Five Bass Fishing Techniques for Beginners

These five bass fishing techniques will help any angler that's new to bass fishing boost their catch rate.

This summer, while fishing with a group of high school anglers, it hit me that sometimes bass fishing can get overcomplicated. There are more rods and reels on the market than ever before, so many different styles of line, and seemingly infinite baits to choose from. I started thinking back to when I was first introduced to the sport, the baits I used, and how simple the selection of gear was. Sure, there were new tactics and baits, but not nearly what’s available now. These five bass fishing techniques will allow any beginning bass angler to catch fish without overthinking and without the need for too much gear.

(Note: On The Water is reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission.)

Basic Bass Fishing Techniques

Soft Stickbait

Probably the simplest bait for beginners to use is a soft stickbait. It catches fish in almost any situation and can be fished a number of ways from shore or from a boat. The original Yamamoto Senko started the craze, and now almost every lure manufacture sells their own version.

The most common way to fish a soft stickbait is weightless (either wacky or weedless) and Texas-rigged, with or without a worm weight. For new anglers, it is best to keep it simple. Around hard cover or weed edges, the wacky rig setup is the most tantalizing way to use a stickbait due to its action, or lack thereof. Similarly, when fished around vegetation, a Texas-rigged bait can be fished weightless or with a bullet weight for a faster fall. 

Soft stickbaits can be rigged in a variety of ways. Shown here is a Texas-rigged Senko (top) and a wacky-rigged Senko.

A stickbait can be easily skipped around docks or fallen trees, and it is especially simple to use. It sinks slowly through the water column, with most of the strikes coming on the initial fall. Another technique is to cast the bait, slowly lift the rod tip to bring the lure a few feet off the bottom, and then let it fall back down. 

Gear

For a wacky rig setup, I prefer a medium or medium-heavy action spinning rod. Around open water or sparse cover, a medium-action rod works well; the medium-heavy is better for grass or thick cover. A spinning reel rigged with either braided line and a leader (or straight fluorocarbon line) will do the trick. 

My favorite stickbaits include the Berkley PowerBait MaxScent The General and the original Yamamoto Senko. You cannot go wrong with any of these. 

Berkley PowerBait MaxScent The General

For wacky rigs, a Mustad octopus hook in size 1/0 will ensure that fish are hooked in the top of the mouth and can be safely released. For Texas rigs, with or without a bullet weight, I prefer a Mustad Ultra Lock Soft Plastic hook in a size 3/0.  The bullet weight helps get a Texas rig down though cover while increasing castability. Try a tungsten or steel weight between 1/16 ounce and ¼ ounce. I always start with the lighter size and increase as needed. 


Ned Rig

A Ned rig has quietly become one of the most popular baits in bass fishing and catches fish in any situation, similar to an old-school tube bait. The most successful technique is often casting and dragging it back on a slow retrieve.

A Ned rig is supposed to be simple, and there are hundreds of brands to choose from, for both the Ned soft plastic as well as the jighead. The setup is best fished on light tackle and looks very natural to the bass. When thinking about size, start lighter and change to a heavier jighead as needed.

Gear

For a Net rig, I prefer a medium-action spinning rod with fast or extra-fast action. The spinning reel should be sized to hold either light braid and leader or straight fluorocarbon. For the baits, you can cut 2 to 4 inches off your soft stickbait or choose from several brands on the market. 

Z-Man Shroomz Jig Ned Rig
Ned Rig: Z-Man Finesse TRD on a Z-Man ShroomZ Jig

My favorite Ned rig soft plastic is the Z-Man Finesse TRD paired with a Z-Man Finesse ShroomZ head. This is easily the most durable bait on the market and is great for both beginners and experienced anglers. Another solid option is the Berkley PowerBait MaxScent Lil’ Trooper paired with a Berkley Fusion19 Half Head jighead. This is a great choice when conditions are less than ideal or when fishing pressure is high. 


Soft-Plastic Swimbait

Another bait well suited for beginning anglers is a soft-plastic swimbait. Due to its tantalizing action and versatility, it is a staple in most anglers’ tackle boxes. A swimbait can be cast and retrieved at different speeds in a variety of depths, either from a boat or the shore. 

Commonly rigged on a simple jighead and fished on spinning gear, a soft paddle-tail swimbait can also be used with a weighted EWG hook, making for a weedless presentation. This setup is easier to fish around heavier cover because the larger hook is skin-hooked into the swimbait, making it weedless, but it requires heavier tackle to drive the hook home on the hookset.

A soft-plastic swimbait like a Keitech Swing Impact on a jighead can be cast and retrieved at different speeds in a variety of depths.

Likewise, the simple jighead has a smaller-diameter, exposed hook and is perfect on spinning tackle. In both shallow and deep water, when the bass are keying on shad or minnows, the swimbait matches the hatch while covering water.

Gear

I prefer a medium-action rod for light wire jigheads and a medium-heavy one for bigger baits with heavier wire hooks. For a beginner, experiment with a 3- or 4-inch Keitech Swing Impact paddletail. I rig it on a VMC Hybrid Swimbait Jighead to increase the use life of each bait. The screw lock head helps keep the bait from tearing, meaning you can catch more fish per bait.

VMC Hybrid Swimbait Jighead

Alternatively, for a slightly bigger bait profile, use a 4.3-inch Berkley PowerBait Power Swimmer rigged with a Berkley Fusion19 Swimbait Jighead on a medium-heavy-action spinning or casting rod.


Spinnerbait/Bladed Jig

Both a spinnerbait and bladed jig are musts for serious bass anglers, but there is no reason a beginner can’t have the same success. Although casting gear is typical, there are plenty of baits on the market that work perfectly fine with spinning tackle. Both are reaction-style baits with sound and flash that fish pick up with their lateral lines. 

Spinnerbaits come in many sizes, colors, and blade shapes. Each blade is designed to spin in the water and produce a flash of light. If you don’t understand the different blades, the good news is that you will still have luck catching bass. Whether casting from shore or fishing from a boat, spinnerbaits get bites from springtime throughout the fall. 

bass fishing techniques
Whether casting from shore or fishing from a boat, spinnerbaits get bites from springtime throughout the fall.

An alternative to a spinnerbait is a bladed jig, which is my favorite when fishing around thicker vegetation. Overall, it provides a different feel and slips through cover better than a spinnerbait.

Gear

The power of a casting rod allows for longer casts and more fish control, especially around vegetation. Again, there are many baits on the market that can be used on a spinning setup and, for beginners, that’s all you need. 

For spinnerbaits, the War Eagle Finesse Spinnerbait is a great option along with the Berkley Power Blade. Both are available in compact/finesse sizes and can be rigged on a medium-heavy-action rod. For those with casting gear, the Red Dirt Baits Spinnerbait is a great option that’s available in multiple color, sizes, and blade combinations.

Z-Man Jackhammer

For blade baits, the Z-Man Chatterbait Mini works well for spinning tackle, while the Z-Man Jackhammer or Berkley Slobberknocker are my favorites for larger presentations and casting gear. For a simple trailer, I use the Beast Coast Blade Runner or a Zoom Super Speed Craw.


Topwater

Topwater fishing is very interactive since the bait creates a surface commotion that draws the attention of fish. One of the easiest surface baits to use is a popper.  It’s easy to cast and retrieve, and it generates explosive strikes from nearby bass with just a slight rod twitch. 

Poppers excel around shoreline cover such as docks, downed trees, rocks, or grass beds, making them a good choice for beginner anglers fishing from the bank. As opposed to a walking bait, a popper remains in the strike zone for a longer period of time, making it extremely effective when retrieved over short distances. Many times, most of the strikes come within 5 feet of the cover. A few pops, with several seconds of pause in between, is a good start. Vary the cadence until you start getting bites.

Gear

Poppers can be thrown with both casting and spinning gear. For beginners, I recommend a medium-action spinning rod with either braided line and a monofilament leader or straight monofilament. The medium action allows for precision casting and enough tip to properly give the bait action, while the monofilament and braid float, preventing any unwanted sinking of the bait.

bass fishing techniques
Poppers like the Yo-Zuri 3DB Popper excel around shoreline cover such as docks, downed trees, rocks, and grass beds.

There are a ton of topwater baits on the market, with plenty of sizes and colors to choose from. For beginners, the Yo-Zuri 3DB Popper is a great bait for the price. For a higher-end option, the Megabass PopMax generates a unique, effortless chugging action with little rod movement. And for an even easier option, a River2Sea Whopper Plopper can be cast and reeled directly back, or cast and fished like a popping bait. 

Whether you are prepping for your very first bass fishing trip or have been fishing for years, these baits will help you catch more fish.

Related Content

How to Fish a Jerkbait

Ultralight Largemouth

7 Essential Lures for Winter Bass Fishing

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *