Ammo & Gear Reviews

How to get started in bass tournaments

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By Tammy Ballew,

Once you’ve landed a hefty large-mouth bass, you’ll be hooked on bass fishing. In my opinion, the best way to learn all you can about fishing for these large-mouthed fighters, is to sign up for a tournament league.

Tips for getting started in bass tournaments

Sound like something you would be interested in, but not sure where to start? The number one suggestion I have would be to hang out at local bait and tackle shops or the fishing department of any big name sporting goods store. Fishermen are some of the friendliest individuals you’ll ever meet, and most are more than willing to share their knowledge and expertise of what’s hot and what’s not in the lure selection.

One informative website is FLW Outdoors. From their homepage, click “Tournaments” and the FLW Circuits will be listed on your screen. To find tournaments in your area, enter your zip code and the distance you are willing to travel, and it will bring up a map with tournaments in the vicinity. Simply continue on through the prompts to register.

According to the FLW Outdoors website, a beginner should start in local tournaments as an amateur co-angler. You will learn a lot by watching your professional partner. Note how and where the pro is fishing. Depending on the boater you are paired with, he may be willing to explain his technique along the way, or he may be very intent on the task at hand, not wanting to converse much. Either way, you will gain knowledge from his actions, whether he’s catching fish or not. I use “he,” but there are more women entering the world of tournament fishing. In fact, there’s even collegiate level fishing on college campuses throughout the country.

Katie Jackson, the only female angler in the All-American, shows off her day-two catch. Photo by David A. Brown, courtesy of FLW Outdoors

Katie Jackson, the only female angler in the All-American, shows off her day-two catch. Photo by David A. Brown, courtesy of FLW Outdoors


In some circumstances, you may not know which boater you will be paired with ahead of time, so you may not have an opportunity to ask about what lures he will be using. Again, I recommend going to the local bait and tackle shops in the area of the tournament and finding out what the locals are using. All of this needs to be done ahead of the start of the tournament so you’ll be set up and ready to go.

Fishing etiquette

  • Always offer the boater gas money. This is a small price to pay, compared to the wealth of knowledge you will gain.
  • Be ready to move to a different location when the pro decides to change fishing areas.
  • Keep conversation to a minimum, which will be difficult to do, because you will want to learn as much as you can.
  • Do not cast your lure on top of an area where the pro just missed a fish. He or she is likely to cast in that location to see if the fish will strike again.
  • Do not cast over the pro’s line.
  • Do not give away the pro’s fishing locations and techniques to other tournament competitors.

What to pack

  • Fishing license
  • Life jacket
  • Soft-sided tackle bag with removable utility boxes
  • Polarized sunglasses
  • Sunscreen
  • Plenty of warm clothes and rain gear
  • Food and drink
  • First-aid kit
  • Registration materials and tournament rules. It’s important to study the rules ahead of time.

If you’ve done your homework on what the locals recommend fishing with, you might consider varying your technique from what the pro is throwing. A different presentation could increase your chances of catching more fish behind the pro.

This may seem like a lot of lists and rules, but if you are serious about tournament fishing, soak up as much information as you can. Many websites have forums you can post your questions to, talk to local fishermen and the tackle shop people, and it won’t be long before you will be ready to hit the tournament fishing scene.

To learn more about fishing tournaments visit Lady Bass Anglers Association,  National Bass Anglers Association or


Tammy Ballew is an outdoors professional and a writer for Women’s Outdoor News to see more visit them here




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