Pokémon Go: How to catch rare Pokémon

Pokemon Go Snorlax
Pokemon Go Snorlax (Image credit: iMore/ Rene Ritchie)

Pokémon Go's slogan is "gotta catch 'em all" and that's exactly what a large part of the game play involves. You travel around, Pokémon pop up all around you, and you try to catch them. All of them. Then, of course, there are also Raids! They're tougher and some of them are super rare as well.

So, how do you catch them all?

TL;DR: Give me the highlights?

If you don't want the details — though you really should read them at least once! — here's a quick cheat sheet!

  1. ABC. Always be curving. Once you can nail Curve Ball every time, you'll get a 1.7x bonus every time.
  2. Max out your medals. Some are easier to get than others but they consume no resources like Great or Ultra Balls or Razz Berries, so once you get them, that 1.1x to 1.3x is automatically applied each time.
  3. Consistency counts. Aim for the smallest target you can nail every time. If that's Nice, it's nice. If that's Great or Excellent, even nicer. But better the bonus you get then one you miss, and that extra 1.3 to 2x also doesn't consume resources and can make a difference.
  4. Razz for real. Use Razz Berries when you need to. Unlike Great or Ultra Balls, you can't miss with a Razz Berry and its 1.5x bonus will last until you hit. For Golden Razz Berries, it's 2.5x!
  5. Bump them Balls. Use Great and Ultra Balls to maximize your odds. You get an extra 1.5x for a Great Ball and 2x for an Ultra Ball so use them to get those super rare or hard to catch Pokémon.
  6. Pinap Power: Use a Pinap Berry to get double Candy for any Pokémon you really want to evolve or power up. You can't use a Razz Berry as well, so use an Ultra Ball to make up the difference.
  7. Nanab ain't nothing: Ostensible a Nanab Berry calms a Pokémon down, making it easier to hit. In the current game, though, it seems to make little to no real difference.

If some or all of that doesn't make sense, read on for the details!

Wait, how do you FIND rare Pokémon to catch in the first place?

Fair question! Before you can catch any Pokémon you first have to find them. And that can be easier said than done, especially for rare Pokémon like Chancey, Togetic, Unown, and more. In large part, your best bet to finding rarer Pokémon is to just play as often as you can, wherever you go.

There are some Map Trackers that still work, but they are laregly based on player reports. They work much better for finding Raids than spawn. Likewise, there are plenty of groups on social sites like Facebook who regularly chat and let each other know when especially rare Pokémon pop up.

Learn how to find rare Pokémon in Pokémon Go

See how to find, join, and win at Pokémon Go Raid Battles

How do you catch a wild Pokémon in Pokémon Go?

Pokemon Go Catch Larvitar

Pokemon Go Catch Larvitar (Image credit: iMore)

This is the basic catch mechanic in Pokémon Go:

  1. Tap the Pokémon you want to catch.
  2. Wait for the catch screen to load and the Pokémon to come into view.
  3. Touch and hold on the Poké Ball.
  4. Flick the Poké Ball at the Pokémon on the screen.

If you hit the Pokémon and it doesn't hit the Poké Ball away, it'll get sucked into the Poké Ball. From there, it'll try to fight its way out for a couple of shakes. If it can't, you'll get a "Gotcha!" notification and the Pokémon is yours. If it's tough enough, though, it'll break free and either give you another chance to catch it, or flee.

How do you catch a Raid Boss in Pokémon Go?

Pokemon Go Tier 4 Raid Boss Rhydon

Pokemon Go Tier 4 Raid Boss Rhydon (Image credit: iMore/Rene Ritchie)

While the catch mechanic for Raid bosses is the same, first you have to win the Raid. Luckily, that's pretty straight forward too!

  1. Find a Gym on the map currently hosting a Raid. Note: You can also find a Gym that will be hosting a Raid soon indicated by a giant Egg on top.
  2. Get a group of players together to battle. Note: Different Raid bosses require more or fewer players to beat. If you're going up against a very tough Pokémon, make sure to have a big enough group.
  3. Select a team of strong Pokémon with type advantages.
  4. Battle the Pokémon.

If you win, you will be rewarded with EXP, items, and Stardust. You'll also get an encounter with the Pokémon you just beat. The Pokémon available in Raids changes pretty often, but Raids remain one of the best ways to catch Rare Pokémon.

Keep in mind, however, you don't get to use your own Poké Balls for Raid Bosses. You have a limited number of special Poké Balls called Premier Balls. The number of Premier Balls you get is based on how well your team did when fighting the Raid and can be boosted if you battle with better Friends.

What's a 'Critical Catch' in Pokémon Go?

A Critical Catch is a rare, automatic catch. When you hit a Critical Catch, there's no shaking and no chance for a Pokémon to escape or flee. Instead, you see some brief fireworks from the Pokéball and the Pokémon is captured immediately.

While estimates suggest that these happen about 1% of the time, Critical Catches are still random. Every time you throw a Poké Ball, there's a chance it could be a Critical Catch. It's possible either now or in the future other factors may influence Critical Catch, including medals.

For now, just enjoy it when you get it. It means whatever Pokémon you hit is caught, right and proper.

Rene Ritchie

Rene Ritchie is one of the most respected Apple analysts in the business, reaching a combined audience of over 40 million readers a month. His YouTube channel, Vector, has over 90 thousand subscribers and 14 million views and his podcasts, including Debug, have been downloaded over 20 million times. He also regularly co-hosts MacBreak Weekly for the TWiT network and co-hosted CES Live! and Talk Mobile. Based in Montreal, Rene is a former director of product marketing, web developer, and graphic designer. He's authored several books and appeared on numerous television and radio segments to discuss Apple and the technology industry. When not working, he likes to cook, grapple, and spend time with his friends and family.