Ultimate Guide To Power and Finesse Fishing For Bass
Power fishing and finesse fishing are two terms used in the bass fishing community to describe specific styles of fishing.
Finesse fishing vs. power fishing for bass and which is better, is hottly debated by some within the bass fishing community.
Many anglers will only power fish and cringe when you bring up the idea of finesse fishing, while others swear by it year round.
So which is better? Let's find out!
Before we can get into power fishing vs finesse fishing and which one you should use, we need to first define the two styles of fishing.
What Is Finesse Fishing
Finesse fishing is generally defined as fishing with lighter action rods, spinning reels, light line, and smaller lures.
However, one might argue that finesse fishing is more about delicate, subtle, natural and precise lure presentations that make bass think they have an easy meal.
When To Finesse Fish
Finesse fishing is the go to method for bass anglers when their power fishing methods fail.
Finesse fishing is a great tactic to use when you know there are bass nearby and you can't get them to bite your lures.
If you notice the bass seem spooky or finicky while power fishing, try slowing down and fishing more methodically to make your bait seem more natural in an attempt to try and fool the bass into feeding.
If simply slowing down your presentation ultimately fails, it's time to downsize your gear and bust out the finesse baits.
Another time to bust out the finesse gear, is when you know the area is heavily fished.
When everyone and their brother is ripping chatterbaits and other power fishing lures around on a daily basis, bass become reluctant to bite and more selective on what they'll bite.
Finesse fishing may not be the most excillerating way to fish, but when your friends are flinging their power lures all over and not getting bites, and your over there slaying bass on a Ned Rig, it sure feels good.
Where To Finesse Fish
When bass are pressured or your fishing in cool clear water, bass tend to less active. Finesse presentations can be fished around the same areas you would normal power fish, such as stumps, docks, brush piles, and deep ledges.
It's also a great technique to use when your fishing second-hand waters.
If you show up to a spot right after another guy, chances are he was power fishing big baits in the area and the bass are done with it. Try chucking your finesse baits out there, and it's likely you'll be able to mop up the rest of the bass.
Finesse Fishing Gear: How to Choose a Finesse Fishing Rod and Reel
We've all heard it before, finesse fishing means downsizing. That means, lighter weights, smaller baits, and light lines.
But when you downsize your line and the weight of your lures, you need to also downsize your rod and reel to match it.
This usually means busting out the spinning reels.
Finesse Fishing Rod
Matching your rod to your lure weights is important to ensure proper castability.
When it comes to finesse fishing rod, because we're using light lures often less than 1/4 oz, I like to go with a medium-light to medium action spinning rod with a fast tip somewhere around the 6'6" to 7' length.
That sensitive rod tip helps identify those subtle bites from lethargic bass.
Finesse Fishing Reel
Because finesse fishing often involves a bit of slack line, I like to have a pretty fast reel, around that 6:1 or faster gear ratio, for reeling down and setting that hook quick to get the bass turned away from cover before they wrap me up in it with that light line.
For reel size, it really depends on how light of line and lures I'm going. I usually stick with a 2500 or 3000 spinning reel.
Finesse Fishing Line
Finesse fishing is all about a subtle, natural looking lure presentation. Braid and mono fishing line are highly visible in the water. While I like the supple properties of braided line a lot for casting distance, flourocarbon is clear and has a similar light refraction to water making it virtually invisible to bass.
Flourocarbon also sinks, which can help those ultralight lures sink to the bottom quicker.
Braid provides smoother and longer casts and adds strength to the line to prevent bass from breaking you off as easily. However, I'm almost always attaching a flourocarbon leader to my braid when finesse fishing, which is usually in that 4-6 pound test range.
For braided line, I like something around a 10 pound test strength.
When I'm bottom fishing deeper depths, waiting for your line to reach the bottom can be painful.
Flourocarbon sinks which can help your baits and lures get to the bottom quicker, and stay there more easily with slow presentations.
I almost always go with 6 pound test when using straight flouro.
If I want my baits to sink slower, I'll go with monofilament or copolymer. Monofilament floats in the water column, which can slow down how fast your bait falls to the bottom.
I'll also go with mono fishing line when I'm finesse fishing topwater like a small popper do to it's buoyant properties.
Finesse Fishing Techniques, Rigs, and Lures
- Drop Shotting: A go to for keeping my bait off the bottom. Easy to rig up, and can be combined with a whacky rig or texas rig soft plastic.
- Weightless Soft Plastic Worms: When all my power fishing lures fail, a weightless senko styled stick worm is my immediate go to. I make sure to always have some with me.
- Swimbaits: A slow retrieve with a paddle-tail or jointed swim bait can pull in bass from afar. A great subtle search bait.
- Wacky Worm: An ideal beginner finesse lure. Can be used with drop shotting if you want to keep it off the bottom.
- Ned Rig: In heavily pressured areas, when the going gets real tough, I default to working a Ned Rig. The small profile and slow fall looks natural and works great to get that reluctant bite.
What Is Power Fishing
Power fishing for bass is commonly used by professional anglers in bass fishing tournaments and often defined as a style of bass fishing that involves fishing with heavy rods, reels, and line and throwing big baits around thick cover.
When To Power Fish For Bass
Power fishing is a great style of fishing for finding where bass are holding up and identifying patterns to catch bass.
When you don't know a body of water well, or don't know how active the bass are, power fishing allows you to cover tons of water quickly and efficiently.
Power Fishing Gear
When it comes to catching bass using power fishing tactics, it usually involve heavier rods, baitcaster, heavier line, and larger lures.
It isn't written in stone, but here is how I fish it.
Power Fishing Rod
When it comes to catching bass using power fishing techniques, anything lighter than a medium-heavy casting rod and is out of the question for me.
If I had to choose just one rod, I'd probably use a medium-heavy 7'3" to 7'6" fast action casting rod.
Power Fishing Reel
For a power fishing reel choice, I like something fast around an 8:1 gear ratio baitcasting reel.
The fast gear ratios let me burn the lure back to me quickly and make another cast when my lure is out of my determined strike zone. Being able to pick up line fast also helps yard those lunker bass out of the thick weeds before they drag me down and tangle me up.
Power Fishing Line
When it comes to fishing line for power fishing, I like to go heavy with something like a 40-65lb braid or 15-20lb flourocarbon. This lets me hoist bass out of some messy situations quickly and eases my nerves about breaking off.
I usually stick with 50 lb braid and 17 lb flourocarbon for a nice middle of the road setup.
Favorite Power Fishing Lures
- Hollow Body Frogs: I love frog fishing. Anything topwater really, but there's something about walking a frog in places you can't throw other topwater lures, and then watching a bass blow up on your lure! It's one of the most exiting ways to catch bass, in my opinion.
- Skirted Swim Jigs: Swimming a jig around cover is a great way to catch bass.
- Spinnerbaits: A spinnerbait is a great way to catch bass on overcast days in wind blown waters. It's also great in muddy water. One of my favorites for spring and fall.
- Crankbaits: Burning a squarebill around gravel bottoms or bouncing it off stumps and laydowns is always a great way to trigger that reaction bite.
- Weighted Texas Rig: Flipping and pitching a craw style soft plastic around heavy cover is one of my favorite ways to catch bass.
When to Choose Power or Finesse for Bass
When fishing a new area I almost always start out with some form of power fishing.
Power fishing with some type of search bait, not only tells me how active the bass are, but where the fish are hiding.
Once you figure out the activity level of the bass, you can determine if you need to downsize and bust out your finesse fishing gear.
For example, the other day I was walking a frog along the edge of a laydown and noticed some movement in the water nearby my lure, but the fish never touched the frog. So I immediately reeled in, picked up my finesse rod and reel, and chucked a weightless senko out there. After a moment of hesitation, the bass decided my worm was food, and the fight was on!
I can't tell you how many fish I've caught by following up a power fishing presentation with a finesse setup.
But I've also had success by simply slowing down my power fishing baits.
Power-Finesse: Combining The Two Tactics For A Hybrid Approach
When we consider the term finesse fishing, the word finesse means to be intricate, delicate, and subtle. It doesn't say anything about light lures, lines, or rods. So who's to say you can't finesse fish a hollowbody frog?
In one of Gene Jenson's topwater frog fishing for bass video's, he discusses how he was beat in a bass fishing tournament by a guy who was deadsticking his frog.
To summarize, Gene mentions how the guy who ultimately won the tournament would cast his frog along the edge of grass lines, let the ripples fade and then gently begin walking his frog a few feet at a time and then pausing it, for an extended period of time.
If you haven't heard of Gene Jenson, he runs one of the best bass fishing YouTube channels out there. Here's the video at the timestamp he discusses how he lost the tournament to the guy finesse fishing a topwater frog:
So with that being said, who's to say you can't go the other way around and power fish with finesse gear?
Power fishing is more than just heavy gear and big baits, it's a way of working a lure to efficiently cover water.
There's nothing stopping you from adding weight to a dropshot so it sinks faster, allowing you power fish it and cover more water.
Whether you're finesse fishing or power fishing, the most important thing is to be versatile and have the ability to adjust on the fly.
Bass fishing is never easy, but by having multiple techniques and tactics in your arsenal, you'll be able to adapt to any situation and be that much more successful.
In the end, all that matters is that you're catching bass!