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27 Dec

Mistakes Bass Anglers Make: Top 10 Habits to Avoid

Bass Fishing Tips

Bad habits can form in practically everything we do. Whether you tend to skip leg day in the gym, or you don’t take time to de-stress while trying to work your way through life, there are consequences.

The same is true for fishing.

There are a lot of bad habits you can form in various areas, and if you do, the consequence is being a less effective angler. Now, everyone is going to develop bad habits they’ll have to break. You probably already have a few. However, it’s important to identify these habits and either avoid them or break them.

That’s why we’ve put together this list of the top 10 mistakes bass anglers make. You can more easily avoid these issues in favor of developing good habits if you know what to look for.

1: Fishing the Same Spot

This one tends to be a huge problem. With life being extremely busy for almost everyone, it’s easy to find one nearby spot, and then only fish that spot. It’s quick to get to, you know it in and out, and you’re less likely to get skunked during your precious little time to fish.

That’s a big issue.

First, it greatly limits you to one experience. You’re not learning to deal with different conditions, bait fish populations, water layouts, etc. You’re going to the same place every time, and there’s only so much you can learn from that.

Fishing the same lake or pond over and over is better than not fishing at all, and we understand that convenience is necessary for the average angler. However, try to plan out trips to different spots every once in a while. When you get an extra day off and can afford to drive further out, or if there’s a little spot on the way home from work that you think has some nice bass, try to take advantage of those opportunities. You’ll become a far better angler by fishing in different areas when you can.

2: Lucky Spot Syndrome

This is probably the most common bad habit that people develop.

Let’s say you go fishing at your regular spot, and you cast at a stump. This one time, you catch a massive bass. It’s your personal best. Now, every time you go back, where’s the one place you cast first? If you said the stump, you probably all do this.

The fact is, there really is no “lucky spot” where you can always get a fish. You just happened to catch a fish in that spot once or twice, and you associate it with consistency. Except, you’re actually more likely to waste time on that spot while refusing to use a proper scouting technique, and that costs you plenty of great bass.

Bass moves around, and they don’t tend to rush back to the same spot where they just got hooked.

This is especially a problem when you fixate on that spot too much. It’s obviously okay to cast at your “lucky spot” a few times, but when you’re casting over and over for no reason, you’re just wasting your own time.

3: Not Moving

When you think of fishing, you might think of two old men sitting on a bank in lawn chairs casually enjoying the weather. That happens, but honestly, it’s the worst way to fish. Outside of holding your hook and chucking your rod in the water hoping something bites, there isn’t much worse you can do than sit in one spot all day.

A big part of fishing comes down to finding the fish. You’re not going to attract fish from the other side of a lake, or even 100 feet out of your casting range, by bouncing a lure around. They might migrate toward your area at some point if you sit there all day, but it’s not efficient to wait for that.

You want to be mobile.

If you’re fishing from the shore, this means walking around the water’s edge. After every few casts without a bite, walk about 20 feet to the left or right, and start sweeping that area with your lure. If you’re in a boat, do the same thing, but obviously, drive around to new spots that are nearby.

This gives you a better chance of getting your lure by the fish, and instead of wasting your energy casting into empty portions of the water, you’ll quickly get into range to lure the big bass out.

4: Not Cycling Lures

You might be seeing a pattern at this point. A lot of the worst bad habits have to do with getting comfortable and not trying different things out. Well, lure choice tends to be the same way.

If you find yourself getting skunked a lot, think about how often you’re changing bass lures.

If you start your trip tying on your favorite lure, and then you don’t catch anything for 3 hours, and you’re still using that lure, it’s probably not the fish, your position, or anything else ruining your fishing trip. You are.

This habit can develop for a few reasons. Maybe you have a sentimental attachment to the lure like most do when they fish the same spot nonstop, or maybe you just hate taking a few seconds to tie on a new lure.

Either way, a good rule of thumb is that you should tie on something else every 20 casts at most. Of course, you shouldn’t switch out a lure that’s working. If the fish love what you’re doing, keep doing it. Also, you shouldn’t tie on random lures. Pick through your tackle box for new options that match the hatch, water conditions, and season just like you would when picking your first lure for the trip. The same rules apply as usual. You’re just trying to find which specific lure the fish wants.

5: Not Changing Your Retrieval Pattern

Again, this is another habit that tends to form because you have success with one thing and can’t move on from it after it stops working.

Everything from the previous tips applies. If you’re using the same retrieval pattern without any results, switch it up.

We’ll use the "20 casts" reference from the lure-related tip.

If you’re supposed to switch out your lure every 20 casts, try to change your retrieval every 5-10 casts. Sometimes, it’s not the lure. It’s just your presentation technique.

6: Buying Every Piece of Gear

This is a massive problem across all forms of fishing. There’s just something about going through a tackle store that makes you want to buy everything. It’s a massive waste of money, you’ll never use 90% of it, and it is largely why people think fishing is expensive when it’s a cheap hobby.

New lures, strange rod and reel designs, and more hit the market every day. Some of them are revolutionary, but most of them don’t do anything that staples of the fishing world can’t do, and a lot of them just flat out don’t work well.

Rather than taking out a second mortgage and buying every little thing you see in the hopes of getting an advantage, focus on the staples and building skills.

Some classic lures to focus on are as follows.

As it so happens, those are also what tend to be the cheapest. There are other great lures out there, but if you’re just starting, focus on getting a good variety of the ones we listed. Then, branch out into other popular lure options as you get the chance.

When paired with a good rod and reel, these items will get through every season and weather condition.

7: Fair-Weather Fishing

If you look at most anglers, they only really fish in the late spring and summer. Once the temperature dips below 60 degrees, they put their gear up for months on end. You miss a ton of opportunities that way.

First, when you fish in colder weather, you mostly get the water to yourself. Since the bulk of anglers are at home watching TV and wishing they could go fishing, you can often get a whole lake or pond to yourself. All of us know how special that can be.

Then, there’s the opportunity to learn that comes from it. You have to change all of your tactics, lures, and more to fish effectively in the winter. The experience itself is different because of the weather conditions. This is how you push yourself to the limit and become a better angler.

Finally, by the time the cold season comes, all those little bass from the spring spawn have had a lot of time to grow, and you’re more likely to catch more substantial fish. So, it’s a good time to break your personal record.

8: Getting Stuck on Largemouth

This is a bad habit that tends to develop among all species-related fishing communities. Catfish lovers do it, ultra-light fishermen do it, bass fishermen do it, etc. 

We love bass just as much as you do, and they’re definitely our favorite fish to target. You just can’t beat the fast-paced action of bass fishing coupled with their immense strength and size.

However, when you solely target one species, you not only deprive yourself of experiencing all fishing has to offer, but you also miss out on a lot of skills.

Something as simple as ultra-light fishing for panfish teaches you a lot about positioning and proper casting techniques. You’re often in tight quarters fishing in weeds with very light gear that doesn’t cast very far with ease. Catfishing, when done correctly, really drives the message home about moving around frequently; even with stationary baits. Just switching to a different type of bass exposes you to different situations you won’t experience often with largemouth.

Building skills is a key component of the sport. You’re always trying to get better. So, while bass are definitely the cream of the crop in North America, try to target other species every once in a while and learn new skills.

9: Avoiding Cover

This will ruin your fishing trips faster than almost anything else on this list. If you scour the internet looking for fishing tips, it doesn’t matter what type of fishing you’re looking at. You’ll find that one tip comes up nonstop. Fish around cover.

Cover includes things such as weeds, downed trees, submerged stumps, docks, boat ramps, etc.

So, what’s our point? If everyone is recommending it, why does anyone need to be told yet again? Well, especially beginners, tend to avoid truly committing to various forms of cover due to inconvenience. They might fish at boat ramps or docks, but the second they see foliage or a tree, they go elsewhere.

This is for a couple of reasons.

First, they don’t want to snag their lures. No one does. You often lose your lure. Considering how much lures can cost, it’s obvious no one wants to lose them.

Then, there’s the amount of time it takes to deal with a snag. The few minutes you spend jerking your rod around and tugging at it, you could be catching fish.

Unfortunately, when you avoid fishing in these complicated areas because of inconvenience, you miss out on the best opportunities. Bass love hanging out in such areas, and 9 times out of 10, that’s where you’ll find them. 

Instead of avoiding inconvenience, you should learn how to reduce snags while fishing.

10: Leaving Old Line on the Reel

Finally, this is a mistake a lot of veterans commit, and it’s especially common with weekend warriors. The line doesn’t stay good forever. In fact, it wears out really quickly.

Go through your storage area and see how many rods you have that are spooled with lines you can’t even remember putting on there. Each of those setups is potentially the reason you’ll have a long, depressing, story about how you caught a giant bass and the line snapped.

Replace your line any time it looks kinked, discolored, abraded, or otherwise worn out.

BassForecast Can Help

We’ve spent a lot of time talking about what you’re doing wrong, but if you head over to the BassForecast app, we can start teaching you how to do things right.

Avoid the common mistakes bass anglers make and download the BassForecast fishing app. We provide detailed maps, weather condition reports in real-time, and community tips for every waterway in North America. Once you break these bad habits, BassForecast can help take you to all new heights as an angler.