do fish hear

Bass Strikes in Relation to the Science of Sound

Spring 2020

Anglers are regularly introduced to new tackle products – many of which contain rattles of some kind to generate noise (vibration) to attract bass.



n general, bass are not very good at localizing

sound and it typically does more to alert them,

after which they switch to visual to home in on the possible food source.

Recently Tactical Bassin’ released a video for their

new crankbait the Tactical DD 75 from River2Sea.

What piqued my interest in putting this article

together is their focus on sound – the right sound. I’m

not going to dive deeply into the technical anatomical

and physiological mechanisms of sensory systems of

bass – but I want to provide a brief foundation from which

we can explore and better understand why fish bite and

improve our fish catching ability.


Researchers from Auburn University conducted a series of experiments to test the hearing of several bass species. They tested the hearing of the fish by placing them in a tank with speakers that can transmit sound

of different frequencies. They put an electrode in the brainstem of the bass and could therefore tell when the brain waves reacted to the sound. It turns out that bass do not have very good hearing — they lack a connection between the swim bladder and the inner ear.

All three species of bass could apparently hear sound only at very low frequencies; most of the sounds in the range that we would typically hear caused no brain reaction from the bass. Long story short, bass are essentially deaf.

Dr. Jones, a bass biologist, says that bass have just a moderate sense of hearing, especially at 100 to 200 cycles per second. Humans can detect sounds from 20 to 20,000 cycles per second, but bass are petty deaf at over 500 Hz, Jones says. This means that they don’t hear high frequency sounds.

Hearing through the inner ear is not the only way that bass hear, and like all fish, bass can detect vibrations in the water from the lateral line. Their inner ear serves to help orient them in the water, just as our inner ear helps us to maintain our balance.