How Do You Catch Bass When They Aren’t Biting?

Let me know if this sounds familiar to you – you’re out fishing at your favorite fishing spot or one you are trying for the first time but the bass aren’t biting and are nowhere to be found. After some time, you start to ask yourself the question, ‘why am I not catching any bass?’

We have all been there. This happens to even the most skilled and experienced anglers. In this article we share with you how you can catch bass when they aren’t biting. Including the main reasons, you are not catching fish, the best baits to use, and some other tips and tricks that will help you catch more bass when the bite is tough.

Let’s get started!

11 Reasons Why You Aren’t Catching Bass

Before I share with you the tips and strategies that will help you catch bass whey they aren’t biting, I think it’s worth quickly discussing the possible reasons why you aren’t having any luck.

Here is a list of possible reasons why you aren’t catching any bass:

  • Fishing the Wrong Areas
  • Fishing with The Wrong Baits & Lures
  • Using the Wrong Size of Lures
  • Not Using the Right Colors
  • Fishing at the Wrong Time of Day
  • Fishing at the Wrong Speed
  • Water Temperatures Not Right
  • Cold Fronts
  • Too Windy or Not Windy Enough
  • Fish are ‘Spooked’
  • Fishing at the Wrong Depth
  • Fishing at the Wrong Lake or Pond

By understanding the potential reasons why, you aren’t catching bass you can come up with a better game plan to help trigger the fish into biting. 

For more in-depth information about the reasons why you aren’t’ catching any fish check out this article: Not Catching Fish? Here are 11 Reasons Why the Fish Aren’t Biting.

11 Tips to Catch Bass When They Aren’t Biting

Bass fishing can be challenging and that’s part of what makes it so rewarding. Fishing can be a grind and sometimes the bass are just hard to come by on a given day.

The best anglers understand how to adjust and adapt in tough fishing conditions. Each situation will be different and have its own unique set of challenges.

Here are some tips, strategies and adjustments you can make that will help you catch more bass when they aren’t biting:

Go Finesse

When the bite is tough most experienced anglers will go with a finesse presentation. They will drop down in lure or bait size and fish their prime areas thoroughly and slowly.

Finesse rigs like the Ned Rig, Carolina Rig and the Drop shot are great options in tough conditions. They will get you more bites when other techniques won’t work.

Slow Down and Be Thorough

When the water temperature is cold or when the fish are being stubborn slowing down your presentation is critical.

Just when you think you are fishing slow, go even slower. Especially if you aren’t getting any bites. It may be painful at first, but this stagey will help you catch more fish when things aren’t ideal.  

Downsize Your Lures

Another great tactic to use when targeting picky bass is to downsize to smaller baits and lures. This method can be extremely effective on pressured lakes or when the fish aren’t biting on your normal baits and lures.  

A smaller profile often times looks more appealing to a wider range of bass, and mimics smaller forage. This can help you catch more fish on cold fronts, heavily pressured lakes and in any other fishing conditions.  

Check out this article by about downsizing your lure presentation.

Color Considerations

Although it may seem like a small and simple thing a bait’s color hue can be a big difference maker for finicky bass. In tough fishing conditions natural colors will most likely be your best bet, especially in clear water.

On the other hand bold or bright colors are ideal in stained water or when the bass aren’t responding to natural colors

For more tips on how to select the right bass fishing lure color check out another one of our articles: How to Choose the Right Bass Fishing Colors

Make Mental Adjustments

The mental side of fishing often gets over looked and underappreciated. Stay focused and don’t let things get you down.

When things get tough keep grinding, be positive and have some fun out on the water regardless of the circumstances.

This will not only help you catch more fish by helping you stay focused and in the moment, but it will also help you overall fishing experience.

 Go Weightless

Another great way to get a few extra bites is to fish without weights. This works particularly well with soft plastics like Senkos and other stick baits.

Going weightless provides the fish with a more natural presentation and can help trigger more bass into biting. Sometimes all it takes is a different look or a slight change to get the bass striking again.

Try a Different Spot

This may seem like an obvious suggestion, but it’s important nonetheless. Often times we as anglers will spend too much time fishing in the same areas.

If you aren’t catching any bass in an area and it’s been over 15 minutes, move on. Try a different spot. Fish different types of structure, depths and parts of the lake or pond you are fishing at.  

Fish Heavy Cover

When you are faced with brutal conditions one strategy that many of the professional bass anglers turn to in these situations is a heavy cover pattern.

At times like these bass will often head into the thickest of cover and hide out. That’s when you’ll need to bust out a good flipping and pitching setup and start picking apart the heavy cover.  

Mix Up Retrieval Speed and Cadence

Sure, a steady lure retrieval can catch you fish, but if you really want to catch more bass especially when it’s tough than mixing up your retrieval speed and cadence is critical.

Bass are opportunistic predators and small changes in you lure like a pause, increase in speed or deflection off cover are great ways to trigger some strikes. Mix it up and you’ll get more bites.

Make Longer Casts

Longer cast can be the difference in fooling finicky bass especially in clear water situations. Casting distance means more time in the strike zone and will increase your odds at catching more fish.

Add Scent

One thing you should consider when the fishing it tough is adding some scent. Tipping your bait and lures with some scent is a great way to mask unnatural scents and helps create a scent trail that attracts bass and can trigger them to bite.

Use Your Confidence Baits

When things are tough and the bass aren’t biting, switch to your confidence baits. Everyone has a certain lure or bait that always seems to get the job done.

This switch not only give you some added confidence but it will also help you re-set and get your mind right, so you’ll be ready for when the next bite comes.

10 Ways to Catch Bass When They Aren’t Biting

When bass are in a funk and just won’t seem to bite, it’s important to experiment with different tactics and strategies that will get the bass fired up and biting again. 

So what do you throw when Bass aren’t biting? In most cases when the bass are being stubborn the best presentation and strategy is to power down to a finesse presentation and slow down your retrieval.   

Here is a list of the best lures, rigs, baits and techniques to use when bass fishing gets tough:


Spybait Recommendations: Duo Realis Spinbait and Jackall I-Pro

The Spybait is a killer finesse bass fishing technique that excels in tough conditions. The idea behind a spy bait is that you are trying to imitate a lone baitfish.

Bass will have a hard time resisting what looks like an easy meal. You can throw this lure on a spinning or bait casting setup and it’s a great way to catch them when things are tough.  

Carolina Rig

Recommended Carolina Baits: Ribbon Tail Worm or Berkley Lizard

When the bite is tough and weather conditions just aren’t right, finesse fishing is the way to go. One of the best finesse fishing techniques is the Carolina Rig.

The Carolina Rig has been catching bass for decades but it often gets overlooked these days with so many other new techniques. But make no mistake, the Carolina Rig is a great way to catch them when fishing gets tough.

For more information about using the Carolina Rig to catch stubborn bass check out this article: The Carolina Rig: Tricck, Tips, and Tactics to Catch more Fish by Berkley.


Recommended Senko: Yamamoto Senko Bait

If I could only have one bait to use to catch bass when they aren’t biting it would have to be a Senko. This versatile bait can be fished and used in so many different ways and it flat out gets the job done.

When nothing else seems to be working try going with a Senko. If you are fishing around cover, I’d Texas Rig it and if you are fishing in open water or you need to give them a different look a Wacky Rigged Senko is hard to beat.

Drop Shot Rig

Recommended Drop Shot Setup: RoboWorm with Tungsten Drop Shot Weight

The Drop Shot Rig has become one of the most important rigs in bass fishing. You can fish it deep, shallow and everywhere in between.

The Drop Shot is a finesse rig that is extremely versatile and can catch both quantity and quality. This rig will work in cold front conditions, heavily pressured water and pretty much in any condition you may be faced with.

Ned Rig

Recommended Ned Rig Setup: Z-MAN Finesse ShroomZ Jigheads with a Z-MAN ElaZtech Finesse TRD

The Ned Rig has quickly become one of my go to bass fishing techniques and it excels when the bite is tough.

Some anglers call this the do nothing rig because at times its best when you are dead sticking or in other words just letting it sit still.

The Ned Rig is a bass fishing technique every angler should have in their fishing arsenal. For more information about fishing the Ned Rig check out this article: Ned Rig – The Ultimate Guide.

In-Line Spinners

Spinner Recommendations: Panther Martin and Mepps Aglia

When most people think of in-line spinners they think of trout. However, these spinners can also work well for finicky bass.

The odds are you won’t be catching any monsters on these small spinners, but they can be a great way to help put fish in the boat when times are tough.

Finesse Swimbaits

Best Finesse Swimbaits: Keitech 2.8 Fat Impact and Strike King Lures Rage Swimmer

Small swimbaits are a great way to cover water, catch more fish and even land some big bass when they aren’t biting on anything else.

Here is a great video by Tactical Bassin that goes into detail on bass fishing with finesse swimbaits.

Finesse Jigs

Recommended Jig: Strike King Finesse Jig

It’s no secret jigs are a big bass catcher, but when things get tough big jigs can have a hard time catching fish. That is where the finesse jig shines.

Finesses jigs are just a smaller version of standard bass fishing jig. They have a smaller hook, skirt and overall profile.

The smaller more finesse style jig will still allow to catch some big fish but it will also give you a higher probability of catching more fish as well.

Shaky Head

Recommended Shaky Head Setup: Strike King Shaky Head Jig with a Zoom Trick Worm or Strike King KVD Fat Baby Finesse Worm

The Shaky Head is another great finesse bass fishing technique that really shines in tough fishing conditions or when you just need to get a bite.

This simple rig catches numbers as well as big fish and is a bass fishing technique that will work year round in pretty much any condition.

If you are fishing the Shaky Head and still haven’t had any luck, don’t be afraid to downsize your worm or bait. A smaller profile may be all you need to start catch fish.

If you would like to know more about fishing a shaky head check out our in-depth guide: Shaky Head Rig – Everything You Need to know!

Texas Rig

Recommended Finesse Texas Rig Setup: Strike King Rage Tail Bug Lure and ½ tungsten bullet weight

The Texas Rig is probably one of the most popular soft plastic rigs out there and for good reason. Rigging soft plastic worms and creature baits as a Texas Rig is a great way to fish for bass in cover.

If the bass aren’t biting on your normal Texas Rig setup try the following things to help get you catch more fish:

Finesse Texas Rig Tips:

  • Use a Lighter Weight
  • Use an unpegged bullet weight
  • Downsize your soft plastics
  • Experiment with different colors

For more detailed information about fishing the Texas Rig for bass check out this article: The Texas Rig: Rigging, Baits, and Tips to Catch More Bass.

Final Thoughts

Let’s be real – Nobody likes spending the entire day fishing and not catch anything, but the reality is that fishing can be tough at times.

You can be faced with cold fronts, clear or muddy water, heavy pressured lakes and ponds or it may just be one of those days for whatever reason.  

However, by using the strategies, baits and tips we discussed in this article you’ll be able to catch them even when the bass aren’t biting.

Best of luck out there


Aaron Warner

Aaron Warner is an avid angler with over 15 years of experience. He has participated and won fishing tournaments all over the country and enjoys fishing for bass, trout, walleye and other species.

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