A Bass fishing starter kit.

By Massimo Zanetti

Massimo was a member of the "Kick'n BassŪ Pro-Staff,"  our first international Pro.

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If there's a fish that can be fished with an enormous variety of lures and techniques this is surely Mr. Bass. Every novice basser seems to fall in confusion when it comes to make a selection of tackle and artificial lures for bass. I don't know how many bucks I've spent in my youth, buying rods, reels and lures that were inadequate to bass fishing. These tackle is surely in a corner of my garage... I don't remember exactly where. By now, I'm not so sure to have clear ideas about what I really need to successfully bass fishing, because I follow to buy every new lure on the market. I believe perhaps that with the age my experience and my skillness are grown, accordingly with my success in tournaments.

The fundamental question to pose when you start to bass fishing, is what you really need to fish specific types of waters. To fish all kinds of lakes, rivers and reservoir down there, you probably have to own about fifty rods and reels and tons of lures in all the colors of the rainbow: a train of tackle! Often, this is not true, with an appropriate selection you could catch bass in almost every condition and situation. Think about italian anglers: until fifteen-twenty years ago bass fishing in Italy was relatively unknown. Not to mean bass tackle and lures! Plastic worms, spinnerbaits, jigs and others top bass catchers were used by a fisherman out of one hundred, with the results you easily could imagine. Then, in the beginning slowly, and by now at the speed of a rocket, bassin' evolution in Italy has reached the highest peaks and lures and tackle are available almost everywhere, both in the tackle shops and by catalog orders.
But now let's go with our selection!
Speaking about tackle is not so easy. Nowadays, certain lures may need up to five - seven rods to be fished correctly. Take soft plastics: you could finesse tube jigs and grubs with small jigheads and a light spinning outfit, you could cast plastic worms to emergents with a medium baicasting rod, you could Carolina rig a plastic lizard with a heavy-action rod, you could flip a worm with a flipping stick and so on. I believe that, to start fishing plastics and jigs, you basically need two rods: a good sensitive 6' to 6'6" medium action spinning rod (assuming you have some clear waters to fish) which reel will be loaded with 8 pound monos and a heavy action 7'6" flipping rod loaded with a good 17 to 30 pounds test line. If you don't fish clear waters, buy a good baitcasting rod with 12-14 pound monofilament reeled in. With
these two outfits you could master successfully two or three of the most productive soft-plastics techniques. It's a good start!
To fish fast-moving lures like spinnerbaits and crankbaits you better start with a single rod. Personally my choice is a good medium-heavy action 6' 3/8-1 oz. graphite rod but, depending on your nerves, your choice could be a fiberglass rod. If you are a "nervous" fisherman, one of those men who set the hook very quick, you need a rod with a limber tip, that allows you to miss few bass. I prefer graphite rods for spinnerbaiting, because of their sensitivity. I like to feel even the subtle strike of the fish. If you choose to fish fast-moving lures with graphite rods, consider that you must disciplinate yourself not to set the hook too quickly or you'd lost lot of bass. By the way, I usually fish spinnerbaits with a 15-17 pound monofilament.
Topwaters are the most exciting lures to fish for largemouths. Depending on what kind of surface lures you fish, you'll need to have almost two rods. One 6' medium action spinning rod (10 pound test line) for jerkbaits, chuggers, crawlers etc., and a 6' medium-heavy action baitcasting rod (17 pounds test line) to fish buzzbaits, spoons and frogs. Note that the second rod has the same lenght and action of those I've mentioned to fish spinnerbaits. Buzzbait is not so different from spinnerbait so, you have now a multi-purpose rod and you'll save big bucks.
Now, with four or five rods, we can start to fish successfully for bass, with adequate, no-fail tackle. (Note that this is an article that want to help beginner bass anglers.)  
When it comes to speak about artificial lures, I'm always afraid to do this. That's because I know that everyone of us, experienced bass anglers, has his preferences and in some case don't agree with my affirmations. On one thing you must agree with me: no matter what are our preferences on artificials, there are some models and colors that allow us to face the majority of fishing conditions.
Looking at my fishing, I probably use 5-10% of the lures I got in my tackleboxes during a tournament, specially if the bass don't bite. If I'm fortunate enough to have the fish on my very first lure, I use only this lure for the entire tournament day - if the bass keep biting the artificial. Unfortunately, lure selection is not so simple as it appears or as you read in the majority of bass magazine. If you are novice to bass fishing, remember that more lures you have in the boat, more difficult you will encounter to select the appropriate bait for those particular moment. Thinking simple and stick to the basis is the best way for a beginner to catch fish.
Here is a basilar lures selection.
SOFT-PLASTICS: Regarding soft-plastics the novice basser could be easily fall in confusion when it comes to select the appropriate lures. There is a simple criteria to select worms, jigs, grubs and other plastics, as well as crankbaits, topwaters and so on: stick to natural colors and sizes. When you buy a good assortment (a 20 pcs bag, just to start) of 4", 6" and 8" plastics in black, purple, pumkinseed and motor oil color patterns you never fail. These  colors allow you to face with success almost every kind of water and weather condition.
To rig your new plastic lures, buy some bags of 3/0 and 4/0 offset hooks, along with bullet weights ranging from 1/8 oz. to 3/4 oz. 
JIG&PIG: Simply select 3/8 to 1 oz. models in black and brown colors. The pig I vividly recommend you to buy is the #11 model pork frog. Match the pig color with those of the jig. A good alternative to the pig, specially in the summer months, where the pork rind dries easily, is the plastic crawfish in 4" size in black/chartreuse, black/blue and brown color. 
SPINNERBAITS AND CRANKBAITS: Selecting the right spinnerbait models is not a difficult
task. The best suggestion I can give to a novice bassman is to buy some artificial in the 3/8, 3/4 oz. weight's range (white skirts for clear water, chartreuse for murky waters) and a number of willow leaf and Colorado blades, sizing from 4 to 7. Acting this way, you'll be able to customize the lure accordingly to the fishing conditions you'll encounter or to your preferences. Another good skirt color I suggest you to have in the tacklebox, specially if you do some night fishing, is black.
Crankbaits are a little more difficult to select respect spinnerbaits because this lure, depending on model, runs at different depths. To simplify this job we consider the crankbait working in three depth's range: shallow runner (1 to 4 ft), mid-runner (5 to 12 ft), deep-runner (more than 12 ft). As crankbait mimics a baitfish, natural colors are the best choice. Basically you need to have lures in shad, crayfish and chartreuse patterns. You realize that with an handful of crank plugs you will cover lot of fishing situations.
TOPWATERS: Selecting topwaters is a matter of personal taste and preference. Topwaters could be divided in lot of categories: prop-baits, crawlers, jerkbaits, spoons, buzzbaits, frogs and more. Every group of artificials has his specific job. Frogs, spoons and buzzbaits are created to fish emergents like lily pads, Hidrilla and others; jerkbaits are a good tool to fish  ripraps and stumps; crawlers represent the best choice to night-fishing and propbaits are excellent in muddy waters.
Be aware of the fact that natural colors trigger more strikes than bright colors like chartreuse or orange, particularly in clear water. Black belly in topwater plugs increase the underwater contrast of the lure, involving in a better vision from the bass and so in an high number of strikes.
Make your choice considering the topwater fishing aspects I have mentioned above. Ok, at this point, you, novice, have a good selection of tackle and lures. Storing these lures in soft or hard tackleboxes is only a matter of preference. Now you have the tools to catch bass.
Remember, however, that in a near future you'll buy all the newest lures you will find in catalogs and tackle shops, no matter if you really need them. Bass fishing is a tremendous malady that force you to buy all the lures you don't have in your tacklebox or at home.

Massimo's email address in Italy is:
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