Bass fishing as effectively as a professional angler starts with mastering the basics, finding the ideal bass boat (or another suitable freshwater fishing boat), and then incorporating the tips and tricks the pros use to catch more fish. Here are 10 bass fishing secrets from professional anglers who have proven their mettle on the tournament trails.
10 Bass Fishing Secrets from Professional Anglers
1. Save Shredded Worms
When your plastic worms get torn up, save ’em. Bass like to ambush wounded prey, so a beat-up worm is perfect to use, especially in shallow water.
- Anthony Gagliardi, 2006 FLW Tour Land O’Lakes Angler of the Year
2. Red Fools the Fish
In shallow cover—wood, stumps, clumps of grass—I like to use a spinner bait with a red or pink head, and a crank bait with red hooks. The red makes the fish think the bait’s injured, and they’ll bite at it.
- George Cochran, 2005 Wal-Mart FLW Tour Championship winner
3. Skip Your Bait
When you cast, stop halfway instead of following through, similar to a check swing in baseball. This makes the lure hit the surface of the water a few feet before your target, so the lure skitters over the water. It’s a good way to get under docks and other structures.
- Mike Iaconelli, 2004 CITGO Bassmaster Classic champion
4. Keep Your Hooks Sharp
I use a file to sharpen my hooks every time I catch a fish and before every trip. It takes 30 seconds. Bass have boney jaws, so a sharp hook is more apt to penetrate the fish.
- Mark Zona, host of ESPN Outdoors
5. Look at Your Livewell Water
When you put a bass in the livewell, they’re notorious for spitting up what they were feeding on. From there you can tell what color lure or kind of lure to throw the rest of the day.
- Matt Herren, No. 2 ranked angler, 2006 Wal-Mart FLW Tour
6. Face the Wind
Sacrifice some distance in your casts and fish with the wind in your face. Bass always swim with the current, so it’s better for them to find your bait before they find your boat. Plus, the noise of water slapping your hull will carry away from the spot you’re fishing, which is good.
- Ish Monroe, winner of the 2006 Battle on the Border
7. Fish Shallow in the Spring
In the spring bass hang out in spawning beds. Concentrate on shallow areas, especially in pockets and coves protected from the wind because this is where they like to guard their eggs. They’ll bite as much out of irritation with the lure as they will out of hunger.
- Jay Yelas, 2003 Bassmaster Angler of the Year
8. Make Your Bait Seasonal
Bass eat different bait depending on the time of year. The general rule is early in the year they like crawfish, so use peach-colored patterns. In the summer and fall they like shad, so use chrome or silver baits.
- Mike Hawkes, 2006 Wal-Mart FLW Series event winner, Lake Cumberland
9. Fish before the storm
The best time to fish bass is before a front comes through, and the worst time to fish them is after. The pressure makes the bass more active, so watch for a wall of clouds moving in. When it’s too pretty out, bass aren’t likely to bite.
- Forrest L. Wood, Ranger Boats founder and namesake of FLW Outdoors
10. Bug Those Bass
Bass is an ornery fish. You have to keep tapping at it to upset it into biting your hook. Bass position themselves in cover, and like the lure presented to them at different angles. I’ve tossed lures a hundred times onto the same location until finally getting a bite.
- Ray Scott, bass fishing legend and founder of BASS
Looking for a new boat? Bass boats are hands-down the ideal craft for chasing largemouth bass. Many of us, however, need one boat to serve multiple purposes—maybe the kids enjoy water skiing, and a Fish-and-Ski would be better for your family. Or perhaps you enjoy fishing for species other than bass sometimes, and an all-purpose fishing boat might prove an ideal choice. Whatever your personal preferences are, we know one thing for sure: the perfect boat for you is out there, somewhere. If you’re not sure which would be best, spend some time with our Boat Finder.
No matter which make or model proves perfect, we can help you find it.
More Bass Fishing Tips
Along with all of the information available about bass fishing, there is also a lot of misinformation out there. Learn to separate fact from fiction by reading this list of the Top Ten Bass Fishing Myths. And if you want to learn about bass fishing with kids, we have more tips from a professional bass angler for you in Fishing with Kids: Tips from Bass Pro Kevin Van Dam.
Types of Bass:
Editor's Note: This article was originally published in May 2016 by Darren Wendroff, and updated in June 2019 by Lenny Rudow.