Getting started with bass fishing

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Thomas Allen

I’ve been around this bass fishing thing for while now, and I’ve learned a few things I want to share with new anglers. You should start slow and build on your experiences. Read our columns but always remember that fishing is an individual thing. One size does not fit all. 

When you’re first starting out pick a good serviceable baitcasting outfit and a good serviceable spinning outfit. Don’t spend a lot of money on specialized rods and reels until you know what suits your style of fishing on the waters you fish.

Some anglers like long rods, others like shorter rods. Some like a heavy action and some prefer a lighter action. It’s the same with reels. Some guys like fast gear ratios but other anglers like slower models. 

There’s no one thing that works for everyone. You can survey the 75 professional anglers fishing the Bassmaster Elite Series about what’s best and you’ll probably get 75 different answers. And, we all catch our share of bass. None of us are wrong. We’re just different.  

My recommendation for a starter set of rods and reels is to take a close look at Lew’s Mach Smash outfits. They are rod and reel combinations. The baitcasting model won Best of Show Rod and Reel Combo this year at ICAST. They’re reasonably priced and will do you a good job until you know what best suits you when you get ready to upgrade. 

It’s the same with line and lures. At first you won’t have a very good idea of what you need or how you like to fish. Try everything. Finding that out before you spend a ton of money on tackle is important. 

Unless you’re a pro you’ll probably find out pretty quick that there are certain things you like to do better than others. Maybe you develop a thing for topwater fishing, or maybe you fall in love with the steady action of crankbaits. But it might also be that flipping and pitching gets your attention. 

Why buy hundreds of dollars worth of line, lures and terminal tackle that you’ll never use and that you don’t even like to use?

Editor's note: See Fritts' Beginner's Tacklebox.

The thing about bass fishing, and especially about recreational bass fishing, is that it’s supposed to be fun. You can fish the way you want and enjoy yourself. You don’t have to catch bass for a living so you don’t have to be able to do everything. 

My preference for line and lures is Berkley. You can get just abut anything you need from them, and you can be assured that what you buy will catch bass. But, don’t buy everything. Get a couple of spools of line, a handful of hard baits and a half-dozen bags of plastics. Then upgrade and expand your inventory as you gain experience and skill. 

I’ve given you my recommendations but there are other manufacturers that make quality products. I’m not saying they don’t. Look around. And I’m not saying not to buy the best. It’s just that you should be a smart bass angler off the water as well as on the water.