Below is a fantastic article from Megabass USA that will help you choose the right jerkbait for any condition!
Cold weather jerkbaiting is an effective way to catch lethargic and non-committal bass, but it also sits on a fragile precipice – any failure to dial in the correct size, cadence or suspending attitude of your chosen lure can mean the difference between a full livewell and a goose egg. Color is equally important, and at times even more so, because this technique depends on bass feeding by sight. At a time when extended pauses are frequently critical, bass have extra time to examine their prey and anything that doesn’t attract their attention, keep it, and convince them of its meal value may get turned down.
"They’re eating shad at this time of year," said 2016 Bassmaster Classic winner Edwin Evers. "It’s not like you’re trying to imitate a crawdad. When they’re looking up from below or out from under a dock, it’s more about action and flash. When the shad are dying off, bass have a lot of bait to choose from. I’ve got to make mine sexier than all of the other shad out there."
Chris Zaldain agreed that it’s critical to distinguish his bait from the other food options available without tipping off his quarry that they’re looking at something unnatural. While most anglers start with 3 ½ to 4 ½ inch jerkbaits, his default size is bigger when possible, specifically with the Vision Oneten Magnum, a five-plus inch model. "It’s probably been my favorite jerkbait the last two years," he said. "I don’t care what time of year it is, I have it tied on. What’s amazing about it is that you can maneuver it just like a square bill or spinnerbait."
Both Elite Series winners keep their color choices fairly simple, although they recognize the need for variations on a theme. "For me, the general rule is that the clearer the water, the more transparent the bait should be," Evers explained.
Zaldain characterized himself as a "three color guy," with the categories of colors he utilizes depending primarily on water visibility, with a nod to forage and other considerations as well. He starts at the high end of the visibility scale, in water with 10-plus feet of visibility, with transparent colors like GP Pro Blue or GP Skeleton Tennessee, which evoke forage in many waters. "GP," in this case, stands for "Guanium Phantom," a subtle, softly reflective layer that is transparent when viewed from the side, but gives off a refined flash at angle.
In clearer waters, the GP Pro Blue is a go-to
A great all-around color, Zaldain turns to HT Ito Wakasagi as waters gain a bit more color
In stained water, the M Shad is one of Zaldain's staples
In low-light cloudy conditions a pattern like Kameyama Ghost Pearl practically glows
From there, as the water gets a tinge more stain, he’ll turn to models that are half transparent, half flash finishes. In particular, he relies heavily on the HT ITO Wakasagi. “It’s my best all around color,” he explained. “It has a brown back and just a little bit of purple. It looks just like the threadfin shad in the lakes we fish and you can find those same colors in bluegill. I definitely use that one the most.”
In 2 to 5 feet of visibility, as well as in tannic waters, he likes M Shad and Ozark Shad, which he called an “old school” solution to those circumstances where “you want a lot of flash.” Both patterns feature a dark back and solid flashing sides which provide “a nice contrast.”
While he often prefers a spinnerbait under cloudy skies, Zaldain noted that when the bass ignore his blade bait’s action and the jerkbait is the only thing that’ll get their attention, he wants a bait that “glows.”
“Something full-bodied translucent like Sexy French Pearl or the new Kameyama Ghost Pearl is the best for me under those circumstances,” he explained. “When it seems like there’s no sunlight, it catches whatever little bit of light there is in the water.”
Evers makes his color selections based not only on water color, but on light penetration from the sky. Extremely cloudy or extremely sunny conditions may alter his choices slightly. Nevertheless, he still operates by the same basic rule as Zaldain: “For me, the clearer the water, the more transparent the bait should be,” he said. “If it’s stained and/or cloudy, I want a solid body. One that doesn’t transmit any light will be easier for the fish to see.
When water visibility starts to drop, or cloud cover moves in, Edwin often turns to HT Kossori Shad
On cloudy days, the GG Deadly Black Shad shines
Table Rock SP is another staple for cloudy days and reduced water visibility
On cloudy days, one of the Classic champion’s favorites is GG Deadly Black Shad, which has a heavier guanium finish than the GP lures, giving off bold flash at any angle. He also likes GG Kinkuro, which likewise relies upon a “Guanium Ghost” paint application.
Another great cloudy day color is Table Rock SP, which has chartreuse dashed on the sides and a pearlescent purple back. As the name suggests, it’s deadly on the multi-species lakes of the Ozarks region, as well as anywhere that spots and smallmouths swim, but don’t overlook it for largemouths, either.
Like Zaldain, Evers called the various shades of Pro Blue a “must have staple for day in, day out use.” Like the Californian, he similarly moves from the GP and GG patterns to the HT versions as the water gets more stained, and his particular favorite is the HT Kossori Shad. Evers also stressed the importance of having at least one “shocker” color in each color category that you employ.
When fish have seen dozens of Pro Blue models, something similar with a bit of chartreuse or orange can often eke out a few more bites, but Evers advocates an even starker change. “If I’ve gone through the school with my Megabass Sexy Shad or some natural color and catch a few, after the school is busted up I’ll turn around and go back through with a shocker color to try to catch a few more. One color that’s routinely overlooked is Mat Tiger,” which utilizes bright paint colors and a non-glossy finish.
The Megabass Sexy Shad is a natural, all-around color
When the bite slows down, don't be afraid to throw a shocker color like the Mat Tiger
When the jerkbait bite is strong, Zaldain will typically keep at least two or three colors ready to go on the deck of his boat, or even more when the bass are being finicky about colors. Last year at the St. Johns River he found that the fish wanted a particularly flashy look in a situation that might otherwise have demanded a translucent finish, so he stepped outside of his basics and employed Ozark Shad.
The most important part of your lure’s appearance, he concluded, is that “you want as many teeth marks on it as possible.”
I was just down at Susquehanna Fishing Tackle to check out some of their hot new products that they’ve gotten in for 2017 and if you’re a big bait guy, you’re gonna love what they have for you! If you have wanted to get into throwing big baits but didn’t want to break the bank to do it, there are some great new options at an introductory level that will catch some really big fish while you learn the ins and outs of big bait fishing.
Storm has just come out with a new swimbait they’re calling a searchbait because it’s great at triggering bites. At under 5 inches, you can throw it in virtually any conditions and without a special rod and reel. Fish it like you would a spinnerbait. This thing should be a prespawn killer!
If you’re looking for a new Gizzard Shad swimbait you should check out this bad boy by Savage Gear. SG is known for having lures with incredible life-like action. This bait is no different. You won’t believe how realistic it looks swimming in the water. This is also a great bait for anyone who is just getting into the big bait deal or for people who have been using them for awhile and are just looking for an option that won’t break their wallet. Either way, you can’t go wrong.
The Stutter Step came on the scene last year and has been tearing up fish all over. With one of the most unique topwater actions that has been released in a long time, this bait has a unique style all it’s own that kind of mimics a what you’d get if a jitterbug and a sammy had somehow hooked up and had a baby. You can slowroll this bait, you can burn it, and you can walk it. This bait is particularly effective around shallow cover during the post-spawn.
In the 5 years that I’ve been fishing competitively, I’ve probably written a dozen articles on weather and fishing journals. The fact is, anglers who document what they do when they’re on the water have a serious advantage over anglers that don’t. For most of us, we just aren’t able to recall what we did, how we did it and what the exact conditions were when all of it happened. Remembering those times even as recent as 2 years ago, just doesn’t happen. By keeping a journal you can document the types of bait and presentations that worked in those particular situations. Be sure to also record what didn’t work while you were fishing because that information is just as valuable. No matter how many times you caught a big fish on your split belly rapala crankbait, there will be days when the fish won’t fall for it. A journal is a good reference to have if you’re out during one of those days so you can leave it in the box and focus on the stuff that works instead. A journal doesn’t just help me to understand the migratory patterns of the fish (which it does to an extreme degree), it also helps me have more confidence when I get ready to hit the water. Going out with a good idea of where the fish should be, what they should be doing, and what they want to eat helps me to prepare for the day. With the past 15 years of fishing information backlogged, I have a more reliable judgement when it comes to the answers to those questions.
For me, this process was always a bit labor intensive. I would record what I caught and when I caught it. Then I’d go home, open the history weather graph on the Weather Underground website, and I would plot what I caught on the graph. Then I could look at it and see what the value was for barometric pressure, wind, air temperature and the humidity when I caught that fish. I’d add in a few bits of information to it like the month and other descriptive words like hot, cold, windy, heavy rain, etc. so that I could go back and search for those conditions later and know what worked and what didn’t. But now, there’s a really awesome product that will help simplify this process for you and analyze the data to make patterning easy. This wonderful product is called Anglr. Anglr is the result of what happens when brilliant minds get together to simplify a fisherman’s problems. As a weather data geek and extreme advocate of journaling, I highly recommend that people keep a record of their outdoor experiences. The Anglr Experience web app makes that extremely easy. The web version gives you a detailed dashboard, tackle stats, reports and allows you to log your trips.
Whether you use Anglr on your desktop or get the app on your phone, Anglr gives you the chance to log and track everything you learn while you are out fishing. The app just allows you to be more mobile and record your catches in real time while being on the water.
A tremendous benefit of Anglr is the innovative technology. Looking for an easier way to keep track of your fishing locations and activity? Add a sensor called the Anglr Tracker to your rod. Forget about wasting time recording every catch, the bait you used, the current conditions when you caught it and where it happened. The Anglr Tracker does all of that for you and more. but you can forget about uploading it too! Don’t want to share your info with the world? That’s ok! You can keep your data private and remain your own virtual 007 while out on the water. How sweet is that?
If all of this is too techy for you, at least keep a notebook and jot down a couple of observations from every trip. The more you record and learn, the better your fishing experiences will be. If you take the notebook route, focus on recording moon phases, barometer pressure, cloud cover, and water temperature. They are all pretty simple details that can dramatically improve every fishing trip you take.
Be it recording your findings in a notebook or fully embracing all that Anglr Tech has to offer, reflecting back on your trips and what you discovered while out on the water will really help you improve as a fisherman. It takes time, but using what you learned in the past will only benefit fishing for you in the future.
After struggling to try to get a monster walleye through the ice for over three weeks I got a tip from a friend that there was a better time and place for that than sitting on the hard water. The tip was to find open water, to go at night between 9pm and 4am. But the most crucial part of the success you’ll have lies in the selection and presentation of your bait. As well as a willingness to lose your bait on every cast! But for those brave enough, or crazy enough, to rewards can be pretty amazing.
Top start with you really need a spinning rod. Fishing at night with the kind of baits you’re going to use are best done with light line, long casts, and a very slow retrieve. I prefer a 6’10” medium rod, fast action. I use 6lb fluorocarbon line, spooled on a 5.8:1 spinning reel. I use a jerkbait that’s between 3 and 4 inches long (like the Vision 110), suspending, and I like the colors to be any of these: chartreuse and red, blue and silver, gold, perch.
Your presentation is the most crucial key to your success or failure. You need to make really long casts. Once the bait hits the water you want to reel quickly, 7 - 10 times to get the bait down in the water column. Then you want to reel as slow as humanly possible. By slow I mean that if you count “One One Thousand, Two One Thousand, Three One Thousand…” etc, it should take you to the count of 10 to complete one full turn of the reel. Then periodically you’ll want to mix in some very fast half turns of the reel. This will trigger bites from any fish that are slowly following your bait, trying to decide if they want to eat it or not. When the fish do hit they’ll hit it pretty hard and essentially set the hook themselves because your line is already tight and your rod has plenty of give.
Our location is top secret. Serious walleye guys, like my friends who took me, would really be upset if I told the world where we were. What I can tell you is that we were fishing open water with fair current, where there is a lot of big, chunk rock. We were fishing depths that are relatively shallow, maybe 9 feet max with an average depth of 6-7 feet, and it’s an area that is loaded with underwater hazards that will claim your lures. Rocks and trees are numerous and you’ll lose many baits if you’re not careful because you want to be in the lower portion of the water column. It’s also really great if you can do this on a full moon with a clear sky because the fish will be even more active.
I can’t wait to get out and do this again. If you have had success doing this or something similar please share your pictures in a comment!
I’ve been throwing jerkbaits for 20 years, going back to when I first started fishing by myself as a teenager. I was a predator fisherman then, I was targeting giant pike and musky, trying to live up to the standard that my grandfather set when he broke a West Virginia State Record for Tiger Musky that stood for over 50 years. Going after fish over 4 feet teaches you a lot about presentation, bait selection, and timing. When fish get that big they become much more cunning. Their behavior becomes less reactive, and more opportunistic based on their perception. They don’t call musky “The fish of 1,000 casts” because they want to see your bait 1,000 times while they decide if they want to eat it or not. It’s about you, as an angler, learning how to choose a bait that a giant fish can’t resist, and how to present the bait the way they want it when you’re near them. Jerkbaits were my number one big fish bait back then, producing several fish in the 50" range. And while I don’t target those giant toothy critters anymore, the lessons I learned from them taught me a great deal when it comes to jerkbaits and how to choose them and what action to look for. With all that in mind, I have spent the last 9 months throwing the Vision series of jerkabits from Megabass and if you like to throw a jerkbait you’re going to love this. The three Megabass jerkbaits I’ve grown to love the most are the Vision Jr, the ONETEN, and the ONETEN + 1. Which one to use depends entirely on the forage and time of year.
The Vision ONETEN Jr is the smallest of the three. It dives to 4 feet, weighs just under a half ounce and is the shortest of the three. When I first got this bait I thought that I would give it to some kids in one of my youth fishing clinics, but someone stopped me and asked why. I said that I didn’t think there was a need for a small jerkbait. That big fish that eat small jerkbaits would eat big ones, and that the bigger jerkbaits would get fewer strikes from little fish. The guy told me there would be days when the big fish only wanted this one, and to throw it a few times before I gave up on it. As much as I hate to admit it, he was right. There are times when big fish want this smaller profile bait. The Vision ONETEN Jr is just a touch under four inches long, and because of that you really should throw it on a spinning rod. This will allow you to get the maximum distance on your cast, and get the best action out of the bait. Smaller jerkbaits like this need shorter movements. That’s the biggest mistake people make when they throw this bait is that they work it like they do a six inch jerkbait. Smaller baits make smaller movements, and the spinning rod will help you do that. But unlike other jerkbaits this size, the ONETEN Jr is a little heavier and has a great weight-transfer system derived from interior tungsten weights to get incredibly long casts. This will allow you to get the bait down into the proper depth faster, and stay there longer. This is a great bait to use when bass are targeting schools of baitfish.
The VISION ONETEN is the big brother. It’s a little longer (4”⅓), a little heavier (½ oz), and dives a little deeper (6’). This is what people think of in the sense of what a traditional jerkbait is in terms of size, shape, and weight. But this is not your granddad’s jerkbait. This is a monster magnet, that’s been designed to have more flash, more realistic sound, and more erratic movements than any other jerkbait. The color designs have been selected to mimic the baitfish that bass thrive on, and the patterns come to life when the bait is submerged in water. Known simply as the “110”, is has become known as the best jerkbait on the market. This is one of the best baits to throw when the water temperature is between 38 and 70, which is pretty much all year in most northern states and Canada, and it is deadly around docks.
The Vision ONETEN +1. This is the big dog, my main man. I have thrown this since day one, mostly because it does everything I look for in a jerkbait as a smallmouth angler. It’s the same size as the ONETEN, but it dives to 9 feet (3 more than the ONETEN), which is key for targeting smallmouth in current because there are times when the water is moving so fast that you can’t get to 6 feet without a 9 foot diver. That’s the biggest advantage to this bait is what I do. Being able to get deeper when I need to overcome obstacles like current, waves, or wind, that are preventing it. Other jerkbaits that run 9 feet have over-exaggerated bills in the front that fish can pick up on. This bait looks real, feels great, sounds great, and has tremendous casting distance.
The one thing all these baits have in common that I’ve really grown to appreciate is they all have 3 treble hooks. This really helps to keep the fish from shaking off the bait, but it also helps to balance it. This is just another example of how very aspect of the bait has been meticulously designed to eliminate all the flaws of the traditional jerkbait, and to simultaneously take all the strong points of jerkbaits and exploit them to make them even greater.
If you’ve already mastered the elusive art of spybaiting, then move on down and see our top picks for this year’s last minute gift bag. If you haven’t gained confidence in spinbaits yet it should be at the very top of your list of things to do in 2017 and a good way to be sure of that is to get a couple as gifts, and give some to a friend so you can learn together! The fact is people who have learned spybaiting are able to catch suspended fish better than anyone else, and serious anglers don’t like having a weakness that big in their game! To help you get started we’ve selected three of the top performing spinbaits for you to choose from. Any of them are solid pieces to your arsenal.
The guys at Duo Realis have long been considered one of the pioneers in spinbaits. The 80 is heavier than most spinbaits, which will allow it to cast further and reach deeper depths, while also preventing the bait from surfacing during the retrieve. The micro pulsation will create a feeding frenzy at all depths and trigger bites from bass in all bodies of water from small ponds to The Great Lakes.
The Storm Arashi Spinbait is a great lure for any angler looking to learn spybaiting techniques. It has unique Counter Rotating Propellers that are designed to assist the angler in feeling the bait during the retrieve while simultaneously insuring that the bait swims in a straight line. This bait has an incredible rolling action that is hard for fish to resist.
The Jackall iProp was designed to be fished at any level in the water column. But just because you can use it at any level doesn’t make it any less of a threat as a spinbait. These are some of the newest from Jackall and we’re hearing a lot of good things about them here at the shop. Jackall has been making high quality hardbaits for years and this one is no exception.
A blade bait is a great gift for two reasons: they’re basically the number one bait for winter, and they won’t break your wallet. We fish these baits A LOT here in the Susquehanna River, and it’s not unusual to catch over 100 smallmouth a day on them. Those kind of numbers will make any angler ecstatic!
Look, we know this isn’t the sexiest bait you’ll see. But sometimes you gotta go with what works, and when the water dips below 42 degrees the Silver Buddy is really tough to beat. This bait will be on deck for us from now until the end of March and it’ll produce thousands of fish between now and then. Of all the fishing we do all year, this is by far the single most dominant lure there is in any season. When winter comes every angler needs a buddy!
What’s really cool about the Blitz Blade is that it’s made out of zinc, which is lighter than lead, and more environmentally friendly. Being lighter allows the bait to fall more realistically than a lead blade. This is a great bait for open water ponds and lakes, or any other place where there is no current.
The Jackall Gavacho Frog is a hollow-body frog that is designed to trigger more strikes, and increase your hook-up ratio. Unlike other frogs this one has a unique design from the cup in the front to the three-dimensional body shaped housing in the rear for the hook. Getting more bites on a frog and sticking more of them is like a topwater dream come true. Froggers need this. Largemouth beware.
This might be the nastiest lipless crankbait ever made. This bait is so dominant during every season that you’ll want to keep it tied on at all times. The Spro Aruku Shad is heavier than most lipless crankbaits, so you’ll be able to cast it a mile even into the heaviest winds, and you’ll be able to fish it deeper than the other lipless baits in its class. Aruku Shad is the most weedless of all lipless crankbaits, and has incredible sound, but it’s also really durable and will stand up to a beating better than most.
We are at one of the greatest times of the year to catch both smallmouth and largemouth bass. Water temps are dropping and bass are schooling up. Shad are moving and migrating back to the creeks that feed most lakes and the bass are targeting them. So this is when a lot of the shad baits are working like suspending jerkbaits, A-Rigs, crankbaits, swimbaits and of course spinnerbaits.
Shad Bait Wins
The nice thing about all these baits is that they are power fishing baits: just chuck them out and reel them back. These lures allow you to cover a lot of water and fish in the wind, rain, sleet, and snow without having to sit still and wait for a bite. I hope you caught that, we need to cover a lot of water this time of year. "Here today gone tomorrow" is what you hear all the time. Fish are moving so these lures allow you to take advantage of that. Sleep in a little, this is the time of year you can take your time getting on the water. Some days it takes a little sun on the water to fire them up.
So don’t put your stuff away yet, pick up a few of these shad bait fish catching lures and get out there and experience why we call it the best time of year to fish. Good luck and happy catchin'!
Our Recommendations at SFT
Spinnerbaits: War Eagle Screaming Eagle
The Screaming Eagle is a 1/2oz compact hidden head design with smaller #4 blades. This bait allows you to cast it far and burn it back faster and not have it roll over. We use Gold Shiner in cloudy to stained water and Mouse in clear water but in the fall we do use the painted blades in Chartreuse and white. Remember to vary your speed and add in some twitches to find out what they can’t resist.
Crankbaits: Spro Aruku Shad
The Aruku Shad has that great fish catching sound different than a lot of the other rattling baits out there. Also the nose down angle helps with its snag proof ability and will save you when fishing the Susquehanna river rock ledges. Fishing it on a stop and start retrieve is most effective this will ensure good contact with the bottom. Our favorite color and size is Perch and Black back Gold in the 75 size 5/8oz. but don’t forget the ever deadly chrome blue.
Jerkbaits: Megabass Vision 110
The Vision 110 is hands down the best finesse jerkbait on the market. Finesse meaning it is more effective with light twitches and dead sticking than real fast power techniques. We will often pause 6 to 8 seconds between jerks, most of the time we get bit on that pause.
The other big benefit is its cast ability, this bait really carries on the cast and cuts the wind like a bullet. Tennessee Shad , Ito Waggisaki and Stain Reaction are among the favorite colors.
Swimbaits: Strike King Rage Swimmer
Weather fished single or on the a-Rig, the Rage Swimmer will produce. Fishing with a steady retrieve is as good as any. The sexy shad and the pearl are the most popular colors, size down when conditions get tough. Match the weight jig head to the depth of the water and the position of the bait in the water column. If the bait is on the bottom you may have to go with a bigger head to get down and stay down.
A-Rigs: Picasso School-E-Rig Bait Ball
The Picasso A-Rig is the most friendly out there. They have a color and size for every situation and are available with or without blades. The School-E-Rig Jr is my favorite but I carry the regular School-E-Rig for that more spread out look. Add the bait ball for the most aggressive look, there will be days where the blades make a big difference and you will be sorry if you don’t have one. Keep a steady retrieve when fishing these rigs. As with the swimbait fish it where the bait is located in the water column.
Performing routine boat maintenance on your boat means you’ll get a longer lifespan out of it. We want you to be on the water every chance you get and not sidelined by something that could have been prevented. I have developed my own simple maintenance regiment that takes minimal effort and makes boat ownership a lot more manageable. When thinking about boat maintenance always remember the six P's: Prior Planning Prevents Piss Poor Performance!
Taking Care of the Hull
Taking care of the hull is something that can be done at the beginning and end of the season. When you pull out your boat for the season or are winterizing it, put on a few coats of quality marine wax, I prefer the 3M High Performance. Consider using a sealant. I use Pro-Tec clear coat sealant/polish it helps keep scum lines to a minimum. During the season, if you are having trouble getting rid of scum lines stop scrubbing. Instead of breaking your back scrubbing try Starbrite EZ-On EZ-OFF to make your work easier. Just brush on and squirt off. Remember that it’s an acid, so take care not to get it on your trailer.
The Fuel System
Before you begin, read your owner’s manual before doing anything if your fuel system. That way you will have a proper understanding of just what should and what shouldn’t be used on the system. I personally, run a Mercury. There are 2 simple requirements I practice with fuel maintenance. First off, I use Carbon guard which controls carbon build-up. Afterwards I use a fuel system cleaner, my preference is Quickleen, and add it to every other tank. If your boat sits for more than a couple of weeks plan on adding a stabilizer in your gas based on the recommended amount.
Flushing Your Engine
Every time you take your boat out on the water when you return it’s important that you flush your motor afterwards. Your motor can accidently suck up sand or dirt during use and this will keep it running smoothly all year round. Using a hose adapter to flush the motor is one of the easiest ways to take care of this. Many boats on today’s market even have hookups for a hose on the inside or outside of the motor casing.
Topping off the Oil
Always use the oil your manufacture suggests, what might seem as savings now could lead to problems in the long run. While your topping off the oil, open your battery boxes and check all connections, greasing them where needed. Cleanliness goes a long way, so get all that grime off the hoses, pumps and bilge. Put a bar of LAVA soap in the bilge area at beginning of the season and leave it.
We’d love to hear your own maintenance routine. Perhaps you can expand upon one of our steps or have a product that works every time. Catch us over on our Facebook page and share your thoughts!
One of the most important things to remember when fishing for shallow smallmouth bass is to be always be prepared with a follow-up bait. Often times I find that when using spinnerbaits or jerkbaits the bass will track your baits to the boat and turn off at the last second. This is probably one of the most exciting aspects of fishing, followed of course by a frustrating letdown.
The Real Key to Success
If you want to stop this cycle from hindering your catch, then it’s time to embrace the follow-up bait. I like to have a spinning rod rigged with light line and some type of soft plastic. I position this rod across the front of my bow up by the trolling motor. I keep it there so I can access it immediately when I see a bass tracking my baits.
Typically, I usually use a tube for this application, But had a fellow tournament angler clue me in on using the Gary Yamamoto 4” Senco so I put it to work out on the flats of Lake Ontario. I had to adjust my rigging a few times until I got it right, but there is no doubt the smallmouths jumped on the bait as soon as they saw it. On several occasions the bass came up out of ten feet of water to engulf the lure as it fell. I rig the bait with Zappu Inchi Whacky Drop Shot Jig Head in 3/32 oz. I used 6 pound test Gamma Fluorocarbon on spinning tackle.
Getting Your Technique Right
One of the keys to working this type of pattern is to respond as quickly as you can. Typically, you have a window of about five to twenty seconds to get your bait in front of the following fish. The fish is activated when he is following your lure to the boat and will stay in the active state for only a short time before he spooks and takes off. Your job is to get this bait into the fish’s strike zone as efficiently and quietly as possible. If you can execute this properly and in a timely fashion you can expect to catch a number of fish that would have otherwise been missed. Give it a try and with enough practice you’ll be catching that smallmouth with your follow-up bait in no time!
As summer comes to a close and the brutal heat slowly subsides, the best time of the year for fishing begins. Now, those big bass come out of the deep and start cruising the shallows for easy meals. Bluegill, Shad, and Sunfish are the main course for Smallmouth and Largemouth bass. They will still stick to green vegetation due to the abundance of oxygen and structure such as rocks where Rock Bass inhabit. With these bass being overly aggressive in order to eat before winter, you will have success if you include these baits in your arsenal!
First, crankbaits. Regardless if you prefer lipless or squarebill, both have their strengths. During this time, you need to locate the fish as quick as possible. Lipless cranks do a great job of this because you can make long casts and cover a lot of water in a short period of time. You can also work them through light cover to help draw reaction strikes. When it comes to lipless cranks, I will keep my rod tip high and burn it back through the water. Every so often, I will drop the rod tip to imitate a dying baitfish and then quickly reel up and continue. Inversely, squarebills are great because you can target structure and the deflections cause reaction strikes as well. I try to get squarebills to the bottom quick and once I feel as if my bait might be stuck, I stop and let it rise a little. This is where the reaction strikes come from! If I don’t get a bite, I continue the same retrieval.
Our Crankbait go-tos: BOOYAH Bait Co. One Knocker Lipless Crankbait and Koppers Live Target Baitball Threadfin Shad Squarebill
If you wish to imitate a school of baitfish, spinnerbaits are the way to go. Bass love them due to their appearance and may be one of the most popular fall baits for anglers. You can cast these a mile and either burn them back or slow roll them on the bottom. I will also reel up the slack to get it higher in the water column and then let it drop to the bottom, reel and repeat. If you do notice schools of baitfish, burning it back is the best option.
Our Spinnerbait go-tos: BOOYAH Counter Strike Double Willow Blade Spinnerbait
Going back to the bottom, jigs! Depending on the weight or choice of line, anglers can fish jigs virtually anywhere. Ideally, wood structure, docks, drop-offs and rocks are prime locations to target. You want your skirt color to “match the hatch” and select a trailer based on the forage. Craws are a great choice for a trailer and size is all preferential. Remember, you aren’t power fishing with jigs—you want to slow down and pick your spots well. Slowly hopping and dragging the bait along the bottom will produce well!
Our Jig Trailer go-to: BOOYAH Boo Jig
You’re probably reading this and wondering, “what about topwater?!” Don’t worry, we have you covered! Buzzbaits are another fall favorite. In terms of color, I only fish black on black (black blade, black skirt). I never burn my buzzbaits back, instead—I like to work them slowly through the targeted areas. Remember, buzzbaits are to be fished on top! I can’t emphasize that enough. You can fish these overtop of vegetation or along weed-lines. Buzzbaits can perform in deeper water but they shine in the shallow areas.
Our Buzzbait go-to: Picasso Junior Buzzz Saw
Finally, my personal favorite, pencil style topwaters. You can bomb these baits and keep them in the strike zone longer than buzzbaits. This is achieved by walking the dog--a technique which the angler pops their rod-tip down with a little bit of the slack in the line. Slower pops gives the bait a wider side-to-side walk and quicker pops make the side-to-side cuts tighter. When it comes to color, I prefer bone for daytime and clear water and black for dirty water and night.
Our Topwater go-to: Evergreen International JT-95 Topwater
Overall, these baits will put you on the path to catching more fish during fall. While these aren’t all the baits that produce during this time of year, these are my favorite and ones that have a much higher rate of success.