largemouth eating a plastic worm

Bass Fishing for Beginners | A Complete Guide to Catch Your First Bass

Cesar Soto ·

Looking to catch your first bass? Our bass fishing for beginners guide will give you EVERYTHING you need to catch your first bass. 

In the next ten minutes you’ll learn:

    • The three key instincts for bass (and how to exploit them to your advantage)
    • The exact fishing rod and reel combination you need
    • The ideal terminal tackle for beginners
    • The simplest setup you can build upon

    Let’s get started, shall we?

    What Attracts Largemouth Bass?

    To know what attracts a bass we need to know a little bit more about what drives them.

    If we take a look at basses, we can see their shape and know that their eyes are on their sides. A pretty obvious point, but this gives us a clue into how much they can see. Essentially, bass can see almost everywhere. 

    The lateral line that goes down their side acts as an antenna. They know the water temperature, can predict the weather better than a weatherman and can sense a school of fish on the other side of the pond.

    These factors make a bass a formidable foe.

    Which begs the question, how can we outsmart a bass?

    What we’re going to do is take advantage of their instincts.

    Basses are driven by three key instincts that you can use to your advantage. These instincts can change depending on the year, but knowing them can be the key to quickly catching your first bass.

    Bass Instinct #1: Survival

    Bass are driven by survival. And it drives them to hide in brush piles or logs. They want to hide in order to continue to survive larger predators - and that’s where we’ll throw our first casts.

    We’re more likely to encounter bass in these hiding spots. Go there first if you see any.

    Bass Instinct #2: Ambush Predator

    As bass hide, they also seek to ambush unsuspecting prey. Bass fight for survival but wait for their prey at the same time, which makes them lazy predators.

    Take advantage of this and try to lure out the bass in hiding. They’ll ambush your worm or jig head and then it’s time for you to fish on.

    Bass Instinct #3: Reproduce

    Ah, yes, reproduction. 

    For one month out of the year, bass fish are more territorial than they normally are. They’ll pounce on anything that gets close. Use this to your advantage.

    What months do bass fish start reproducing?

    • January-February, in the southern parts of the U.S.
    • May-June, in the northern parts of the U.S., when water temperatures reach around 59 degrees Fahrenheit

    Here’s the Best Bass Fishing Rod and Reel Combination

    Now, let’s talk about your rod and reel combo.

    Put simply, all you need are these items:

    • A 6-foot medium-heavy rod
    • An open-face spinning reel 
    • An 8-pound clear monofilament line

    For your 6-foot medium-heavy rod

    A 6-foot medium-heavy rod will do the job 99% of the time, especially if you’re getting started on small ponds or lakes. 

    Basically, all that medium-heavy means is that the rod can handle a line over 4lb test and lures between 3/16-1 1/2 ounces. This means your rod will be able to handle the Texas Rig fairly easily. We’ll talk about the Texas Rig shortly.

    For Your Open Face Spinning Reel

    You’ll want a size 3000 or 4000 on your open-face spinning reel. You might see some reels that come in size 30 or 40, which are the exact same thing. So pay attention to the first two numbers and you’ll be fine.

    What do those numbers mean though? They correspond with the type of fishing you’ll be doing, and anything with a size 3000 to 4000 will let you catch medium to large bass, with the size 4000 letting you catch larger bass. 

    As for the pricing, stick to your budget but allow $20 to $50. My advice? Get the $50 reel if it makes sense for your budget.

    For your 8-pound monofilament line

    An 8-pound monofilament line will let you catch most bass without breaking. 

    The line test on an 8-pound line can hold an 8-pound bass without snapping, which is perfect for beginners. 

    What Tackle Do I Need To Buy For Bass Fishing?

    The tackle you need to buy to catch your first bass include:

    • Bullet weights
    • Offset hooks
    • Plastic lures, like worms, shaky heads, and spinnerbaits. 

    These three items will let you use the Texas rig, and as a beginner, that’s all you need. 

    The Perfect Bullet Weights

    Get a 1/4 ounce and 1/8 ounce bullet weight, which gives you some variety for how deep your lure will go.

    Bullet weights are what's used to get your bait down to where the bass is. Bass like to hang out in deeper areas of water, so if you can't get the lure down there, then you'll have a hard time catching them.

    Get These Bass Fishing Offset hooks

    Get yourself a 4/0 and 3/0 offset shank hook. These are the perfect starter hooks.

    Offset shank hooks are useful because they allow you to make a cast that lets your worm sink down, before you pull up on it with your line, causing a big disturbance that attracts bass.  

    The offset hook also allows you to use the whole worm and eliminate pinching it off at the head. This keeps more juices in the worm, as opposed to pinching it off that may cause your cast or presentation to be jiggy or jerky due to less juice. 

    For Your Fishing Lures

    Go with shaky heads and trick worms since they are the best plastic lures for beginners.

    Shaky heads are great for giving a wiggle action to your presentation. The shakey head gives it an erratic motion, while the color gives it an interesting appearance.

    Trick worms come in various colors that will help attract fish to bite. Get the black and green pumpkin worms. Both of these will give you a better chance at catching more bass than if you use regular plastic worms.  

    If all else fails, get yourself small spinnerbaits. I go with Strike King for my spinnerbaits, and the ones I choose are the:

    • Strike King Mini King
    • Strike King Premier Pro Model
    • Strike King Red Eye Special

    Get yourself the white-colored ones along with white and chartreuse. The vibrations and colors on spinnerbaits are usually enough to land you a catch when nothing else works.

    Bass Fishing Setup

    Ok, so now you have your rod, reel, line, and terminal tackle ready. Start off with a Texas rig.

    In this part, it’s easier for you to see how to set it up, so here’s a great video showing you how to do that:

    Bass Fishing - How to fish the Texas Rig

    Fishing to Catch Bass in a Pond

    The first important tip I want to mention is to not walk up directly to the bank. Pause several feet away from the bank before you make your cast.

    This way you won't scare the fish if they're out on the edges of the bank (which is highly likely). One mistake I made in the past is to approach the bank and within seconds fish swam away because they sensed my footsteps!

    Another mistake many people make is to also throw their tackle down the middle of the pond. It's highly unlikely that bass are hiding there unless there's a brush pile.

    Fish Along the Bank for the Best Results

    What you'll want to do is fish along the bank and look for shallow grass and trees where bass would hide to either ambush prey or avoid predators. Remember, it's all about knowing the instincts of a bass fish and what they like to do.

    Start off with your plastic worms to see if that's what bass are craving. If the fish aren't biting, move onto your shaky heads and spinner baits. Usually, the vibrations on these baits are enough to get a bass' attention. 

    Lastly, move along the edge of the lake and keep on fishing until you land a bite. If you don't catch anything, don't worry - it happens to everyone! All that's required for you to catch your first bass is consistency and patience.

    Patience and Perseverance is Key in Bass Fishing as a Beginner

    Keep going back out to the water and it's highly likely you'll catch something. I got lucky on my first cast and landed a sweet bluegill immediately! I got lucky once again on my second cast and landed a small largemouth.

    However, there have been many times since that I've gone fishing and haven't landed a single bass! That doesn't stop me from going back out and having fun fishing though because that tug is my drug. So remember, patience and consistency in your fishing journey.

    Closing Thoughts

    You now know what kind of rod and reel to use when bass fishing, as well as the ideal terminal tackle for beginners. We mentioned how you can use the 3 instincts that bass has to your advantage while out on the water. 

    And, that Texas rigging is one way to get started with catching more fish; it's also very easy if you're just starting out. 

    All that’s left for you to figure out is where you want to start fishing for your first bass.

    Use these bass fishing for beginners techniques and you will catch your first bass!

    We’re in the DFW area in Texas so we’ve explored many ponds and rivers. But what about you?

    Let us know in the comments where you are and where you plan on going fishing.

    Happy fishing!

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