What and When to Throw: The Basics of Bass Fishing

Fishing lures, rods, reels, line

It’s really no secret that bass fishing has become one of America’s favorite past times. Starting from an early age, kids begin bass fishing and love it so much many of them continue throughout their lives. Not only is it one of the most recreational fishes to catch, it has also become a very lucrative professional sport on the water.

Oh, the world of lures for bass

If you’re a bass angler, then you’ve probably got a variety of lures in your tackle box. In fact, you may have a secret affection for collecting as many bass lures as possible. After all, there are so many varieties to choose from.

Fishing lures, rods, reels, line

If that sounds like you, then sorting and sifting through them to use the right lure at the right time may pose a challenge if you’re not sure what you’re doing. But don’t fret. There’s a rhyme and reason for each lure and, over time, you’ll catch on.

Bass are plentiful

In North America, bass fishing is quite popular because there’s a ton of bass swimming in the waters. People also like bass fishing because they’re easier to catch than other fish species. I didn’t say it was a piece of cake, though–you can’t just toss any old lure out there and think that you’re going to get those trophy bass to bite.

No, it takes some skill and knowledge of what kinds of lures and fishing gear to use. You want a huge lunker? Get into the mind of one and use the right gear, and you’ll have one.

There’s more to catching bass than meets the eye

For decades, the best lures for catching trophy bass have been created by fishermen. With thousands of combined years on the water, anglers have broken down the basics of catching lunker bass.

However, as with most of life, there’s more to bass fishing than meets the eye. There are hundreds of lures, tons of fishing poles, fishing line, colors of bait and so on, and they all vary depending on numerous conditions. It can certainly become confusing as to what to use and when to use it when it comes to catching bass.

Fortunately, this short guide will help you, whether you’re the greenest or the most experienced angler. We’ll cover a bit about fishing poles, fishing lines, and bait, so you can get out there and go after those bass.

Fishing poles

As a kid, I remember the ol’ cane pole with a string and a piece of corn. I’d sit on the dock for many hours plopping that pole down in the lake, waiting with an eager expectation for something–anything–to gobble up that corn.

Boy fishing with cane pole
Image is in public domain, not copyrighted, no rights reserved.

While I don’t remember catching bass with that old cane pole, I do remember catching some little fish. It makes my heart happy to remember back to the good ol’ days, where Mom would pack my bologna sandwich and Kool-Aid. Come noon time, I’d grab that sandwich with my fish-smelling hands and not have one care in the world.

When it comes to fishing poles, we’ve come a long way from that cane pole, huh? Today, the options are limitless when deciding what size, kind, weight, and even what color pole to use. For bass fishing, here are some great options regarding fishing poles:

  • Light

A lightweight pole is used primarily when fishing for panfish, but can be used for certain applications when bass fishing. A lightweight pole has the advantage of being able to detect those nibbles and smallest bites. One downside to a lightweight pole is that you may not have the backbone required to reel in a fish that has some weight to it. Still, it comes with merit and I recommend having at least one lightweight pole when fishing. If you’ve got children with you, light poles work well for them.

  • Medium

A medium-weight pole is the most commonly used pole when catching bass. It has the strength needed to pull almost any size fish from cover, yet it has the ability to detect the most frugal bites. When choosing a fishing pole for bass, I recommend having a few medium-weight poles at your disposal.

  • Heavy

A heavy-weight pole is the same as a lightweight pole, just on the other end of the spectrum. A heavy pole is great for pulling big fish out of thick cover. A negative to using a heavy pole is that you may miss a subtle bite that could be the fish of a lifetime. I recommend having at least one heavy-weight pole when fishing.

Fishing Line

Fishing line is the most important item when landing a bass. Choosing the right line is important and can mean the difference between a trophy bass or the one that got away. Here are some things you should consider when it comes to fishing lines for bass:

  • Monofilament

This is the most commonly used fishing line and has the best success rate. Mono line has stretch and helps when the fish is fighting back. The ability to stretch helps to keep the line from breaking.

  • Braid

Braid is possibly the strongest line that can be used when fishing for bass. It does have a downfall, though: it does not allow for line stretch and, thus, can lead to the line snapping.

When choosing a line, be sure to know the area you are fishing and the structure of the body of water. Mono is used for most applications and can be the best line for any given day. Braid–though not ideal for normal fishing styles–is great for heavy cover and can be used to pull a bass from thick vegetation.


The selection of bait on the market is unbelievable and can be used to cover every inch of water. Choosing the right bait is key to catching bass.

  • Crankbait

Crankbait is very versatile. You can use them in all types of cover–like rocky bottoms, small amounts of vegetation, shallow flats, and in the bush. Look for glowing eyes on crankbait, as bass tend to spot the eyes quickly and may even narrow in on them when striking.

Ever hear of Kevin Vandam? He’s a professional fisherman, and he admits that crankbait is what he tends to rely on most of the time. A popular crankbait is the Square Bill Crankbait.

  • Rubber worms

Bass tend to love rubber worms because the worms come across as live bait. Their size and design can vary greatly. The more you learn about the conditions you’re fishing in, the better you’ll be at choosing the type of rubber worm you need. A few common rubber worms include the Texas rig, Carolina rig, and Wacky rig.

When fishing with rubber worms, you’ll have to be patient reeling in, as the cast is retrieved slower than other lures. Also, keep your line tight, as this will help you feel even the slightest nibble, giving you the opportunity to pull a hard hookset to catch that bass.

  • Topwater

Topwater baits include frogs, buzzbaits, and walking sticks. These can be the most fun when catching bass. The explosion from the bass toward these lures is incredible and is the rush anglers are looking for. Take a look at the Pop-R made by Rebel–it’s top notch!

  • Wakebaits

Similar to topwater, wakebaits generally stay within six inches of the surface of the water.

  • Shallow divers

Shallow baits are ideal for fishing in shallow depths, because they stay between one- and three feet under the surface of the water.

  • Medium divers

Medium baits sink between three- and ten feet and are used to fish the transition from shallow water to deep. Ledges are known for holding bass, and using a bait that targets these areas will greatly increase your chances for success.

  • Deep divers

Deep-diving baits can reach depths up to thirty feet and are used to hit bass that are hiding deep in open water. Bass tend to go deeper when the weather is hot, so being able to reach the proper depth is key.

  • Jigs

Jigs are a very versatile bait and can be used in shallow and deep water. Most are bottom baits and can be dragged along the water’s floor. Granted, they’re not the easiest lures to use, and beginners may want to shy away from them. However, they’ve been used by both experienced and beginning anglers to catch some very big fish.

You want to go after the largest bass? Then learn how to fish with jigs.

  • Spinnerbaits

Spinnerbaits are probably the most common bait and can be used for any manner of fishing. The reason? Bass are simply attracted to them nicely, and they can cover a ton of water. If fished fast, they can be surface baits. If fished slowly, they can reach depths that may be holding fish.

Many say that spinnerbaits are so effective because the bass love to see that flash from the blade while the lure is in movement. It intrigues and interests them, and they go for it. Common spinnerbaits include the Colorado blade, the Indiana blade, and the Willow blade.

  • Soft plastics

Soft plastic baits are perhaps the best overall bait to use when catching bass. The selection of soft plastics is diverse, so you can base your choice of which to use on what prey are in your area. They can be fished at any speed or depth.

Being able to select the right bait is key to catching bass. By doing research on what the bass eat in your area, you can determine the right bait to use. One day they may be eating worms, and the next day they may be eating shad. By having a variety of baits on hand, you can ensure that you will have the right bait when the time comes.


Weather also plays a huge role in catching bass. Storms bring in pressure systems and can affect the way the fish bite. Where you live in the world will impact how the weather will affect the fish. If it rains a lot in your location, then the fish may still bite in the rain. If it rarely rains where you live, the fish may not bite when it’s raining.

In the cold months, use slow-moving baits and presentation. When the water temperatures get cold, bass slow down. They don’t want to expend much energy out there in that frigid water, so you want your lure to be super-close to their strike zone.


Bass fishing will forever be a favorite pastime for young and old alike. Whether you’re a beginner or seasoned angler, trying out various lures will serve you well. Also, continuing to learn as you go will help you become a better angler.

When trying to catch bass, consider the depth the fish are swimming, the bait they’re eating, and use of the right equipment. Doing research and talking with other anglers can also help you decide what to throw, when to throw it, and the basics of bass fishing.

All of this will help you have a successful fishing day. However, even if you don’t catch the trophy bass your heart is set on, enjoy the peace and serenity that can come from just being out on the water in the beauty of nature. If you ask me, catching fish is simply icing on that already delicious cake.

Enjoy your fish time!