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How to catch Pokémon in Pokémon Go

How do you catch a Pokémon? With practice, eye coordination, and a Razz Berry or two.

Update: GamePress has done all the match and figured out all the bonuses for Poké Balls, Mega Balls, Ultra Balls, Razz Berrys, medal bonuses, and catch bonuses. The whole article is worth a read, but here’s the take away:

  1. Throwing a curve ball is super important. A curved pokeball is stronger than a straight Great ball and almost as strong as a straight Ultra ball. Learning how to throw the curveball consistently will make the biggest difference to your game.
  2. Stack your bonuses. Ultra Ball is equal in catch probability to throwing two Poke Balls, but making an excellent curveball with Ultra Ball and Razz Berry is better than throwing ten Poke Ball in a row! Each bonus makes the previous bonuses worth more.
  3. In order to get the throw bonus, you have to land inside the colored target ring! Time your throw for the smallest target ring you can make consistently. The bonus for the circle size varies continuously with radius, so not all Great! throws give the same bonus to catch rate.
  4. Razz Berries don’t affect flee rate, only catch rate.
  5. Catch probability doesn’t depend on throw attempt. So if the pokemon breaks out, you have the same chances on the next throw.
  6. Higher level Pokemon are harder to catch. Pokemon with low CP gain are often deceptively high level. A 300 CP Metapod could be level 30, for example, and unexpectedly difficult to catch as result.
  7. Your chances don’t depend directly on your trainer level. So if two players with different levels encounter the same pokemon, they will have the same chances of catching it if it is at the same CP.

There are lots of great reasons for playing Pokémon Go, but catching Pokémon is pretty high up there. Without the little creatures, the game would just be, well… “walk around and look at nature.” Which is still pretty great, but there’s something about animated Nintendo properties that makes everything better.

But how, exactly, do you catch Pokémon in this game? Here’s the lowdown.

First things first: You have to find them

To catch a Pokémon, you must first figure out where the heck it’s hiding. We’ve written a pretty extensive guide to tracking and finding creatures, but here are the basics.

  • In the bottom right grey box, you’ll see the three nearest Pokémon to you.
  • Tap that box to view up to nine nearby creatures.
  • As you get closer to a Pokémon, they’ll move up to the top left corner of the Nearby box.
  • Rustling grass on your map may indicate that Pokémon spawn points are in that immediate area, but will not indicate the exact location of the Pokémon. Don’t go jumping into a neighbor’s yard.
  • When a Pokémon is close enough to capture, your phone will vibrate, and it will appear on your map.

Some places, like San Francisco, get a much more advanced “Nearby” tracking system with maps to close by Pokémon. Still no word on when that goes global.

If you want Pokémon to come to you, you can use an Incense item; you can also visit a PokéStop and attach a Lure, which will bring Pokémon to your area for the next 15 minutes.

Looking for rare Pokémon? Lures on PokéStops will help bring them out of hiding, as will visiting different types of outdoor areas and at different times of day. (Lakes will draw Water-type Pokémon, parks and forests will find you more nature types, and dry, arid areas will bring Fire and Ground types.)

Once you find a Pokémon, it’s time to use your Poké Ball

When a Pokémon appears on your map, it’s time to begin the capturing process. Tap on a Pokémon, and you’ll zoom in to your immediate location, as shown by your device’s rear camera. Move your device left or right to find the Pokémon in question; once they’re in view, you can target it with your Poké Ball.

You’ll need a supply of Poké Balls to claim the Pokémon as your own; the Professor gives you a fair amount initially, but if you don’t have any or are running low, you can stock up at a PokéStop or use Coins at the Shop. You’ll also get better-quality Poké Balls as you level up; Great Balls and Ultra Balls have a greater chance of success than your average Poké Ball, but they can’t be purchased — only found at PokéStops or as leveling bonuses.

Note: If you’re finding camera movement dizzying, you can turn off AR (augmented reality) to make the catching process easier by tapping the AR switch in the upper right corner of the catch screen.

Depending on the level of the Pokémon you encounter, you’ll see a glowing green, orange, or red ring around the creature’s avatar. This indicates difficulty level: A green Pokémon should be captured with little difficulty or a poor throw, while orange and red Pokémon require precise throws — and occasionally higher-level Poké Balls or enticements like Razz Berries.

How to capture a Pokémon in Pokémon Go

Depending on the Pokémon’s CP (combat power), you have a few options.

For low-CP Pokémon

  1. Tap the Pokémon on the map.
  2. When the catch screen loads, make sure the Pokémon is in view.
  3. Tap and hold on the Poké Ball.
  4. Wait until the glowing green, orange, or red ring gets to its smallest diameter, then flick your finger directly toward the Pokémon (or throw a curveball) and release your hold on the screen.

  5. If done correctly, you’ll bop the Pokémon on the head, and it will disappear into the Pokéball.

Depending on the Pokémon, you may have to “throw” (flick) a farther or shorter distance. Flying creatures like Zubat are especially tricky, because they’ll vary their distance while on screen.

For mid-to-high-CP Pokémon

For Pokémon with yellow, orange, or red radar circles, a mere basic Poké Ball won’t give you a catch on the first try: You need better Poké Balls and special items. To pacify the Pokémon and make it easier to catch, you can feed it a Razz Berry (found at PokéStops starting at level 6). Once you hit level 10, you’ll also have access to Great Balls (and at 20, Ultra Balls) that provide a higher catch rate.

  1. Tap the Pokémon on the map.
  2. When the catch screen loads, make sure the Pokémon is in view.
  3. Tap the Backpack icon.
  4. Select a Razz Berry, then tap the Berry again to feed it to the Pokémon.
  5. From here, you can either use a basic Poké Ball, or tap on the Backpack icon again and choose another ball type to throw.
  6. Tap and hold on whatever Poké Ball you’ve chosen.
  7. Wait until the glowing green, orange, or red ring gets to its smallest diameter, then flick your finger directly toward the Pokémon (or throw a curveball) and release your hold on the screen.

Note: Razz Berries are good for one successful throw. You can feed Pokémon a berry and miss; the Pokémon will still be complacent. If you catch the Pokémon and it escapes, however, you’ll need to feed it another Razz Berry to lower the difficulty level again.

The quickest way to catch a Pokémon

On occasion, you can nab a Pokémon (ones with low and high CP) unawares as the game loads the catch screen. Here’s how to do it.

  1. Make sure the AR switch (found in the upper right corner of the catch screen) is turned off.
  2. When the Pokémon appears, tap on its icon.
  3. As the catch screen loads, get your finger ready to swipe up from the bottom of the screen.
  4. As soon as you see the Pokémon’s CP number, swipe straight up from the bottom of the screen.

  5. If you miss, tap the Run Away button and try again.

How to get bonuses when throwing Poké Balls

When you try to catch a Pokémon, the goal is to toss your ball inside the shrinking ring around them and have it land on the Pokémon’s head or nose. But there are special catch bonuses that provide extra XP, as well as improving (though not guaranteeing) your chances of keeping that Pokémon locked inside that Poké Ball rather than breaking free.

Whatever bonus you’re going for, remember to tap and hold on the Poké Ball to start the ring cycle so that you can wait to toss your ball until the ring is at the correct point. (Even if the Pokémon attempts to rear back or do some sort of movement to break the circle, keep holding your Poké Ball — they’ll eventually return, and you won’t lose your ball if you keep holding onto it.)

To get the Nice 10XP bonus, you want to catch the Pokémon at the moment the circle is at its widest. That usually means throwing while the circle is at its smallest, and attempting to land straight on the Pokémon’s head.

To get the Great 50XP bonus, you want to catch the Pokémon when the circle is exactly halfway: I’ve only gotten this bonus once or twice, because it requires crazy timing. Ideally, you want to toss the ball when the circle is two sizes away from its biggest size, and land square in the center of the circle.

To get the Excellent 100XP bonus you need to catch the Pokémon in the direct middle of the circle when at its smallest. This move is easier to attempt on smaller Pokémon (like Eevee) instead of bigger creatures, because of where their heads are positioned relative to the circle. To score the bonus, wait until the circle is pretty small, then toss your ball straight on.

To get the Curveball 10XP bonus you can spin the Poké Ball in a clockwise or counter-clockwise direction until it starts vibrating, then toss it toward the Pokémon. I find this method pretty difficult to achieve regularly, so I often do an alternate method: Instead of curving, then tossing, I put the side of my thumb on the screen and throw — the contact patch makes the game think I’m spinning the ball before throwing.

How to catch stubborn or rare Pokémon

Trying to catch an orange- or red-ringed Pokémon that just won’t stay in its Poké Ball? Here are a few tips.

  • If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again: As long as you have Poké Balls to spare, repeatedly capturing a Pokémon will wear it down eventually (assuming it doesn’t run away).
  • The closer you get to a throw that hits the Pokémon when that ring is at its smallest, the higher likelihood you have of the Pokémon staying in the Poké Ball. Throwing a curve ball usually guarantees that the Pokémon stays inside the Poké Ball.
  • If you’re level 7 or higher, you can feed the Pokémon a Razz Berry; this will momentarily make the Pokémon complacent and more-likely to stay inside a Poké Ball.
  • If you’re level 10 or higher, you can acquire higher-quality Poké Balls to catch high-level creatures.

How bonuses work

Bonuses are like throwing extra Pokéballs. So, for example, if you get a 2x bonus, it’s like throwing two Pokéballs instead of one. Bonuses are also cumulative, so the more you add, the more Pokéballs you’re essentially throwing.

Other questions?

Let us know in the comments.

Originally published July 2016. Last updated November 2016 with catch bonus results.


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