Bed fishing is as much an art as it is a science. Every fish has her own personality. You can never be sure which lure you'll need or what color might work. Nevertheless, like all fishing, it starts with selecting and organizing your tackle. Efficiency is the key. Here's how I do it:
First, I build a teaser outfit. This is a very heavy outfit rigged with a large tube — 8, 10, 12 inches — or a big plastic swimbait. By heavy outfit I mean a long, stiff rod, heavy fluorocarbon line and a heavy-duty reel.
My teaser outfit is high-quality. That doesn't have to be the case with yours, however. All you're looking to do with it is toss the bait into the nest and excite the bass. You want her worried, upset and aggressive. At that point you're going to gently pull the bait away from her. Setting the hook and cranking her to the boat is not an issue.
After my teaser gear is in order, I rig a series of four or five rod and reel combinations with various baits that I'll use to catch my fish.
My catching rod is very heavy and baited with a small, plastic lure. My preference is a Roboworm grub, but you can use whatever you like as long as it's small. You want something that the bass can easily inhale. This is about getting a good hook set.
By heavy I mean a stout wire hook, strong 30-pound-test braided line, a heavy- or extra heavy-action rod and a strong reel. You don't want to play with the fish. You want to hook her and bring her to the boat as quickly as possible.
I always carry a second rig, identical to the first, with a creature bait on it. This one is for those times when you need lots of tentacles moving around in the water to make the bass bite. The idea here is to throw something that looks alive. There are hundreds of good ones on the market. Pick the one that gives you the most confidence.
Along with those combos I consider a couple of topwater rods and lures an absolute necessity. There are times when bedding bass will hit a topwater bait when nothing else gets a look. Carry one soft, quiet type of lure and another one that makes a lot of splash and commotion. Throw the one that best fits the bass' personality — not yours.
And, I never leave the dock to go bed fishing without one light-action rod and reel. A spinning outfit is perfect. Attach a small plastic lure to light line — think 6-pound-test fluorocarbon — and you'll have a good start. This will help immensely with finicky or timid bass that have been traumatized by your teaser bait or by your repeated attempts to make her bite.
Last but not least, I always build a rod and reel combo that will allow me to throw a lure long distances. There'll be times when I need to back off, way away from the bed, and throw into it. This allows me to do that.
If you have the tackle you might want to consider rigging a couple of different colors of lures to go with each combo. Lure color isn't nearly as important as lure type, however. If you only have a couple of rods and reels, rig a teaser rod and a catching rod. Those are the most important.
Once you get your combos built, set them on the deck of your boat in some sort of logical order. Make sure they're within easy reach when you're on the trolling motor. As time goes along, you'll appreciate this tackle scheme more and more.