This topic of this article is bass fishing techniques and tips. While much of this applies to largemouth bass, smallmouth bass are covered as well. Habits and forage does vary, but many lures will catch all bass species. The size may need to be adjusted. Some spotted bass tips with also be included.
Capt. Jim Klopfer is a charter boat captain in Sarasota, Florida. While he basically makes his living fishing for saltwater species, he very much enjoys freshwater fishing as well. Capt. Jim grew up in Maryland fished the Potomac River for largemouth and smallmouth bass. He shares some tips and techniques as well as his favorite lures in this article.
Bass Fishing Techniques and Tips
Bass Fishing with Plastic Worms
This section will thoroughly cover bass fishing with plastic worms. Plastic worms are arguably the most effective artificial lure ever designed for bass fishing. If most experienced tournament and recreational bass anglers had to choose only one lure to fish with for the rest of their life, most would choose some type of soft plastic bait.
Anglers have been fishing with live worms and nightcrawlers for centuries. It was just a natural evolution that at some point artificial worms and nightcrawlers would be designed. The irony is that in the wild, worms are not all that available to bass and other game fish species. While some worms do end up in the water, this represents a very small percentage of the overall diet of a bass.
Fishing with plastic worms
The reality is that the success of plastic worms for bass fishing is that in the water they look incredibly lifelike, even if they don’t precisely resemble something that a bass feeds on. This can be said for many other successful artificial lures. A buzz bait will catch plenty of fish, but doesn’t really look like anything in nature. A plastic worm slowly bouncing along the bottom, undulating seductively, is very attractive to a bass.
The first plastic worms for bass fishing showed up in the late 1960s. These first versions were very stiff and not pliable at all. Things have certainly changed since then! Plastic worms are available in many different lengths, styles, and colors. They are supple and incredibly lifelike in the water.
Best plastic worms for bass fishing
There are many lure manufacturers that offer anglers choices when it comes to purchasing plastic worms. All of them will catch fish if properly rigged and presented. Capt. Jim will list a few of his favorite, with the understanding that those left out are by no means inferior. These just happen to be the baits that he uses when bass fishing with plastic worms.
Zoom Trick worm
Capt. Jim’s favorite plastic worm for largemouth bass is the Zoom Trick Worm. It is on the slender side and puts out an incredible amount of action with very little movement. The worm is six and three-quarter inches long, which is a perfect size. It is also a very reasonably priced plastic worm that is available in a myriad of fish catching colors.
Yamamoto Senko worm
The Yamamoto Senko worm is a terrific lure for bass. They are extremely popular these days and very few anglers venture out without a bag or two in their tackle box. The Senko is considered a finesse bait, also known as a stick bait. It is designed to have minimal action in the water, and this less aggressive action will often trigger fish when the bite is tough. They are available in models from 3 inches to 7 inches in length, most opt for the 4 inch and 5 inch worms.
Capt. Jim also uses Culprit plastic worms. These are famous for their long curly tail, which puts out a tremendous amount of action, much like an eel. They are an excellent choice when fish are in a feeding mood and are more aggressive. Culprit worms are available from 4.5 inches to 12 inches long. Capt. Jim likes the original 7 1/2 inch long bait.
Best rod and reel for bass fishing with plastic worms
Anglers can use both spinning and bait casting tackle when bass fishing with plastic worms. Conventional, or bait casting, tackle is best when fishing a Texas rigged worm around heavy cover. The extra power helps set the hook and get the fish out of the cover. A lighter spinning outfit works best for drop shot fishing and wacky worm fishing. Most serious bass anglers have several of each on board.
A 7 foot to seven 1/2 foot medium spinning rod with a fast action and a 2500 series reel spooled up with 10 pound monofilament or braided line is an excellent light tackle combination when bass fishing with plastic worms. A 6 1/2 foot to 7 foot medium heavy bait casting rod with matching real and 40 pound braided line works best when fishing heavy cover.
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Plastic worm color choices
Anglers have many options when it comes to colors when bass fishing with plastic worms. Green pumpkin is an excellent all round color for most conditions. Generally speaking, light and natural colors such as watermelon work best in fairly clear water while darker colors such as black and purple work well and stained water. Bright colors such as chartreuse or multi-color worms with a bright tail work well when the water is dirty.
Anglers should keep in mind that while technically these are “worms” they can be used to imitate a wide variety of forage that bass feed on. A white plastic worm can be used to imitate shad. Conversely, and olive or root beer colored worm will naturally mimic a crayfish. Green pumpkin and other colors probably look a lot like a bluegill to bass.
Rigging plastic worms for bass fishing
There are several different ways that anglers can rig the lure when bass fishing with plastic worms. These include the Texas rig, Carolina rig, wacky rig, drop shot rig, on a swim bait hook, and just a naturally swimming worm on a plain hook. All of these can be effective and each has a situation where they perform the best.
The Texas rig revolutionized bass fishing back in the early 1970s. It utilizes a specially designed hook which allows the worm to hang straight down with the point being embedded in the worm. This results in the bait being virtually weedless, allowing anglers to crawl the worm over and through just about every type of cover. This is an extremely productive technique. When the hook is pushed through the worm, the tip is tucked back in the worm. This is called a “skin hook” and keeps it weedless while making hook sets easier.
Anglers can fish the Texas rig with or without a sinker. In shallow water, swimming the worm through lily pads and other vegetation can be very effective. In water more than a couple feet deep, a sinker is usually used. Specially designed to sinkers were manufactured for this application.
These sinkers are conical in shape with a hole in the center. The pointed nose of the sinker facilitates it moving through cover without hanging up while the hole in the sinker allows the bass to pick up the plastic worm and move off with it without feeling any weight. In heavy cover, anglers will often peg the sinker to the head of the worm, thus not allowing it to slide. This can reduce snags in heavy cover.
The worm is cast out and allowed to sink to the bottom. Anglers then work the baits slowly back in. Most often, a slow retrieve with small hops is most effective. However, there are times when the bass what the lure moved more aggressively. When a strike occurs, anglers need to set the hook very hard in order to penetrate through the plastic worm and into the mouth of the fish.
The Carolina rig is a variation of the Texas rig. It uses a sliding egg sinker on the mainline followed by a swivel. The swivel stops the sinker from going any further allows for the use of a longer leader. The leader length is usually between 2 feet and 3 feet long. A Texas rig hook is used along with the worm of choice.
This rig is best used with floating worms, which most are anyway. The Carolina rig is almost always used in deeper water around structure such as submerged points and channel edges. As the sinker is dragged along the bottom, the worm trails behind just a bit above the bottom, putting out a lot of action. In most cases, slowly dragging the worm is the best retrieve.
One of Capt. Jim’s favorite ways to present a plastic worm is on a swim bait hook. This combines the weight and the hook along with the advantages of Texas rigging all in one tidy unit. The sinker is molded and at the bend of the hook, which results in the bait having a horizontal presentation. Some type of keeper, whether it is a bar or a coil, provides a place to attach the worm at the eye of the hook. The point of the hook is then buried in the worm Texas style.
Anglers can fish the plastic worm on a swim bait hook just as they do the Texas rigged, by slowly dragging and hopping and along the bottom. It is also an excellent choice in rivers and lakes with current, which is the situation Capt. Jim often fishes. Having the weight in the hook in one unit results in a better presentation without tangling or snagging.
Wacky worm rig
At first glance, the wacky rig looks silly. What is the point in placing the hook through the center of the worm? Whoever thought of it, it was a great idea! Wacky worm fishing has grown exponentially in popularity as it is a very effective and perhaps more importantly, very easy technique to use.
The hook is placed right through the center of the worm. Anglers can use a regular bait hook or a specifically designed hook for the purpose. Some anglers use O-rings and other devices to help increase the durability and life of the worm. It is fished without a sinker.
The wacky worm is used almost exclusively and shallow cover. It is cast out toward the cover, where it lands softly. As it sinks down through the water column, the hook in the central location causes the ends of the worm to undulate irresistibly. Most bites occur as the worm initially falls. Anglers can give the worm a hop or two then retrieve it back in and make another cast. The Senko is perfect for this, though full-sized plastic worms can be used as well.
For some novice anglers, detecting the strike when bass fishing with plastic worms can be difficult. Take is often very subtle, with the angler only feeling a slight tap. However, this is not the case when wacky worm fish! More often than not, the bass takes off with the worm. This is very easy for the angler to see as the line sideways. The slack is reeled up, the rod tip raised, and the fish is hooked.
Drop shot rig
The drop shot rig is a fairly new addition for anglers bass fishing with plastic worms. It involves a sinker at the bottom of the main line with a hook tied inline 12 inches to 18 inches above the sinker. The hook is tied on using a knot that results in the hook sticking out 90° from the line. The worm is then hooked through the nose and allowed to wiggle freely. Most often, smaller finesse worms such as the 4 inch Senko are used, though anglers can use larger worms as well.
This rig is very effective when fishing for suspended bass holding over cover in deeper water. The bait is drop to the bottom and worked very subtly. The angler can then slowly work the bait up through the water column if needed. It is important not to impart too much action as an aggressive motion will often spook fish.
Anglers make the mistake of thinking this is only a deep water presentation, this is far from the truth. The drop shot rig is also very effective when cast out and retrieved in shallow water. However, it is not the best choice where heavy vegetation is present. It can be an extremely effective way to lure wily bass that are on the bed in clear, shallow water.
One of the great advantages that anglers bass fishing with plastic worms have is that these lures will catch fish and just about every situation an angler will encounter. There is no better lure for fishing heavy brush or vegetation in shallow water. A Texas rigged plastic worm or a worm on a swim bait hook is excellent for fishing docks. The Carolina rig or drop shot rig is an excellent choice when fishing bridge pilings or deeper structure such as submerged points, sunken islands, deep brush piles, and channel edges. A worm rigged wacky style in cast out towards the edge of a bed of lily pads or other aquatic vegetation is a great way to catch a largemouth bass.
Drop Shot Fishing for bass – a Very Productive Technique!
Drop shot fishing is a fairly easy and quite productive fishing technique. It is a relatively new addition to the fishing world. While primarily used in freshwater for anglers chasing spotted bass, largemouth bass, and smallmouth bass, the drop shot rig will catch a wide variety of species. While covered above, more detail will be added here.
The drop shot rig is a clever method used to suspend a bait a bit above the bottom, which is where many game fish feed. A soft plastic finesse style bait is most often used. This is a very effective presentation as unlike other types of soft plastic lure presentations, the lure is kept right in front of the fish, undulating seductively. Fish often can not resist this and will take the bait, even when not actively feeding.
Drop shot rig components
Anglers drop shot fishing do not need a lot of special gear to get started. The system consists of a hook, a drop shot weight, and the bait. It really is a simple, yet extremely efficient and effective way to present a soft plastic lure or live bait.
Best rod and reel for drop shot fishing
The best rod and reel for drop shot fishing is a light spinning outfit. Most anglers already own an outfit that is fine for this style of fishing. A 7′ medium light rod with a fast action (limber at the tip with a firm butt section) with a 2500 series reel is a great outfit. Flourocarbon line in the 8-10 lb range works great, but monofilament is fine as well, it just has more stretch. Anglers choosing to use braided line will need to add a 3′ flourocarbon leader of 8 lb or 10 lb.
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Drop shot hooks
Anglers can use just about any hook with a drop shot rig. However, there are some hooks that work better than others in this application. Generally speaking, short shank light wire hooks are best. The eye placement is important as well since it is crucial to have the hook stick out 90 degrees from the main line. Some excellent drop shot hooks include the VMC 7119 light wire drop shot hook and the Eagle Claw L6 drop shot octopus hook. There are even some specialty drop shot hooks that have a swivel on either side of the eye such as the Gamakatsu G Finesse Swivel Shot Drop Shot hook. Size #2 is a good all round choice.
Drop shot weights
While fishing weights are fairly straightforward, anglers drop shot fishing have several options, based on the type of spot being fished. Most drop shot weights are Tungsten, which is very dense. Long cylindrical weights are excellent for fishing submerged vegetation. Round drop shot weights work best in ares of less cover. Most have an eye and swivel to make changes easy. As in most fishing situations, anglers should use the lease amount of weight that will get the job done. 1/8 will cover most situations ans 1/4 is fine when needed.
Best baits for drop shot fishing
The list of baits that can be used when drop shot fishing is limited only by the angler’s imagination. In most cases, finesse style baits between 2” and 6” are used. Long slender lures work very well as they emit a lot of action with the slightest movements. This works well since anglers drop shot fishing often just gently shake the bait as opposed to more aggressive movements. Some of Capt Jim’s top baits will be listed below.
The Gulp line of baits is perfect for drop shot fishing! Anglers can choose from the tiny 1” Gulp Alive Minnow to larger 6” baits. The combination of the action along with the scent makes them extremely effective for this type of fishing. Anglers can use worms, minnows, crayfish, and other baits to mimic the available forage.
The Yamamoto Senko is a fantastic finesse bait that works well on a drop shot rig. Most anglers opt for the 4” version, but the larger 5” worm can be used as well. It is usually nose hooked but can be hooked wacky worm style as well.
Berkley Powerbait Maxscent Flatworm
The Bekley Powerbait Maxscent Flatworm is taking the bass tournaments by storm, especially in the north where smallmouth bass are present. It is 3 1/2” long and has a terrific subtle action. The added benefit if scent will result in fish holding on just a bit longer.
Zoom Finesse worm
Capt Jim is a big fan on the Zoom line of plastic worms. They are affordable, have great action, and come is every color imaginable. The Zoom Finesse worm is a smaller version of the highly effective Trick Worm. At 4 3/4” long, it is perfect for using on a drop shot rig.
Assembling the drop shot rig
The drop shot rig is simple, but there are a couple of important factors to take into account. When properly tied, the hook will be tied tight to the running line (or leader if braid is used) with the hook facing up. This in very important! Many anglers use a Palomar knot while others use a drop shot knot. The hook should be tied 6” to 24” above the sinker. The length varies depending on the situation, with 15” being a great all round length.
Anglers can purchase special drop shot hooks that have a swivel above and below the eye of the hook. This makes tying the drop shot rig very easy! The main line is tied to the to and then a leader and sinker is added to the bottom eye. This also allows for the hook to rotate, adding even more action.
Drop shot fishing techniques
Drop shot fishing used to be a deep water, vertical presentation technique used to fool suspended fish or those relating to structure. This is still the primary presentation, though anglers now use it casting as well. Any piece of structure or cover that can hold fish can be effectively fished casting this rig. In fact, it is quickly replacing the Carolina rig for many tournament and recreational anglers. It can be extremely effective on bedding fish.
Most anglers go to the drop shot rig in clear water when fish become a bit fussy. The lighter line, smaller baits, and less aggressive presentation will often produce when other tactics fail. It is usually used in water ten feet deep or deeper when vertically fished. The vertical presentation is very effective as the bait remains in the strike zone the entire time.
Top spots to use a drop shot rig are points, channel edges, rock piles, submerges grass beds, and underwater islands. Bridge pilings are good places to try it as well. The bait is almost always nose hooked, allowing it to flutter in the water. The rig is lowered to the bottom and the slack removed. The angler then just gently wiggles the rod tip, manipulating the worm slightly.
Less really is more when drop shot fishing! Anglers should start with very subtle movements then get a bit more aggressive from there. The take will often be light, with the angler just feeling some added weight. Raising the rod tip while reel fast is the best way to hook them as opposed to an aggressive hook set.
Casting the drop shot rig
While often used in a vertical presentation, anglers can cast the drop shot rig as well. This technique is used on bedding bass successfully. Dragging the worm through the bed and pausing right in the center will sometimes angler the bass, producing a strike. Anglers can also cast to weed edges, brush piles, and other shoreline or submerged cover that are too shallow to fish vertically.
Drop shot fishing works extremely well around boat docks. Anglers cast under the dock and then allow the rig to sink through the water column. As natural cover rots over time, boat docks and other man made structure become more important and productive spots. The main issue with fishing docks is pulling a larger fish away from the structure with fairly light tackle, but that is a nice problem to have!
Drop shot fishing with live bait
Anglers can also present live bait on a drop shot rig. A live minnow suspended just above the bottom is a very effective way to catch crappie, walleye, bass, and other species. Catfish anglers use this rig as well. A wiggling nightcrawler on the drop shot rig will fool every freshwater species. Again, most bottom rigs present the bait right on the bottom while the drop shot rig keeps the live bait just above the bottom.
10 Effective Largemouth Bass Fishing Tips
This section with list 10 effective bass fishing tips. Largemouth bass are arguably the most popular freshwater game fish species, with smallmouth and spotted bass also being widely available and popular. In this article, bass habits, locations, tackle, lures, and techniques will be covered.
10 effective bass fishing tips
Here is Capt Jim’s list of 10 effective bass fishing tips:
- Understand bass habits
- Get the proper bass fishing tackle
- Understand seasonal bass migrations
- Bass fishing with artificial lures
- Rigging soft plastic baits for bass
- Plugs are effective when fishing for bass
- Spinnerbaits are excellent bass fishing lures
- Spoons still catch bass
- Jigs work very well in cooler months and in heavy cover
- Bass fishing with live bait
Largemouth bass, Micropterus salmoides, are a carnivorous apex predator. They have an extremely diverse diet and thrive in a variety of environments. These are certainly two keys to their abundance and popularity. Largemouth bass are found in all of the lower 48 states, southern Canada, and even Hawaii. The proliferation of bass fishing tournaments the last few decades have certainly accounted for this surge in popularity. They are more popular and widely dispersed than other bass species.
1) Understand bass habits
Largemouth bass are ambush predators. This behavior alone is a major key in locating and catching fish. Largemouth bass have a very large and powerful tail and a huge mouth, thus the name. It prefers to lie in ambush and when prey gets too close, the bass flares it’s gills and inhales the helpless forage. This cover comes in many different forms, both natural and man made.
For the most part, largemouth bass prefer shallow, weedy lakes and rivers. They can be found in just about every type of aquatic vegetation at one time or another. Factors that dictate where they will be located are water temperature, sunlight, bottom composition, and availability of forage. Largemouth Bass thrive in a wide variety of warm water environments. This is certainly a key to their success, along with their varied diet.
Bass are caught in the smallest creeks up to huge impoundments and reservoirs. Largemouth bass can even tolerate some salinity and they thrive and brackish rivers all along the United States coastline. As long as the water is not too cold, anglers will find largemouth bass present. Man-made structures certainly attract largemouth bass as well.
Many larger reservoirs were flooded in the mid-60s and early 70s. Much of the flooded timber that attracted bass has long since rotted away. The fish have adapted and in many of these lakes boat docks are the prime cover for largemouth bass. Many of these docks are located in deeper water, or with access to deeper water, which bass prefer. Bridges and rip-rap will attract and hold largemouth bass as well.
2) Get the proper bass fishing tackle
The discussion of largemouth bass fishing tackle can get very complicated. However, for the purposes of this article we will try to keep it simple. There are four basic types of fishing rods and reels; spin cast, spinning, conventional or bait casting, and fly. Spin casting tackle is fine for novice anglers and children fishing for bluegill and other small fish, but it really is not suitable for serious largemouth bass fishing. Fly fishing for largemouth bass is great fun and challenging, but is a bit of a specialized tactic.
Best spinning rod and reel for largemouth bass fishing
Spinning tackle is the most widely used rod and reel outfit for anglers fishing across the world for both freshwater and saltwater species. It is versatile, durable, affordable, and easy to learn to use. Just a few years ago, most serious bass fisherman used conventional tackle. One look at a current bass fishing tournament on television will provide evidence of how popular spinning tackle has become, even among serious bass anglers.
The increase in the popularity of spinning tackle has a lot to do with the advent of finesse fishing. This is an extremely effective technique for largemouth bass and other species. However, the lures used are very light. Spinning tackle is well-suited, much more so than bait casting tackle, to casting and fishing these very light baits.
There is no one spinning outfit that is best for all bass fishing situations. A 7 foot medium action rod with a fast tip paired with a 3000 series reel is an excellent all around combination. A rod such as this has plenty of backbone to fight a big fish while the limber tip gives anglers good casting distance and accuracy with light lures.
Best baitcasting rod and reel for largemouth bass fishing
Baitcasting, or conventional, tackle certainly has its place and bass fishing. A couple of the advantages of bait casting tackle are the power and line control. Anglers keep constant light pressure on the spool as it revolves with their thumb, allowing for very accurate distance control. Also, since the line comes straight on the spool and does not turn 90° as it does with spinning tackle, it provides more power. Most anglers largemouth bass fishing choose conventional tackle when flipping jigs and other soft plastic baits into heavy cover as well as when casting heavier plugs. Bait casting tackle works very well in conjunction with heavier lures. A 6 1/2 foot medium heavy rod with a matching reel will get the job done.
A quick note here needs to be inserted about bass fishing rods and reels. Advanced anglers will often have specifically designed rods and reels for certain types of fishing. These rod and reel combinations are custom designed to do a specific task. There are worm rods, spinnerbait rods, crankbait rods, etc. For anglers who can afford many different outfits, this is fine. However, this should not discourage anglers who can only afford a couple of outfits. Versatile spinning and bait casting rod and reel combinations such as the ones mentioned above will serve anglers well in a variety of fishing situations.
Best largemouth bass fishing line
Anglers largemouth bass fishing have several choices when it comes to line. These basically break down into three categories; braided line, monofilament line, and hybrid or fluorocarbon line. Again, serious anglers will have rod and reel outfit set up with certain line types for certain situations. For most anglers, 20 to 40 pound braided line is an excellent all round choice. Those fishing in very clear water may opt for fluorocarbon or monofilament line.
So, to button up the tackle conversation, two well thought out outfits will cover the vast majority of situations that a largemouth bass anglers will find himself or herself in. A medium spinning outfit spooled up with 14 pound fluorocarbon line and a heavier bait casting outfit spooled up with 30 pound braid is an excellent start.
3) Understand the seasonal migration of bass
It is very important to understand the seasonal migrations of largemouth bass in order to be successful. In the coldest months of the year, depending on the geographical location, bass will usually school in deeper water. This is usually done over some type of structure such as a river channel edge or the drop off on a point. Florida and the extreme south, this does not occur as drastically.
As the water warms up, bass will begin their pre-spawn migration. Bass will stage in areas of a few feet to several feet deep off of prime spawning spots. These are areas of preferably sandy bottom or even small gravel. Largemouth bass can be aggressive at this time and easier to catch. At a certain time, usually triggered by a full moon, fish move up and begin bedding. The male bass will use its tail to fan out a saucer-shaped nest. The female will then deposit the eggs and the male bass will fertilize them. Bass are not really interested in feeding at this point, however they will attack a lure in order to defend the nest. Fishing at this time takes a lot of patience, but the reward can be a trophy!
After the spawn is completed, the post spawn phase begins. This is an excellent time to fish for largemouth bass! They are usually hungry and aggressive after the period of guarding the nest where they really don’t feed much. Again, the transition areas just off of the flats as well as any cover on the flats can be productive spots.
Summer bass habits
In summer, largemouth bass will move to several different locations. In the south where a lot of the lakes are too shallow to really be cool, bass will find the heaviest cover with the most shade that has forage available. This usually includes docks and very thick vegetation. In larger lakes, largemouth bass will often move offshore to deeper water and stage up on point drop-offs and channel edges. This is particularly true in lakes that have good populations of shad and herring. This is a time of year when anglers will encounter schools of largemouth bass feeding on the surface even in quite deep water. The bass will trap the helpless bait fish against the surface of the water. This is an exciting situation for anglers bass fishing to encounter!
As it cools off, largemouth bass will usually move back shallow and scatter out. In some bodies of water, this can be a difficult time to fish as bass can be anywhere. The back ends of creeks can be good as bait fish will often concentrate there. Bass will also relate to vertical structures such as sheer cliff walls and steep drop-offs. Some lakes “turn over”. This is when cooling water sinks through the water column down to the bottom. It can churn up bottom debris, turning the water dark or even black. This can be a difficult time to fish. As it gets colder, fish will revert to their winter locations and the cycle will start all over again. Obviously, every year is different when it comes to weather, water levels, and other factors which will determine largemouth bass locations.
4) Fishing for bass with artificial lures
While live bait can certainly be effective when largemouth bass fishing, the vast majority of anglers do so using artificial lures. Any angler new to the sport of bass fishing may be completely overwhelmed when walking down the aisles of his or her local tackle shop. Again, the goal here is to simplify and explain the choices anglers have when it comes to largemouth bass fishing lures.
Artificial lures break down into several categories. These are soft plastic baits, plugs, spinners, spinner baits, spoons, and jigs. Each of these major categories can be broken down into several subcategories as well.
Soft plastic bass fishing lures
Soft plastic baits have revolutionized largemouth bass fishing. They are available in every conceivable size, shape, and color. They look very lifelike and enticing in the water. Many are even scented, adding to their effectiveness.
Plastic worms hit the market in the late 1960s, and bass fishing has never been the same. These early lures were very stiff, unlike the supple baits available today. While there are many different soft plastic styles to choose from, the simple plastic worm is still incredibly effective. They are available in a multitude of sizes, colors, and even styles.
There are a huge selection of creature baits available to anglers largemouth bass fishing. These can imitate salamanders, crayfish, and even critters that don’t exist. It really doesn’t matter if the bait resembles something natural, it is all about the undulating action and scent in the water. Most anglers opt for dark or natural colors. Black is an excellent all round color that will produce just about every situation.
Swimbaits are basically soft plastic versions of hard plugs. Most have some type of paddle or curly tail and imitate a bait fish swimming through the water. They can be rigged on a jig head, but are most often done so using a swim bait hook. These lures range in size from 3 inches up to even a foot or so. Capt. Jim likes the Bass Assassin line of baits.
Grubs and tubes
Grubs and tubes are also very effective soft plastic lures for largemouth bass fishing. These are most often effective when bass require a more subtle presentations. Mister Twister curly tail grubs hit the market in the late 70s and have been catching fish ever since. They are usually fished on a jig head and have an excellent action in the water. They can be used to imitate both bait fish and crustaceans.
The Berkeley tube jig is a tube bait. This lure works very well when largemouth bass and smallmouth bass are staged in deeper water over structure. The separated tales of the tube jig undulate very naturally in the water, attracting game fish. It is best worked slowly, right on the bottom.
5) Rigging soft plastic baits for bass
Soft plastic baits are very versatile and can be rigged and presented in a variety of manners. These include Texas rig, Carolina rig, wacky rig, swim bait hook, and drop shot rig. Each has situations where they are quite effective.
A Texas rigged soft plastic bait uses a specially designed hook. The bait is threaded on a quarter of an inch or so and the bait slides up the hook to the eye. The hook is then inserted into the body of the bait, making it weedless. Anglers usually use a sliding sinker to get the bait down in the water, though it can be used without weight as well.
The Carolina rig usually combines a Texas rigged worm with a heavy sliding sinker. It is an extremely effective presentation that is usually used in deeper water. The running line slides through the sinker and is tied to a swivel. A leader connects the swivel to the worm hook. The leader is usually around 3 feet long. This rig allows the sinker to crawl along the bottom while the worm, usually a floating worm, suspends just a bit above the bottom.
A wacky rigged worm looks almost silly. However, it is turned out to be an extremely effective and fairly easy to use bass fishing technique. The hook is inserted through the middle of the worm. Is then cast out and allowed to undulate naturally as it sinks through the water column. Most takes occur on the initial cast, though the worm can be hopped once or twice. Bass will often pick up the worm and run off with it, making it easy to detect a strike. It is often used in conjunction with a light jig head called a shaky head jig.
Swim bait hook
Soft plastic baits can be rigged on a swim bait hook as well. These are specially designed hooks that look like a worm hook but with a weight molded in the bend of it. This results in a horizontal presentation. Some type of keeper near the eye of the hook allows the bait to be inserted and then the hook is buried in the bait Texas rig style. This is an extremely effective way to cover a lot of water with a soft plastic bait.
Drop shot rig
The drop shot rig is a fairly recent technique developed by anglers fishing for finicky bass and deep, clear water. The rig consists of a special drop shot weight with a drop shot hook tide 12 inches to 18 inches above the weight. The hook is designed to stick straight out to the side. Some type of finesse bait is then knows hooked on. The rig is either cast out, but more often drop straight down, and worked with subtle movements of the rod tip. This rig keeps the bait suspended just off the bottom, in the strike zone of the largemouth bass.
6) Plugs are effective when fishing for bass
Plugs are hard bodied lures that are used to mimic bait fish or crayfish. Back in the day, they were hand carved from balsa wood. Most plugs today are made from plastic. Top water plugs float on the surface and spend all of their time there. Diving plugs float on the surface and dive down to the desired depth. This depth is determined by the size and shape of the lip on the plug. Anglers can purchase plugs that work the entire water column, from the surface down to over 20 feet deep.
Topwater plugs float on the surface the entire presentation. Some have a concave front that puts out a nice “pop” when twitched sharply. Others have propellers, either on the front or rear, which puts out a commotion. Some have neither of these and are just conical shaped, with the angler creating the action in the lure. These are called “walk the dog” baits. Color matters less for topwater plugs than it does for many other lures. Capt. Jim’s favorite popper is the venerable Arbogast Hula Popper.
Capt. Jim’s favorite propeller bait is the Rapala Skitter prop.
Capt. Jim’s favorite walk the dog bait is the Heddon Zara Spook.
Honorable mention goes to a new top water lure that has been productive the last few years. It is called the Whopper Plopper and is sort of a propeller bait, with a tail that puts out a lot of commotion when retrieved.
There is a family of long, slender plugs that anglers call “jerkbaits”. Depending on the model purchased and the lip that it has, these jerk baits can work the water column from a few feet down as deep as 15 or even 20 feet. They have a very erratic action in the water. The bait is worked quite aggressively, with the angler using hard twitches followed by a pause. This causes the bait to jerked sharply and then hover there suspended. Capt. Jim’s favorite jerk bait is the Rapala X-Rap Extreme Action Slashbait. White is an excellent all round color
Crankbaits are generally a bit rounder, shaped more like a shad or a bluegill. Like jerk baits, they are available and models that work from just a foot or two below the surface down to 20 feet or so. They are extremely effective in the summer when bass relate to schools of herring and shad. For that reason, lighter colors are generally the most productive. Crank baits can also be used to imitate crayfish. In those situations, darker colors work best. Capt. Jim’s favorite crankbaits are the Strike King KVD baits.
7) Spinnerbaits are excellent bass fishing lures
Spinnerbaits are extremely effective and versatile largemouth bass fishing lures. They are also among the easiest for novice anglers to learn to use as they have a ton of built in action. A spinner bait is basically a wire frame it looks a bit like a safety pin. At the top of this is a blade or blades and on the bottom is some type of jig or hook. The line tie is in the center.
Due to the design, spinner baits are quite weedless. They tend to bounce over and around and through logs and vegetation. Spinnerbaits are extremely effective when used in shallow water, however they can be slow down and “slow rolled “ in deeper water as well. While spinner baits really do not look like anything in the water, they put out flash, vibration, and color. These are all things that imitate wounded prey.
Spinnerbaits are available and many different colors and sizes. A tandem blade spinner bait in the 3/8 ounce or 1/2 ounce size in chartreuse and white is an excellent all round lure. Anglers can even add their favorite soft plastic trailer to add more bulk to the lure. Capt. Jim’s favorite is the Terminator spinner bait. Buzz baits are a variation of a spinner bait with the exception that it spends the entire time on the surface. The shape of the blade is a bit different, it is more like a propeller. The angler begins to retrieve as soon as the lure lands in the bait puts out a rhythmic gurgle as it moves across the surface of the water. It works best in shallow water and is a very exciting way to fish as strikes can be explosive!
8) Spoons still catch bass
Spoons are very simple artificial lures that have been around a long time. They basically consist of a curved piece of metal, usually in a chrome or gold finish, along with a hook at the rear. Spoons are heavy and can be cast a long distance, making them an excellent bait for searching for fish. They can also be used in a vertical presentation when largemouth bass are schooled up over deep water structure. Capt. Jim’s favorite casting spoon is the Johnson Silver Minnow spoon.
Perhaps the most effective spoon used when largemouth bass fishing is the weedless spoon. This is a spoon that rides with the hook up and usually has a weed guard, resulting in a bait that will not hang up very easily in the weeds. It works very well when fished through and around lily pad beds as well as other aquatic vegetation. Anglers will often add a soft plastic trailer onto the hook to add bulk. The number one weedless spoon by far is the Johnson Silver Minnow in the 3/4 ounce size in the gold finish.
9) Jigs work very well in cooler weather and heavy cover
Jigs are most likely the first fishing lure created by man. A jig is basically a hook with a weight molded in near the eye. This weight gives the jig both casting distance and gives the lure its distinctive action. Some type of dressing or body is then added to the hook to provide bulk, color, and action. Anglers can use a bare jig head and add his or her favorite soft plastic trailer. This can be a swim bait, curly tail grub, or even a plastic worm. The jig provides a handy and clever device which combines the hook and the weight all in one tidy unit. These work very well in open water.
Modern largemouth bass fishing jigs have the molded jig head, a stout hook, and usually a rubber body skirt. This is an extremely effective lure for flipping around heavy cover. Anglers often attach their favorite soft plastic creature bait to add more bulk and vibration to the lure. Capt. Jim’s favorite largemouth bass fishing jig is the Booyah jig.
While most anglers fish for largemouth bass using lures, live bait is certainly productive as well. Nightcrawlers and minnows or shiners are the two most popular live baits. In fact, in Florida, most trophy bass are landed by anglers using live a wild shiners. It is just impossible to duplicate the action and scent of a frightened shiner when a largemouth bass approaches it.
Shiners and live minnows are effective largemouth bass baits throughout the country. They are readily available at most serious bait and tackle shops. In shallow water they are fished under a float while in deeper water they are used in conjunction with a drop shot or other bottom fishing rig. In states where it is legal, small bluegill and panfish can be fantastic live baits for largemouth bass. However, be sure to check local regulations.
Nightcrawlers are another very effective live bait for largemouth bass and just about every other freshwater species. In fact, if there is one downside to using nightcrawlers, it is at other fish will interrupt the bass fishing. For many anglers, this is a welcome distraction! Nightcrawlers work very well when fished simply on a hook and allowed to undulate in the water. In deeper water, they can be used with a drop shot rig or Carolina rig.
Crayfish are an extremely effective live bait for largemouth bass and smallmouth bass. However, they can be a bit more complicated to use. Very few bait shops sell crayfish and once purchased or caught, they are bit more difficult to use. However, some anglers consider them to be worth the trouble.