If you're looking for a new challenge and want to inject more excitement into every cast, it's time to enter the world of ultralight bass fishing. Ultralight bass fishing is definitely a niche pursuit, and though gaining popularity, it has remained a mysterious art. But when you boil it down, adding ultralight tackle and techniques to your arsenal is simply another way to help you catch more fish when nothing else works. Use these ultralight bass fishing tips, lures and gear to get started or to improve your technique with the sport.
Technically speaking, the term "ultralight" refers to the lightest weight class of rods and reels available. Traditionally, these delicate fishing tools were reserved for pursuing the smallest game fish, mostly trout and panfish. But thanks to some early forerunners in the bass fishing sphere like Ray Scott, ultralight tackle has been adapted to catch bass—even big ones—under a variety of conditions.
On one hand, downsizing your tackle from traditional 10- to 25-pound class bass gear comes with its challenges and isn't ideal for every fishing situation. But on the other hand, ultralight tackle can give you a serious advantage, especially when fishing heavily pressured fish. Lighter lines, smaller lures, and stealthier presentations often add up to fewer spooked fish and more bites. Now the question is: what makes a good ultralight setup for bass?
The defining feature of ultralight bass fishing gear is the ridiculously light line sizes. We're talking two to 6-pound test. Most folks who aren't hip to ultralight will think you're crazy for going after any bass with line that light. But with the right presentation and fish-fighting technique, super skinny lines can be deadly.
4-pound test line is the most commonly used line size for ultralight fishing. It's small enough to cast even the lightest lures long distances, but not so light that you risk breaking off with every head shake of a healthy bass.
When you decide to go ultralight, it's time to set aside the baitcaster and seek out the lightest spinning reel you can find. Ideally, you want a reel that weighs less than 10 ounces and holds at least 110 yards of 4-pound test line. Most of the top fishing reel manufacturers offer ultralight models. Look for the one that has the largest diameter spool. Spools that are too small in diameter lead to many headaches including excessive line memory, kinking, and slow retrieval.
Many ultralight rods you'll find are designed for trout and panfish. They're generally very short—in the four to five-foot range—and extremely whippy from the tip through the butt section. Not what you want for bass.
Here’s an ultralight bass fishing tip: you need a rod that is flexible enough to bend under its own weight to successfully cast 1/32 to 1/8th-ounce lures. But at the same time, the rod needs enough backbone to bring a largemouth to net. Look for a rod with a fast tip but a powerful butt section, ideally in the 6 1/2 to 8-foot range. Since light line tends to stretch more than heavier line, the extra rod length will help you compensate when setting the hook.
As ultralight techniques prove more and more effective, lure manufacturers continue to produce micro-sized bass lures. And they're often just that—popular bass lure styles, only scaled down to ultralight sizes. Little buzz baits, tube jigs, crankbaits, even tiny topwater poppers and sliders make up the ultralight bass lure library. Go for the bass-specific ultralight lures such as the Rebel Teeny PopR or the Rebel Bumble Bug, but don't be afraid to experiment with panfish lures as well.
Now that we've covered the basic ultralight bass fishing gear selection, let's go over a few tips that will help you succeed in the sport. Use these tactics, and you'll be on your way to pure rod bending kicks in no time.
No matter what style of tackle you're using or the species you're after, you should always make sure your hooks are hypodermic-sharp. This is especially true with ultralight fishing. When you're using 4-pound test or lighter, you simply can't muscle the fish, particularly when it's time to set the hook. Instead, you have to rely on the hook itself to seal the deal and drive itself into the fish's lip. If a hook is sharp enough, it practically sets itself.
Sorry slugger, but like we just said, you can't muscle the hook set with ultralight line. So when you get a bite, instead of jerking your rod skyward, go for a nice smooth sweeping motion until you feel the weight of the fish on the line. Then, keep steady pressure on the line throughout the fight.
Despite the small size of ultralight spinning reels, most have adequate drag pressure to handle surprisingly large bass—that is if you have plenty structure-free room to let the fish run. However, when you need more control over the pressure you apply to a fish, you might want to skip using the reel's drag altogether.
The most adept ultralight bass anglers actually turn off the anti-reverse on their reels. Then, instead of letting the fish pull drag, the angler back reels while keeping the line tight to let line out. This sneaky little trick takes practice to master but is essential when targeting bigger largemouths with ultralight gear.
Beyond the effectiveness of ultralight tackle, light lines and flexible rods make even the smallest fish a blast to catch. When planning a full day of fishing action, make sure you have the best performance fishing gear equipped. Stock up on high quality fishing shirts, shorts, gaiters and more from Huk Gear today!
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