Crankbait bass fishing

How To Catch Bass - The Essentials

Hank Parker's Fishing Tips

No matter where my travels take me I always get asked, "What do I need to do to catch bass on my home lake." Well, the answer is simple. Quit that job. That cuts into a man's or lady's fishing time more than anything. Get rid of that job and go bass fishing!

Seriously, bass fishing, like most every other endeavor, can be extremely simple or really complex and technical. If you're new to bass fishing, or fishing in general, a stroll through the fishing department at a big box outdoor store can be overwhelming. It is tough to know what to gear to buy to catch fish on the lake you plan to fish. 

Hopefully the below information can be put to good use, and you'll discover, just as I and hundreds of thousands of other people have, how fun and enjoyable fishing can be. Also, I know without a doubt that time spent on the water with family and friends strengthens relationships and makes unforgettable memories. 

Rod, Reel and Line

I highly recommend you purchase at least one quality rod and reel, preferably two. Nothing in the world can make a great day on the water turn south quicker than a broken rod or reel. A 6 1/2 to 7-foot medium action rod and baitcast reel spooled with 12- or 14-pound clear mono line is a good all around set up. Another combo to include is spinning rod and reel. Go with 6 1/2 foot rod and spool the reel with 8- to 10-pound clear mono line. Lew's makes quality rods and reels that are rugged and priced right. If the budget allows for one rod and reel, go with a spinning outfit. It is really easy to operate. It takes some dedicated practice to master a baitcaster. As for monofilament line, I recommend Berkley Trilene XL.


Since you're just getting started, you should focus on learning to fish two or three styles of lures the first few times out. I recommend using:

Spinnerbaits - My number one bait, period. It catches bass spring through fall, in crystal clear water and dark, muddy water, and in shallow water and deep water. You can fish it fast or slow. Remember, use willowleaf blades in clear water and Colorado blades in muddy water.

Soft Plastic Baits - Nothing beats a 7-inch Berkley PowerWorm. Buy a pack in each of the following colors:

  • Black - Catches fish in almost all scenarios. Clear water, dark water, deep, shallow. This color works really well.
  • White - Everything in nature has a white belly. Frogs, lizards, snakes, shad. Works well in clear water and highly visible in muddy water.
  • Green Pumpkin - When you fish vegetation, use green pumpkin.
  • Pumpkin - Fishing standing timber, rocks, silt, or sand, use pumpkin. 

Topwater Baits - First thing in the morning as the sun is rising tie on a topwater. There is nothing more enjoyable that seeing a bass hammer a topwater lure. These are my first two picks.  

Popping Cork - Go with a color that matches the baitfish in your lake. If you're uncertain what baitfish are in your lake, a safe choice is silver and black. Cast it out next to a boat dock, a sea wall or fallen trees. Wait for the splash to die down, hold the rod level with the water then give it a soft twitch to the left or right. Reel in the slack and repeat. 

Buzzbait - This is an easy lure to fish. As soon as the lure hits the water begin reeling. Try casting beyond where you think the fish are holding and begin the retrieve. This lure allows you to cover water fast. 

Terminal Tackle:

Make sure to buy several different worm weights, worm hooks, jig heads, trailer hooks. Use the Boy Scout motto here and Be Prepared. 


Line clippers - Much easier to trim excess line with line clipper than a knife or using your teeth.Needle nose pliers - No need to get a hook in the hand when removing a stubborn hook. Sharpening stone - Check those hooks often and sharpen as necessary. It takes only a minute and gives you a better chance at hooking AND landing that trophy. 


No question as to which tacklebox gets the nod. The Plano 3700 utility box. It's easy to store and transport, and comes with moveable dividers so you can change the storage configuration based on what lures and other items you own. Buy two. One for lure storage and the other for other items like hooks, weights and tools. Here's your shopping list:

  • Baitcast rod and reel
  • Spinning rod and reel
  • Spools of 330 yard, clear monofilament line
  • Spinnerbaits
  • Bags of Plastic Worms
  • Popping Corks
  • Buzzbaits
  • Terminal Tackle (variety of worm hooks, bullet weights, trailer hooks, jig heads and more)
  • Tools (Line Clipper, Needle Nose Pliers and Sharpening Stone)
  • Utility Tackleboxes

 Hopefully the above will get you on the way out the door and on the water. You can make fishing as simple or as complex as you want, but remember it's the time spent and memories made with family and friends that will be the highlight of most fishing trips years from now.  For more articles, quick tips and much more visit