Line caught European Sea Bass

LRF Bass Guide

Bass are a highly sort after fish, they are visually striking, powerful and highly regarded amoungs anglers.

On ultra light tackle these fish will truly test an anglers ability and skill.

With a typical light rock fishing setup a decent sized bass will give a memorable fight that will not be easily forgotten.

A balanced setup, a bit of skill and cool head is all that’s needed to tame even the largest of specimens.


Small school bass caught from the shore
  • The scientific name Dietrich’s labrax , also referred to as Seabass or European Bass.
  • Bass have sleek streamlined silver scaled bodies with straight lateral lines and a large head and mouth.
  • They have two dorsal fins. The first has 8 to 9 sharp spines, the second dorsal fin is much smaller and has no spines.
  • They can grow upto 4 foot in length and 20 lbs in weight.
  • Bass are a slow growing species that that a number of years to reach adulthood.
  • With average lengths of just 9cm for females in the first year , 16 cm the second year and a full five years to reach lengths 32cm to 36 cm (around the time they are sexually mature).
  • Spawns Inshore from March to June. Females can live upto 16 to 20 years .
  • Males grow at a slower rate and tend not to live as long.
  • The British shore record is 19lbs 12oz although the typical size of UK shore caught fish are between 1lbs and 5lbs.
  • UK minimum size is 16.5 inches , 42 cm length.
  • Fish under 2lb are often referred to as school bass and tend to aggressively hunt in shoals. Mostly found in warm coastal waters, reefs, estuaries, as well as, over sand and mud.
  • Mature and larger fish are solitary hunters, that tend to be more selective.
  • Inshore migration usually between March through to May.
  • Bass typically feed on fish, such as sandeels, herring, sprat, pouting, mackerel etc., along with a variety of crustaceans such as crab and shrimp.,and worms such as rag worm .
  • Mostly can be found throughout the warmer months in the UK.
  • They can often be found hunting very close to the shoreline (many novice anglers with casts less than 30 yards have caught bass this way without actually specifically fishing for them ).
  • Care must be taken when handling and unhooking fish as bass have a spikey dorsal fin and sharp gill covers that are capable of causing injury to inspecting anglers.

LRF Bass Techniques

Large Bass caught on a jig head and soft plastic

Bass can be caught using a variety of methods using a range of different baits such as crab, worms, fish baits e.t.c. and of course lures.

As this is an ultra light site we are going to concentrate on typical LRF methods of catching bass.

One of the favourite and simplest LRF methods for catching bass is on small jig heads and soft plastic lures. Paddle tales, worm tails and budgys being some of the best ultra light lures available.

Budgys fishing lures

Another favourite lure is scented artificial baits such as isome or vermz, which can be fished similarly to the soft plastics mentioned above. These artificial baits look realistic with extremely lifelike bodies and action, impregnated with flavouring and additives that make them irresistible to fish.

A deadly method for where I fish is working the lure along the bottom with a slow and steady retrieve.

Casting out a jig head with an artificial on the hook , waiting for the jig head to sink to the bottom of the sea bed and retrieving at a slow and steady pace. Obviously there are loads of ways to work a lure and it all depends on the venue and the day.

It’s all about building up your own experience and experimenting to find out what works for you. Fish will be in different depths of the water column , will favour different retrieve speeds, sometimes twitching the lure will be beneficial and sometimes it won’t, perhaps they will favour a different colour or style on the day e.t.c.

I can’t stress this enough but it’s all about experimenting and finding out what works for you.

In my opinion an essential piece of equipment is a landing net when fishing ultra light for bass. As we are using light lines and tackle without a net, landing a decent sized fish can prove to be difficult, if not impossible and sometimes can be dangerous (especially if fishing alone).

It is always better to be prepared with the right equipment than loose a fish of lifetime because you didn’t bring a net!

Final thoughts

There is something magical about bass, so no wonder there are so many fanatical bass angler’s out there. Many angler’s dedicate their time researching bass marks, experimenting with different methods, and learn to successfully target these wonderful fish.

As a child I fished for school bass with worm and a two hook paternoster rig at my local sandy beach. I was captivated by their sleek powerful silver bodies.

Personally bass are my favourite species to fish for. They are almost an obsession for me!

Small school bass caught on worm

They are a hunter perfectly adapted to suit their environment.

As I grew older I scaled down my beach caster to a dedicated bass rod , the tackle got lighter and the fish got bigger.

Bass caught on bait and dedicated bass rod

I took time to study a local rock mark and it quickly become my bass mark. Over time I slowly worked out the feeding habits on that beach and built up a picture of what worked and when.

Fast forward to now. I have scaled down again and the fish are still getting bigger.

I’m now using 2g to 4g jig heads and soft plastic lures with a rod rated 0.5g to 5g to catch decent sized bass constantly.

I find the ultra light tackle has given me a new appreciation for this strong powerful fish.

My favourite sound has quickly become the sound of line screaming off my reel knowing I’m about to do do battle with the big bass on the other end of the line.

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