how to avoid bass thumb

How To Avoid Bass Thumb: Helpful Tips

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Bass fishing can be a whole lot of fun, it can be exhilarating and relaxing at the same time, and it provides you with a good dinner too. With that being said, one of the most common problems associated with people who fish for bass regularly is a bass thumb. So, what is bass thumb and how do you avoid it?

Bass thumb occurs when your thumb becomes irritated due to holding too many bass by their mouths. In order to avoid bass thumb from occurring, you should hold the bass properly, which means picking it up by the gill plate instead of by the mouth. You can also buy specially made thumb covers or just simply wrap some duct tape around your finger.

catching a bass fish

What Is Bass Thumb?

Bass Thumb is a condition (a term we use very loosely), caused by picking up too many bass.

When anglers pick up a bass, they do so by holding the lower jaw, generally with the thumb on the inside of the mouth, right over the teeth.

Bass have small, yet very sharp teeth that are almost like little saws covered in sandpaper.

If you pick up too many bass and your thumb rubs into those teeth far too often, then your thumb can become very red and irritated, itchy, and the teeth may even break the skin and cause bleeding.

In other words, bass thumb is more or less just an irritated or cut thumb due to those sharp bass teeth.

What Can You Do About Bass Thumb?

Quite honestly, preventing bass thumb is pretty easy and there are a few ways to do so. With that being said, most professional fishermen aren’t really concerned with this. However, there are a few prevention methods that you can follow.

  • Instead of picking a bass up by the mouth, you can always pick the fish up by its gill plate. You can gently hook your thumb into the gills of the fish and then have the rest of your fingers over its back. This will allow you to pick the fish up without putting your thumb in its mouth.
  • If you are not a fan of picking up the fish by its gill plate, something else you can do is to use rubber gloves. Generally speaking, when you go fishing, you should use rubber gloves to pick up fish anyway, because fabric gloves will remove the slime coating that many fish had for protection. Rubber gloves will also prevent those fish teeth from sinking into your fingers.
  • Professional fishing shops also sell special thumb covers designed specifically for bass fishing.
  • If you are more an innovative type, something that has been done before is to just wrap a bit of duct tape around your finger.

With all that being said, many people don’t do a single thing about bass thumb. You will eventually build up an immunity towards it, so to speak.

In other words, a callous is going to form over your thumb, a thick layer of skin that will prevent teeth from sinking in the next time around.

It’s like when you go to lift weights. The first few times you lift weights, your fingers and palms will be red and raw. However, as you keep going, your skin becomes harder and tougher.

How To Treat Bass Thumb

If you have bass thumb, all you can really do is maybe slap some antibiotic lotion on it and then put a Band-Aid over top. It’s really just a little cut folks.

How Do You Hold a Bass Without Getting Bit?

holding a bass

The method of lifting up a bass by its gill plate that we discussed a couple of times now is the best method of picking it up without getting bit.

However, what you need to know here is that lifting up a fish by its gill plate may be painful and cause injury to the fish.

The reason why people pick up a bass by its mouth is that this is by far the safest and most humane way to do it.

Picking up a bass by its mouth is how you prevent it from being injured. Therefore, simply put, you might just have to deal with a bit of bass thumb. Suck it up!

What Triggers Bass to Bite?

Generally speaking, putting your finger in the mouth of a bass is more than enough to trigger it to bite.

Whether this is an instinctive reaction because it thinks that your finger is a piece of food, or because it is biting your finger out of a need to defend itself, the bottom line is that if you put your finger inside the mouth of a bass, it is likely to chomp down.

All that being kept in mind, bass thumb is not caused by a fish biting your finger, but by those sharp teeth simply rubbing against your thumb when you pick it up.

Being bit by a bass when you pick it up is generally not a problem that most people are concerned with.

Do Bass Have Teeth?

Yes, bass have teeth and although they are not very large, they are very sharp, almost like little saws that also have sandpaper on them.

How to Unhook Bass Safely

Unhooking a bass is no different that unhooking any other fish. Once you have reeled it in, pick up the bass as you are supposed to, which yes, means putting your thumb in its mouth, but this is the safest way to do it for the fish, and then very gently slide the hook out.

If you are worried about bass thumb, use gloves or a thumb cover.

To remove the hook, most people would just use their hands, although a pair of needle nose pliers will do fine too.

Are Largemouth Bass Dangerous?

OK, so largemouth bass are known for being very aggressive fish that will strike at anything that they perceive as being food.

It can also be very territorial towards other fish. However, with that being said, this fish does not tend to be very aggressive towards humans.

If a largemouth bass does bite you, it is generally because it is scared. You wouldn’t like it if someone else stuck their finger in your mouth either.

Now, although a largemouth bass is extremely unlikely to bite you if it does bite you, it can end badly.

Those very sharp teeth that largemouth bass have, combined with their biting power, is more than enough to take off a finger or two.

Therefore, although they generally won’t try to hurt humans, they can inflict some pretty serious damage, so be careful.



So, in terms of the question of the day, either wear some gloves or a thumb cover, or just deal with the fact that if you catch enough bass, and you hold them up to take pictures, you will get bass thumb.

The simple reality is that if you end up with a livewell full of bass, a sore thumb is well worth it.