We have all been there, trust me. I have asked several expert anglers the same question that brought you here, “why can’t I feel the bass bite my bait?”. This is honestly a very important question to ask not only your friends, but yourself as well if you just aren’t catching as many bass as you want. Sometimes you might pull in your line with half of your worm or bait missing and wonder how the heck you just didn’t feel it. I am going to share with you some of the most common reasons why you just aren’t feeling every bite a bass makes on your bait, and how we can help improve your senses enough to start landing you all those extra fish you have missed out on.
The most common reason for not feeling a bit on your line, is because of your rod. Your fishing rod action and power are going to tell you a lot about what you are going to be feeling when the fish bite. Another Issue might be that you have to heavy of a line on your reel, so when the fish does bite, its not sending any vibrations or movement down the line to your hand. Finally, you might be missing out on bites because of weight and bait size for what you are fishing for. If you have to much weight added to your line and a smaller fish picks up your bait, it might never even lift the weight off the bottom to move the line for you to feel the bite. The same rule applies to bait size and weight on your hook because the bass just can’t pick it up, however, I want to let you know that I have had some very small bass pick up some very big bait, so this usually not a big issue when it comes to fishing for bass. Let’s take a more in depth look at why certain things cause you to lose feeling or sensitivity when it comes to a bass bite.
Find the Right Rod
Rod sensitivity plays an important part of the fish bite, whether it be bass, or any other type of fish you might be hunting. If the rod is way too heavy, then a small nibble will never reach back to the tip of your rod, or even bend it enough to show you that something is happening down there. I wrote a pretty good article HERE, that will take you through all the steps you need for finding the right rod to fit your needs, and will also go into more depth on the power and action of a rod, and how it can affect your fishing game. A good tip is to get a rod that will work for a few sizes and types of fish, so you don’t always have to be changing your rods when you want to fish for bass, or trout, or crappie (just a few examples). Don’t go too light on the rod either, or every little rock and weed you run over, will feel like a whale has just latched onto your line, and your rod will bend in half just trying to get your bait to shore. Rods and Reels are the staple to fishing successfully, so please do a little research and pick the best rod for you!
There is a reason why fishing line companies make so many different pound test lines, and they have really done their homework to make lighter, stronger lines that won’t snap every time you hook a large bass. Just because you want to catch a ten or twelve pound bass, does not necessarily mean you need to run out and buy twelve to fifteen pound test line. If you have too heavy of a line on your rod, you are not going to feel the normal two pound bass that you can catch all day. Pick a line weight that is middle of the road, like eight pound test that will give you much better sensitivity, but still hold up if you hook into a ten pounder. The only time you really need to be worried about a fish that big snapping an eight pound test, is if they do a sudden surge, or jerk, and you do not have your drag set properly. Go a little lighter on the test, and ease the fish into shore, it’s not a race, so wear the bass down.
Lighten The Load
Make sure that take a few minutes to get the proper weight (or sinker) setup on your gear. Too much weight will make it very harder for smaller fish to move your line around, especially if you are fishing a drop shot or setup that needs to hit the bottom. Use only enough weight to get your bait to the bottom and keep it there, which does take some practice and trial and error. It may seem like a good idea to use a full ounce of weight on your line to help get the bait to bottom, but keep in mind that I have had, and do have bass hit the bait on the fall (as the bait is falling to the bottom), so maximize your fishing game by letting it take a little longer to get there. If a fish sees a worm travelling to the bottom at lightening speeds, the chances of it hitting it, or even chasing it is going to be slim because fish can be very skittish at times.
Stop! Wait A Few Seconds
If you think you feel a fish nibbling on your line, STOP! Wait a few seconds before trying to set the hook, or jerking the bait again. Chances are if a bass hit your bait once, and you let it sit before jerking it again, that bass is going to strike again. Sometimes it might bite once, but more often than not, if he wants to eat what you are throwing, he is going to attack it a few times to kill it, and then will eat it. This can be tricky because you also don’t want to let the bass swallow your whole hook and bait, especially if you are on a catch and release because if they swallow it, there is a high percentage that it is really going to hurt, and possibly kill the fish when you try and get the hook out. If you are going to eat the fish you catch, and it swallows the hook, you are going to have to cut your line, and re-tie a new bait setup which is time consuming.
Watch That Slack
Always keep an eye on your line slack, as this can make the difference between feeling a bite, and not feeling anything at all. I do a ton of drop shot, so I keep my line nice and tight, but with enough slack that you are not dragging the bait across the bottom. If you just throw your line out in the water, and leave a ton of slack in it, the bass would have to pick it up and carry it away before you even knew there was a fish on. When this happens, it is almost a for sure bet that it has swallowed your hook setup, which goes back to us not harming the fish as much as possible. If you keep the line nice and tight, when a fish bites, you should see the tip of your rod move when you do get that bite, which should give you just enough time to set the hook on the bass.
Feeling a bite takes a lot of practice, and even after many years of fishing, you will still lose a few to missed bites. On the bright side, there are many tricks and helpful tips to keep you from losing 80% to 90% of the bites you get. Fishing takes patience, practice, and a little luck, so feeling the bass bite, is over half the battle. Once you feel the bite, you just have to set the hook, and bring em in. Get the right rod, and get the right line weight setup on your rig, and be patient when that first nibble happens. This coupled with keeping the slack off your line will improve your bass game ten fold in the long run, and I guarantee will help you land more fish.