As a touring pro bass angler, I have access to an almost mind boggling variety of baits and lures, some of which are not even available to the public yet. Everything imaginable in soft plastics, hard plastics, wood and metal, they cover the water column from top to bottom. They chug, splash, dive, vibrate and spin. And some of them are designed to do nothing at all. Do they all catch fish? you bet. Given the right condition, 98% of the new lures on the market today plus 98% of the old ones from the last 50 years will all catch bass.
It can all be really confusing. What should I buy, what should I use? How important is color? If red fishing line disappears under water, why do red lures attract so many big bass? Do $30.00 crank baits really catch more fish than $5.00 ones? The answers depend on who you ask and sadly most of the guys you ask will hedge their bets with maybe and sometimes. How is a guy supposed to figure all this out on a working persons salary?
Lets see if I can simplify it for you. When I began bass fishing in the mid 1960’s, there wasn’t nearly as much information available to aspiring bass anglers as there is today but there wasn’t nearly as much equipment to choose from either. The first two or three years I bass fished, I carried all my tackle in a Folgers coffee can and caught a lot of bass. Sure you say, that was in the glory days when there were few fisherman and the bass had not become so educated from constant fishing pressure.
Well, let me tell you, that same short list of “not so secret” lures will catch em as well today as they did 40 years ago. And if you find yourself bogged down trying to buy everything and learn every new technique to come along then go back to basics and learn how to use just a few lures and techniques really well instead. I promise you’ll catch just as many fish and probably more by scaling back to my basic list of lures.
Enough talk. here is my list of everything you need to become a better bass fisherman.
1. 1 package of 6 inch straight tail purple worms
2. 3/8 oz. chartreuse or white spinner bait
3. 1/2 oz. top water popper (dark back/light belly)
4. 1/2 oz. lipless crank bait (chrome/black back)
5. Diving crank bait, medium depth (6-10 ft.) in a shad color
6. Floating jerk bait (gold/black back)
7. Package of 3/16 oz. lead or tungsten slip sinkers
8. Package of 3/0 worm hooks
That’s it. This entire tackle kit can be purchased for as little as $30.00. You can spend much more but $5.00 will buy very good quality crank baits, jerk baits and top waters.
If you are new to bass fishing, buy this kit. If you have been fishing awhile and you have a large selection of lures but your not progressing as fast as you would like, go through your stuff and scale back to my list. Then learn to fish those baits really well before moving to new techniques.
So do I practice what I preach? Well-sometimes. I love fishing lures. Lots of lures, all kinds of lures, old faithfuls and hot new ones filled with promise. I love to fish with them and I love to collect them too.
I love new techniques and learning how to make them work for me. Deep jigging, drop shot, finesse, punching mats, frogging, wacky worms and more. In the long run having a working knowledge of all these methods will surely add a few key fish to my tournament sacks.
But I fish tournaments for part of my livelihood. And like baseball players and golfers, sometimes i find myself in a slump where i just can’t seem to catch the fish I need to compete at the top. When that happens, i go straight back to the basics and depending upon the time of the year and the type of water, i rig up 2 or 3 of my six basic lures, put my trolling motor on medium speed and cover as much water as I can before weigh in.
It works every time – almost. Send me your thoughts and questions on this article or any other fishing subject.