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The 6 Best Bass Fishing Techniques

The 6 Best Bass Fishing Techniques

One of the reasons bass are North America’s most popular gamefish is that they’re easier to catch than most other species, primarily because they are so abundant. But, just because these fish can be found virtually everywhere doesn’t always mean you’’ll be catching a whole bunch on your fishing trip. It’’s more than just throwing your line out there and hoping there’’s a hungry bass that takes it; catching a lot of lunkers comes down to proper technique. Below are critical techniques you should master to maximize your performance as a bass angler.

Pitching/Flipping

When bass are not all that active and are hiding in thick cover, it’’s as if you have to go into stealth mode to catch those shy lunkers. The best methods for getting to thick, shallow water without spooking fish too much are pitching and flipping. They are similar looking techniques, but some occasions require one over the other, especially as it pertains to distance. The key to successful pitching/flipping is practice, a long rod (6.5’-7.5’), and the right soft bait.

Pitching

Pitching is the easier of the two, but is not as precise as flipping. Let out enough line so it’s about even with the reel, and keep your reel open. Lower the rod tip towards the water and with your free hand, grab hold of the lure (worm and tube jigs work best) and pull on the line to add tension. In one smooth motion let go of the lure while swinging your rod tip up. This combination should slingshot the bait towards your target. Be sure to close the reel as soon as the bait lands because bass often strike quickly.

Flipping

Flipping takes more practice, but once you get a good feel for it, you can optimize your presentation and hit your target location more precisely than pitching. Begin by letting out somewhere between 8-15 feet of line and then close your reel. Grab the line between the reel and first rod guide, and then extend your arm to the side as you pull on the line. Raise the rod and the bait will now swing towards you. Using a pendulum motion swing the bait to your desired location while feeding the line through your hand. Tighten up the remaining slack and get ready for a strike. It looks a little awkward, but it’’s a great way to get a drop on some shy bass.
Topwater
For many anglers there’’s nothing more exciting than catching a bass with a surface lure. The sound of the lure, the sight of an approaching fish, and the exhilaration of seeing that big splash when a largemouth finally strikes can be enough to get anyone’s heart racing. Unlike pitching or flipping, topwater lures are meant for hungry, active fish. It’’s a true “lure,” designed to attract attention with noise and dramatic movements. There are several kinds of surface lures, like poppers, jitterbugs, and frogs. Some topwater lures are easy and work best with a slow, steady retrieve, like a jitterbug. Others take some more technique. The aptly named ‘popper’ requires an angler to literally pop the lure as it is retrieved, pausing every few seconds and allowing it to go steady, imitating a wounded fish. The sporadic stopping and moving can drive bass crazy. Another popular retrieving method is called ‘walk the dog,’ commonly used for soft surface frog baits. Walking the dog is where you quickly twitch the rod tip up and down for the duration of the slow retrieve.
Winning Techniques: Topwater tips with hardbaits here.

Crankbaits

A crankbait is all about reflex for a bass. They won’t want to chase it down the same way they would for a surface lure, but even so, noise and presentation is still key to using a crankbait right. Crankbaits are a favorite for many tournament anglers because they cover a lot of water, both horizontally and vertically at a variety of depths. They work best around solid objects, like rocks, logs, and stumps. It is possible to use a crankbait along the side of a weedbed, but generally drop-offs and rocky shoals with plenty of solid cover works best. The more you get to know the feel of the way your crankbait swims through the water and bumps into objects the better you will be at catching bass. Think of crankbaits as a teasing lure. Grab the fish’s attention by reeling quickly, then stopping and allowing the crankbait to slowly rise. Then reel up again and make another stop. This can drive bass crazy. When using a deep diver, you can try the ‘bumping the stump’ technique to tease fish into biting. As you reel in and feel your crankbait strike bottom or a rock, stop and let the lure float a little bit. All that noise and movement will bring bass in and wanting to feast on what they think is easy prey.
Must Watch: Check out Karl Kolonka fishing crankbaots on Extreme Angler TV here.

Spinner Bait

Spinner baits are a little trickier than crankbaits because it can be harder to successfully hook a fish given the design of the lure. However, spinner baits are a great year-round lure that can produce results on any given day on any given lake. Retrieval should range from slow to medium speed, and like the crankbait, works best around some solid structure. There are several different ways to use this versatile lure. One method is to allow the spinner bait to fall to the bottom near a drop off. As it hits bottom, reel up the slack, then allow it to fall to the bottom again. Repeat. For the most part; however, you’’ll be reeling in continuously at different paces. The slower you reel in, the deeper the bait tends to swim through the water. When you reel in at a faster rate, try to not to breach the surface. Hanging just below will create a wake that some fish will find irresistible.
Jerkbait
Possibly the simplest technique for bass fishing and certainly the easiest to pick up is jerkbait fishing. The hard part is knowing what jerkbait to use and when to use it. The lures come in many shapes and sizes that swim at varying depths, but no matter how different they may be, the goal remains constant; imitating a wounded fish. As the name implies, jerking the rod tip with a little twitch as you reel in gives the impression that your jerkbait isn’t swimming at full health. Bass love an easy meal, and that’s what you’’re tying to mimic. While you may find success near weeds or in murky water with crank and spinner baits, jerkbaits don’’t have the same versatility. They are best reserved for clear waters as sight is the most important factor for success with this technique.
Dropshotting
This finesse form of fishing takes a little more effort to rig up than the others, but it’’s a crucial technique nonetheless and should be a part of any serious bass angler’s repertoire. If you’’ve fished with a plastic worm, then you can adapt quite quickly to dropshotting. The major difference is that the weight is below the worm– as you reel up the worm and work its magic, the sinker bounces along bottom, leaving your worm several inches up, free for the taking. The length between the worm and sinker can range anywhere from a few inches up to a foot-and-a-half, it all depends on how muddy the lake floor is and how high you want the bait suspended from bottom. Unlike the other techniques mentioned here, you can drop shot without having to retrieve. You can even just let it go from the side of the boat. The key is moving your rod tip in a way to make your bait dance.
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The Right Fishing Gear

The Right Tools

The Right Fishing Gear

Over the past few years I’ve been asked the same old question over and over “James, why do you need so many fishing rods; you can only use one at a time?

I’ve had the same Ugly Stick since I was twelve and I’ve never needed any other rod!”. Each time I’m asked a question like this I’m forced to reach deep down into my bag of clichés and pull out gems such as, “You don’t play a round of golf with just a putter” or “You can’t build a house with just a hammer”. You need the right tool for a specific job or in this case the right rod for the situation or technique.

I’m not saying you need to rush out and buy twenty new rods to catch bass. Nor is there a mathematical equation that’ll give you the exact correct answer to how many rods you need to have on the deck of your boat to catch bass. Ask any six dedicated anglers and you’ll get six slightly different answers, it’s all about comfort and how you intend to fish them.

Here’s three versatile rods that can be used to apply a variety of techniques that every bass angler should own whether you’re just starting out in the sport or you’re a seasoned veteran competing in tournaments!

1. 6’10” Medium/Light power with an Extra Fast action spinning rod… With this rod you’ll be able to apply a lot of “Finesse” techniques with lighter fluorocarbon or braided lines. This rod will serve well for Drop Shotting, Shakey Head, Wacky rigged stickbaits, or 3.5-4” finesse swimbaits. You’ll use this rod to really pick apart an area. You can drop a bait right on top of them vertically with drop shot or slowly move a shakey head or wacky rigged stick bait over the area.

6’10” Medium power with an Extra Fast action casting rod…
With this rod you’ll be able to throw a variety of baits including Top Water (poppers, walkers, props… etc.), Jerkbaits and Tube style baits. This rod will assist in finding fish; you can cover a lot of water quickly with a Top Water bait and look for really aggressive fish. Added bonus with Top Water is even if you don’t get a clean hook up, you’ll get an opportunity to get a quick look at the size of the fish. Jerkbaits are an absolute must when you’re searching for fish they allow you to cover a lot of water to find active bass. Try varying your speeds and pauses until you find the correct combination. Tubes are a must in anyones repetoir. You can cover a lot of water while having a bottom presence imitating a crayfish. If you’re not comfortable with casting gear you can use the same specs with a spinning rod.

2. 7’2” Medium/Heavy power with a Moderate action casting rod… With this rod you’ll be able to throw a heavier line, I use 15-17bs fluorocarbon. This rod will work for reaction baits such as Spinnerbaits which offer a lot of flash in clearer water situations, or a Chatterbait which will give you a lot of vibration in more of a stained water scenario. Both are great for moving quickly to find active biting bass. This rod will also work well for dragging jigs over an area or pitching at docks, laydowns and other specific cover.

With these three rods you’ll be set up to target fish in different patterns, weather condition and seasons. When you do decide to add a rod to your repertoire; find one that offers the most value for as much as you’re able to spend. Look for rods that come with warranties included and are made with high end components such as guides and reel seats.

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Texas Rig Instructions

Texas Rig Instructions

The “Texas Rig” refers to a way of riging your bait. It is one of the most common rigs used while fishing with soft plastics. One of the reasons it’s so popular is because it’s almost completely weedless. This rig is great for fishing in and around weeds and heavy cover.

What you need

  1. Worm hook
  2. Plastic Worm
  3. Bullet Weight

How To rig it

Texas Rig Instructions

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Lake Ozark Fishing Report

On Saturday a friend and I began fishing near the dam at daylight.  The water was like glass and his boat glided across the lake.  What a beautiful way to start the day.

Lake conditions : 
Air temp was 55-75
Water temp 62-66
Slight breeze in the morning with increased wind in the afternoon.

Lures: (lures listed based on effectiveness. * indicates fish caught)

*brush hog – darker colors
*money minnow 6″
*sinko
*fluke – white
*jig – PBJ color
*spinner bait -chartreuse
shallow crank – chartreuse
medium depth crank bait – crawdad
buzz bait – chartreuse

We began the day working as a team. We both tried different lures until we figured out the pattern.  Our first fish was caught on a baby brush hog in 4-8 feet of water.  We immediately began to work the bottom with brush hogs and jigs.   Our best fish were caught while sitting in 15-20 feet while casting to the bank.  Most of the fish were caught at a depth of 4-10 feet with chunk rock on the bank.  We had very few fish in areas with pea gravel or sand.   By 830 we had six keepers ranging from 3.5 to 4.5 lbs.
By 930 the large fish simply quit.  I am not sure why they decided to shut down, but several conditions changed.  The temp began to rise, the wind picked up, then it clouded over.
It was time to try different tactics.  We tried deeper water, spinners, crankbaits, and several others, but had no luck.  We did find some large females on beds, but they refused to bite and were difficult to locate.
 
Fishing was slow the rest of the day and we called it quits when the storm rolled in around 2pm.
Overall – brush hogs were a hit in 4-10 ft on chunk rock banks.

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Bass Fishing Bama Rigs

Can’t find an Alabama Rig?

Castable Umbrella Rigs like The Alabama Rig are pretty hot ticket in bass fishing right now. But there are some options. Here are some options on where to buy Alabama style rigs:

You can get something similar from Sworming Hornet Lures called “The Swarm” from BTD or LBF.



Also, I have seen some nice baits from Chubby Chasers on BassTackleDepot, they have a couple versions, the School Girl & Calabama Rig for those states with 3 hooks limits for fishing.

Also, check out the bargain from D&L Tackle “The School” which features both a 3 & 5 wire versions for less then $20, so if you live in a stricter state, save a buck & buy the 3 wire!
D&L Tackle The School Umbrella Rig Color Selections
The Jerry Rago Bait Ball is a little more unique, with the larger modled head, gives the appearance of 6 baits instead of just 5, little different wire configuration as well, Rago usually does things very well.

The Havoc Lures A-Rig kind of seems like a bit of an also ran, but its a few bucks less then some of these.

Picasso Lures has both the School-E-Rig and the Elementary School-E-Rig which is more stripped down version

The Viking Wolf Pack rig is another more economical option with a pretty cool sounding name.

Also the Venom Lures Pay-Me Rig has a nice look to it and is lead free!

So what is your favorite Bama Rig?