You can't catch a Pokémon in Pokémon GO without losing a Poké Ball, and there are a bunch of different types of those that each have a different capture rate.

Throwing a Poké Ball with skill can also increase your capture rate – that's what those coloured rings that appear when you're about to catch a Pokémon suggest.

Then there are a multitude of different items, Poké Balls, and techniques you can use to increase this further.

In this guide, we're going to explain exactly how the system works, and what you can do to drastically increase your chances of catching a Pokémon.

Pokémon GO - How Throwing A Poké Ball Works

When you've found and tapped a Pokémon on the map, you'll come across a new screen in which they stand there with a coloured circle that continuously shrinks, resets, then shrinks again.

The colour of the circle denotes the capture rate of that particular Pokémon, green being the highest and red the lowest. We'll go into more detail about what these colours mean later.

Even if that Pokémon has a red coloured circle, there are ways you can increase the capture rate. Your first order of business should be to use a Razz Berry and to select a better Poké Ball, like an Ultra Ball.

You can also increase your chances of catching the Pokémon with a well timed and delivered throw. If your Poké Ball lands within that coloured circle, your chances of capturing the Pokémon will increase. This increased chance is at its highest when the circle is at its smallest.

Then there are curve balls! These are performed by first spinning the Poké Ball and then throwing it to make it curve before it hits the Pokémon.

To pull these off, you'll first want to spin the Poké Ball and then swipe to throw it. Make sure you throw against the curve (in the opposite direction to the one you were spinning), or the Poké Ball won't even hit the Pokémon.

You'll also want to alter your throw direction depending on how far the Pokémon is away from you. If they're close, you'll want to throw it wide so it curves in quicker. If they're far away, you'll want a shorter curve so don't throw it to wide – focus on getting distance instead.

If you're struggling to follow all of this, basically, the highest chance you have of catching the Pokémon is to throw a Curve Ball into the smallest circle possible.

Pokémon GO - Increased Capture Rates In Numbers

Now, let's take a look at all of the ways you can increase your capture rate in numbers.

Poké Ball Capture Rates

There are four different types of Poké Ball currently available in Pokémon GO, detailed below:

Poké Ball Availability Catch Multiplier
Regular PokéStops / Gifts / Shop 1.00
Great PokéStops / Gifts 1.50
Ultra PokéStops / Gifts 2.00
Premier Ball Raids 1.00

Coloured Ring Capture Rates

You know the coloured ring that appears around a Pokémon when you're trying to capture it? Here's how this translates to the capture rate:

Ring Colour Capture Rate
Green 100%
Yellow 65%
Orange 35%
Red 25%

Curve Ball & Item Capture Rates

Here's how curve balls and Razz Berries affect that capture rate.

Modifier Catch Multiplier
Curve Ball 1.70
Razz Berry 1.50
Golden Razz Berry 2.50

Where Are The Capture Rates For Nice, Great, And Excellent Throws?

It's really difficult to provide an accurate increased capture rate for nice, great, and excellent throws, as they aren't a fixed increase like the curve ball is. The capture rate increases depending on the radius of the coloured circle you land your Poké Ball in.

Though we're not sure how accurate it is exactly, the guys over at Game Press Pokémon GO settled on these capture rates:

Throw: Nice Great Excellent
Target Ring Size 70% - 100% 30% - 70% ~5% - 30%
Bonus (varies with radius) 1 - 1.3
  1. 3 - 1.7
  1. 7 - ~1.95

To bring more clarity to this chart, the target ring size is the size the coloured ring has to be compared to the outer grey ring to trigger the throw bonus. 

As you can see though, the size of the coloured ring can vary to trigger the bonus, and the bonus can increase depending on the size.

For example, a nice throw at 80% will have a higher throw bonus than a nice throw at 90%.

What Else Can I Do To Increase The Capture Rate?

Nothing that serves to increase your chance from a statistical perspective, but there are a few things you can do to make your life generally easier:

Turn Off AR Mode

AR mode is a fun little gimmick that lets you see the Pokémon wandering around in the real world, but if you're serious about catching Pokémon we'd recommend avoiding it.

Not only does it drain your phone's battery, but it also makes it difficult to judge the distance between you and the Pokémon. When it's turned off, the Pokémon is in a fixed position on the screen, making your throws a little easier to predict.

However, there are certain Pokémon that are a pain to catch in standard mode, and being able to move closer to them in AR mode might actually be helpful. So don't treat it as a one rule fixes all.

Learn The L Throw Curve Technique

A certain member of the Pokémon community developed the reliable 'L Throw' technique that reportedly makes it easier to catch Pokémon using a curve throw. 

This involves spinning the Poké Ball clockwise, then sliding your finger up the screen to the left of the Pokémon and releasing it when it's level with the Pokémon.

Savvy players will want to time their finger slide when the circle is nearing its smallest to grab that increased capture rate too!

Get A Grip On The Throwing Physics

This seems a bit vague, but understanding the ball physics and getting a feel for them will really improve your accuracy, which, in turn, increases your chance of getting a capture rate increase. 

Your throw changes depending on the speed and length of the swipe, which in turn affects the trajectory of the ball. A good rule of thumb is that you want to swipe longer to hit Pokémon further away, and short swipes to hit Pokémon closer to you.

Speed can also help. If a Pokémon is particularly far away, you might want to gather a bit of pace to help it reach the distance, while a close up Pokémon might just benefit from a smaller throw.

It's not something we can give you a definitive answer on here. Instead, just get out there and experiment until you get a good feel for it.