Anyone who has explored very deep into the fishing world knows that fishing can at be some what overwhelming and frustrating. Especially if you have no previous experience, and you are trying to figure out how to get started. The best advice I can give is keep it simple.
There are literally thousands of different types of baits, rigs, and presentations to choose from, and if you don't have a basic place to start then chances are you will get discouraged with the sport and loose interest before you ever give it a chance. I promise once you begin to learn the baits, presentations, and fish behaviors, and start to consistently catch fish throughout the year, a passion will be instilled in you that will last a lifetime.
It happened to me as a child at the age of two years old down on my dock with my dad catching hundreds of bluegill and sunfish, and it has now grown into a career in professional bass fishing, guiding, and of course hosting Sweetwater TV. This love I have has gone beyond fishing and has grown into a full love and appreciation for nature and the outdoors. So here are two very simple baits and techniques so that you can get started in your own journey, utilizing and enjoying what God has given us!
The Bass is a very interesting species of fish and actually there are three main types of bass!
First we have the most prevalent and probably most popular type of bass the Largemouth. The Largemouth Bass is known best for getting big, with the world record being almost double to the size that it's cousins are known to grow too. They are beautiful fish, and just like there name describes they have big mouths often with the same or bigger diameter than their body. They can eat very large baits and will typically be found holding tight to cover or vegetation in most lakes, rivers, and reservoirs across the country.
The next major species of bass is the Smallmouth, and like there name they have a mouth that is much smaller than their bodies. Don't be fooled though, smallmouth are incredible feeders and fighters and will often jump upwards of three feet out of the water in an attempt to through your bait. They are found primarily in the northern states, but can also be found in Alabama, Tennessee, and Texas.
The third cousin is the Spotted Bass. A spot looks almost like a cross between a largemouth and a smallmouth, while they rarely get over 7 or 8 pounds but they are possibly the most aggressive feeders and hardest fighters of all. They thrive across most of the central united states.
The two baits that I am going to tell you about are baits that no matter where you go across the country, and what species you are targeting will work very well with just a little practice.
The first and one of my go to baits in tough situations is the shaky head. A shaky head is very simple, all it consists of is a jig head and generally a straight tail worm. My very favorite shakey head to use is called a Zman Shaky HeadZ. It has a patented notch just under the head that is perfect for holding head of the worm up on the hook. The weight of the head should be chosen based on the depth of water you are targeting. To keep it simple in water 15 feet or less use a 1/8oz jig head if you go deeper than that then I’d jump it up to a 3/16 or 1/4oz head. On this jig head I basically texas rig a straight tail finesse worm such as the Zman Finesse WormZ. On color selection, any soft plastic you use that is a natural green or brown color will consistently produce bass. When rigged texas style the shakey head is weedless and works very well around just about any cover you want to fish. An important tip to remember when fishing the bait is, less is more. It seams that the less you try to hop and move the bait the more fish you catch. All it takes is little twitches of the rod tip to make the bait move and shimmy across the bottom. I almost always fish my shakey head with a TFO Tactical Series spinning rod and unless I'm in super heavy cover I use from 6 to 10lb test Vicious Pro Elite Flourocarbon Line. Flourocarbon has very little stretch and also sinks which helps significantly with sensitivity and feeling your bait work through the cover, as well as when detecting light bites. This is a fish catching machine and is perfect if you are interested in getting a young child into fishing, or if you are a beginning angler that wants to get into the sport.
Another deadly, and simple bait that is amazing for bass is a stick bait. Specific companies all have their version of this bait but I have found through time on the water that the Zman ZinkerZ will put fish in the boat like nothing else! There are two primary ways to rig a stick bait, both of which work best weightless. The first is called the wacky rig, the wacky rig is simply piercing a small hook such as a Gamakatsu Weedless Wacky hook through the center of the worm. This allows the worm to flex and quiver as it slowly falls parallel to the bottom which is very difficult for a bass to resist. If you are fishing around cover than weightless texas rigging the bait is very effective, using either a 3/0 or 4/0 Gamakatsu Extra Wide Gap Hook. This bait works great for fishing shallow cover no matter where you live across the country, and if you have a pond or small lake near by then this bait is almost irresistibly to a bass that has rarely, or never seen it before. A stick bait can be fished on a spinning or a baitcasting setup, based on personal preference. The only time that a spinning rod is critical to success in my mind is when the fish are tucked deep up under docks or overhanging trees. In this situation the spinning rod is the best choice when attempting to skip this weightless bait. If you want to throw your ZinkerZ on a spinning rod 10lb test Vicious Pro Elite Flouro will be your best bet. If a baitcaster better fits your style then 14lb to 17lb Vicious Pro Elite will be a great choice!
Fishing and general is a wonderful sport and there is nothing better than bringing fishing and the outdoors together. I would start simple with these two baits, adding more techniques to your arsenal as you gain confidence in what you are already using. To get started in fishing the best place to start is Bass Pro Shops where you can get tips from product knowledgeable associates that are always willing to help.
I’ll see you on the water!!!