Regardless of your skill level or whether you’re a tournament angler or a weekend angler, learning the best bass fishing techniques can help you maximize your success, performance, and enjoyment. Although it differs from angler to angler which lure or technique is best, there are still some that have proven to work best time and time again.
Six bass fishing techniques all anglers should know are the flipping and pitching technique, topwater techniques, crankbait techniques, spinnerbait techniques, the jerkbait technique, and the drop-shotting technique. Which should be used in which situation varies on several factors.
This article will discuss which six bass fishing techniques all anglers should know. We’ll end the article with a few bass fishing techniques to guarantee a successful trip!
6 Bass Fishing Techniques
Bass fish are North America’s most popular game fish because they’re easier to catch than other fish species, mostly because there are so many of them. However, just because you can find them almost anywhere, that doesn’t mean that you’ll always catch a cooler’s worth.
There’s more to the game than just tossing out your lure and waiting for a hungry bass to bite it. If you want to become a consistently successful bass angler, you’ll have to use the proper technique.
Flipping and Pitching Technique
The flipping and pitching technique is best when the bass is hiding underneath a thick cover and isn’t all that active. You’ll have to go into sly-mode to do any catching in these conditions. You want to prevent spooking the fish too much, and the way to do that in shallow waters with thick cover is to use the flipping and pitching technique. Although these techniques appear to be very similar, some situations demand one over the other.
When it comes to flipping and pitching, the key to success is to practice, use a long rod (6 1/2 to 7 1/2 feet), and use the appropriate soft-plastic bait.
Pitching is not as accurate as flipping and is, therefore, the easier one of the two techniques. What you’ll do is let out sufficient line so that it’s roughly even with the reel while keeping the reel open (pressing the button). While keeping your thumb on the reel spool, you can lower the rod tip towards the water. Use your free hand to grab hold of the lure and add tension by pulling on the line.
Let go of the lure while swinging your rod tip in one fluid movement. As it swings towards the fish, let go of the reel spool. What’ll happen if you do it right is that the bait will swing towards the target. As soon as the bait lands, close the reel because the bass usually strikes very fast. Keep in mind that it’ll take practice to get the timing of these steps down.
The flipping technique takes more time to master, but once you get the hang of it, you can upgrade your presentation and hit the target more accurately than when you pitch. Start by letting out a line of about eight to fifteen feet and then close your reel. Hold onto the line between the first-rod guide and the reel. Then, as you pull on the line, extend your arm to the side.
If you raise the rod, the bait will swing towards you. Swing the bait to your preferred location by using a pendulum motion and feeding the line through your hand. Get ready for a strike while tightening up the left-over slack. This technique is great to get the hiding bass to strike.
Topwater fishing is a very different situation where pitching and flipping may not work. Most bass fishermen would agree that the most exciting way to catch bass is with a topwater bait.
That’s because you can see the fish approaching, you can hear the sound of the lure, and it’s really exciting to see a largemouth make a big splash when it finally strikes. Topwater lures are meant for active and hungry fish, not for fish hiding underneath a thick cover.
Topwater bait is designed to attract a lot of attention through the noise and dramatic movements; it really ‘lures’ a bass in to go for a strike. Examples of topwater baits are poppers, frogs, and jitterbugs.
Jitterbug is a lure that’s easy to work with, and they work best if you go at a steady and slow pace. An effective technique to use with a jitterbug is to retrieve the bait for a few seconds, after which you pause for a few seconds (max. fifteen). Then you repeat that process. Most strikes will come the moment you pause or when you just start moving again.
Other lures, such as the popper, take more technique. If you use a popper, the goal is to imitate a wounded fish by literally ‘popping’ the lure when it’s pulled back and waiting every few seconds while letting it go steady. The moving and stopping motions can drive bass crazy and will make them strike.
Walking the Dog
Another popular technique and type of lure is “walking the dog.” This strategy works best with soft-frogs or Zara spook-type baits. All you have to do is twitch the rod tip up and down very fast while slowly retrieving it. This will make the lure dart frantically and wildly side to side, just like a real baitfish in trouble.
If you choose to use a crankbait to catch bass, there’s a certain technique to guarantee success. When using a crankbait, it’s all about reflex to get a bass’s attention. Although they wouldn’t chase it the same way they would with a topwater bait, the presentation and noise will still get their attention if you use a crankbait correctly.
Many tournament anglers favor a crankbait over others because it can cover a lot of water. Additionally, it can work vertically and horizontally and at a variety of depths. If you’re fishing around rocks, stumps, or logs, use crankbait because this is when they do best.
You’ll really have to get familiar with the feel of the way your crankbait swims through the water and bumps into objects. If you have this knowledge, you’ll get better at catching bass. With the crankbait, you’ll try to get the bass’s attention, and as soon as you have it, reel in quickly, then stop and allow the crankbait to rise slowly. Next, reel up again and make another stop.
This technique will drive the bass crazy. If you’re going for a deep diver, use this technique to ‘tease’ the bass into striking. If you feel your crankbait hit the bottom or something else that’s hard, stop for a moment and let the lure float. This will bring in the bass, and they’ll try to go for it because they assume it’s easy prey.
Compared to crankbaits, spinnerbaits are a little harder because of the design of the lure. However, once the bass is hooked onto the spinnerbait, it’s more difficult for them to let go compared to a crankbait. This type of bait is great to use all-year-round because it can get you results on any given day, no matter the weather. It works best in solid cover and vegetation, though.
Generally, retrieving the lure should happen at a slow to medium pace, but there are several ways to use a spinnerbait. One way is to let the bait fall to the bottom close to a dropoff. As soon as it hits the bottom, reel up the slack, give it some cranks, and then let it sink to the bottom again. Keep repeating this trick.
As I mentioned, keep reeling in at different paces. If you reel in slowly, the bait often swims through the water column. If you reel in more rapidly, it will be higher in the water column. If you choose to keep it just below the surface, you’ll create a wake that some bass will find irresistible. You can also try to break the surface some moments to imitate an active baitfish.
If you’re looking for the easiest technique for bass fishing, you’ve found it: jerkbait fishing. After choosing which jerkbait to use and when to use it, you’ve covered the hard part. This type of bait comes in many shapes and sizes and can swim at different depths. However, the goal remains the same: to imitate wounded baitfish.
The bait’s name already implies how to use it. Jerk the rod tip a little as you reel it in to give the impression that the bait isn’t healthy, which will get the attention of bass fish. Why would they skip an easy meal?
As opposed to spinnerbaits and crankbait, the jerkbait is best to use in clear water. The reason for this is that a jerkbait has the most success when the bass can clearly see it; that’s why it’s so important to select the right bait for the right situation.
This technique will take you a little bit more effort to learn than the previously discussed ones. However, it’s still a crucial technique to learn if you (want to) consider yourself a serious bass angler. If you’ve done fishing with a plastic worm bait before, shifting to drop-shotting can be done quite fast, though.
When you’re reeling up the bait, it’ll bounce off the bottom, leaving the bait a few inches off of it. It’ll now be open season for the bass to strike. The difference between the sinker and the worm can be anywhere between a few inches up to two feet. This depends on how muddy the bottom of the lake is and how high you want the bait from the bottom.
With this technique, you can decide not to retrieve it; you can even let it go from the side of the boat. What will guarantee success if you move your rod tip so that it makes your bait dance.
How To Catch More Big Bass: Tips
Now that you know all of the essential bass fishing techniques, we can move on to some crucial tips that every angler should be aware of if they want to catch some big bass fish. As all anglers know, bass fishing can be tough at times. However, if you use the techniques previously explained as well as the following tips, you’ll finally fill your cooler!
Perhaps the most important tip any angler can give you when it comes to bass fishing is to make sure to put your lure where there is fish. When it comes to bass fishing, these are mostly spots where there is cover on the body of water that you’re fishing.
This cover could be wood, rock, boat docks, lily pads, grass, plus a whole bunch more. The reason bass like to hang out here is that they can hide themselves from their prey and ambush them.
Choosing which bait to use is essential, as I previously mentioned briefly. The goal of the bait is to imitate actual prey that the bass might actually eat. This is what will lure them in and how you get them to strike. What is important to know is that bass fish have a very broad diet, so knowing which bait to use is something you should be aware of.
A bass fish’s diet can range between bluegill and shad to a much different prey such as baby ducks. Know which kind of prey your local bass fish feed on so that you can find the bait that imitates this the most accurate way. If they’re feeding on shad, using a silver-colored swimbait or crankbait is the way to go. If they’re feeding on small minnows, use a drop-shot rig with a small plastic.
The importance of bait color varies depending on who you ask; some might say it’s crucial, while others say it’s unimportant. Some days bass fish will bite nearly anything you put in front of them, while on other days, they’ll be more critical. Why? The answer is visibility, so the (weather) conditions your fishing in.
So what to do? Pick out bait colors that are the closest to the color of their actual prey. This way, they’ll be more likely to be tricked into biting or striking. So on bright, clear days, go for more natural colors, not too bright. When you’re fishing in murky waters or on not such a clear day, however, using bright colors is more favorable since the bait will stand out more and is more visible for the bass.
Being Versatile Is the Way
One of the worst things an angler can do is having only one quality or concern at all times when it comes to bass fishing. You simply have to have several techniques down to be a successful angler; just one won’t get you there (at all times). You can become more versatile by fishing in several (new) places and continually learning and practicing new techniques.
Fishing in waters other than those you are familiar with will force you to adapt to new fishing conditions. For example, if you are used to fishing in clear waters with a drop-shot technique, try to go out to dirtier water one day and use a jig or a spinnerbait (and the technique that goes along with this). Getting out of your comfort zone is key to learning more and developing your techniques which is what will make you an excellent angler.
Bass and Weather
Do not underestimate the weather conditions when it comes to bass fishing; this has a crucial impact on the behavior of bass fish every day. If you want to be a successful bass angler, you should be aware of how bass behaves differently under different weather conditions.
If the weather is cloudy, bass are much more likely to expose themselves, and they are more active in order to feed. So, bass fishing tips also vary when it comes to different weather conditions.
When it’s cloudy, go for moving baits such as chatter baits, spinnerbaits, or topwater plus to get big strikes from the active bass. If you’re out on a sunny day, bass like to keep cover and let the meals come (by) to them. On these sunny days, go for a bait that bounces on the bottom of the lake, such as a jig or Texas-rigged soft plastic. Flip and pitch your bait to the base of the cover and get ready for a bass to strike.
The temperature of the waters you’re fishing in vary drastically when it comes to the time of the year and the location you’re fishing in. The water temperature has a big effect on the level of activity and feeding pattern of bass. The general rule is to throw quicker, more aggressive moving lure when the water is warmer. When the water is colder, throw a slower-moving bait.
However, keep in mind that there are several techniques that can catch you bass in both water temperatures. It’s simply important always to be aware of the water temperature every day that you’re out there to make sure you’re getting the most out of what the day has to offer. Another tip: Remember that water temperature changes throughout the day and that some parts of the lake are warmer or colder than other parts.
More wind can generally mean more difficult fishing conditions. This can be aggravating and frustrating, especially if you weren’t aware of how the wind affects fishing conditions. Especially when the wind is going over 15mph, it can be a struggle to keep the boat in position and to cast. However, just because it’s windy, do not give up; it is still possible to walk away with some big bass (unless, of course, the wind is as strong as a tornado or hurricane).
On a positive note; Wind will often encourage bass, and they’ll strike more quickly. Because of the ripple effect on the water, the bass will be less scared of boat movement, and they won’t be able to see you or bait as well as on no-wind days. So there is no need to call it quits next time the wind starts to pick up. Just leave the other tips and techniques for the day and throw out a moving bait.
To prevent tying knots while you’re on the water (because this can be a pain) or losing fish because of a badly tied knot, learn how to tie knots properly. Save your precious fishing time and try to catch more bass by learning how to tie your favorite know until you know it really well. This is actually a tip that a lot of bass anglers are already aware of since it’s one of the most-searched-for fishing tricks to learn on the internet.
You don’t have to make it too complicated. You can go for knots such as Clinch knots or the Palomar knot because they work well with nearly every technique you might want to apply. There are plenty of how-to videos out there or diagrams to assist you in becoming a knot-tying pro. Learning this is something you won’t regret!
Nowadays, we have the benefit of technology which can be an angler’s best friend in many ways. Due to the availability of all of the shared knowledge and information on the internet, many anglers have altered severely how they approach a day of fishing.
If you want to make the most out of a day of (bass) fishing, I advise you to use services such as Fishidy and Google Earth to get the best understanding of the fishing spots you will be visiting that day.
Identifying important areas in the body of water that you’re going out and to learn where to find the most (bass) fish has never been easier. After figuring this out, you can start developing a plan before you’re even near the water.
When you’re looking at these tools online, try to look for creeks, ledges, or other points where bass might like to hang out. If you do plenty of research, you will be the one handing out tips rather than reading about them soon!
Another great tip that many successful anglers will agree with is that having confidence while fishing is key. Basically, it’s about using the best bait, using the best techniques, being aware of weather conditions, and having plenty of confidence is what will get you the most success.
This attitude translates to the confidence the angler uses in the lure since fishing is still most of a mental sport. Choosing a lure that you find the best for the situation as well as the right technique will give you this confidence, for example.
The tip I will leave you with today is not to give up too quickly when you’re out for some (big) bass fish. If you’re fishing in an area that doesn’t seem to be very populated with bass, don’t leave right away. The same goes for techniques; there is no need to change this right away if you don’t immediately get results. Going all over the lake and trying all sorts of techniques is not going to get you very far either.
Some days it’s simply hard to get a bite, but it’s better to thoroughly fish an area and give the technique you’re using the best confidence you have than to go over to plan B. Pick apart every piece of cover the bass might be hiding under, and be confident that the lure and technique you are using are the way to go. You will most likely be rewarded with at least a few bites!
After reading about all of these techniques and tips, you now have all the tools to become a very successful bass angler. Keep in mind that the conditions determine which technique to use as well as which bait. With modern-day technology and available shared knowledge, we can prepare ourselves tremendously for a day out on the boat and how to make the most out of it.