Think about your fishing experience for a moment. Let's say you're in your mid-twenties, the early thirties, or even well into your forties. You've developed some skills, and you're confident you can catch at least one fish on any trip you take. However, there's always something new you're learning or some new gear that you can utilize. Well, that's because of one reason - fishing is a lifelong journey with no skill cap.
When you first got out on the water with your parents and caught a few bluegills, you probably had no idea what you were doing. Something as simple as casting gave you problems. Then, you nailed those basics, and your next problem was identifying good fishing spots and learning to identify what you caught. Eventually, you worked your way up to learning different lure presentations. For some people, it stops there, and they don’t keep pushing forward, content with that single fish every trip.
Well, you’re nowhere near finished yet, and you never will be. You’re a dedicated, life-long fisherman. However, we can help you get further faster.
Today, we're going to go over the ultimate fishing tips and tricks, across a wide range of skill levels, to help you up your game and get as good as you can in a more streamlined manner than most.
Beginner-Friendly Tips to Become a Better Fisherman
When you’re first starting out, things can be rough. We’ve all been there, and it can be frustrating to get skunked even when you’re just trying to learn how to fish for bass and catch your first couple of bass.
So, the tips in this section are going to be geared more towards helping you get out of that beginner’s funk and really start picking up steam.
1: Start with Panfish
Everyone wants the big largemouth bass from the moment they grab their first rod until the day they die, but if you're just starting out, you're skipping a crucial step. Targeting those easy-to-catch panfish is key to developing the basic skills you need to successfully target bigger, more difficult, fish.
During your first year on the water, spend the first few months slowly building up confidence by focusing entirely on panfish.
2: Use Lures
When you do move up to bass, it’s not going to be as simple as chucking a hooked worm in the water and waiting for a bobber to plunge beneath the surface. So, make the most of this starting period to get acquainted with some of the best bass fishing lures early.
Plenty of lure manufacturers make very small lures that are perfect for catching Bluegill, Rock Bass, Green Sunfish, and more. They also work pretty well, and without being too complex to present, they do teach you the core skills needed to properly guide a bass lure through the water. Don't mess around with worms, grubs, and bobbers if the goal is to move on to bass fishing. You won't learn much from that.
3: Focus on the Basics
A spinning reel is going to give you a few problems during your first trip or two, you're going to have trouble aiming your casts properly, and you're probably going to miss a lot of hook sets or snap a few lines by not adjusting your drag properly.
Use this period to get those things down-packed.
By the time you've spent about a month's worth of fishing trips really focusing on technique, you should be launching that lure across the pond with decent precision, only breaking lines when unexpected bigger fish (such as bass) grab on, and not turning your reel into a bird's nest.
4: Build Good Habits
This is the perfect time to start building good fishing habits. Like anything else in life, the longer you allow yourself the freedom to form bad habits, the harder it will be to break those habits when you finally figure out what you're doing wrong.
You can break this part up into two categories.
No one likes a fisherman who has poor etiquette. Fishing is largely an isolated sport, but that doesn’t mean the things you don’t affect other anglers.
Key points to focus on at this stage in your journey are:
Leave the area cleaner than it was when you got there. Don't cut lines off and leave thirty yards of line draped across the water, tangled in trees, etc. Don't leave trash laying around. If you see these things thanks to irresponsible fishermen, take it as your obligation to pick them up, even if it's not exactly fair.
Give people their space. Of course, it’s always okay to be friendly to the anglers you bump into. Ask them if they’ve caught “the big one”, wish them luck, etc. However, you do not need to hover. If there is room for you to give them their own little corner of the lake, do it. If you are forced to get into a tighter situation, be mindful of where their lines are to prevent crossing them. Most importantly, don’t go scaring off their fish by being loud, causing a ruckus, etc.
Fishing Habits and Skills:
Don’t settle and remain stagnant. If a lure worked during the last fishing trip, don’t just automatically tie it on, and then stick with it all day hoping for the same results. Try new things every ten minutes or so if you’re not reeling them in left and right.
Don’t get attached to spots. Just because the fish were biting near that one tree stump in the cove yesterday, does not mean they will be biting there today. Move around. Explore.
Prepare ahead of time. You don't need to drag a giant tackle box around with everything you have. Before the trip, plan out your day, consider the conditions, and put together a little kit you can move around with easily. It's easier to rotate through all your lures that way and gain experience with all of them, and you'll be more likely to branch out a bit if it's not a chore to move from spot to spot.
Tips for Intermediate Anglers to Up Their Game
Alrighty. You are an intermediate angler. You've caught a few good basses, and pulling in the small fries isn't a problem. If you go out for Bluegill, you can easily catch dozens of them in a day. However, you're not consistently catching big fish. You can't look at a body of water and pinpoint the exact spots fish are likely to be. Sometimes, you still mistake an underwater log for a big bass bite, and you look crazy yanking away at your line.
These tips are for you.
1: Get the Right Gear
When you started off targeting panfish, it was fine to grab your Walmart “light” rod with its stock line and head out to the water. Now that you’ve reached a point where you’re able to catch bigger, more aggressive fish, that’s not going to cut it. You need proper gear, and the investment is worthwhile, now.
You need a few rods to really start upping your bass-fishing game. A medium-light, a medium, and a medium-heavy are three options fishermen should have at their disposal at this level.
Find the rods more experienced users are using in those categories, and save up for a decent rod in each one. You can even get a couple of specialized rods. Make sure your medium rod is standard just to have a decent rod for anything, but try a topwater rod for your heavy, and maybe try a shorter rod for dock-pitching with your light rod. This will let you experiment with more specialized techniques and start growing your skill set. You can also install a fishing app and start checking the fishing forecast so you know a perfect time you will have the opportunity to catch some big fish.
2: Learn to Understand Underwater Geography
This is one that takes time. Especially if you’re a bank fisherman. If you’re in a boat, your boat is probably equipped with the gear you need to see what the water is like with ease.
From the bank, you need to rely on more traditional methods. Get used to using your rod to understand what the bottom is like. You should be able to measure how long it takes for slack to develop to get a good idea of the depth where you’re casting, feel vibrations and bumps in your rod and line to get a mental image of what material is on the bottom, where snags and structures are, etc.
3: Perfecting Presentation
It can be difficult to make your presentation perfect. However, if you want to move up, it’s something you need to work on. Luckily, there are some cheap tricks you can use to work on it.
If you have extremely clear water to fish in, pay attention to how your lures behave in the water with different movements and take note of which movements got bass or at least attracted them. This will allow you to replicate those movements in the future when visibility isn't so good.
If that's not an option, there's something you can do at home. Fill up your bathtub, tie on your lure exactly as you would in the lake, and plop it in. Obviously, space will limit your movements, but you can replicate retrieval speeds and bounces to see how the lure is moving under the water, and the most natural movement is usually the best choice.
4: Don’t Stop Trying New Things
You’re getting some real skills under your belt. However, it’s important not to think you know everything. You don’t. To get better, you’re going to need to keep forcing yourself to try new things.
When you go to the store, stop by the fishing aisle and look at the budget bin. Even if none of the cheap stuff looks like your usual gear, grab the best deals, and then use that gear the next time you go. Experiment with it and see if it’s good. If not, you still learned something new.
Try new spots, too. Don’t just keep going to the same fishing hole and learning it inside and out. Put yourself in situations you’re not familiar with.
Finally, hop on YouTube, type in “fishing techniques” and start finding things you’ve never done. If it’s applicable to the type of fishing you can do in your area, try it out. You add a new technique to your skill set, and you might just find a better way to catch trophy-sized bass.
Fishing Tips for Seasoned Pro
Finally, we’re at our tip section for those who have already mastered the art of bass fishing. You’re done targeting any bass you can find. If it’s not over 7 pounds, you don’t get excited about it anymore. You’ve probably done at least a few tournaments, and you might have even won some of them. You’ve invested in the best gear, and you know exactly what lures to toss when and where, plus, you know how to present them perfectly.
Here are ways to take your skills further and continue to test yourself.
1: Sign Up for Tournaments
If you’re an experienced fisherman, why aren’t you signing up to show those skills off and maybe make a little money?
Tournaments are great fun, and if you’re a really good angler, they can produce a little side income for you to buy more gear or enjoy a fancy night out with your spouse.
Not only that, but the pressure of a tournament will force you to push yourself past your limits. That’s the key to growing, and casual fishing trips don’t provide that experience.
2: Poor Fishing Conditions
You’re basically a pro when the conditions are right, but can you catch a big lunker in the dead of winter? It is possible, and if you’re looking to challenge yourself, do it.
Don’t just fish during the prime fishing season. Get out there and really push yourself when everyone else is storing their rods away.
3: Change Your Target
If you’ve mastered bass fishing, your growth will be a lot smaller than it was when you were first starting out. Sometimes, you need to re-experience that beginner period to put your skills into perspective.
Try in-shore fishing, or take a trip to the Great Lakes and target giant Sturgeon. Bass aren’t the only fish on the water, and when you change to a vastly different species, even just for occasional fun, you’ll be put right back into the shoes of a beginner.
That’s the beauty of fishing, once you master one thing and learning new skills is slow, there are always different targets or different types of fishing that will make everything you learned obsolete.
Get More Help with BassForecast
Of course, tech can help you become a better fisherman, too. If you’re trying to get better, check out BassForecast for all the information you need for pre-trip planning, guides on specific tips and tricks, and more.