Ultimate Guide To Bass Fishing Tackle: The Essentials Every Beginner Needs
Looking to stock your shiny new tacklebox with some terminal tackle, but not sure what to buy? Or, just new to bass fishing and trying to learn how to catch bass? In this guide we'll give you a primer on some of the most common tackle that bass fisherman carry in their tackle bags, plus you can use this list of essential bass fishing tackle every beginner angler (and even the pro's) should have in their tacklebox and take it shopping with you!
Tackle vs Terminal Tackle: What is terminal fishing tackle?
Fishing terminal tackle is a broad term used to reference the fishing gear attached to the end (or terminus) of a fishing line.
Think of terminal tackle as the nuts and bolts used to join together fishing line and a bait or lure to create a presentation that acts to entice a fish to bite. Keep in mind that technically speaking, only the items attached to the fishing line end are actually terminal tackle, otherwise it's just called fishing tackle.
Most Common Terminal Tackle
The list below covers the basic bass fishing terminal tackle you'll need to rig up the most popular bass fishing lures like drop shots, carolina rigs, texas rigs, punching rigs and more.
A fishing hook is a thin metal device with a sharpened point used to catch fish. Hooks come in all shapes and sizes, each designed for a specific application. The most commonly hooks used by bass fisherman include:
- Offset Worm Hooks
- EWG Hooks
- Straight Shank Hooks
- Octopus Hooks
- Wacky Hooks
- Circle Hooks
Fishing weights or sinkers are typically small pieces metal or lead that attach to your fishing line to help your bait get down to a desired depth. As it relates to bass fishing, the most popularly carried fishing weights are made from lead or tungsten steel and include:
- Bullet Weights
- Cylindrical Weights
- Drop Shot Weights
- Neko or Nail Weights
- Bell Weights
- Weighted Hooks
Snaps and Swivels
Snaps and swivels are devices used to join together different sections of fishing line, lures or terminal tackle. Snaps and swivels allow you to quickly and easily change out lures and rigs, and prevent your fishing line from becoming tangled. The most commonly used snaps and swivels used in bass fishing include:
- Barrel Swivels
- Snap Swivels
- Rolling Swivels
- Ball Bearing Swivels
Blades & Spinners
Blades such as those used on a spinnerbait are used to create vibration and flash in the water to attract a fish to bite. While most commonly seen already attached to lures, you can replace the blades on your spinners or add tail spinners onto your soft plastic swimbaits and other lures. The most commonly seen types of blades are:
- Colorado Blades
- Willow Blades
- Indiana Blades
Weight pegs, or bobber stops, are small plastic or rubber devices used to fix a float or bobber in place on your fishing line commonly used in punching rigs.
A jig head is a lead weight molded onto a hook, and typically include a small barb on the shank used to secure soft plastic lures in place, or a bent piece of wire that screws into a plastic. Jigheads come in all shapes and sizes, each designed for a specific application. The most popular types of jigheads used in bass fishing include:
- Shaky Heads
- Neko Jigheads
- Swimbait Jigheads
- Football Jigheads
Split rings are small metal rings used to connect lures and other fishing tackle to your fishing line. They are called split rings because they feature a small split in the ring that allows you to open the ring, insert your lure or tackle, and then close the ring back up. They're commonly used in jewelry making and larger ones are used to attach your key to a keychain. Split rings can be found on many different lures and are commonly swapped out on cheap lures or used to replace or add treble hooks onto a lure. You'll find them on most top water lures and crankbaits.
Wacky O-rings are a small gasket made of rubber that are most commonly associated with the wacky rig. There are two most common sizes for wacky rig o-rings. The 5/16" o-ring will fit most 4-6" senko style soft plastic worms, while 7'16" will fit most 6 and 7" soft plastic stickbaits.
Beads are small, often brightly colored, plastic or glass balls used to add weight, color, or noise to a lure or rig. The most popular uses for beads in bass fishing are on Texas rigs and carolina rigs. They are also used to protect fishing knots.
Rattles are small plastic, metal or glass devices that make noise when shaken or moved to help attract fish. They can be attached to lures or inserted into soft plastics.
Floats or bobber are small devices used to suspend your bait at a desired depth. They come in all shapes and sizes, and are made from a variety of materials, each designed for a specific fishing application. The two most common bobbers are slip bobbers and fixed bobbers.
A leader is a separate piece of fishing line that is connected to your main line in some fashion. They are used in carolina rigs and other lure presentations that utilize swivels. Many bass anglers will also tie a flourocarbon leader onto braid to make it more difficult for the fish to see the line.
What should be in a beginners bass fishing tackle box?
There is an overwhelming amount of fishing tackle on the shelves of tackle shops, and for the beginner it can be incredibly intimidating, but what do you actually need to catch bass?
Below is a beginners shopping list for terminal tackle you can use to fill your first tacklebox. You don't need to run out and buy everything all at once, but this list will allow you to try out lots of different lures without breaking the bank. This is also essentially the tackle kit I bring with me when pond fishing.
- 3/0 Offset Worm Hooks - A versatile sized hook for throwing a variety of sizes of Senko style stick baits and other smaller profile soft plastics.
- 3/0 EWG Hooks - Again, a versatile hook size, but for throwing your bulkier soft plastics.
- 1/0 Wacky/Octopus Hooks or Size 1 Circle Hooks - For throwing them wacky rigs! Either will work.
- Drop Shot Weights - I'll usually carry a couple different sizes, but mostly 3/16 or 1/4 oz or in deep waters 3/8 or 1/2 oz.
- Bullet Weights - I throw a lot of weighted texas rigs, so I like to have a variety of bullet weights with me. Depending on the area I'm fishing I usually carry 1/8, 3/16 or 1/4, 1/2, and then a couple 1 oz or 1-1/2 oz for punching through grass matts.
- Wacky O-Rings - They don't take up much space and are pretty cheap, so I carry a handful of each the 5/16 and 7/16 wacky o-rings.
- Barrel Swivels - While I don't throw the carolina rig as often as I probably should, I do carry a few barrel swivels. Size #6, #7, #8 will work fine.
- Beads - Usually keep a handful of beads in various colors: black, transparent pinks, reds, oranges. Just don't use glass beads if your using a tungsten weight.
- Bobber Stops - I always carry a handful for when I want to keep my weight pegged on a weighted texas worm.