Largemouth Bass Fishing Tackle and Equipment, a Beginners Guide

Largemouth Bass Fishing Tackle and Equipment

In this article, largemouth bass fishing tackle will be thoroughly covered. Largemouth bass are the most popular game fish in North America. There are several reasons for this. Largemouth bass are apex predators, with a huge mouth and a powerful tail. When hooked, they often leap high and put up a great tussle. Bass can be very aggressive and will take a wide variety of artificial lures. While most anglers use lures, largemouth bass can be certainly caught on live bait as well.

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Anglers will need a variety of bass fishing tackle in order to be successful. Spinning and baitcasting rods and reels along with a good selection of artificial lures will be required. Largemouth bass are found in different locations and productive anglers need to be versatile in their approach.

Another factor in the popularity of largemouth bass is their availability. Largemouth bass are very adaptable, tolerating a wide range of temperatures. They flourish in warm places such as Florida and other southern states. Several lakes in Mexico offer fantastic largemouth bass fishing as well. Florida strain largemouth have adapted to the deep clear lakes of California. Alaska even has a population of fish as well.

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This popularity has spawned an entire industry. There is so much largemouth bass fishing equipment available to anglers that it can be overwhelming. Rows and rows of fishing rods, reels, soft plastic baits, hard baits and more fill the aisles at retail outlets. The purpose of this article is to simplify it a bit for anglers just getting into the sport.

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Bass fishing rods and reels

Anglers watching a fishing show with tournament bass anglers often see a dozen or more rods lying on the deck. Many of these are specialty rods that are designed for one particular type of bass fishing. However, that does not mean that every angler needs a dozen rods and reels!

There are three types of reels that anglers can choose from. The first and most basic are spin cast reels. Some anglers know them as push button reels. These are suitable for fishing for panfish and other smaller species, but not really adequate for serious bass fishing. Bait casting reels, also known as conventional reels, are very popular among bass anglers. However, they are a bit more complicated to learn to cast and use. Once mastered, every bass anglers should own a bait casting outfit or two.

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The majority of anglers choosing largemouth bass fishing equipment who are just starting out will do best with spinning tackle. These are also known as open faced reels. Anglers put their finger under the line and then open the bail, letting the line slide off their finger at the cast. The bail is then closed and the line retrieved. Spinning tackle is versatile, reasonably priced, and easy to learn to use. It has become much more popular among professional bass anglers of late as finesse fishing has grown.

Bass fishing rods

The fishing rods are matched to the fishing reels. Spinning rods and bait casting rods are slightly different. Spinning rods have larger guides while bait casting rods have smaller ones. The handles and grips on the butt section are often different as well.

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The two most important aspects of a fishing rod are the length and the action. The length is self-explanatory. Most anglers prefer a rod that is 6 1/2 feet to 7 1/2 feet long. A rod this long allows for anglers to make long casts as well as fight a good fish without it being clunky or awkward. Other than storage or fishing in very tight quarters, there really is no advantage to a shorter rod.

Fishing rods come in many different actions. This is the internal design of the rod that determines where it is stronger and stiffer and where it is more limber and how these two things transition. Different actions are actually desired for different types of fishing. This is one reason that you see so many fishing rods on tournament bass anglers boats.

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Rod and reel outfits

Beginning anglers choosing largemouth bass fishing equipment can really cover most fishing situations with two outfits. The first outfit would be a medium or medium light spinning outfit that has a 7 foot rod and a 3000 series spinning reel. The rod should have a fast action. This means that it is fairly stout at the butt section but quite limber at the tip. This is a very versatile outfit.

A spinning outfit like this is light enough for anglers to use light soft plastic baits and other finesse style baits effectively. However, it will still be suitable for casting heavier hard bodied plugs such as jerk baits and top water plugs. Anglers can spool the reel up with 12 pound monofilament or fluorocarbon line or 20 pound braided line. If an angler can only afford to purchase one rod and reel, this would be a very good choice.

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The second outfit would be a bit stouter. It would be a medium heavy outfit. A bait casting outfit would be best, but anglers can certainly use a spinning reel as well. Bait casting reels have more power and often a fast retrieve ratio. This heavier outfit is better suited for pitching and flipping soft plastic baits into heavy cover as well as casting heavier spinner baits and plugs around cover. In these environments, an angler often needs muscle to get the fish out. Braid is the best line choice in this situation, and anglers can go fairly heavy, between 40 pound and 60 pound test.

Bass fishing lures

There have been countless books written about largemouth bass fishing lures. There is no way to completely cover that subject in a blog post. However, the subject can be simplified to keep it from being overwhelming for a novice angler.

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Largemouth bass fishing lures can be broken down into these categories; soft plastic baits, bladed baits, jigs, and plugs. With each lure type, specific examples of productive baits including size and color will be given to help anglers get started.

Soft plastic lures for bass fishing

Chesapeake Bay bass

The largemouth bass fishing world was revolutionized in the late 60s when plastic worms first came about. The initial versions were very stiff and not at all lifelike. They have certainly come a long way! Bass anglers today have an incredible assortment of soft plastic baits at their disposal. These can imitate worms, crayfish, salamanders, and creatures that do not exist. It is more the lifelike presentation in the water that catches bass as opposed to it realistically imitating some natural forage.

Yamamoto Senko

One of the most versatile and effective soft plastic baits is the Yamamoto Senko. This is termed a finesse bait. It can be rigged several ways including Texas rigged, wacky rigged, and used on a drop shot. Is a very versatile little bait. The 5 inch version and green pumpkin is an excellent all round lure that will catch largemouth bass anywhere.

Zoom Trick worm

The Zoom Trick worm is an excellent full-sized plastic worm. It has a bit more action than the Senko and is a good choice when fish are bit more active. This is a versatile bait that can be slowly crawled along the bottom or swim through vegetation. The design of the lure and the shape of the tail give it tremendous action. A 7 inch size in darker colors such work well.

Mister Twister grub

Mister Twister grubs are a simple yet very effective soft plastic lure. These baits hit the fishing scene in the late 70s and anglers have been having tremendous success with them ever since. The curly tail design puts out fantastic action and vibration in the water. These are terrific baits in clear water and in the cooler months when largemouth bass feed on smaller prey. They can be crawled on the bottom to imitate crustaceans and worked through the water column to mimic shad and other bait fish.

Berkley Powerbait Chigger Craw

The Chigger Craw would fall into the creature bait category. These are soft plastic baits that sort of resemble a crayfish or other crustaceans or prey. For the most part, it is the bulk and action of the bait that makes it effective. These baits are bulkier and are more noticeable when moved through weeds and over and around other structure. The Chigger Craw in green pumpkin is a good all round bait. Anglers can shop the line of Berkley creature baits from this link.

Bass Assassin Die Dapper swimbait

Swim baits are another soft plastic lower that every bass angler should have in his or her tackle box. Bass Assassin manufactures an excellent line of soft plastic swim baits. The Die Dapper is an excellent size for largemouth bass. These baits are very easy to use as the angler just cast it out and slowly reels it back in. In most instances, the less action the angler imparts, the better. They are used on both swim bait hooks and on jig heads.

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Hooks and sinkers for fishing soft plastic baits

Anglers fishing soft plastic baits have several different ways with which they can hook and present these lures. Anglers can rig the baits weedless using the Texas rig. With this rig a specially designed hook is used allows the worm to hang straight and still be able to bury the hook in the worm. Creature baits and crayfish baits can be used as well. 3/0 and 5/0 are good sizes.

The gap in the hook needs to be large to get through the plastic and into the fishes mouth. Anglers can fish this rig with no weight. However, most of the time a small sinker is used. Specially designed worm sinkers are conical shaped which allow them to move through weeds and over cover without hanging up. The line slides through the the sinker, allowing a fish to pick up the worm and move off with it. In heavy cover, anglers pegs the sinker right to the eye of the hook to reduce hangups.

Swim bait hooks can also be used with just about every soft plastic bait. However, they were primarily designed to be used with larger soft plastic swim baits. The hooks have some type of keeper near the eye to attach the front of the swim bait and then the hook is placed in the rear of the bait. Most often, it is rigged weedless. A weight is molded into the bend of the hook which results in the lure having a horizontal presentation. Again, 3/0 and 5/0 are good sizes.

Finally, anglers can rig any of these soft plastic baits on a simple jig head. A jig head is a hook with a weight molded near the eye. This provides both weight for casting as well as giving the lure it’s action. This is a very simple and effective way to fish a soft plastic bait.

Bass fishing jigs

There is evidence to support the statement that the jig was the first artificial lure used by humans to catch fish. The design is fairly simple, it is basically a hook with a weight molded near the eye. This offset weight gives the bait it’s action and the water. Jig head designs and eye placements will also affect the action and where the bait can be used.

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Jigs are also available already dressed. These are extremely effective largemouth bass fishing lures that are used in several applications. They come in various weights, sizes, and colors. Anglers use heavy jigs to punch through matted vegetation when flipping. They can also be fished slowly along the bottom. Finally, swim jigs can be worked anywhere in the water column.

There are many choices when it comes to bass fishing jigs. In most cases, darker colors work best such as black, purple, and dark green. Most have a weed guard which keeps them from hanging up when used in heavy cover. Some anglers add a soft plastic trailer to give the lure even more bulk and action. The Booyah is an excellent all round bass fishing jig.

Bladed baits

There are several varieties of bladed baits. These include spinner baits, buzz baits, and bladed jigs. Inline spinners are also considered bladed baits, though there are seldom used for largemouth bass fishing these days. Every bass angler should have a decent selection of bladed baits. They are easy to use and have great built in action. In most cases the angler simply cast them out and reels and back in with a steady retrieve. Most of these lures are weedless as well. They are terrific bass fishing lures for beginners.

Strike King Finess KVD spinnerbait

The Strike King Finesse KVD spinner bait is an excellent all round lure. Spinner baits are a great bait for novice bass anglers as a are quite easy to use. They are relatively weedless and are normally fished around shoreline cover. Spinner baits come in many different configurations. The KVD spinner bait is a tandem blade bait that is a bit smaller than some other baits on the market.

Terminator spinnerbait

Terminator spinnerbaits are legendary for their toughness and durability. The have a titanium frame which bends more than other types of spinner baits and springs back into place. These cost a little bit more, but the quality hardware and components make it worth. The heavier models work best when cast with a bait casting outfit.

Booyah buzzbait

Buzzbaits are like spinner baits, except that they spend the entire time on the surface. When retrieved at the proper speed, they put out a very rhythmic commotion on the surface. Strikes are usually explosive! Buzz baits are most often used along shoreline cover and over the top of submerged weed beds. White and chartreuse are two of the most popular colors. The Booyah buzzbait is a good all-around largemouth bass fishing lure.


Bladed jigs are a relatively new bass fishing lure. It is a combination between a spinner bait and a jig. It has a weighted head with a hook and a rubber skirt. In front of the jig head is a blade which gives the lure action, flash, and vibration. These are very effective and also very easy to use. In most cases, a steady retrieve through or over vegetation works best. The Z-man Chatterbait is the original lure in this family.

Best bass fishing plugs

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Plugs have been catching largemouth bass for many decades now. Back in the day they were made of balsa wood, but nearly all of them now are made of plastic. They are very effective and come in many different sizes, shapes, and colors. They can imitate either bait fish, crayfish, and even frogs. Most are designed to run at a determine depth or on the surface. The downside to plugs is that they are fairly expensive.

Rapala Skitter Prop

The Rapala Skitter prop is a top water plug. It floats on top of the water and when twitched sharply the propeller on the rear puts out a lot a commotion. Top water plugs are most often fished near shoreline cover. Low light conditions such as early and late in the day and on cloudy days are usually best.

Rebel Pop R

The Rebel Pop R is a top water plug as well. It is in the family known as poppers. It has a concave face and when twitched sharply the nose digs into the water and produces a loud popping sound. Thus the name. This bait is a bit smaller then the Skitter Prop and is an excellent choice in ponds as well as small lakes.

Rapala X-Rap

The Rapala X-Rap is what is known is a jerk bait. It floats on the surface and then dives down to a determine depth upon retrieve. This bait comes in a couple different models to fish various depths. The plastic bill on the front of the lure is what determines how deep it will dive. This bait is worked fairly aggressively, using hard jerks (thus the name) with a pause in between. Most bites occur as the plug hangs there motionless.

Strike King Deep Diving plug

The KVD Sexy Shad is a very popular crank bait. It has a much wider profile then the X-Rap. It is designed to work in much deeper water such as points and channel edges. In darker colors it can be bounced along the bottom to mimic crayfish. It also is very effective in lighter colors that work shallower in very realistically mimic a shad, which is a top forage of largemouth bass in many lakes. These lures are easy to fish and allow anglers to cover a lot of water in search of fish.

Strike King 1.5 Squarebill crankbait

The Strike King Square Bill crank bait is an excellent lure for fishing shallow water cover. The 1.5 ounce model will dive down a couple of feet or so. Lighter bait fish colors normally work best. Sexy shad is a great all-round color pattern. This is an excellent lure when fish are active or scattered out. It has an exaggerated side to side wobble.


The Rattletrap is a lipless crank bait. Unlike the others, it does not float when it hits the water but instead will slowly sink. Another difference in this plug is that it does not have a bill. The lure is cast out, allowed to sink to the desired depth, then reeled back in with a fairly brisk and steady retrieve. It puts out a loud rattle and vibration that the angler can feel through the line. This is a great bait to use in fairly open water when searching for fish. The half ounce size in chrome with a blue back is a great all round bait.

Live Target frog

Frogs have become very popular in the last few years. These are surface lures that anglers fish either near structure or over matted vegetation. Like any top water bait, the strikes can be explosive! Most are weedless for obvious reasons. These are easy baits to use and are a lot a fun to fish. The Live Target Hollow Body Frog is an excellent frog bait.

In conclusion, this article on largemouth bass fishing tackle and equipment for beginners should help anglers get started enjoying this terrific sport!

Jim Klopfer

Capt Jim Klopfer has been a fishing guide in Sarasota, Florida since 1991. He grew up in Maryland, fishing the Chesapeake Bay waters. Capt Jim has been creating an writing articles about fishing for decades, contributing to many regional and national publications. He also lives part time in the North Carolina mountains where he fishes for trout and other species. Capt Jim Klopfer is a wel rounded angler with 50 years fishing experience, and he loves to share what he has learned with other anglers!

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