Most bass anglers prefer to use baitcasters to target largemouth and smallmouth bass. This is due to the fact that casting reels perform better in terms of casting accuracy and distance. And since bass fishing is largely a casting game, superior casting performance gives you a big advantage.
Another advantage of casting gear is that it is ideally suited for using a heavy line and big lures, which means you can readily throw extra large swimbaits or crankbaits.
But there’s one problem with this: on some days bass just don’t respond to power tactics. Especially when they’re not feeding actively, or if the atmospheric pressure is off, or if you’re on a fishery that gets a lot of angling pressure, you’ll end up going home without a single bite.
If you happen to run into a day like that, there’s no reason to give up. As every bass pro knows, you can still catch plenty of bass on days like that – you just have to switch to different tactics. In most cases when bass don’t respond to large lures and big rigs, it’s time to try some finesse presentations instead.
While casting gear dominates power tactics for bass fishing, spinning gear is the better choice for finesse applications. The reason for this is that it performs much better with lighter lines, lures and weights.
So, even though many bass anglers tend to look down on the use of spinning gear, it’s always good to have a spinning rod or two at hand in case the fish aren’t responding to big lures or heavy handed presentation methods.
The best spinning reel size to use for bass finesse fishing is around 2500, though you can go even lighter than that (for more details on choosing the best spinning reel size, check out this guide from Sport Fishing Buddy). Spool your reel with 6-8 lb fluorocarbon and pair it with a Light or Medium Light spinning rod that’s about 6 to 7 foot long, and you’re good to go.
A large part of finesse fishing success simply depends on choosing the right lures. Most bass anglers are used to tying on extra large lures, and find it difficult to downsize their choice of lures. Try to go for a lure weight between 1/16 and 1/4 oz.
The top finesse lures are:
Wacky worms – use a plastic stick bait and hook it right through the middle, which gives the bait a lot of freedom to move in the water.
Micro jigs – these are smaller than regular bass jigs, and usually weight around 1/8 to 1/4 oz.
Drop shot rigs – this classic rig is perfect for finesse presentations, since it allows the bait to be suspended above the bottom.
Tubes – in many ways, tubes are similar to finesse jigs, and can be fished in similar ways.
When choosing finesse lures, try to go for more natural colors, and avoid the bright flashy ones. You want to trigger the feeding behavior of bass by mimicking their natural food, which just isn’t bright red or yellow.
It’s always good to have a collection of different finesse lures and rigs, so you have lots of options to test out if the bass are not in a biting mood.
While choosing the right lightweight gear and small lures is essential for succeeding with finesse tactics, it’s even more important to change your style of presentation. Many bass anglers are used to catching fish with heavy handed power presentations, which works fine when they are feeding actively, and lunging at anything that vaguely resembles prey.
But when the bite is poor, you really need to tone down your presentation and make it more subtle. In other words, use smaller and softer movements to work the bait when you’re using finesse tactics.
Often it’s not just the retrieval that entices a bite, but letting the bait sink down in the water. This works especially well with wacky worms, because they have a fluttering movement when you let them sink down into the water, which bass tend to find irresistible.
Once you master the technique of finesse fishing, you can even try it out on some of the larger lures that you would normally use, such as crankbait and spinner bait, but with a more subtle presentation.
When you’re finesse fishing for bass, it’s almost like you’re giving them time to think about hitting the bait. They may even follow the bait for a while and inspect it closely before biting.
This concludes our top 3 tops for targeting bass with finesse tactics. As always, the best teacher is experience, so get yourself set up with the right gear and start testing to figure out what works best for you.