Book Review – The Lure Of The Bass by Marc Cowling

When I was a young man and I bought a new (to me) car, one of the first things that I did was purchase a Haynes Manual. The Haynes Manual team stripped a car down to a pile of nuts, bolts, gaskets and springs, and then rebuilt it. Each process of the strip-down and re-build was photographed and described in detail. So much so that a total mechanical ‘numpty’ like me could have some degree of confidence in tackling repair jobs on the car, that without the book, I would not have dared to attempt.

The Lure of The Bass is the Haynes Manual of bass angling with lures. Every aspect (apart from bucktail jigs) appears to be covered. I would describe the book as almost scientific in its approach.

Firstly, I have to say that I bought my copy of the book from Marc. I didn’t get a free book to review. Even though he knew that I would be reviewing it, I wanted to pay because I could be completely honest in sharing my thoughts about Marc’s writing skills and bass knowledge.

It would be safe to say that, once it was known that a new bass book, of this type, was in the pipeline and that it would be published later in 2018, there were a lot of people counting down the days to get their hands on a copy. Let’s face it, new books about our favourite fish are few and far between. So, can you reinvent the wheel, or the bass book, in this case? Yes, I think you can. I can’t recall another bass book that is quite like this one.

Marc is a bass guide and a fairly new one at that, but his knowledge of fishing, and bass fishing in particular, is built on strong foundations. Fishing has been his passion from childhood, and since his change of career to take up bass guiding, he has built on those knowledge foundations with hours, days, and nights, of fishing and research.

Marc has an excellent web-blog called South Devon Bass Guide and the encouraging words that he received in response to his blog posts was, he says, what motivated him to write this book. The book covers every inch of the subject of bass lure fishing. If there 1s a book that the beginning lure angler really ought to read, and the experienced bass angler should have in his library, then this is it.

The book starts with a Foreword by Henry Gilbey, but don’t let that put you off (only joking Henry). This is followed by an introduction by Marc in which he recounts the capture of a bass caught more than twenty years ago. He caught it on an eleven-foot carp rod, a 5000-size bait-runner reel, 12lb monofilament line and a cheap shallow diving lure. It is a tale that all us anglers of a certain age can exactly relate to.

The subsequent chapters cover everything from the food items bass eat, locating fish, tackle choices in minute detail, even down to the best lure clip. And these factual aspects about lures, rods, locations, etc., are interspersed with reminiscences about solo fishing trips or guided sessions that are so vividly described that you could almost be there helping land the bass.

Virtually every lure type is covered; hard lures of all kinds, soft plastics, jig-heads, metals, needle lures, and so on, all are described, with details of when, where and how to fish them.

What I particularly like about the book, however, is the time that Marc has spent meticulously gathering information about his catches and openly — sharing that knowledge with his readership. Percentage catches caught in various conditions are all noted, from the size of the lure, to the clarity of the water, to the lunar cycle, to the height of the swell, to sea temperature, and to the barometric pressure readings. Marc has really put some effort into being a good, knowledgeable bass guide and this he injects into the pages of the book. What is more, the visual charts with all this information on are easy to absorb.

The annotated photographs of potential bass holding spots, and the lure to real bait comparisons, are invaluable in assisting the constantly knowledge hungry bass angler in their quest for silver.

Furthermore, it is good to see a book that allocates some space to advise anglers on safety equipment that we should wear or carry when fishing. For £16.99, less than the price of a decent quality hard lure, you can get this book, which contains so much knowledge and inspiration between the covers of its 212 pages. It is bang up-to-date, and will, in time, join the other classic bass books by those famous bass writers, past and present, in the library of every bass angler, to be read and re-read on those days when we can’t get out to wet a line.

A great book, well done Marc.

Author: Nigel Fairclough

Published in softback at £16.99, plus £1.99 postage. Available from


  1. Nice to hear of a new book on lure-fishing for D.labrax – not a huge section of any library… I haven’t paid attention to bass fishing since I packed it in about thirty years ago, having spent the ’80s & earlier fishing for bass – practically 100% with lures, specifically floating plugs. Not enough bass around IMO, not a cost effective endeavour – plus I encountered not just one but four anglers at my favourite rock mark, between Brixham and the Dart, first time ever, never went back again… I remember when the book by Mike Ladle & Co came out some time in the ’80s (met Mike a few times subsequently, through B.A.S.S.) and I thought, Hey guys, I’ve been there before you! I didn’t think much of the great long floppy carp rods + fixed-spool reels they used, but I knew about plugs. I’d caught my first bass in 1973, close in off a rock on the Worm’s Head one evening: ABU Caster 152 rod, 5000C reel, and a Shakespeare Krazy Kritter surface plug, sort of double-tapered torpedo with splashy props each end. A schoolie shot up and grabbed the lure vertically, vindicating my theory that our seabass really ought to go for plugs – I’d never met or spoken to (or heard of) anyone using plugs for bass at that time.
    It sure beat plugging for pike, a species I never really liked: nope, it’s always been spiny percidae for me.
    And with very few exceptions, the bass I caught until about 1990 were on light (bait)casting gear, with floating plugs. Best was a 7-pounder from near Kimmeridge on a Rebel J13, next best a 61/2 pounder from my regular Devon rock mark on an original (wooden!) Creek Chub Pikie.
    My fishing these days is in France, for (American) largemouth bass, widely distributed across the S. half of France from Bordeaux to Provence (I’m in Gard): I use a kayak on rivers and stillwaters, still (natch) with baitcasting kit, but these days using the wonderfully efficacious, weedless and cheap soft plastics such as Big Bite’s Cane Thumper. Just building a couple of new rods – and of course baitcasting multipliers have come on tremendously since the ’80s.
    I looked at Marc Cowling’s nicely designed website – he can’t be very far from me, near Totnes (when I’m not in France). Might even buy his book, though I won’t be fishing for D.labrax anymore – too cold here, with unreliable weather, too few bass, too many people, and I prefer pootling around in my canoe for largemouths, with temps in the mid-30s…

  2. Hi Tony, Your right about the crowd element. All aspects of lure fishing are popular nowadays, which is a bit of a paradox. When I started lure fishing for Pike ( I don’t share your dislike ), way back in the early seventies there was only one lure importer, Ken Latham of Potter Heigham in Norfolk. No catalog, just a long printed list. But this guy really kick started plug fishing in this country. No credit cards in those days, it was all Postal Orders, or cheques in the post. Great fun though. Half the buzz was tracking down rare lures then squirrelling them away for fear of losing them.
    Nowadays it’s too easy, spot something on the Internet and it’s in your box within a week. Like you I started Bass plugging in Dorset, just missed the best of it in the early eighties. Nonetheless, solitude was easy to find back then. It’s still possible, you just have to hike further.

  3. Hello Terry, interesting to read your comments. We must have been buying lures from Ken Latham at the same time! Only game in town then, and I bought quite a lot from Ken – as you say, he was ahead of the curve. But I never really understood pike, which goes along with my not liking them much**. So I bought the wrong lures – some of which, however, turned out to be great for bass! My first good bass was six and a half pounds, caught it on a Ken-sourced Creek Chub Pikie jointed wooden plug. I moved over to buying my plugs etc direct from the US, mail order with Cabelas; years later, on hunting trips in Canada with my Ontario buddy, we’d nip across to Detroit and I visited a Cabelas several times, big outlet just south of Detroit – amazing!
    These days I’m buying my soft plastics mostly from AGM in Cheshire, excellent and helpful service, great range of kit. I finally got to my place in France, getting a new kayak to replace my inflatable canoe, itching to get on the water chasing largemouth bass…
    **I understand the appeal of pike for many, for example they can be very big; it’s just the kind of fish they are, their behaviour, very different from bass-type fish which I’ve always been intrigued by. Good luck with the pike and bass – rgds Tony

  4. Where can I buy this book. Plenty of reviews but nothing about purchpup

  5. Made me sad to read the comments about the lack of Bass & crowded marks people are experiencing, almost like people our writing this species and type of fishing off but this year I decided to target Bass seriously on the lure. I fished quite beaches at unsociable hours before work & out of 6 trips I have only blanked once & that was because of too much weed about on the day. I regularly catch (& return) legal size fish & in my opinion it has been the most exciting fishing I have done. I don’t live in Devon or Cornwall where those guys seem to have it easy I live in Sussex. I have ordered this book to hopefully up my game & get that special 6lb plus or dare I say double figure Bass! I guess in order to seriously target this fish you need to commit I know Marc catches a lot at night (even in January) when most of us our in bed!

  6. I wouldn’t pay to much attention to the doom and gloom merchants Charlie I live in Devon and get plenty of Bass and in a lot of places where I can fish without seeing another person.

Leave a Reply