10 Tips to Troubleshoot Your Bass Fishing Woes

From spinner baits to the right fishing line, Brent Chapman puts you on more bass with secrets from his own tackle box

Angler Brent Chapman fishing off the front of a boat.
Heavy lure weights allow for better casting control according to Chapman. Major League Fishing

One of the few anglers in the world who can lay claim to the title of tour-level Angler of the Year, Brent Chapman was the 2012 Bassmaster Elite Series AOY. He’s one of the Top 30 B.A.S.S. money winners of all time (over $2.1 million total), and has four wins and 40 Top 10s on his resume.

1. Outdoor Life: Do you have a favorite all-around color?

Brent Chapman: That’s a tough question. If I had to pick one color, I’d have to say green pumpkin. It’s the most versatile for all around the country. It’s the most diverse for all the fisheries and good in clear and dirty water.

No matter where we go on the Bass Pro Tour, we’re going to have some type of green pumpkin soft plastics tied on for sure.

2. OL: Mono, braid, fluoro or all of the above? When to use each and what pound-test?

BC: I definitely use all of them. Most of the time I fish Gamma fluorocarbon line. If I’m flipping heavy cover, then I use KastKing Kast Pro braid. On certain topwaters or in clear water, I will use KastKing KastPro Braid with a Gamma mono leader.

3. OL: How do you fish a new lake?

BC: It really depends on the size, but I always break a lake down to make it smaller. If we get to practice, I downsize it and make it smaller areas.

I love it when we go somewhere super small for an MLF Cup event where we’re only fishing 20, 30 boats a day; or a farm pond where the whole body of water is all right in front of you. Then you don’t have to look for them, you can just go catch them.

My whole goal is always to make it smaller with a ride-around or practice. Then I rely on past experiences, intuition/instincts, or something that just looks good to me at the time to find a starting point.

Brent Chapman holding up a largemouth bass.
This stunner helps Chapman climb the leaderboard. Major League Fishing

4. OL: What’s the best way to make bass bite during a cold front?

BC: When fish get into a cold front, they don’t want to feed. Knowing this negative mindset, you can focus on getting an instinctive reaction bite to passing prey. Much like a sleeping cat, when you wave a mouse on a string and get his attention, hungry or not, he will reach out his paw at the mouse—a reaction bite. Fish don’t have hands or paws and might not want to feed, but they will react to something like a jerkbait or crankbait—something fast with intricate, moving parts.

Read Next: 10 Bass Mysteries Solved

5. OL: What are your rod/reel setups?

BC: KastKing Speed Demon Pro rods; and KastKing Bassinator Elite reels

6. OL: How do moon phases affect bass fishing?

BC: Don’t worry about moon phases in bass fishing. Anytime you get to go fishing is a good thing and just have to learn to fish under all sorts of conditions. The biggest thing that I can say is that moon phases are more important to the fish in the south. When you get further north, it’s less about moon phases and more about temperature and daylight.

In tidal waters, the moon phase is more important. It will affect the tide, water levels, and current. That being said, if you are not fishing on a tidal body of water, don’t worry about it and just go fishing. Anytime you can get on the water—go! Don’t let a moon phase keep you from going.

Angler Brent Chapman with a KastKing Bassinator elite reel.
Chapman with a KastKing Bassinator Elite reel. Major League Fishing

7. OL: What’s your advice on how to sharpen hooks?

BC: With today’s technology, buy one that’s already sharp. Trokar is already sharp.

If I do mess up or ding up a hook point on a rock or something, which happens fishing with MLF, then I use the Bass Pro Shops Diamond Edge Hook File. I keep one handy in my boat to sharpen them.

8. OL: What’s your strategy to lure weight selection?

BC: I always try to use the heaviest weight that I can get away with in that situation. The heavier the lure, the more control I have to cast and the better control of that bait. Novice anglers often go way too light and they struggle because they can’t feel the bite to make a good hook set.

The heavier the lure, the faster it sinks and the faster I can fish. I’ve seen it progress in my career where I get more efficient, fishing faster and more effectively.

Portrait of angler Brent Chapman.
Brent Chapman is one of the top 30 bass tournament money winners of all time. Major League Fishing

9. OL: Trailer or no trailer on a bladed jig?

Definitely a trailer on a bladed jig. It gives the bait a better action and profile.

Read Next: The Best Lures of The Bassmaster Classic

10. OL: What’s your go-to swimbait setup?

BC: My go-to swimbait is the Westin lures SWIM. It is simple to fish with a slow retrieve, and perfect for the novice or advanced fisherman. Especially when conditions are tough, this is a great option to catch great fish!