and fun to catch bass are, but it's also because there's really no limit to how good you can get. You'll start off barely able to get a single bass to bite, but then you'll move on to consistently landing at least average-sized bass on most trips. However, it never peaks. You can always find ways to improve and become a more efficient bass fisherman because of just how aggressive and ready-to-fight bass are.
However, whether you’re new to the sport or a seasoned pro, you do need to know how to improve if you’re actually going to do it. Practice is a major factor, but if you’re not practicing the right things and breaking fishing down to the smallest details, it’ll be difficult to keep improving in the long run.
Today, we want to highlight several tips you can use to improve as a bass fisherman and keep yourself improving for decades to come.
Let’s get started.
We’ll get this one out of the way first. It’s the most basic tip we can provide, and it’s practically a cliché at this point.
You need to practice. How are you going to improve as a bass angler if you only fish a couple of times over the summer?
If you want to get better, it’s just like anything else in life. You need to put in the time and effort to learn how to do it and apply new skills or techniques consistently until you perfect them. If you don’t practice, nothing else we list in this guide is going to be of much use to you.
Of course, we know that not everyone can be a year-round angler or hit the water every day, but just being a consistent weekend warrior will help improve your abilities as an angler tenfold.
2: Learn the Action of Your Lures
So, you just went out, bought a new lure, and you're excited to use it. What do you do? Just chuck it out there and hope for the best. Well, you can. A lot of anglers do that. However, a lot of anglers also take forever to start catching fish with new lures, because they have absolutely no idea what that lure is doing under the water. How can you present the lure in a realistic and appetizing manner if you don't even know how it's behaving when you do certain things with your rod?
Luckily, there’s a little trick that can help you see exactly how your lure works under the water, and that will allow you to work on your technique to create the presentations you want for any given occasion.
To do this, you need a bathtub, a pool, a fish tank, or at least a waterway that is extremely clear.
With a tub or fish tank, just tie the lure to a line, drop it in the water, and then toy around with the same movements you'd use for different retrievals. Since you can clearly see what the lure is doing, you can get a perfect understanding of how the lure behaves when you move your rod in different ways or drag it in at different speeds.
This is a great way to determine if certain retrieval methods make the lure look odd or out of place, which ones maximize its action naturally, and how you should be using it in general to create a stellar presentation that bass cannot resist.
The same goes for using this method in a swimming pool or clear body of water. The difference is that you can actually tie it onto your rod’s line and get a more accurate depiction of what’s happening when it’s in the lake. Just be careful if you use a pool, and make sure you put little plastic protectors on the points of any hooks you’re using. You wouldn’t want to wreck your pool over a fishing lure.
Not many fishermen do this, but it’s a very useful way to improve without having to try tons of retrievals for hours and hours to see what works best. Your significant other might look at you a bit weird if you’re “fishing” in the family pool, though.
3: Fish Year-Round
Most average fishermen fish in the spring and on good summer days. They might fish at the beginning of fall, but once the temperature starts to drop, they typically pack up their gear and stash it away until the next season starts.
That is the wrong way to do it.
Bass bite year-round. We’ve caught plenty of bass big and small, in the middle of winter. Yes, we will admit, it is much harder to do that, though.
The point of this is to put yourself in adverse conditions and force yourself to perform at your highest level. Sure, you can easily catch 10 bass on the perfect summer day, but can you catch just one in the dead of winter with snow on the ground?
When you do, you'll have opened yourself to an entirely different bass fishing experience, and you'll learn a lot about yourself and the sport. This is because winter fishing requires you to step outside of your comfort zone, try new things, and get creative to succeed. It's kind of like the business world. Any successful businessman will tell you to do those three things if you want to make it; the same goes for fishing.
4: Try New Spots
It's really easy for anglers to find themselves locked in the habit of only fishing in one or two spots that have proven productive in the past. However, you cap your own skill level by doing that.
Sure, it’s nice to learn the exact underwater layout of your favorite spot and be able to know exactly where the fish are likely to be, what they like, and how they like it presented at any given time, but that’s just one spot. You’ll end up doing the same thing over and over again if you take that route.
Instead, branch out a bit. Try entirely different fisheries. If you’re used to a certain lake, go try a spillway or a river. Just try another lake for that matter.
When you expose yourself to a new environment, a lot of your skills will carry over, but you will have to learn new things, or at least try new things, to fish that environment productively. If you want to improve your technique as a bass angler, you have to try new things.
5: Master the Basics
The basics are the foundation of every other thing you will learn. If you speed through them as a young and nave angler just to get to the hottest new gear and techniques, you’ll be building your fishing experience on a shaky foundation. That will create problems later on.
Before you try to use a baitcasting reel, can you perfectly place your lure anywhere you want on a pond with pinpoint accuracy with a spinning reel? Before you pick up an $80 swimbait the pros on TV have marketed, can you pull in big bass with a time-proven trick worm?
If you can't do those things, don't push your technique further with more complicated gear and techniques. Really focus on squeezing every bit of functionality out of the gear you have. Learn how to cast different ways on the setup you have, figure out how your lures work, and really dive into the intricacies of your tackle and how your technique affects them even with tiny adjustments.
If you build a solid foundation and truly master the basics of bass fishing, you’ll pick up on newer techniques and pieces of gear a lot quicker and more effectively.
6: Sacrifice a Trip or Two
As anglers, we all obviously want to make the most out of every trip and hopefully catch our next personal best. That’s fine. However, you’re doing yourself a disservice if you do that all the time.
The problem with that is that it encourages constantly using whatever has been the most productive or easy to use thus far. You’re probably sitting there with tons of lures you’ve never used or entirely unused rod setups that open up new opportunities.
Every once in a while, take some of that unused equipment out, and leave your bread and butter gear at home.
If you do this, you might not catch a lot of bass, but you’ll be forcing yourself to learn something new, and you’ll expand your horizons dramatically.
7: Be Patient
Patience is a huge part of fishing, but a lot of us tend to struggle with it. You’re not going to perfect your technique overnight. In fact, rushing it can actually slow you down; you won’t be paying as close attention to what you’re doing as you should.
Slow down a bit, really think everything through step by step, and understand why you're doing things a certain way, what that is causing, and how you can adjust it to do better. That's how you work towards perfecting a new technique and actually achieving it.
8: Learn from Others
With how big the internet is now, you’d be a fool not to leverage it in your favor.
In the old days, you learned how to fish from your dad. Maybe you and some friends would share your experiences and what you learn along the way, and then as an adult, you’ll chat with other anglers you knew.
Now, you don’t have such a limited source of educational material. Using the internet to learn is like going to a massive lakeside bar and chatting up billions of people, from amateurs to professionals, who earn a luxurious living off fishing.
Whenever you’re learning a new skill or want to find something to try next, Google it. You’re bound to find a billion different articles, videos, and podcasts that go into detail on how to pull something off, common mistakes you should avoid, and more.
The internet is an amazing tool for working on your overall fishing technique, and we highly recommend using it.
9: Leverage Technology
Fishing technology has advanced so much over the years that it’s ridiculous. When George Perry caught his world-record bass, he didn’t have sonar, apps, or even nice lures. He had one of the earliest commercial bass lures, and it would be considered junk by today’s standards.
Now, there are tons of tools and gear options at your disposal to help you increase your fishing efficiency and improve your technique whether you’re in a boat or on the banks.
Don’t be afraid to buy a castable sonar system for bank fishing or low-tech boat fishing. You’ll get to see exactly where the fish are, and you’ll improve your knowledge of the water column over time.
Buy one of the fancy new rods with high-tech materials. You’ll have an easier time translating your movements to the presentation of your lure as well as feeling the vibrations that let you know what you’re doing under the water.
Finally, go ahead and splurge on fishing-related services such as monthly tackle boxes, phone apps, and forum memberships. Those are all things that will introduce you to new opportunities, give you the information you need, and more.
10: Use BassForecast
As we just said, technology works in your favor in the modern world. One of the best things you can invest in to give you the information you need to improve is the BassForecast fishing app for smartphones.
BassForecast gives you detailed maps and key information on nearly every waterway in the United States (including saltwater locations and freshwater locations), details on which fish are in each fishery, and real-time information for each location covering everything from the weather to the water conditions.
The BassForecast app might not directly translate to a direct improvement in your technique, but it will give you the information you need to make the right decisions when planning a trip, and it will give you a heads up if there is an opportunity for you to try a new approach that might just up your game as an angler.