Lures and Tips
Steadying Retrieving lures
Cover = rocks, stumps, etc. Structure = creeks, points, ledges, etc.
Buzz Bait: Use with water temps above 55, monofilament in open water braided line in heavy cover. Trailer hook always. Change colors for short striking fish. Try anytime light is low or fish are feeding on surface. Use smaller baits when fishing is slower. Change retrieve speed often. Make long casts. Stick to white or chartreuse except at night.
Popping, Stick and Prop Baits: Chap Stick on first foot of line makes them easier to work, Better in, but not limited to, calmer water, Great lures for picky fish. Learn what you did to entice a strike. Use a snap to change baits. Shorter rods work better. Practice making cast close to cover. Feel fish before setting hook. Properly sharpened hooks make a gentle tug a good hook set. Gentle hook set necessary to not pull fish free.
Rats, Frogs, etc.: In most cases, heavy braided line is best. Snag free means use it in the worst cover. Used mostly in grass, they are ideal for wood and rocks. Great for shallow open water. Cast onto bank and work out when possible. Very heavy and long rod.
Floating Worms and Soft Jerk Baits: Use an insert rattle. Use a light wire hook even when a larger hook is desired. Always work erratically trying several methods. These lures are probably the most versatile out there and can be used with no weight on or near the surface. You can add a small weight like a split shot on the line to get the bait to run a little deeper. Works well Carolina rigged or Texas rigged. Natural colors work as well as odd colors such as bubble gum. Better with medium strength rods and lines.
Jerk Baits: Great lures for spring bass or anytime bass are not completely active. A lure that brings out the ambush instinct in bass better than many. A bass may be totally inactive but has to act on an injured fish because of instinct. Can be altered so it does exactly what you want it to. Add weight to the lure to make a suspending or sinking bait. Shiny bright colors, silver and shad, are always best in clearer water. In stained to muddy, I suggest using odd colors such as chartreuse and brown. Short limber tipped rods and medium line.
Lipless Cranking Lures: Many varieties out there make selection hard. In one store I counted 61 different brands and colors. The secret is to fish your confidence baits and go from there. Make a selection on what you know and only vary slightly from that. Change colors and retrieves some. These lures are reaction baits. Always fish close to cover without hanging up. Also ideal for shallow open water when cover is wide spread or even absent, Long rods with very limber tips and light to medium lines.
Crank Baits: These come in many confusing varieties and colors. Make depth your number one concern when making a decision. First cover 0-5 foot then 5-10 and so on. Once you have found lures that accomplish this for you then you can worry about colors. A crankbait of any color will catch fish if you can get it down to them. Color selection will improve numbers and how well they take it. Always make contact with the cover or structure, Use a snap to try many lures. Fairly light line on a long fiberglass graphite composite. Long cast are essential in most cranking situations. The new smaller diameter braided lines are ideal for cranking if you can get the hang of casting them. Braided line in 15 lb. test with the diameter of 6 lb. is super cranking line. Cranking with braided line you should use a swivel and 6 inch leader of a higher test mono. Another unpopular but affective approach is very heavy line in shallow heavy cover. As with all lures, you must have a lure retriever of some kind at all times. Losing a bait is something that should be very rare. If it takes 15 minutes to free a $5.00 lure then you are making $20.00 per hour.
Spinner Baits: I, for one, have learned the first choice is a seasonal one. Blade size is the seasonal part. Shad sizes vary year round and your blades should too. Spinner baits offer the most versatile options there are. Change blades, skirts, trailers and you have a new bait. The first thing to do is decide, " Am I really looking for a spinner bait pattern?" If you are, then tie on several combinations and throw them all until the fish respond. Allow many types of retrieves as well. Sometimes bass want it moving fast near the surface. Other times, work it slower and deeper in and out of cover. A stop-and-drop retrieve is the most common and productive retrieve I have found. Bring it through cover and allow is to free fall for a second or two. These baits are also the least used deep water baits. Not that they donít work they are just misunderstood. Use a heavier bait with a single large blade or two small ones. Allow the baits to sink to the bottom and retrieve a few yards and sink again. Look for the strike to come on the fall or the second you move it again. Medium action rods make casting easier. Line size is determined by baits size and cover fished. Heavy cover heavy lines. Light lures light line.
Worms and Lizards:
I will use the term bait since I truly believe if they will bite a worm they will bite a lizard and vice-versa. Used in every fishing situation. Dead of winter heat of summer they flat work. Texas-rig, as we know, is when the weight is rigged at the head of the bait. With a Texas-rig the weight and hook size are very critical. I use the following guide for hook sizes. Baits four inches or less use a 2\0 or smaller hook. Baits five to seven inches use a 2\0-5\0 hook. A bait larger than seven inches require a 4\0 or bigger hook. The weight size is determined by depth, line size and fish activity. Trial and error is the rule of thumb because we all fish differently. The way I rig my baits 90 percent of the time is as follows: I peg my sinkers a toothpick. I use a 3/16 - 1/4 oz bullet sinker on spinning tackle with 8 - 12 pound test line. On a casting reel I put 14 pound test and a 3/8 - 1/2 oz sinker for casting and pitching. I love to flip in very heavy cover with 3/8 - 3/4 oz sinker on twenty pound test or bigger. I have even used fifty pound braided line with great success
The most popular rig in tournament fishing. Most fishermen use it on every trip and it still produces. Still produces as if it has never been seen by the fish. It is truly amazing how this rig catches bass and how often they are big. We all probably know the rig consist of a bait, hook, sinker, swivel, bead and a leader of various lengths. The leader is one trick to the rig. I, for one, use a leader of about 12 to 24 inches. In most cases this is plenty. You can use a leader of lengths of up to 8 foot and this is great for suspending bass. It is a myth that the lizard or worm floats along behind the weight. You have to really plan your rig to do this, A very light hook and floating bait have to be used to accomplish this. It is not necessary to float your bait unless you feel you are targeting suspending bass. The lead usually is heavy say 1/2 - 3/4 but can be altered in shallow or heavy cover. Lighter leads such as 3/8 oreven lighter work well and resist snags better. I enjoy using light sinkers with light line for some great action, I have been known to even try split shots pressed onto the line and not use a swivel. This really works well for early spring fish in shallow water. Big bass move shallow very early and want a simple meal where little effort is needed.
The Jig and Pig
We will first talk about the plastic versus pork controversy. The decision is simple, use what you want. Sounds too simple, but it is a confidence thing. I have used both for many years with similar result. I do use both but I sometimes ask myself why and I have no answer. Maybe it is the no dry plastic or the slower sinking pork. Jig size is much more important, as is color. Color is first. What food should the bass be feeding on in the area you are fishing. If you think crawfish, try black, brown or maybe orange. If bream or bait fish is likely to be whatís for dinner, try some red, chartreuse, green or blue. Jig size should be determined by the line you want to use, depth and fish activity. Slower fish need a smaller bait that falls slower. Active fish may want a lure that is being bounced fast. Cover also determines size. Dropping through heavy cover requires a heavy jig while grass may hang less on a lighter jig. Big bass seem to want to bite a big jig. A secret of mine is to use a 3/4 oz jig when other folks are using little jigs.
I am an avid spoon fisherman. I believe in fishing a spoon quite often. The first time to use a spoon is when you see fish on your electronics but canít get them to bite, Use a heavy jigging spoon right on top of them. No matter what kind of game fish they are they will eventually bite. If not, then they are not game fish and for sure, not bass. Lighter thinner spoons can be fished as a worm may be fished Bass schooling after bait fish will hit a spoon better than any other lure, especially in the fall when bait fish begin to die and sink to the bottom as the spoon does. When, in a school of bass or shad, you have not tried everything until you have thrown a spoon. Spoons represent injured bait fish and should be fished that way.
We all know the importance of sharp hooks. If a lure in your tackle box is not sharp then you are not ready to go to the water. Just as sure as you do, you will want that one. Also the touching up of hooks on the water is also necessary.