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Pokemon Go SnorlaxSource: 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.

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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 LarvitarSource: iMore/Rene Ritchie

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 RhydonSource: 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.

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What about Shiny Pokémon, how do you catch those?

Pokemon Go shiny Magikarp and GyaradosSource: iMore/ Rene Ritchie

Shiny Pokémon are color variants. There exist a single color variation for every species of Pokémon; however, only some of the Shiny versions of Pokémon are available in Pokémon Go. With each event, more Shiny Pokémon are added, and sometimes they're added in at random.

The bad news is they're incredibly rare and they don't show up as Shiny on the map. You can't tell if a Pokémon is Shiny or not until youtap on it, and even if a specific Pokémon is Shiny for someone else, that doesn't mean it'll be Shiny for you. It's been theorized that there's only a 1/450 chance for a Pokémon to be Shiny outside of an event and for especially rare Pokémon, finding a Shiny can feel like winning the lottery.

The good news is, if you come across a Shiny Pokémon, it's no harder to catch than a regular Pokémon, and during events, Shiny Pokémon are much common. This is especially true on Community Day when the chances are closer to 1/25 of finding a Shiny Pokémon.

What are catch rates?

Pokémon Go works off a "random number generator" (RNG). Think of it like rolling dice in a board game. Any time something major happens, the Pokémon Go servers generate a random number to decide the outcome. Everything from which Pokémon spawns to whether you successfully catch it or it runs away is decided by the RGN.

When it comes to catching Pokémon, every Pokémon has a base "catch rate" or a percentage chance for you to catch them. That base catch rate is then multiplied by the Pokémon's level to get the actual catch rate at the time of your encounter. (Yes, just like trainers, Pokémon have levels.)

Some Pokémon, like Magikarp are much easier to catch with an approximate 70% catch rate. That means, by just throwing a regular Poké Ball without any curves or bonuses, there's slightly more than a 2 in 3 chance to catch it.

Other Pokémon are much more difficult to catch, like Articuno with an approximate 2% catch rate. That means, by just throwing a regular Poké Ball without curves or any other bonuses, there's only a 1 in 50 chance you'll catch them.

That number is then multiplied by the Pokémon's level. Basically, the higher the Pokémon's level, the harder it is to catch. In other words, low level Pokémon with high catch rates can be almost guaranteed to catch, while high level Pokémon with low catch rates could be almost impossible to catch.

Does the position of the Pokémon on screen make a difference?

Some Pokémon are right up in your face and easy to hit. Others, like Golbat or Ponyta hover or linger further away, making them harder to hit. Distance doesn't affect catch rate though. As long as you hit your target, you have the same chance to catch that target. And it's only once you hit it that catch rate matters.

Pro tip: If you're having trouble hitting a far-away Pokémon, switch to AR mode and tilt your screen. That'll bring them in closer and make them easier to hit.

What about your own trainer level, does that give you a bonus?

Not directly, but the higher your level the higher the level Pokémon you can encounter in the wild. So, while there are no bonuses as such awarded for being a higher level, you will come across Pokémon that are harder to catch as you level up.

Is catch rate x Pokémon level why some low CP Pokémon are so hard to catch? (?!)

It can be. When you a see a Pokémon on your catch screen you also see the CP (Combat Power) of that Pokémon. If the CP is low we tend to think the level is low, making it easier to catch. But CP doesn't just depend on level, it also depends on stats (IV).

So, a Pokémon with low CP could be a low level Pokémon with good stats or it could also be a high level Pokémon with lousy stats. In other words, if a low CP Pokémon keeps escaping your Poké Ball, odds are it's a lousy Pokémon that just happens to be high level and may not be worth your continued time and resources trying to catch.

What are flee rates?

Every Pokémon also has a base "flee rate". When a Pokémon escapes your Poké Ball, the dice get rolled again. If the random number generated is higher than the flee rate, they'll stay around and let you try to catch them again. If it's lower, they'll disappear in a puff of smoke and frustration.

The big difference between catch rates and flee rates is that, while catch rates can be modified down by Pokémon level and up by catch bonuses, flee rates are always the same. So far, in the game, nothing alters them.

Currently, the lowest flee rate is 5%. That means, if you catch one of those, there's only a 1 in 20 chance they'll flee. Counterintuitively, some of the most highly evolved and powerful Pokémon have the lowest flee rate, including Dragonite, Alakazam, Venusaur, Charizard, Blastoise, and many more.

Generally speaking, though, almost all Pokémon fall under 15%. Also counterintuitively, the ones at 20% are the Pidgey, Rattata, Zubat, and other most-common spawns. (That's why they feel like they run so often.)

The big outlier is Abra, which has a 99% flee rate. It's meant to emulate the way Abra would teleport away in the core Pokémon games and animated series, but it really means there's only a 1 in 100 chance Abra will stay around if you don't nail him with the first Poké Ball.

Is there a higher chance for a Pokémon to flee the more times it escapes?

Not really. The flee rate is always the same. The more times it escapes, though, the more often you risk it fleeing. So, if a Dragonite breaks free, it has a 5% chance of fleeing. If it breaks out again, the chance is still only 5%, but it's another chance. Same with the 10th or 20th breakout.

It's what makes super hard to catch yet low flee rate Pokémon so exciting/frustrating. You can throw every Ultra and Great Ball you have at a Dragonite and it can keep escaping yet never fleeing, draining you down.

Can Raid Bosses Flee?

Not in the traditional sense. You have to use Premier Balls to catch Raid Bosses and you only get those by beating the Raid Boss. You can keep trying to catch the Raid Boss as long as you have Premier Balls remaining. If it escapes the ball, it won't flee. But, if you run out of Premier Balls before you catch it, it will flee.

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What's the difference between Poké Ball, Great Ball, and Ultra Ball?

Pokemon Go Poke, Great and Ultra BallsSource: iMore/Rene Ritchie

Everyone starts off with Poké Balls, which are the standard way to catch Pokémon. They're useful but they offer no additional bonuses to successfully complete the catch. As you increase in level, you get access to more powerful items:

  • Level 1: Poké Ball (red and white.)
  • Level 12: Great Ball (blue and purple.)
  • Level 20: Ultra Ball (yellow and black.)

Great and Ultra Balls modify the catch rate, making it harder for Pokémon to escape. (They don't effect flee rate, so if a Pokémon does escape, it still has the same chance to flee.)

  • Poké Ball: 1x
  • Great Ball: 1.5x
  • Ultra Ball: 2x

What about Curve Balls?

Pokemon Go CurveballSource: iMore/ Rene Ritchie

Throwing a Curve Ball also boosts your catch rate and this stacks with the boosts from different type of Poké Balls:

  • Curve Poké Ball: 1.7x
  • Curve Great Ball: 2.55x
  • Curve Ultra Ball: 3.4x

Since a curve Poké Ball has a 1.7x modifier and a regular Great Ball only has a 1.5x modifier, yeah. ABC. Always be curving!

Razz Berry — what's the modifier on the Razz Berry?

Pokemon Go Starmie Razz BerrySource: iMore/Rene Ritchie

The Razz Berry bonus is 1.5x, same as Great Ball and slightly less than Curve Ball, but since bonuses stack, it can make all those things even better.

  • Poké Ball + Razz Berry: 1.5x
  • Great Ball + Razz Berry: 2.25x
  • Ultra Ball + Razz Berry: 3x
  • Curve Poké Ball + Razz Berry: 2.55x
  • Curve Great Ball + Razz Berry: 3.825x
  • Curve Ultra Ball + Razz Berry: 5.1x

And the modifier for a fancy Golden Razz Berry?

For extra rare Pokémon, you might want to use a Golden Razz Berry. Golden Razz Berries don't drop from PokéStops, but rather are rewards for Raids, Research, and Events. The bonus for a Golden Razz is x1.5, the same as Great Ball and slightly less than Curve Ball, but since bonuses stack, it can make all those things even better.

  • Poké Ball + Golden Razz Berry: 2.5x
  • Great Ball + Golden Razz Berry: 3.75x
  • Ultra Ball + Golden Razz Berry: 5x
  • Curve Poké Ball + Golden Razz Berry: 4.25x
  • Curve Great Ball + Golden Razz Berry: 5.625x
  • Curve Ultra Ball + Golden Razz Berry: 8.5x

Nanab Berry — what is it and what does it do?

Pokemon Go Nanab Berry MukSource: iMore/Rene Ritchie

Nanab Berries look like pink bananas. You can use one the same way you use a Razz Berry and, while they also make a Pokémon easier to catch, they do it in a different way.

A Razz Berry increases your catch rate, so if you hit Pokémon with a Poké Ball it's less likely to escape. A Nanab Berry slows down the Pokémon, making it easier to hit with a Poké Ball to begin with.

That said, most Pokémon don't move all that fast, and a Nanab Berry doesn't stop all movement, just the more erratic movement. And you can only use one Berry at a time. Still, these can be useful when trying to catch Pokémon who keep hitting your Poké Balls back at you.

What's a Pinap Berry and does it help catch as well?

Pinap Berry look like pineapples and there are two different kinds: normal Pinap Berries and Silver Pinap Berries. Normal Pinap Berries don't affect catch rate, or help you get a Pokémon in any way. Instead, if you use a Pinap Berry and then immediately catch a Pokémon — and it doesn't escape or flee! — you get double candy for that Pokémon.

That makes it great to use on any high-value Pokémon you want to evolve or power up, like Dratini or Larvitar. It basically makes it like catching two Pokémon at once.

Silver Pinap Berries, though, give you twice the candy and a 1.8x to your catch rate. And, you guessed it, that stacks with your other bonuses as well! That having been said, Silver Pinap Berries are even rarer than Golden Razz Berries, so save these for especially rare Pokémon.

How do Throw Bonuses factor in?

Those colored target rings that appear on Pokémon and then slowly shrink in size reward accuracy. Hit inside that circle and you'll get a bonus. The circles shrink smoothly but there are three distinct levels for bonuses.

  • Large target: Nice!
  • Medium target: Great!
  • Tiny target: Excellent

When you nail one, you'll get a Nice! Great! or Excellent! acknowledgment on screen. Just like the targets shrink smoothly, so do the bonuses increase smoothly. The smaller the target you hit, the higher the bonus you get.

The range is between 1x for barely making the target at all to 2x for nailing it dead center. Here's how the on-screen acknowledgments seem to break it down.

  • Nice: 1x to 1.3x
  • Great: 1.3x to 1.7x
  • Excellent: 1.7x to 2x.

So, you should always aim for Excellent?

Yes and no. If you're Bullseye, Hawkeye, the Green Arrow, or otherwise have perfect aim and timing and can nail Excellent every time, sure. Go for it. Enjoy the bonus. If you miss a little or a lot, though, you get no bonus.

When you factor in Pokémon jumping and attacking, which disrupts the target, with Curve Balls, which you want to throw, and the different distances required for different Pokémon, it can be a lot to process. Start slow and low and work your way up.

In other words, you're better off aiming for Great if you can hit it consistently than Excellent if you can't, and Nice is better than Great if you miss that more than you hit.

How do Medal Bonuses work?

Pokemon Go MedalsSource: iMore/Rene Ritchie

Medals are awards you can earn in Pokémon Go for completing certain objectives. While there are lots of Medals you can earn in Pokémon Go, only some of them give bonuses. The Type Medals are the ones which give bonuses to your catch rate:

  • Bug: Bug Catcher Medal
  • Dragon: Dragon Tamer
  • Electric: Rocker
  • Fairy: Fairy Tale Girl
  • Fight: Black Belt
  • Fire: Kindler
  • Flying: Bird Keepr
  • Ghost: Hex Maniac
  • Grass: Gardener
  • Ground: Ruin Maniac
  • Ice: Skier
  • Normal: Schoolkid
  • Poison: Punk Girl
  • Psychic: Psychic
  • Rock: Hiker
  • Water: Swimmer
  • Delinquent: Dark

You get type medals for catching Pokémon of a specific type:

  • Bronze: 10 Pokémon of the same type.
  • Silver: 50 Pokémon of the same type.
  • Gold: 200 Pokémon of the same type.

Each medal level gives you a bonus:

  • Bronze: 1.1x
  • Silver: 1.2x
  • Gold: 1.3x

Some Pokémon have two types, for example water and flying. In those cases, if you're at different medal levels for each type, you have to average the bonus.

  • None / None: 1x
  • None / Bronze: 1.05x
  • None / Silver: 1.1x
  • None / Gold: 1.15x
  • Bronze / Bronze: 1.1x
  • Bronze / Silver: 1.15x
  • Bronze / Gold: 1.2x
  • Silver / Silver: 1.2x
  • Silver / Gold: 1.25x
  • Gold / Gold: 1.3x

Does the color of the target ring reflect the real-time catch rate?

It does, but given how hard it is to "read" slight variances in color spectrum, it's better to think of it as a rough guide. It's easy to see the difference between a Poké Ball and an Ultra Ball, and with or without Razz Berry as well. Medal bonuses are tougher to discern.

The target color can be anywhere on the spectrum from red (hard catch) to green (easy catch) with yellow in between. So, to artificially freeze-frame the catch rates:

  • Reddish: "0"-20%
  • Orangish: 20-40%
  • Yellowish: 40-60%
  • Limeish: 60-80%
  • Greenish: 80-100%

Can you really catch any Pokémon?

If you stack your bonuses right, you have a high probability — and in some cases a mathematical certainty — of catching any Pokémon with a high enough catch rate and low enough level. As their catch rates go down and levels go up, and your bonuses go up, you're still playing the odds.

Catching a level 1 Magikarp you can take to the bank. Catching a level 35 Dragonite — be prepared for a fight.

Any other catch questions?

Do you have questions on catching Pokémon in Pokémon Go? Got tips for your fellow Trainers? Drop them in the comments below, and be sure to check out our Complete Pokédex, as well as our many Pokémon Go Guides so you too can become a Pokémon Master!

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