Throwing swimbaits for bass has become somewhat of an obsession for some bass anglers.
The lure of the that trophy lunker has proven just too much for some and they will happily trade lower success rates for larger fish.
Although there are plenty of smaller sized swimbaits available, for the majority once you mention a swimbait they imagine large, lifelike lures with either a jointed body or a large paddle tail.
Personally I like to use smaller swimbaits just as much as I would a crankbait or worm but when targeting really big bass size really does matter.
There are three broad categories of swimbaits to choose from:
Each has there own specific characteristics but there is also a lot of cross over between the different kinds for example you can paddle tailed swimbaits with soft bodies and some can have their hooks on top or on the bottom or be multi-jointed.
A lot of the soft body swimbaits for bass will also require the addition of an added specialized weighted hook or a jig head before you can fish them.
Most hard-bodied swimbaits however will come with everything included and can have several attachment points for your line so they can be fished in different styles.
Smaller soft boby swim baits can aslo be used as trailers on spinnerbaits.
The Shadalicious swimbait from Strike King has a huge following due to it's exceptional swimming action.
It is a hollow bodied paddle tail swimbait available in a large range of colors and 3 or 4 sizes.
AS the name suggest they make a killer shad imitator for both small and large bass.
You'll need to rig these on a either a jig head or a weighted hook to get some decent casting distances as like most soft body swim baits they are pretty light without the addition of some kind of weighted hook.
Spro BBZ1's are some of the most lifelike lures you can buy. No self respecting swimbait fisherman would be caught without a Spro, Huddleston or a River2Sea in their tackle box.
You can rig these straight on to your line as they have a enough in built weight for casting. I tend to favor low and slow as the style of fishing for when using these.
Just be aware that those large treble hooks can snag easily on weed and other underwater obstructions so either fish them deep along a drop off or high as a topwater lure when targeting bass around weed beds.
Another Strike King swimbait lure the Rage Swimmer has a ribbed body that gives off a lot of vibration even at slow speeds.
These are a great choice if you are targeting small to medium size bass and I always keep a couple to hand.
They are very versatile and can be used on a variety of different bass rigs like a plain swimbait, drop shot or you can even jig them when targeting bass close up.
They can even be used as a spinnerbait trailer when targeting bass in heavy cover.
You'll need to rig them yourself with some added weight.
The Fat Swing Impact is pretty similar to the Rage Swimmer above but is available in a large range of sizes some as big as almost 8 inches in length.
They have a two tone color design with the top portion of the lure having a bit of sparkle. A really great shad type lure they can destroy bass in the right conditions.
These are rigged straight through the body for better swim action on either a weighted hook or large jig head.
One of the all time classic jointed swim baits the River2Sea S-Waver has a killer swim action that is perfectly tuned to mimic small bait fish.
The 168 refers to the length in millimeters so that's roughly 6-3/4 inches in length from tail to tip.
Targeting large lunkers means using giant swimbaits for bass in the 6 to 8 inch range and River2Sea are one of the most established players on the scene.
For best results fish them slowly just below the water surface. The resulting wake from the S like swimming pattern will draw in big bass from far and wide.
Although they have a hard jointed body the tail is actually made from hard wearing PVC so you can considered them a hybrid lure.
Huddleston are known for pouring some of the most life like swim bait patterns ever. They pride themselves on making super realistic hand painted patterns particularly when imitating small trout.
They come pre-rigged with a top hook so can be worked over the top of snags and weed beds with a lot more confidence that bottom hooked swim baits.
These are sinking swimbait lures and you can use a slow count to guage how deep it has sunk after casting. Holding your rod tip up will help them to run shallow and they can often be smashed from below by hungry bass.
When bass are on the shad they can ignore just about anything else you throw at them.
Similar top hook design to the Huddleston above but much smaller lures with a built in lead head on the hook.
They also have bio-salt impregnated tails and a holographic foil finish for added attraction.
You can run these slowly in deeper waters for early season bass or over the top of weed beds in the summer as the water temperatures start to rise and bass head for shallower waters.
I like to fish these at several different depths on the same cast as when you pause and allow them to sink the tail continues to paddle, you can get hit by bass as you start to reel in again and they start to swim up slightly.
The internal jig head is weighted so you can control the exact swimming depth easily once you are accustomed to how quick they sink.
Available in three colors and both a sinking and slow sinking model so you can tailor your exact lure to how you want to fish it.
One of the most life like jointed swimbaits lures you will ever see the hard bodied Jackall Gantarel is a cut above the rest.
A fairly heavy lure so not one for use on light tackle big you be thankful as big bass love to smash these lures.
The swim action is one of the best you will ever see and the super realistic patterns are of the highest quality.
One of the most expensive swimbaits to buy these lures are for the serious fisherman only.
Both trebles come dressed in natural feathers and also come with a tail tip eye so you can run a stringer hook at the back.
Throwing swimbaits for bass has become many anglers go to technique for targeting trophy fish.
The only real draw back is that when using these larger bass lures you have to realize that you will get less strikes.
A lot of small bass will quite simply ignore them and to greatly improve your chances you need to be laser targeted with where you fish them.
Big bass tend to be well distributed across any stretch of water and due to their size a certain lake or pond can only support so many of them.
Low and slow is generally the name of the game when using these lures for bass and it can take a few casts to fine tune the lure when it comes to how fast you should fish it.
The time of year will have a huge impact on how you fish a swimbait and it will generally dictate what depth you should be fishing at.
Look to work them in and around drop offs when looking to fish them in deeper waters earlier on in the season as bigger bass will tend to stay away from the shallows until the water temperatures begin to slowly rise during summer.
Once summer hits and bass move towards shallower waters and vegetation such as weed beds and lilies then you can start to target them in the top few feet of the water column.
The size and weight of the lure you are using will have a big impact on the type of swimbait rod that you should be using.
Normally look to use a fast action rod with a medium to heavy power rating and length wise from seven feet all the way up to nine feet when using really big swimbaits. Swimbait reels are normally baitcasters and the bigger the better without it unbalancing your rod.
The number of swimbait designs and manufacturers has exploded since they were first championed in California in the 1990's.
Since then bass anglers all over the country have come to embrace the swimbait as one of the best choices for targeting really big bass.
But a lot of anglers still ask the question: How to Fish a Swimbait ?
How you fish a swimbait will vary depending on the time of year and where the bass are most likely to be found. Low and slow through the water where the bass a holding.
Shallow water summer fishing will need a different approach to deeper pre-spawn season swimbait fishing.
Size and color/pattern will also play an important role but location is the first thing to get right. The best swimbaits for bass will match the hatch so to speak in terms of what patterns to use.
I like to start with a simple shad pattern and work from there.
Once you have settled on a location that is likely to hold big bass then you can figure out what kind of depth you need to be fishing a swimbait at.
A swimbait should be fished with a low and slow retrieval, running a swimbait too fast will result in it rolling on itself and spoiling the natural swimming action that is built in to it.
You can cover a lot of water when swim bait fishing and if you are not familiar with the venue on which you are fishing the using a fan like pattern with your casts can allow you to tackle a large area before moving on.
Look to run the swim bait along underwater structures or drop offs and weed beds.
One of the best swimbait fishing tips I ever received was to try and find where the shad were moving through as you can be sure that large bass will not be far behind them.
During the pre-spawn season when bass will stay down in the deeper waters and this really is were you need to target them.
At this time of year with lower water temperatures bass will try to expend as little energy as possible, meaning they are less likely to chase a lure that is moving too fast or is too high up in the water column.
I like to use a heavier swimbait that has a decent amount of built in weight. that way you get down into the deeper water quicker and it is easier to keep them there as you work them forwards.
A slow retrieval rate is crucial when working swimbaits for bass in colder months. They quite simple will not chase anything if it traveling too fast.
So low and slow is the name of the game even though it an be a little boring at times.
I consider the mid range of the water column to be between 3 and 5 feet. Ideally you will target a structure like a submerged log pile and cast a swimbait just beyond it.
Using a slow sinking swimbait you can gauge at what point it sinks to roughly the four foot mark and then start to haul it in slowly.
Occasionally pausing to allow it to sink a little as they will rise as they move.
As temperatures start to rise and bass move towards the shallow you need to start to target them in by running your swimbaits in shallow waters particulary across the tops of sunken logs or branches and large weed beds and lilies.
When casting a swimbait in shallow water with a lot of weeds around it is best to use a weedless hook or a swimbait that has it's hook mounted on the top.
This types of lures can greatly increase you chances as when weed fouls on some swimbaits it can affect the swimming motion.
Fishing a swimbait is basically cast and retrieve all day long so you will have a much easier time using a casting setup.
Spinning setups are fine for really small finesse style swimbaots but for almost everything else a baitcasting rod is a real must.
All swimbait rods share one thing in common and that is a fast action. You should look for a rod that has a medium to heavy power rating and should be roughly 7 to eight feet in length.
If you are using a baitcasting setup then your choice of swimbait reels should match the size of the rod and line that you are using. As long as it has a quality drag and decent casting performance you should be good.
When fishing very large swimbaits you may need to beef your reel up a little and your rod too, this may call for a specialized rod and reel.
The chose of fishing line for swimbaits these days is usually a modern fluorocarbon line with a breaking strain that is normally in the 15 to 20 pound range.
If fishing in shallow waters then monofilament is just as good as it does tend to float a little better than fluorocarbon.
Spinnerbaits are one of those rare lures that can produce bass year round irrespective of water temperature.
Cast and retrieve is still the tried and tested method when fishing a spinnerbait, that being said you can still work them in a more start stop vertical pattern and they will still produce fish.
There are a number of different blades available as well as a wide selection of skirts. There are also tandem rigged hooks available on some spinner baits which can be effective if the bass are biting a bit short.
Spinnerbait fishing can be as simple as casting along cover or a drop off and simply retrieving, varying the speed of the spinnerbait can be one of the best tactics to utilize.
There are normally three main type of blades for spinnerbaits:
The most popular or common type is the willow with the colorado next and you will rarely see the indian.
Colorado blades are the largest of the three and create the biggest vibration through the water. They are the best choice in murkier waters, at night and in colder waters when you may want to fish your spinnerbait a bit slower.
They create the biggest amount of resistance when draged through the water and you'll definitely feel the difference between a colorado blade on a spinnerbait and a much lighter willow.
Indian blades are effectively a cross between a colorado blade and a willow. They neither create too much vibration nor too much flash. The also spin at a speed somewhere between the two.
Best used on hot summer days when bass are more likely to be spooked by flashier lures.
If you see someone tie on a indian blade spinne rbait on purpose, then that angler really knows their blades and when to use them.
Willow-leaf sometimes just called the willow blade, these are the most slender of the three blades used on a spinnerbait. You will find that the willow blade is the most popular blade.
It spins faster than the others and because of this it has less vibration and gives off a lot more flash.
It is much easier to use a deeper depths or in and around weeds, it's the one to choose when bass are at their most active and not to be used if the appear to be sluggish.
Like most bass lures you'll find that there is a huge selection of spinnerbait colors available to buy. But spinnerbaits are one of those lures where simplicity is best and keeping your colors toned down a notch is usually the safer bet.
When the waters are really clear aim to use a simple color that has a more natural color or shading to it.
Remember it is the blades that are doing most of the work when it comes to attracting bass. Using a flashy or artificial type color on a bright day with calm waters will result in lots of bass turning their nose at the spinner bait once they get close to it.
On duller days or when the waters are running a lit more brackish then you can experiment with brighter colors.
This includes the blade colors too. Painted or patterned blades can be very successful on dark days or in muddy waters.
Lower light days especially if there is a bit of wind can be the most productive time to fish a spinnerbait.
You can use them all year round, you'll need to adapt the color and the blade type as described above if you intend on using a spinnerbait in summer months when the water is warmer.
Spinner baits can be used in open water given the large amount of vibration that the blades give off.
However were they rally start to shine is near a drop off or on the end of a thick weed bed. you can also work them over the top of a weed bed that has a few feet of clear water above it.
Across the top of fallen logs especially of there are a few fallen ob top of each other can be an excellent choice as bass are very happy to lie in wait under logs in ambush of bait fish.
Most good spinnerbait setups will be on a casting outfit and not spinning gear. The best rods for spinnerbaits will have a fast action, medium to medium/heavy power rating and be at between 6'6" and 7' in length.
The best fishing line for spinnerbaits is usually flourocarbon unless you are working them in and around a lot of thick cover. Then I would opt for braid as a main line with a flourocarbon leader.
Learning how to fish a suspending jerkbait for bass can greatly increase your chances of catching a lunker especially in colder months.
In warmer months most anglers will prefer a crankbait.
Despite popular opinion jerkbaits can also be used in warmer months but bass will be in shallower waters and will happily hit faster moving lures.
During the warmer you are better off using a floating jerkbait as a topwater lure choice.
However given the choice between crankbaits or jerkbaits the majority will stick to jerkbaits in colder water temperatures and crankbaits in the summer.
Suspending jerkbaits are jerkbait lures that have a neutral buoyancy which allows them to stop or suspend at a certain depth once you stop retrieving them.
Like other jerkbaits the majority will come with a dive bill that helps get them down to a working depth.
A lure with a deep dive lip will be easier to get down deeper than one with a shallow lip.
Most of these lures will generally work only within a narrow range of depth. When retrieved you should be able to get them down to about 6 feet depending on the lure.
Some anglers will use a small split shot to help go deeper but this comes at a price as you will affect the swimming motion and they are technically no longer suspending lures.
One note to observe is that large swings in water temperature can seriously affect the buoyancy of any suspending lure as too can changing out the manufacturers treble hooks for after market ones.
Although the swim characteristics will be similar regardless of whether you are using a floating jerkbait or a suspending one, the real difference is what happens during the pause.
The suspending models will remain at roughly the same depth they were at just after you pause. With a floating jerkbait once you pause the lure will start to rise slowly towards the surface.
You can use the rise of the lure to great affect. Bounce it of a log or shallow rocky bottom and then allow it to rise.
This can be very effective for smallmouth bass when you are looking to work a jerkbait over the top of snags, with a floating lure you have less chance of getting snagged on the log or rocks.
The best suspending jerkbaits are designed to imitate a bait fish, the swim action and the twitch, twitch pause retrieval style mimics the start/stop pause of smaller fish and also of an injured bait fish.
Bass will routinely strike a suspended jerk baits as you pause in between the twitching movement that you impart on the lure with your rod tip.
This pause is what makes them particularly effect in colder months when water temperatures start to drop towards 40 degrees when bass tend to be at their most sluggish.
Bass are far less likely to strike a fast moving lure in the winter months.
A lot of anglers do not pause for long enough of a time to allow the bass to have a good look at the lure and then take a bite of it.
So just like your twitching motion when retrieving vary up how long you pause for too.
Water clarity also has a major effect on catching bass with a suspended jerkbait. The clearer the water the better especially in colder months.
There is no major vibration flash given off like when fishing a spinnerbait, instead bass need clear water to see your jerkbait and then have a chance to strike it.
Even during winter variances in temperature will affect how you fish a jerbait, and you may need to adapt your technique to this.
When the temperatures really drop another common tactic is to cast out the lure and do nothing once you get it down a few feet.
This is commonly referred to as dead sticking. You allow the jerkbait to stay suspended at a certain depth, when bass are super sluggish this can be a safe bet.
Keep a close eye on your line and don't allow too much slak to build as you may miss a strike.
When using suspending jerk baits you will be doing a lot of casting and putting action into the lure via the rod tip. This means that you need a rod that will transmit the energy from your wrist out to the lure without any loss of sensitivity.
The best rod for jerkbaits should have a medium power rating, a fast action and roughly be 6'6" in length.
In very colder weather you may consider a rod with a medium/light power rating as it make your strike a little lighter and prevent ripping the hooks.
The best jerkbait line is flourocarbon for it's low stretch characteristics and low visibility. Mono has far too mush stretch in it for this type of technique. If you do decide to use braid instead of flourocarbon fishing line then make sure to use a flourocarbon leader.
Jerkbaits really come into their own when the temperatures start to drop. How to fish a jerkbait is a common question among beginners.
A lot of beginners understand the concept but not always the finer details of the execution, there are a few factors that can seriously affect your success when fishing with a jerkbait that we will discuss in-depth below.
A Jerkbait is used to imitate a small bait fish, the majority will have a dive lip on them and they can be used with nothing more than a straight forward cast and retrieve.
As the name suggest when you add a little 'jerk' or twitch into the retrieve especially with a pause it is only then do they really start to shine.
That pause is one of the reasons why they are so effective in colder weather.
Bass and other freshwater fish are considerably more sluggish in winter months and will favor a more slow moving, static lure much more than a fast moving one.
When fishing a jerkbait for bass the aim is to get the lure down to the right depth, twitch it in a rhythmic fashion and then pause to allow the bass to strike.
As discussed above the common jerkbait technique is to twitch, twitch and pause.
Two twitches and then a pause.
This is an unnatural movement pattern for the lure. Mix things up a little, twitch three times then pause, then one twitch and a pause.
Also vary the angle that your rod tip is pointing.
This will make the jerk bait move in a much more natural way. Twitch to the left a few time then the right and even directly to you.
If you are covering open water then cast in a fan like pattern to cover as mush water as possible.
Chances are the bass will hit your lure from beneath allowing for a decent pause will greatly increase your chances of a strike.
Water temperature will greatly affect the kind of depth that fish will be feeding in and also just how much energy they are willing to put in to catch a meal for themselves.
Bass will move to deeper waters in the winter as the temperature is a few degrees warmer the deeper you get.
They will also be considerably more sluggish during colder months. This is one of the reasons why a jerkbait for bass is so effective.
The pause gives them a chance to hit your lure without having to really chase it down and waste a lot of energy.
Color choices in winter should also be more natural, save the brighter ones for warmer temps.
Keeping your line taught whilst you twitch is not the correct technique for jerkbait fishing. Let that line go slack and allow the lure continue moving until it comes to a full stop.
Alloying the line to go slack means that the first twitch after the pause will always be some what different as you will have different amounts of slack accrued after each pause.
Far too many anglers concentrate on the twitching only, it is a two stage technique and never forget that.
A common mistake when using jerk baits is to only pause for the briefest of moments. Extend that pause by doing a slow count of one to three seconds.
Just like varying the retrieve you should also mix up how long you pause a jerkbait for. Remember you are trying to imitate the random movements of a small bait fish.
More often than not you as bass will attack your jerkbait on the pause so give it some time to really hone in on your lure.
Needless to say if you are not on a bass boat with a fish finder then you will be guessing as to the correct depth to run your jerkbait.
Varying the depth that you run at will also mean using a variety of lures whether that's suspending jerkbaits or floating jerkbaits it's always good to have a selection to hand.
As a general rule in colder waters you will end up running deeper and warmer summer months you'll end up using topwater lures more often.
Personally I consider flourocarbon as the best line for jerkbaits, you get the invisibility of mono combined with the stiffness of braid.
That being said if you are using a floating jerkbait and are only looking to target the very top of the water column then mono can be a good choice as it floats.
It you do decide to use braid then make sure to use a flourocarbon leader as you'll be working the lure over the top of the bass and they can see braid pretty easily from below.
Yes fishing a jerkbbait in summer works really well. Work the jerkbait with a higher speed than you would in winter and be much more aggressive when twitching it.
You can also experiment with much louder colors as this will help draw in bass from much further away.
Summer jerkbait fishing is all about color and flash so have a good selection of bright colors to hand.
No a jerkbait is not just a topwater lure it can be fished at a variety of depths and speeds. In winter months the deeper the better and in summer months you can use them in the top few feet of the water column.
When fishing jerkbaits you are not really tied using just a baitcasting rod a spinning rod can work just as well.
You'll want a jerkbait rod with a fast action that will allow you to really transmit your twitching down to the lure. A medium to medium/light power rating will also help get the best action.
On really windy days I would choose a spinning combo as a jerkbait setup over a baitcaster as there is less chance of wind knots especially if you are using braid as a main line.
Most bass anglers will keep a large selection of both crankbaits and jerkbaits in their tackle boxes, both can absolutely slay large bass when the conditions are right.
But, what exactly is the difference between crankbaits and jerkbaits?
Crankbaits generally have a shorter fatter body shape and a variety of different styles of diving bill, whereas a jerkbait will have a longer more slender body.
Crankbaits are usually used most in summer months and jerkbaits in winter months but this is not a hard and fast rule.
Crankbaits have a shorter, stubbier body shape, will generally only have two treble hooks while a jerkbait on the other-hand will be longer and more slender and can have up to three treble hooks.
Depending on the season and water conditions how you fish a jerkbait will vary as too will a crankbait.
However, jerkbaits are generally fished with a lot more action added by 'jerking' or twitching the rod tip and then pausing.
Crankbaits can also be fished in this style but they are more often than not cast along or near some kind of structure and retrieved in a more regular fashion.
Crankbaits are also a popular choice for trolling with as there running depth can be easily controlled by either the speed the boat is running at or the use of a downrigger.
As mentioned above the body of a jerkbait will normally be longer and thinner than a crankbait.
Traditionally both would have been made out of balsa wood.
These days however, manufacturers have switched to using hard plastic more and more for jerkbaits but for crankbaits there is still a lot that are made from balsa wood.
When comparing jerkbaits and crankbaits most anglers would say that a crankbait will run deeper than a jerkbait due to the larger dive bills that crankbaits can have.
However, things aren't always that simple. You can get sinking jerkbaits and these will run deeper than a floating crankbait.
However is you compare the two types of lures that have a neutral bouancy the suspending jerkbait will in fact running more shallow than the average crankbait.
Jerkbaits are fished with a pause, and if you are using a floating model then that pause can allow the lure to float back to the surface slowly so because of this jerkbaits can be used in the top three feet of the water column much easier than a crankbait.
The dive bills on a jerkbait are generally of the same size and shape across most different models.
On a crankbait however there are a various sizes and shapes. How deep the lures will run will vary by both the size, shape and by how aggressively down-turned the dive bill is.
The dive bill and shorter body on a crankbait will also give it a more aggressive swim action than a jerkbait.
The fact that jerkbaits are longer on average than a crankbait means that on larger models they will usually have three treble hooks as apposed to the more regular two on a crankbait.
A lot of anglers like to switch out the stock hooks for higher quality hooks, you need to be careful when doing this as replacing the manufacturers hooks with heavier after market hooks can affect the swim characteristics of both jerkbaits and crankbaits.
Most fishermen will run slightly different setups when using a jerkbait or a crankbait.
Whilst monfilament is normally favored for crankbaits the go to fishing line for jerkbaits will be flourocarbon due to it's lower stretch and lower visibility.
Fishing topwater lures for bass is definitely one of the most fun and exciting way to target bass. The best topwater lures will force a bass to strike hard from below.
Nothing beats seeing a lure hit hard as a bass moves quickly up from the depths.
Topwater fishing is one of the most visually rewarding ways to fish for bass.
For a lot of fishermen however it can also be one of the most frustrating.
If you have ever targeted bass in this way you will know that you need to use the right lure at the right time and to use it in such a way that the bass cannot help but hit it hard.
There are a number of different types of topwater lures available they all have one thing in common; they try to imitate some form of natural food that a bass might feed on.
You can find a lot of lures that are designed to imitate an injured baitfish that is making small disturbances on the water surface. These can be called poppers/chuggers or walkers.
Then there are those that directly imitate a type of small animal of insect that bass feed on like frogs, small ducks, grasshoppers and jitterbugs.
Chuggers or poppers have a small concave shaped mouth on them that as they are retrieved causing the lure to make a small splash and a little noise referred to as a pop. The pop is caused by the shape of the head of the lure and the noise that the bubbles it forms make.
The attachment point for your line is actually in the concave mouth which helps to give them their distinctive movement.
Both popper lures and chugger lures are usually fished quite slow in comparison to most other bass lures.
Walkers as the name suggests are designed to be “walked” along the surface by flicking your wrist as you reel them in. The flicking causing the lure to dart from side to side. The darting makes a small wave on the surface of the water which the bass are attracted to.
The are commonly called "walk the dog" lures. The swim action is caused by flicking and jerking the rod tip. The end result is that the lure will dart from side to side.
Although the are shaped like a stickbait or long thin crankbait the absence of any lip(or dive bill) stops the from diving when being retrieved just like a crankbait would.
Small plastic frogs and other such imitations are really great for bass. The bass will tend to strike these types of lures really hard as they are generally larger than the poppers or walkers above.
Frog lures will come with different build designs like soft body or hard body. Some will include an internal rattle to help attract the bass.
The soft bodied lures can have the hook hidden. It is only when the bass actually strike the lure that the hook is exposed.
This makes the great for working over deep vegetation and cover, without running the risk of snagging any weeds.
Other types food they will imitate would be small mice, ducklings and other such aquatic amphibians or small mammals.
The bass lures as the name suggests have a small spinning blade or propeller on the back and occasionally on the front. The propeller will spin as you retrieve the lure through the water.
The propeller creates a small wake behind the lure as it runs just under the water surface. This disturbance in the surface will drive a bass crazy.
It is both a visible stimulus and also the bass can feel the vibrations that are given off.
The best time to use a topwater lure like a prop bait is generally on a calm day without much surface ripples or waves.
Buzzbaits are probably some of the weirdest looking freshwater lures you are ever likely to see.
The lure is nothing more than a shaped piece of rigid wire with a blade and a rubber or plastic jig at the hook.
They have a spinning blade or propeller just like on a prop bait, that is used to create a small wake through the water.
The bass will actually strike the smaller squid like jig that hides the hook in it's skirt.
Traditionally the main times of the year to use a topwater lure is late spring and early summer. This is when bass can be at there most active.
The reason why bass are most active during these times is mostly down to water temperature. They tend to be quite inactive below 55 degrees and above 80 degrees.
Between these temps and during late spring and early summer is when bass will tend to reproduce or spawn. During this time the male bass become very territorial and will strike hard at any kind of intruder near their nesting area.
The best time of the day to fish a topwater lure is either dawn or dusk. Bass unlike other fish and mammals cannot adjust their eyes to the changes in light from the sun during the day.
At the height of the sun between morning and evening bass will generally hide in the shade away from the intense bright light of the midday sun.
You can of course target them here but you will have much better luck by getting up early or waiting until later in the evening.
Fishing for bass is mostly done on a baitcasting setup using medium to small sized lures. However it is possible to use some very small lures if you have the right tackle setup.
A good ultralight spinning setup is much better than any baitcaster at throwing light lures right where you want them.
That is mostly down to the reel as a baitcaster does need a little bit more weight to get it moving that it does to pull line off of a spinning reel spool.
Ultralight bass fishing is mostly performed on light spinning tackle not a more conventional baitcasting one that bass anglers usually favor.
In general you are going to want to choose a good bass spinning reel of not more than 2500 in size.
Depending on just how light you want to go a 1000 or 2500 sized reel is best.
Personally I always find you get the best value out of fishing tackle if you go for the mid-range priced offerings from the main manufacturers.
Most manufacturers start their spinning reel sizes at 1000. These reels are designed to take line in the 2 to 4 lb breaking strength range.
Something like a 2500 can handle up to 8 lb with ease. Once you go beyond these sizes you'll find that the reels become too heavy and you need to beef your rod up.
Once you start to do that your ability to throw lighter lures will be diminished.
A rod that is best suited to ultralight fishing for bass is going to be about 6’6″ in length and have a fast action with a light power rating.
For a lot of finesse bass applications the best spinning rods for bass will have light/medium power rating.
When you are fishing near thick weed cover it can be a smarter move to use a rod with a bit more backbone than a traditional ultralight setup.
You’ll not need a line rating any higher than 6 lbs. Ultralight rods are always spinning rods so if you are tempted to use a baitcasting rod then that won’t work with a spinning reel.
Spinning rods have a larger diameter line guide close to the reel to account for the spiral motion that the line takes as it runs off the spool.
A baitcasting rod however has much smaller line guides that are closer to the rod blank, this is because the reel is usually lower to a spinning reel and the line is fed out in a straight line.
Monofilament is the go to line of choice for light tackle. Braid is really not that good in really lighter weights.
Rating wise you need to go with 6 pound or less. The rod and line rating should always be matched if you want to get the very best performance from you casting.
Be careful when working lighter line as the chances of breakages greatly increase. Always be aware of where the under water structures are like weed beds.
Once a bass strikes it may dive down aggressively to deep cover. Once in there it can be very easy for them to snap off your line.
The whole point of using an ultralight spinning setup for bass is so that you can use light and small lures.
Some lures such as large swimbaits and heavy spoons just won't be suitable.
Spinners, although spinners are mostly used for trout you can still catch bass on smaller inline type spinners.
Look out for Mepps, Short Strikers and Panther Martins are the go to lures here.
You can vary the body color and the blade colors, but in my experience a silver blade seems to work best for small-mouth bass.
Depending on the time of year and the water color you can also use a dressed treble hook on your spinner. This are already included with the Panther Martins. Black and dark olive/green are the best colors to use on the dressing.
Crankbaits in the smaller sizes can be extremely effective for bass right after spawning season as they are quite aggressive when protecting their nesting spots. You can use the usual bass crankbaits only in smaller sizes.
The smaller sized crankbaits will tend to run quite shallow so there are best used close in beside weed beds and other underwater structures.
Look for lures like Rapala's and Salmo Hornets in natural color patterns.
Topwater lures like walkers or chuggers can be used on ultralight tackle. However, larger lures like frogs are ot really that suitable.
Topwater lures for bass in small sizes can be lots of fun on light gear. Just bear in mind that a lot of these lures are intended to be worked beside or over large weed beds and light gear does not do very well with snagging on such structures.
Bass fishing using light tackle can be a heck of a lot of fun if you are prepared to get your tackle right and you target the fish in the right spots.
Make sure to always be very quite when fishing with light gear. Chances are the bass are near the surface of the water. Surface fish will tend to spook a lot easier so being quite and not wearing anything that is too bright is the best approach.
Most of this type of fishing will generally be done in the warmer summer months.
You should always try to be as quite as possible and to wear darker clothing.
The best time of day will generally be in the morning and evening when the sun is at it's lowest.
Bass are generally quietest around mid-day due to the high amounts of sun light and glare on the surface.
You may also want to get a good pair of fishing sunglasses that are polarized to help reduce surface glare.
Although big swimbaits for bass were first introduced in California they have now gone mainstream throughout the US. I would like to explain what I learned and what is meant by the term “big swimbait.” I am sure many of you have read articles about anglers using swimbaits 12”-16” in California to land giant bass.
However, I have learned that the word “big” is relative to where you are fishing and this could vary from waterway to waterway. Basically, I found that the term “big baits” meant 6”-10” lures and this not only meant swimbaits, but all baits.
When I first started out the results were very disappointing, after using the big swimbaits for a while I would go right back to normal baits, spinnerbaits, senkos, etc.
This went on for almost a full season. So it was back to the classroom so to speak. I had been putting all my time and effort in the physical aspect of fishing “big bass baits” so I completely ignored the mental aspect!
I am in no way saying the mechanistic part of this sport is not important because they are. However, I would say after experimenting with this for almost five years now, the mental aspect is about 75% of fishing “big baits”!
Big swim bait fishing for bass is a mindset! I knew at this time some changes were in order to be successful at this.
I made several changes before my next time on the water. Instead of trying to make this big bait theory work on every body of water, I chose one to learn, the Oswego River, Minetto to Fulton Pool and the Fulton to Phoenix Pool.
Even choosing only one body of water, those sections of the river offered approximately 12 miles of water to learn and about every type of structure and cover combination possible.
Another change I made was I took all other tackle out of my boat except the big bait tackle I was going to be using. When you are holding a bait that is 6 inches or larger in your hand, it is very hard to imagine a bass hitting something so large.
And I bought a dedicated swimbait rod, swimbait reel and only a tackle box full of swimbaits.
When I first started using big baits I really wished I knew how to use them, the wish grew into a desire and the desire grew into an intention. No matter what the cost I would not only learn how to use big baits, but be successful at it as well.
After all, that’s what it is all about. From the summer of 2006 to date I have spent every spare moment on the river. That meant spending from the time the ice thaws to the time the river freezes again.
My time on the water is when hunting season starts. There were many days when I was the only one out there. Many days were spent just riding up and down the river monitoring the depth finder and once I found a promising area, I would dissect it and completely map it in my notebook.
Another important tool is an underwater camera, just be sure it’s one that has a video out port so you record what your looking at on a camcorder. It is also an advantage to have a depth finder that can record what you’re looking at on a memory card.
Does this sound too much like work? Not if you are determined to succeed. Equipment selection like your rod, reel and line are critical. My suggestion is to use equipment that “you” are comfortable with because throwing these large swim baits can get very tiring.
I could tell you some of my exact locations that I have done the best. However, that will not help you at in learning how to use big baits. There are some keys that will help you concentrate your efforts and things to keep in mind. One key is current. There are basically four types of current:
Another important key is light or lack of it. There can be different degrees of light from sunny to dark and everything in between. Now, I can start putting together a pattern with the varying degrees of current and light. One of the most important keys is angles!
Remember to always work your lure with the current because that is the direction the bass would be facing?
Again, someone forgot to tell the bass about this theory. Did you notice that I didn’t mention temperature or the color of the bait as a key? You know why? Because it doesn’t matter how cold the water temperature is or what the color of the lure is when you place the lure in the right area. The bass don’t care as well! These keys only scratch the surface of big bait fishing.
The most important key in using big baits for bass is having the right mindset! Remember, the beginner’s mind I mentioned in the beginning of this article. That is exactly what you need to fish big baits.
Always let the fish tell you what is right or wrong, never determine that yourself. Remember to remain 100% focused on the job at hand, which means don’t be thinking about the last cast or the next cast, put your entire concentration effort into the current cast.
Dedication to the job at hand, determination to succeed and persistence until it happens, is how I learned how to fish big bass baits.
Throwing these larger swimbaits will mean that your tackle has to be ale to withstand the extra pressure that is placed on them.
An ultralight bass fishing setup is really not going to cut it here.
A good swimbait reel will need to be able to handle a lot of larger diameter line. It will also have to be strong enough to pull large lures at speed if need be.
Look for baitcasting reels in the 200 to 400 size. They will have to have the correct gearing to match your lure. For larger lures a lower gearing is favored as you will need some extra cranking power to fight the drag that a larger lure creates as it is reeled in.
A good swimbait rod for such large lures will need to have a medium to heavy power rating, a fast action and have fall somewhere in the range of between 7 and 8 feet in length.
With all the different baits and techniques on the market it’s easy to get confused, feel overwhelmed and lose sight of the simple pleasure of bass fishing.
If you are unsure if what tackle to use check out our guide Bass Fishing Rod Selection Guide.
Whether it’s tournament fishing or guiding on Eastern Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River, I employ three user-friendly techniques that my clients can easily master with a minimal amount of instruction.
The first technique is drop-shotting. Drop-shotting is a simple variation of an old live bait rig where the weight is anywhere from three inches to three feet below the hook. I usually rig my weight about one foot below my Gamakatsu / wide gap#1 or #2 hook. The drop-shot rig is generally fished vertically under the boat in water from 15 to 50 feet, but can be cast and slowly dragged or jigged back to the boat.
The key here is a slow presentation; the bait does not need a lot of action applied to it. Whether fished deep or fished shallow, maintain bottom contact. Let the weight bounce along the bottom as the bait seductively hovers over it. To rig the drop shot, tie a polymer knot, clinch knot, or whatever your personal favorite is, and leave a long tag end to attach to your weight.
Weights designed for drop-shotting have a clip on them that attaches to the line without having to be tied. Other weights will work, like split-shot, a pegged bullet sinker, or a regular bank sinker, but the clip-on style will slide off the line when hung on bottom so you won’t have to retie an entire rig.
My choice of baits for drop-shotting is usually minnow imitations in the three- to four- inch size. Kietechs’ Shad Impact was my personal favorite last season.
Rod and line choice for all three techniques is a spinning rod medium power with an extra fast action and 8- to 10- pound test fluorocarbon or monofilament line.
Another very effective bass-catching method is the wacky rig. My personal preference is the five inch Gary Yamamoto Senko with the hook impaled in the center of the body of the worm. I prefer a Gamakatsu 2/0 straight shank worm hook.
It seems to hold better in the fish’s mouth and I don’t seem to have as many come unbuttoned. I have tried the shorter shank finesse hooks and find I don’t seem to get the hook penetration that I get with a longer shank hook.
I stay with darker natural colors. When fishing a wacky rig, I don’t feel color is as important as it is with other techniques. Many times when I am tournament fishing I will put three different colors: green pumpkin, watermelon red flake, and black with blue flake in my pocket and blindly rebait my hook as needed.
When fishing a wacky rigged worm, simply cast the bait near visible cover like docks, rock piles, stumps or a weed edge and let it fall naturally on a semi-slack line without imparting any action to the bait.
The slow undulating action as the worm free- falls to the bottom is what triggers the strike. After the bait has reached bottom, which will take several seconds with this weightless presentation, snap your bait off the bottom about a foot and let it settle again. If no strike occurs, reel in and make another cast.
Wacky rig fishing is a real do-nothing technique requiring little angler skill, making it perfect for kids, novice anglers or anyone making the transition from live bait to artificial.
Wacky rigging and fishing a drop-shot rig will catch both largemouth and smallmouth bass. Dragging a tube bait is primarily a smallmouth technique that can easily be mastered and may put some of the biggest bass in the lake in your boat and is effective in shallow and deep water.
The action of the tube slowly crawling along the bottom and occasionally deflecting off of a rock, boulder, or wood structure will trigger a reaction strike from smallmouth hungry for crayfish. Tubes that resemble Gobies and crayfish in the three- to four-inch range in hues like green pumpkin, smoke, watermelon, and root beer with various flake combos are my preference.
Tube jigheads come in a variety of styles and sizes but I prefer a cylindrical shaped head with a 90-degree hook eye. It will kick out and deflect when it strikes an object, giving the bait a more erratic action.
It is important to have a quality hook that won’t straighten if a giant bass is hooked. The weight of the jighead will depend on factors such as depth, wind, and current. Usually 1/8- to1/4- ounce jigheads are best for water less than 10 feet. I will go as heavy as 3/4- ounce if fishing very deep or in heavy current. Remember, when deciding how heavy a jighead to use that the tube should gently tick across the bottom, not dredge it.
Other techniques such as fishing a jerkbait in colder months from the shore can be quite successful.
Try these three techniques that anyone can master and enjoy the simple pleasure of bass fishing. Remember to release the fighter so others can experience the thrill of this beautiful game fish.