Bass Strikes in Relation to the Science of Sound

vibrations sound and science of bass fishing

Spring 2020


A fish, for example, moves around at various speeds while searching for mates, prey or shelter. Thus – why it is key when eliciting a strike with a crankbait for example, that it is presented in a way in which it moves at various speeds and we fluctuate our retrieve.

A few considerations are 1) temperature and 2) visibility.

First, sounds frequency is independent of temperature, however, its speed is directly proportional to temperature (i.e., sound travels faster in warmer, less dense water).

Second – the greater the visibility the greater distance from which, and time, a bass has to evaluate a bait.

In dirty water – bass are largely hunting by feel and do not have the ability to fully evaluate the bait before striking. In contrast, in very clear water not only do they have the ability do fully differentiate the sound but visual presentation as well. However, bass are not perfect and are subject to sensory conflict, where one conflicting sensory inputs can misdirect a strike as well illustrated in this Jimmy Liao – Fish Code Studies Video


Another interesting element of this is learned behavior and potential thoughts on pressured water. In studies in tanks, crankbaits were run around and around past bass. Fish would bite them.

By the fifth time around, the bass knew that crankbaits weren’t food and wouldn’t bite them. Two weeks later, half

the fish were tested on crankbaits again. They still wouldn’t respond to them. They tested the fish for three months with pretty much the same results.

According to the author of the study, spinnerbaits and crankbaits seemed to be the easiest to remember. In contrast, with soft baits, the author suggested that it’s harder for bass to make generalizations about soft baits.

With that said – presenting the right bait, in the right way, in the right place, can make the difference (see next article on spots within a spot).

I love to fish crankbaits – most of the time, I love to fish them as fast as I can reel and shallow as I can without losing all my tackle. Especially with spotted bass, I do not want to give them the opportunity to even think about striking the bait. However, the conditions are not always such that an aggressive approach works.

That is when the right action bait, with the correct sound, is presented in a way to queue the attention of a bass, but the erratic change in direction or speed, complete stop and suspension or deflection off of structure or cover is what really drives the bass to strike.

Presentation is key – making sure the bait is fully paused, the length of pause, cadence, sharpness of bait movement – this varies by season and with bait. Sometime when the bite is consistent – play with various baits, speeds, etc.…try to find that presentation within a presentation that works better – that will work better on those tougher days. •