Getting Started

Jeff Southern
October, 1999

Warning: This artical is still under construction

Hello, I have enjoyed the sport of bass fishing for the last 25 years. I wrote this article with the new bass fisherman in mind. It is intended to help a novice get started. Many people will probably disagree with some of the ideas and suggestions in this article. However, I can say with some certainty that the information in this article is a good starting point.

I will first start by saying that you can bass fish with as little as a cane poll, some string, a hook and some live lizards. However, fishing from the shore can severely limit the places that you can fish. Most people that bass fish today do so from a boat. This does not mean that you need a $30,000 boat to catch bass. However, your chances of winning a modern tournament from a john boat with a 12hp wizard engine are not good. Many people will say that a 18' bass boat with a 150hp is minimum to be competitive. However, I believe that a 17'-18' Aluminum bass boat with a 115hp engine will be adequate for most tournaments. Some will say: "What if the wind gets up and there are 6-8' waves?" Well the truth is that a 17' boat will do just fine to get you back to the dock. You will just have to go slow and you will probably get wet. As a novice, you are probably not going to win a tournament in these conditions anyway.

The best advice I can give your about your first boat is not to buy one until you have learned how to fish and want to continue to do it for a long period of time. If you are determined to buy a boat, buy a two to three year old used boat that still has an extended FACTORY warrantee on the engine. Also have a boat mechanic check it out for you. It will cost about $50.00 to get the evaluation, but it will be well worth the expense. There is one problem with used boats. Getting the loan. You must put a 20% or more down to get a good interest rate on a used boat loan. If you do not, you will be hit with a much higher interest rate. Over the period of the loan, the used boat might cost you more than a higher priced new boat at a lower interest rate. You will just have to shop for the boat and the loan.

What if you take my advice and decide not to buy a boat? Well that is why we have Bass Clubs. You could join a bass club and fish out of the back of someone else's boat and share the expenses for the day. This has two very important advantages for you as a novice. First, you will learn from the other guy in the boat who, hopefully, has more experience than you do. Second, you will learn how to properly maintain and operate a boat. If you have never really been around boats, I would suggest that you find someone who has a boat who is willing to carry you to an empty parking lot and let you practice backing the trailer. The boat owner who you fish with in the tournament will greatly appreciate it if you can competently back the trailer down the ramp to launch and retrieve the his pride and joy. As a non-boater in a bass club, you will also get the chance to fish out of many different models of boats. This will help you know what you want if you decide to purchase a boat in the future.

What if I do not want to fish tournaments? Well you better plan on doing a lot of reading. Subscribe to several bass magazines and start reading. You can also watch some of the bass fishing shows that are on TV. I would not believe everything they say about a particular brand of lure. However, the basic content and tactics will produce fish. Just keep in mind that the shows are basically advertisements for certain brands of fishing equipment. Once you have a boat to fish out of, you will need some basic fishing equipment. You can also just go over to the message boards and start asking a lot of questions. Most of the guys like to help people get into fishing.

The truth is that good equipment will help you catch fish. The main reason is that you will spend more time fishing and less time working on your equipment while on the lake. The standard bass fishing pole is usually a Fiberglass or Graphite rod with a Bait Casting reel or a Spinning reel. You could bass fish with a Zebco 33 or some other cheap reel. However, you casting distance and accuracy will be limited. It is also a good way to develop tendentious ( very painful ). In bass fishing, a cast that is off by just a few feet can make the difference between catching fish and just fishing. I personally like a rod that has a stiff base and a limber tip. I think a good Bait casting rod choice is a 6' - 6-1/2' med-light action casting rod with a pistol grip. I use a 6' Med-Light action Shakesphere Ugly Stick for throwing plugs, spinner baits, buzz baits and Top Water lures. The Uglystick is a durable graphite rod that has a Fiberglass tip. Fiberglass is more limber than graphite and it creates a whipping action on a cast. It also has some give to it and help not break your line when you set the hook. If you get a 6-1/2' Rod, it can double as your worm ( soft plastic baits ) fishing rod. However, I would recommend that you consider a 6 - 1/2' All graphite rod again with a limber tip and a two hander pole handle for fishing Carolina rigged soft plastic baits. It takes a lot of stress off your writs, elbows and shoulders. My favorite Worm fishing reel is a Abu-Garcia Black Max reel. You can find them at wallmart for $50.00 - $60.00. I would buy a reel that has at least three ball bearings in it, a magnetic anti-backlash adjustment and is light weight. I , however, would not spend over $60.00 on your first reel. You may also want to consider a light action 6' to 6-1/2'spinning rod. This type of rod is much better for casting light 1/16 oz - 3/8 oz lures. I use one to cast small 1/4 oz plugs. The third major type of rod is a flipping stick. These are usually 7'+ long and very stiff. They are use primarily to pitch Jigs and other baits around heavy structure. As far a flipping sticks go, I would not get a really expensive rod or reel. You typically do not cast the bait over 20' with these rods. These four rods will get you through most tournaments. Again, you could use just three if you let for casting rod do double duty.

I have composed a list of possible Rod and reel combinations that you may want to consider. This is by no means the best possible rod/reel combination that you can purchase. However they should prove to be quite usable and durable to get you started. Having said all of that, taking a good friend who has a few years in bass fishing to the tackle store is probably your best option.

Rod and Reel Selection Guide

Selecting a Tackle Systems

Since the Bass Pro Shop Catalog has a great selection I have listed what I would put in new tackle box to be competitive. You will here endless debate about the strength and weaknesses of all of this tackle. However as stated before, it is a good place to start.

My Tackle list Well this is really up you your own preference. I personally like the Plano 9"x14"x2" boxes with a soft side carrier that will hold 4-5 of these boxes with a few small pockets. I would create a box that has weights, Hooks, swivels, and bebees. I call this my rigging box. I usually had 1/8, 1/4, 3/8, 1/2, and 3/4oz weights in both the Bullet and Round shapes. I use the Bullets to rig Texas style worms and round weights to rig Carolina Style Worms. ( One big hit on the plastic Beebees. You will find them 100-500% cheaper if you go to the craft section on the store. They also have assorted color packs not just red. )

My next box has some plastic worms and Lizards in it. I tend to use the Zoom Products. however other brands will work just as well. Selecting the colors is a very difficult task best left to an independent article. However, Pumpkin, Green Pumpkin, Blue Flash, Lemon Pepper and Smoke with get your started.

My next box in my plug box. There is an almost unlimited selection of plugs to chose from.

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