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.
Many fishermen take line for granted. Considering it’s one of the most important links in getting that fish lured, hooked, and landed this is a major mistake. So we’re going to focus in on this critical component and talk about weight, techniques, and types. Personally, I use Gamma’s Copolymer, Gamma Edge Fluorocarbon, and Power Pro lines on an everyday basis.
The size of your line is a critical factor in your ability to lure a fish to eat your bait. Line size can also make a considerable difference in how your bait works and how deep it will run. For example, 17lb test has more resistance in the water than 10lb. The extra resistance of the 17lb would help keep a topwater bait working properly on the surface, but would hinder a deep diving crankbait from reaching its full depth potential. Using a smaller size line could make a jerkbait dive an extra foot. By adjusting your line to get to a particular height in the water column can put you jig right where the fish are feeding. Some would even say that the depth of your bait is more important than the exact bait being used. Line size should also be matched to your individual rod and reel combo for optimal performance.
Lines of Specific Techniques
Using different lines for certain types of baits and techniques is critical to a solid fishing strategy. To help you we’ve created a few suggestions on the type of line and technique to use when catching fish. This will help you narrow down your line choices and avoid being overwhelmed at the tackle shop. These suggestions apply to all rods, reels, and lines and can be modified as needed.
Drive with a Driver
The Driver in this case are bigger and weightier lines. Flipping and pitching can be brutal on your gear which means you’ll definitely need a heavier line for these techniques. We suggest trying out the 65lb Daiwa J-Braid on a rod made for flipping. This combo can pull a big fish from anywhere they’re hiding. The braid is super sensitive and incredibly strong. We will note however, that in very clear water or where barnacles are present it may not be the best choice. If these are the conditions you’re fishing in try the 16 or 20lb Gamma Edge Fluorocarbon. This line is still super sensitive and more abrasion resistant than the braid. It is also less visible in clear water, making it the better choice for finesse flipping presentations.
Put with a Putter
The Putter refers to light techniques and baits that call for a strong smaller diameter line. These can include drop-shotting, shakey heads, and weightless worms. Without a doubt, these are where the 6lb Gamma Edge Fluorocarbon shines. The spool will last you a while, I’ve been using mine for over 2 months and it’s been put through the ringer.
Both the above techniques are the two extremes of tackle selection. For more normal techniques line weight and make-up can vary as well. These can be a little more generic when it comes to choosing line and our suggestions are not set in stone.
Sinking worms, drop shot, and shakey head: 6lb Edge Flurocarbon
Crankbaits and small spinnerbaits: 10-12lb Copolymer
Hard jerkbaits: 8-10lb Edge Flurocarbon
Topwater baits: 8-14lb Copolymer for small baits and14-20lb Copolymer for larger baits
We hope that our advice helps you remain more conscious of your line selection. Remember that every tool in your box has its own uses. Your line should be viewed as a tool to get your bait to the fish, and the fish into the boat. The next time you are out pay attention to how your baits performs with different lines and switch things up if you need to. Good luck on the water!