A prolonged spell of calm weather has allowed me to get the bass plugging gear out. Where I live on the Kent coast the sea is rarely clear for long and the windows for bass plugging and spinning are not so large as in some other parts of the UK, but then I am better off than those that fish in the Thames, Humber or Severn estuary where the sea is chocolate brown for much of the year. My experience over the years with a bass lure have made me very sceptical about the effectiveness of the tactic and I am afraid I am not a big fan simply because conditions rarely suit this fishing style in my location – Clip on a rig and a bait and its a different story. To those anglers with tunnel vision towards bass on lures I say – “Great, that’s your choice, but please don’t go on about it so much” So many talk a better bass plugging session that they perform and they are ignorant of how poor conditions around much of the UK are regarding bass lure fishing!

The reality is that bass can be caught on a lure, but the tactic essential is to go out early morning and late evening and only when conditions are perfect. I see so many novices in my fishing region feathering for mackerel when a gale is blowing. It’s the same with bass a gale of wind and dirty water sees them hunt by smell not sight. If you do lure fish in the correct conditions then there is every chance you will hook a bass although lure fishing is not a big bass tactic its great for schoolies – Sure it catches the odd 5lber, but no where near as many as a big chunk of fresh mackerel or a head!

As already mentioned being in the right place at the right time is the golden rule of bass lure fishing, don’t ignore this statement and don’t let your mind wander, especially after seeing the many staged magazine photographs or bass with lures hooked in their mouths. Such get you on the shore without thinking about when and where you are going. I told you I was sceptical, I am also cynical!

The fishing tackle you choose is the next essential to get right. So many anglers get caught up in the myth and fantasy and forget the basics. The sea is hostile environment and it’s no place for gear that is too light. Freshwater spinning rods that are too flimsy and too short don’t help to cast the large lures that bass so often take. In fact of all angling’s branches bass fishing is the one that sees the fishing tackle makers and media over hype the capability and worth of the tackle. You will find out when you get it on the shore!

Your choice of venue dictates the gear needed and it is no good using a short, light fishing rod where casting distance is required, or fish need to be bullied out of rocks and kelp. Indeed the short light rods are really only any good for close quarter bass lure fishing and from the boat.

In the main you need a rod that is powerful enough to chuck a sack full of monkey lure and that’s what most of the best bass lures are. Light on aerodynamics, but full of fish like action on the retrieve. Too easy to pick a bullet lure that casts long and retrieves like a space shuttle! You want floating, diving with the tail action of an injured fish. The injured fish shape can be deadly in many regions, whilst mackerel colouration and stripes is another avenue worth exploring.

No makes, models etc because half the fun of learning is trying the many and varied lures and I have learned it does not pay to ignore any – one of my most successful lures is a rainbow trout imitation. There I go getting caught up in the excitement of it all!

Don’t let me put you off casting a lure, its great when it works, but you must be prepared for lots of failure.


Use a small snap link or swivel clip on the end of your line – this allows for a quick change of lures and protects the knot from abrasion.

Retrieve your lure until it hits the tip ring because bass will follow and take at the last minute.

Keep the small bass (the angling size limit is 41cm) for the pot and return anything over 5lb. That’s proper conservation catch and release.

Alan Yates

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Alan Yates

About Alan Yates

Born in the channel port of Dover, Alan Yates spent his boyhood bass fishing from boat and shore. After a highly successful match fishing career, during which he competed for England 15 times, twice winning gold, Alan went on to become a full time angling journalist. While writing for, among other titles, Angling Times and Improve your Sea Angling, Alan also wrote his seminal work, Sea Fishing. Founder of the Sea Angler’s Match Federation, Alan fought for catch and release in match fishing and sea fishing more generally.

One thought on “KEEP ON PLUGGING

  1. Your so wrong about plugging not being a great method for big bass it’s actually the total opposite of what you say! How does 15lb 8oz sound to you on a surface plug in clear flat calm water and that’s in baking hot sunshine and in the north east of England. This is not a one off either we have caught many big bass around midday in flat calm conditions on a little rapala shad rap in blue&silver deep runner and on shallow venues at low water on any sort of popper. I can’t understand where your info comes from because if bass are in the mood to feed they will at anytime of the day and plugging is definitely the way to catch a big chunky bass during daylight rather than free lining a mackerel head which only works after dark to be honest. I have 20 years plugging and bass fishing experience and all I will say is don’t wait for the perfect conditions because you will never get out fishing.

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