Tips for Fishing Deep Lakes for Bass

You may think that fishing for bass on a deep lake is the same as fishing for them in the shallows. It isn’t. It requires a whole different skill set.

Know Where to Fish for Bass

Bass are not fans of open water. Even if the water is deep, they will still enjoy hanging around structure and sheltered areas. Keep an eye out for those. Even the smallest of deep water features could play host to some mighty fine bass.

Look out for rocky outcroppings. Coves, or anything that looks like it has a creek channel running through that area. You will almost certainly find bass here.

You will also want to keep an eye out for currents on the lake. Bass can be quite lazy fish. They enjoy it when their food comes to them.

As a result, you will often find the bass hanging around currents, as many of the smaller fish and other food sources will be cruising that current.

Stay Clear of Dirty Water

Bass feed ‘by sight’. This means that the water should be fairly clear. If it isn’t, then bites may be minimal.

You may find a little bit of success with live bait, but your standard lures will be unlikely to pick up anything, no matter how eye catching they are.

It’s possible to attract bass using vibrating lures like spinnerbaits and spoons, but visual cues definitely dominate.

Use Electronics to Find the Bass

If a lake is deep, it tends to be rather large. Finding bass can be like finding a needle in a haystack. Even the professionals recommend that you use electronics to locate the bass

A decent fish finder is the way to go here. Modern fish finders don’t just “find fish”.

They offer full color contour maps of lakes. They can also show rocks, submerged logs, and other very detailed items.

Fish at the warmer times of the day

When the heat starts to roll in, bass will venture away from the shoreline and into the deeper waters of the lake. This is because it is shadier. The larger bass absolutely loathe getting hot.

In the summer months, you may find that the bass never really venture close to the shoreline. Well, for no more than a couple of hours per day. This means that if you are casting from the shore, you are going to need to really work on your cast to get that rod out there.

Choose the Right Fishing Rod

Sure. You could probably catch some bass by tying a bit of line to the end of a fairly robust tree branch, but we can’t imagine that it would be the best fishing experience in the world. If you want to catch bass on a deep lake, then you need the right rod for the job.

There are just a few things you will need to pay special attention to here.

Rod Action

Ideally, you would want to pick up a rod with a medium action.

The problem with choosing a heavy action fishing rod is the fact that it isn’t sensitive enough. When you are deep-water fishing for bass, you need to have a clear idea about what your bait is doing. It needs to be constantly on the move, and you need to have control over the direction. Heavy action fishing rods do not allow this.

The bass in deep water lakes are likely too large for a light action rod. You will never be able to hook them. Well, at least not without a bit of skill.


Ideally, purchase the longest fishing rod you can handle. This will allow you to cast out further, which will help take your bait into even deeper waters.

Rod Material

Graphite. It is much more responsive, and it will make it easier for you to hook the larger bass that often dwell in deeper lakes.

Use Spinning Reels

Since the bulk of the deep lake bass fishing techniques involve dragging, you will need to get your hands on a quality spinning reel. These have a higher gear ratio, which means slower dragging. This means more of a chance to catch some amazing bass.

Choose the Right Bait

If you want to hook bass on deep-water lakes, then you need to use the right bait.

We always suggest that you use live bait if possible. Lures can be brilliant, but bass is a difficult fish to catch at the best of times. On well-fished lakes, it isn’t uncommon for them to be a little bit skeptical of anything that isn’t thrashing around wildly.

On deeper lakes, we suggest you steer clear of crawfish. They aren’t really a major snack for bass in deeper waters. The same goes for frogs. Instead, you will want to pick yourself up a good few live minnows and cast them. Shad and nightcrawlers can be a safe bet here too.

If you do not want to use live bait, then flutter spoons and your average swim bait lures will work wonders. They will both catch the eyes of the fish. Although, if you want to increase your chances of success, then make sure that they are almost constantly moving.

Send out multiple casts

The problem with bass is that they do not take to any bait all that well. This fish is pretty much always suspicious. You need to be presenting the bait to them in the exact right way, or they are not going to try to gobble it up.

Even if you are in an area that bass are known to frequent, it may take a few dozen casts for you to get a nibble. If you have live bait, do not just leave it thrashing about in the water. Slowly reel it in. If you have no bite after a minute or two, cast the bait out again at a different angle. It is repetitive, but it gets the job done.

Choose the Right Rigs

You have a few different options for bass fishing jigs when on deep water. You will want to ensure you choose the right one for the situation.

Carolina Rig

If you aren’t quite sure what the water holds, then use the Carolina Rig. It is easy to move about, particularly in rocky areas. Bass are pretty much drawn to this type of jig as it doesn’t really appear as if they are being ‘tricked’. The bait is presented as naturally as possible.

Football Jig

When you want to get a little bit deeper i.e. you want to drag that bait near the bottom of the lake, then go for the football jig. Attach some live bait onto one of these, and you will almost certainly get a catch if you are fishing in the right locations. The secondary benefit of the football jig is that it is sensitive enough for you to be able to ‘sense’ what the bottom of the water feels like. This will help in the selection of somewhere to cast.

To be honest, either one of these two should be fine. However, some fishermen have reported that they do not really need any special set-up. They just cast some live bait out on a standard jig and managed to get some regular catches.

Choose the Right Colors

This applies to both your line, plus any artificial baits you are planning to cast out there. You will need to think long and hard about water conditions here. This means that you may need to change things up a bit as the day goes on, or you target new spots

  • Black or blue set-ups should be the ‘go to’ for most situations. The bottom of the lake is going to be quite dark, and blue will light up like a Christmas tree. Bass will notice it.
  • Brown: if you are planning to be fishing a lot around rocky areas, then brown is the way to go. It looks like a crawfish, and a rather tasty snack.
  • White: if you are casting out live baitfish, then get a nice white set-up. It is more eye-catching for the bass.

Choose a heavier line

Bass that lurk in deeper waters tend to be a bit larger than their shore-dwelling counterparts. This means that you will likely need to pick up a heavier line than normal. Of course, the weights are likely to be a bit heavier too. After all, you will be trying to get your lure down to the bottom of the water.

In most cases, 15 lb mono line should be more than enough to catch bass.

Always Use the Dragging Technique

Ask any competitive fisherman, and they will tell you that the best way to catch bass is to drag the bait. As we said before; if that bait isn’t moving, the fish will not be biting.

Use Dropshotting

If the lake is really deep, then go for dropshotting. This is a simple set-up, but it will allow your bait to sink quickly to the bottom. As it does you should give the rod a shake. This will likely attract any bass within a 20-foot radius.

Once you have shaken the dropshot rig around a little bit, you can start employing the dragging technique for maximum effect. If fish are feeding around there, this will almost always guarantee a bite.


The first time you head out on a deep lake for bass, do not expect to catch anything. You may get lucky, but it won’t be long before you realize that it is a whole different ball game to fishing in shallower areas. The fish are harder to track down for one.

This is a case where ‘practice makes perfect’. The more you fish for bass on deep lakes, the easier it will be to understand the best way to cast your rod, the jigs to use, and your overall technique. As you refine your technique, you should start to enjoy more and more bites.