Whether you’ve fished a few times or you’re still wet behind the ears, learning how to fish for bass is not as hard as it sounds. When I first started fishing, I thought I would never catch on, and I’d be sitting there on the shore, casting for hours with nothing on the other end.
I was wrong.
You’ll quickly realize that once you learn all the best bass fishing tips for beginners, it’s as simple as replicating what you’ve done over and over again.
Fishing for bass offers some of the most exciting fishing because these guys put up a fight unlike any other. They’re a naturally ornery fish, so once you hook one, hang on and prepare for the ride.
By the end of this article, you’ll be ready to get off the bunny slope and onto the water with everything you need to know and all the gear necessary to catch plenty of bass.
What are we waiting for? Let’s get to it!
What You’ll Need: Bass Fishing Gear for Beginners
The first thing new anglers think about is the gear they need and how expensive it might be to start fishing. Luckily, what you need to start out isn’t much. Let’s talk about what you’ll need right away, and then we’ll cover some more details regarding each piece of gear.
- Rod and reel (combo or separate)
- Fishing line (I’ll explain the different types)
- Lures or live bait
- Fishing net
With those five things, you’ll have everything you need to start fishing today. The cost of getting started will vary depending on how crazy you go on the rod and reel, but I would estimate a modest startup cost of $100 if you purchase a reasonably priced reel.
Now let’s get into more details regarding each piece of gear.
Choosing a Rod and Reel
The most challenging decision you’ll face besides where to fish is what rod and reel combo you’ll pick as a beginner. There are a million different options, but the most important thing to learn is the difference between a baitcaster and spinning reel.
The spinning reel is the best choice for beginners because they are the easiest reels to jump into and start fishing with no experience.
Bass fishing 101 will also tell you that spinning reels are best for bass because they can manage lightweight lures better, which is an essential trick for catching bass.
Spinning reels have an open spool with the line exposed. These reels are on the bottom of the rod, and they’re much easier to handle.
You’ll recognize a baitcaster because it sits on top of the rod instead of the bottom. These reels have a closed spool with a small portion of the line exposed. The reason these are more difficult is that they’re prone to something called “backlash.”
Backlash is when the fishing line gets tangled and causes a big mess for the angler.
Baitcasters are for more experienced anglers looking to fish saltwater, so I would only recommend choosing a spinning reel as a beginner.
Choosing Your Rod
Thankfully, choosing a rod isn’t as involved as picking a reel. When you’re learning to bass fish, go with a rod and reel combo. When you purchase the two together, they’re already assembled, and you know that the two work perfectly together.
If you do end up purchasing a separate rod and reel, make sure the rod is compatible with spinning reels.
Choosing Your Fishing line
Once you’ve chosen your rod and reel, now you have to decide what type of line you’ll use. There are three primary types of lines beginners need to know.
We’ll talk about all three, but our focus is on monofilament because that is the best way to fish for bass (especially as a beginner).
This line is the most popular choice because it comes in a variety of different strengths and colors. It’s less expensive and stretches well too.
It’s essential to choose monofilament for beginner bass fishing because you need something that will resist abrasion and spool evenly, so you don’t have a loose line.
The main difference between monofilament and fluorocarbon is that this line is typically used as a leader because it’s invisible underwater. The leader is the part of the line closest to the lure. It helps prevent the bass from seeing the line.
There are some situations where anglers use this as the mainline, but you don’t need to worry about that.
I love braided line, and here’s why. It’s twice as strong as monofilament, and it casts much further due to the added weight.
You don’t have to worry about braided twisting either, and it works great for spinning reels.
Why don’t I like braided line for beginners?
Because it’s too visible underwater and it’s too heavy for the finesse style of fishing beginners need for bass fishing.
As a beginner, you should focus primarily on technique rather than trying to catch the largest bass.
Best Bass Fishing Lures for Beginners
Now, let’s talk lures. By this point, you should have your rod and reel lined up with monofilament line. Now it’s time to choose the best lures for the end of that line.
Here are some bass fishing basics for you when it comes to choosing lures:
- Bright lures work better during warm weather
- Use bright lures when the water is murky to improve visibility (chances are the water is murky if it rained recently)
- Use bigger baits during the warm months and smaller lures during the cold months (based on their metabolism since they’re cold-blooded)
- Noisy lures often work best for bass because they’re naturally ornery
The three lures I would recommend having in your tackle box as a beginner are:
- Soft plastic worms
First, spinnerbaits are noisy because they come with a blade (or two) that vibrates as the lure moves through the water. In addition to causing a lot of ruckus, they also do a great job of reflecting light, so they work exceptionally well on sunny days.
The best thing you can do to get the attention of a bass is to aggravate it, and spinnerbaits are sure to do that.
My second beginner lure choice is a standard plastic worm. These are easy to manage, and they have an excellent presentation in the water. Make sure you hook them well; otherwise, you’ll be spending a lot of money as you keep losing them.
Crankbaits are those lures that look like real baitfish. They have a lip on the front, and that is what creates the presentation and noise in the water. The most important thing to remember with crankbaits is that they can get pretty sizey, so be careful about having one that’s too big or too small.
Jigs are another popular bass lure but I don’t want to overcomplicate things here, so we’ll skip this for now. Bass love almost any type of lure and the presentation is what’s most important.
When and Where to Find Bass
Congratulations on having your rod and reel all rigged up. With your tackle box at your side, you’re now ready to hit the water and get down to business.
Now the fun begins.
First, let’s discuss when you should fish for bass and why this is true.
When to fish for bass
Bass are cold-blooded, so their body temperature fluctuates with the temperature outside. I’ll use “Goldilocks and the Three Bears” as my bass fishing 101 reference here.
The water temperature cannot be too hot or too cold; it has to be just right.
So, when we think about when to fish for bass, we want to cast in ideal temperature conditions only. What does this mean?
- During the spring and summer, you want to fish early morning and late evening
- During the fall and winter, you want to fish midday
When you follow these guidelines, you’re getting the bass during their ideal feeding periods.
Where to fish for bass
Here’s where things get subjective, but I’ll give you my expert opinion. When you’re first learning how to fish for bass, the most important word to repeat is, “shoreline.” The shore is the lifeblood of every bass fishing trip, and you need to use it at all times.
If you’re fishing from the shore, you want to cast parallel to the shore so you can keep your lure close while still getting some distance behind your cast.
If you’re fishing from a boat, you want to run the boat about 40-50 feet from the shore and cast towards it.
Regardless of how you’re fishing, “shoreline” is the word to remember.
Can you catch bass out in the middle of a lake? Well, yes, but think about it this way.
Bass have predators like everything else, and where do the big fish hang out? In the middle of the lake.
These fish need a safe place to hide, and there isn’t any in the middle, all the vegetation, stumps, and docks run along the shore.
So, repeat after me, “SHORELINE!”
Bass Fishing Techniques for Beginners
The best bass fishing tips for beginners will only get you so far; sometimes you need a little more help. When you’re starting, you don’t need to worry too much about complicated casting techniques because you’ll likely focus on the sidearm and overhand.
Let’s talk about casting for a second and focus on the primary way you’ll cast your spinning rod as a beginner. Here are the steps to throwing your spinner for the first time:
- Hold the fishing rod at waist level with the lure hanging around ten inches from the tip of your rod
- Grab the line with your forefinger and open the bail while still holding the line (this releases the line)
- Pull the tip of the rod back over your dominant shoulder (not vertically but at a slight angle)
- Bring the rod forward with the tip pointed where you want your lure to go (make sure you let go of the line)
- Once the lure hits the water, you can close the bail and start to retrieve the line
5 Tips for Beginner Bass Anglers
Haven’t you ever wished that someone with a ton of experience could come down and provide you with all the knowledge you’ve ever wanted? Hey, you’re in luck! Here are some expert tips of mine as well as some from other veteran anglers.
- Go towards the cover
- If you can find the cover, you’ll find the bass. They’ll always hide out in vegetation, wood, stumps, docks, or anything that doesn’t blend in with the environment around you.
- Match what the bass eat
- The hard thing about writing a bass fishing for beginner’s guide is accommodating your unique situation. You live in a different environment, so pay attention to what the bass eat and use that to determine your best lures. If the bass eat shad and minnows, you’ll want to use a swimbait to mimic that.
- If all else fails, go red
- I’ve stressed the fact that bass are the “scaredy cats” of the water. They prefer to pick on fish that are injured, and they’ll eat almost anything. If you’re struggling to catch anything, consider using a red-colored lure because they may think it’s an injured fish.
- Keep the weather in mind
- If you’re serious about getting out there and catching some bass, pay attention to the weather. Cold rainy weather means smaller, brighter lures and fishing in deeper waters. Warm, dry weather means natural colored lures and shallow water fishing.
- You do matter
- My favorite tip is to remember that you cast shadows and create vibrations in the water. On calm days, you need to ensure that your shadow isn’t on the water and that you’re not moving around too much or making too much noise. If you spook the bass, they won’t bite.
Bass Fishing Tutorial: From Start to Finish
By now, you should know almost everything you need to about bass fishing. You can officially take off your beginner’s hat and put on your novice hat!
To finish this bass fishing for beginner’s guide, I want to give you a rundown of what a typical fishing day looks like for me. Your day might vary, but this will provide you with a great idea of what your first fishing trip will entail.
- 5:30 am – Rise and shine (and coffee)
- 6:00 am – Gather rods/reels, tackle, nets, and clothing (if you don’t have a lot of hair, bring a hat)
- 6:15 am – Out the door (During the spring and summer I want to be on the water by 7 am)
- 7:00 am – Let the fishing begin, I’ll scour the shoreline for the first 2-3 hours because the bass are feeding on baitfish in this area.
- 11:00am – Lunch
- 1:00 pm – Now, it’s time to change your strategy. I’ll switch to a topwater lure and troll the shore for the next two hours before packing it in.
Of course, your typical day will vary depending on the conditions. If it’s the middle of July and it’s 90 degrees out at 7 am, you might want to get out there earlier if the waters allow it.
On the contrary, it might be March, and it barely scratches 35 degrees by 9 am. In that case, you might want to save your peak fishing hours for the afternoon.
As long as you remember all of these bass fishing tips for beginners, you’ll have no trouble making your first fishing trip a memorable one.