Bass fishing in the UK has always been one of our most popular pastimes as anglers on the coast. We target the fish in many ways, either more traditionally standing in the surf with a worm of large fish bait, or twitching a weedless soft plastic lure through the weed.
I bait fished for 20 years before really getting in to my lure fishing and opening our dedicated lure fishing shop. I appreciate the benefits and most enjoyable factors of both, but a lack of time for bait preparation or longer sessions drew me to the lure. This started for me in around 2006. By 2010 we had opened The Art of Fishing in St Merryn, near Padstow and become one of the very first dedicated bass shops selling mostly lure fishing gear. People laughed, "You'll never sell a £20 plug". Now modern lure fishing has taken over the mainstream and the media, and bass fishing has never enjoyed such an interesting and productive time. If only there were still so many fish in the sea...TOP
Bass Regulations 2019
The rules and regs are changing rapidly these days. Hopefully this paragraph will still be up to date at the time you're reading this. The good new for many this year is that the total ban on taking fish (as per 2018) has been lifted.
An incorrect assumption from a lot of people I speak to in the shop is that we are no longer allowed to fish for bass.
"Are we allowed to catch bass?" Categorically, YES!!!!!
Fish for and catch as many as you like or can. It's when it comes to taking them home for dinner that the restrictions come in.
April 1st - October 31st, 2019
For the most part of the year it is now possible for anglers to take one fish per day, per angler. As per the last number of years, this fish must be over 42cm in length.
November 1st - December 31st, 2019
From 1st November we return to a complete ban on retaining bass. This part of the year is catch-and-release only.TOP
Bass Fishing Season UK
While there's no official season that restricts when we can and can't fish for bass in the UK, the fish themselves decide when they will pass through or reside in our waters. Obviously this varies across the UK depending on water temperature and other things. We are based in Cornwall, so our general season runs as follows:
When I started lure fishing for bass in 2006, it didn't seem rare to start catching odd fish at the end of March and in early April. The fishing wasn't easy but odd fish showed. As the years have passed it feels like those first fish are taking longer to arrive. Often now, good fishing doesn't begin until July (with odd fish before that) - whereas before it would have been May/June. Ultimately this slow fishing early in the year lead us to move our annual lure competition to October to ensure more reliable fishing. However, with the start of the season shifting, the latter part has also moved on. While a lot of the older locals would have insisted that they gave up by November in years gone by, often we now have excellent fishing until mid-January. The fishing this winter has actually continued for longer than I've ever seen it. January especially was epic! Odd fish even showed in February and March has already seen what appears to be the start of a fresh run of fish. This shows the unpredictability of bass fishing in the UK. While we have general rules for when the fish will be here, some years fish better or worse depending on how cold the winter gets. A mild winter this year has inevitably helped bring forward our 2019 season. Hopefully it's a sign of great things to come this year.TOP
Rod & Reel Combos
What lure setup should I buy to start bass fishing? Well, what's your budget?
I'll go in to more details in the individual product categories, but if you're just starting out, keep it simple. DON'T spend a lot of money as it is only with time and experience that you will get to know what kind of rod really suits the places you're fishing or what you enjoy most. To start, look for rods around 9' in length and rated to cast up to a maximum of between about 35g and 50g. Match this with a reel around the 4000 size. Reel sizes do vary between manufacturers so be a little careful. For a sub-£100 reel you may be looking for a reel weight of between about 280g and 320g to balance nicely with an all-round 9' bass rod.
So, you've set your budget and want the best rod and reel combo you can afford? Let's see...TOP
£100 bass combo
£90 actually! For shore, boat and kayak.
There is a lot of competition in every price range, but this one more so than others. Every brand going has a cheap "spinning" rod that they will try to tell you is the best one going, and unfortunately, big brands have more marketing power - along with some of the worst products. So be careful. That said, if you're looking in this price range and want one rod and reel to do it all, look no further than the Shimano Vengeance Seabass 240 (50g). For less than £40, they're a brilliant light bass rod (we sell them in the shop, although they're not online). Only 8' long but this is quite a nice length to use if you know you're not going to be out in the surf. It's a take it anywhere kind of length and is also very suitable for the boat or kayak too.
Match that rod with a Daiwa Ninja 3000. For a penny under £50, you have the best value reel available today. Super smooth and nicely robust.
Buy here: Daiwa Ninja 3000
This setup won't be the lightest out there, but for less than £100 (less than £90 in fact), you'll have a brilliant setup that you can take anywhere and catch heaps of bass on.TOP
£150 bass lure combo
All-round shore fishing combo.
This is where things start to get interesting. Within this price point it's possible to work in one or two slightly more delicate and sensitive rods. This is a BIG step up, and at this point you're bordering on the verge of more specialist lure setups - as opposed to a do-it-all kit. This combo will be more suited to lures up to around 30g, rather than 50g and will do a better job with the lighter soft plastics than a budget recommendation.
Rod wise, look no further than the Favorite Cobalt 902MH (max.35g). Currently selling for £69.99, they're a bloody good try at a "proper" bass lure rod. Lovely handle design and the fast action you'll be looking for once you've gained a little experience. Faultless considering the price tag. At 9' long it has a little more reach than the Shimano Vengeance 240MH which will make shore fishing sometimes easier. It will also be less suitable on the kayak or boat, so be careful there (cheaper option recommended for that). There's also a lighter version of this rod available if you know you're only fishing calm conditions and lighter lures. This MH model is my recommendation for an all-round bass rod though.
Buy here: Favorite Cobalt 902MH
As for reels, Daiwa continue to impress with their sub-£100 offerings. Especially with their new LT models. Grab a Daiwa Exceler LT 4000 which is currently on at £79.99. This is actually a smaller size than the 3000 Ninja mentioned above, but is perfect for the Cobalt rod. The gold and silver graphics go perfectly with it too(because the fish will care about that!?!). It's two steps up from the Ninja and just the most awesomely good value for money reel available right now.
Buy here: Daiwa Exceler LT 4000TOP
£200 all-round bass combo
Now we're talking! A slight jump up from above, but a noticeable one. Go for the Nomura Aichi 90MH. On paper it's rated to 45g, but it's not quite that - which actually makes it a nicer rod than you'd imagine. Having taken the measurements and done the comparisons, the Aichi is much like the brilliant HTO Nebula range and sits perfectly in between the two 9' models from that series. The Aichi is a bit better balanced but still just as light, yet the rod remains surprisingly unknown to many. Consider it more like a 40g rod and you have a do-it-all bass rod that is light, fast and a joy to use. For £109.99 they're incredible value.
Buy here: Nomura Aichi 90MH
On to the Aichi, strap a Daiwa Fuego LT 4000. This reel is a MagSealed version of the Exceler above - which means it's a bit more waterproof internally - great for when you might get wet! Like the Exceler, they're incredibly smooth and light. When you have a rod as well balanced as the Aichi, you don't want to be ruining it with a heavy reel. The colour schemes match too! ;-)
Buy here: Daiwa Fuego LT 4000TOP
£300 best bass setup
This is a toughy. By the time you get to this point you have a lot of options and choices to make between upgrading the rod or the reel. You can do both in a way, and it's at this point that really, this is as good a bass fishing setup as anybody needs. Superb rods and reels in this price point.
For the rod, you really have two options, depending on what you want.
Rod 1: Major Craft Triple Cross EU Custom 9', 10-30g - £199.99. An upgrade from the old Major Craft Skyroad. Just brilliant all-round lure rods with slightly more power than the Tailwalk below. Great with everything from a softie to the big Patchinko.
Rod 2: Tailwalk Saltyshape Dash Seabass 9', 7-28g - £189.99. A slightly softer rod than the Triple Cross. Better balanced and crisper too. A lighter all-rounder very capable with everything bar a large Patchinko. Great with unweighted plastics as well as the usual plugs.
Two absolutely faultless rods in the price bracket. By this point, anglers naturally have more experience so will know whether the heavier or slightly lighter rod suits them.
For reels, look no further than the brilliant Daiwa BG 2500. Considered by anglers around the world (a lot of whom bash their reels up on fish far larger than our own) to be one of the best saltwater spinning reels ever made. They're a no-frills, robust spinning reel that's ultra smooth and has stood the test of time. A very easy recommendation for a mere £99.99!
Buy here: Daiwa BG 2500
Upgrade? If you want to go one step further budget wise, you can consider upgrading to the Shimano Stradic FK 3000 - a reel that balances superbly with the above two rods (better than the Stradic Ci4+) and provides another known quantity. Light, smooth and reliable.TOP
£500 lure combo
Thanks to one very special rod that was launched at the end of 2018, this choice is very easy. Even if this were a £600 price bracket, the rod to go for is still the incredible new Tailwalk EGinn 96ML-R. At £279.99 it blows everything else out of the water. Even rods in much higher price ranges. The rods blank is just THAT good that you don't notice or care about the non-Torzite/Titanium (but still high quality) rod guides. As a bass rod, it's just so nice to use. The super light, very fast, steely action is capable of fishing all lure types up to its maximum 35g rating. But it's still delicate enough to fish an unweighted soft plastic with ease. The best lure rod we've ever sold(!), taking price and quality in to consideration. It could be bettered by more expensive guides, but the blank beats EVERYTHING else with regards to what British bass anglers like right now.
Buy here: Tailwalk EGinn 96ML-R
For reels, match it with a 3000 sized Shimano Sustain FI 3000 HG. A beautifully light, silky smooth quality reel that copes wit the stresses of bass fishing incredibly well. In the shop, they're proving themselves very reliable by the lack of returns or problems we get. They're effectively an upgraded Stradic. For £229.99, they do push us £10 over budget here, but they're the perfect match for the Eginn 96.
Buy here: Shimano Sustain 3000TOP
Money no object?
Once you get in to the higher price ranges, we'll assume you know what you're doing and what you want. Often the case with the higher quality rods is that they become more specific - so you're paying for a particular style of rod with the highest quality fittings to suit your exact requirements. If money is no object though, you've got some great options available to you. It actually becomes more about the style of rod that you want than the price that they cost. The right rod may cost £300, or it may cost £600, so picking a "best rod" for me here is impossible. One range does stand out though for being a little..... different.
The Tailwalk Hi-Tide TZ sit at the top of Tailwalk's rod catalogue. Retails are all well above £400 and they naturally include Fuji's finest titanium and Torzite components. It is the blank however that makes these rods such a joy to use.
Unlike the slightly cheaper EGinn rods that have that crisp, fast, steely action that everyone adores, the Hi-Tide TZ 90ML (our favourite in the range) is soft. I describe them more fully within their own product category but they are just the most lovely, effortless rods to fish with. A gentle cast has the lure propelling at top speed for the horizon, and when a fish is hooked you will do nothing but smile for the duration of time it takes to get it in. This softness isn't anything like "floppy", just...."elastic". You could pick one up in the shop and wonder what the fuss was about. Put a line though it though and the whole things quickens right up; until you need to bend it. Just incredible whatever it is that they've done to create this rod.
So why does all this matter?
If you fish mostly soft plastic lures, especially unweighted DoLive type sticks, the 24g rated Hi-Tide TZ 90ML (or 87ML) is THE rod to do it on. Nothing compares. This is just one fine example of why some rods cost what they do, and when you get in to these higher price points, how much more specialist the rods become. RRP is £439.99.
Buy here: Tailwalk Hi-Tide TZ 90ML
For high quality reels, you can simply go as far as you like - to the likes of the Shimano Stella. I prefer recommending the Shimano Twin Power XD 3000 for all of the above rods. It's well over £300 quid (only half the price of a Stella), but is as good a reel as any bass angler in the UK will need.
Buy here: Shimano Twin Power XD C3000 HG
Confession: While I'd usually suggest the Twin Power, for the Hi-Tide above you can't beat the Shimano Vanquish 3000. The colours match and it's a lighter reel than the TP. The PERFECT soft plastics combo!TOP
Our best selling bass lure
We sell thousands of lures every year and trends come and go. Some lures show themselves great catchers and consistent sellers though. For 2018, the lure that stood out for us in the shop with the brilliant Doomsday Tackle Laggin' Dragon 5.4". Rigged weedless and weightless, they're much like the OSP DoLive Stick, just slightly smaller but with a fatter tail. Mark has been on hand in the shop showing people how to rig them and how to work them. Please do call us if you need advice.
Buy here: Doomsday Laggin' Dragon 5.4"