Fishing Techniques - By Peter Phelps

Thursday, April 16, 2015
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B.A.S.S. AUSTRALIA NATION

By now you should be feeling confident to put together what you have learnt and try to catch some bass.  The question of which lure do you start with or what area can be a tricky one. In this article I will briefly go over some successful tournament lures, before we delve deeper into each technique later on.

Plastics

                           

Arguably one of the most thrown and popular lure across the world

By now you should be feeling confident to put together what you have learnt and try to catch some bass.  The question of which lure do you start with or what area can be a tricky one. In this article I will briefly go over some successful tournament lures, before we delve deeper into each technique later on.

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Plastics

Arguably one of the most thrown and popular lure across the world, a plastic will catch just about every single species of fish when the right ones are used. Available in just about every single shape to imitate a bait they also come in different sizes, colours, actions , scents and brands which make them the most versatile lure in your tackle box. Rig them unweighted and fish them on the surface or add weight and plummet them to the bottom.

Commonly 3 styles of plastics are used in our bass tournament scene. A single tail grub, a paddle or boot tail and a stick bait. Each has their own style of action that will catch or out fish each other on any given day. Sizes from 2 to 4 inch models are mostly used, as this fits the perfect bait size for our bass. Normally a jig head is used to add weight, provide the tow point and includes the hook.  A jig head rigged plastic has probably won more impoundment bass tournaments in Australia than any other lure. The jig head weight is selected depending on where the fish are located in the water column and the style of retrieve being used.

When casting to deep fish (greater than 20 feet) and presenting a slow rolled plastic grub or paddle tail (winding your reels handle with a constant slow retrieve) A jig head from 3/8oz up to 5/8oz (of an ounce) would be best suited for keeping the plastic down in the strike zone as you go through your retrieve. Vice versa when targeting fish higher up. If fish are up in some weed or tight to a bank, a weightless plastic to 1/4oz jig head would be better suited.

When using stick bait style plastics the action has to be imparted to the lure via the rod. Casting towards your target you let the lure fall then a little twitch of the rod tip sends the stick bait darting around. Continue to let the lure fall again for a short time and twitch it again aiming to follow the contour of the bank or structure. This gives the lure a dying bait fish action, as it darts momentarily then glides towards the bottom. Most of the time a stick bait plastic will be eaten on the fall. With this is pays to fish it with the lightest jig head possible. This allows the bait to slowly fall giving the bass time to see it then eat it. I will rig these unweighted fishing them in a few feet of water over structure  or up to 1/6oz sinking them down to 30 feet plus.

When the bass go really deep sometimes it is easier to present a plastic vertical to them instead of trying to cast. The technique is sometimes called “grubbing” or “deep jigging”. It involves using a fish finder or sounder to locate fish beneath the boat then dropping a plastic directly down to them. Normally a grub style plastic is used as the tail will beat at a nice slow speed enticing the fish to strike. The plastic is dropped to the bottom or through the fish then slow rolled vertically back up.

With these three techniques, most bass eating a plastic will not engulf the whole bait in one bite. Usually some taps, bites and bumps are felt as the bass attempts to eat it. When this happens you should never strike at the fish as it only pulls the plastic away spooking the fish.  Most of the time continuing the retrieve that got you the bite, the bass will fully eat your lure. From there you will feel the weight of the fish on your line, you wind down and the rod should load up hooking the fish.

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Vibration Baits

Lipless crank baits, vibration baits and blades all fall into a similar category for bass lures. A shad or fish shaped lure, they have the tow point on their back. As you pull it through the water the flat sides of the bait cause it to pulse side to side vibrating. They also come in a variety of styles, brands, sizes and colours. Since they sink they can be fished very much like a plastic. Lighter weights for shallow water and heavier for deeper. Cast them to the edge and slow roll them back or let them hit the bottom and hop them back to the boat. Even drop them straight down to fish below and hop them up and down enticing a strike. These styles of baits can be very productive when used is the right circumstances. Also like a plastic, vibration baits will catch bass when they are shut down sitting tight on the bottom. Slowing down the retrieve when hopping them and staying right in front of the fish in the strike zone can bring bites when other lures fail. 

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Crank bait

A crank bait is designed so the bill at the front of the bait pulls it under the water as you retrieve it giving it a side to side wobbling action.  Generally the larger or longer the bill the deeper the bait will dive. A wide bill gives the bait a wide action and a slender bill gives it a tighter shimmy. A very successful shallow water lure when casting. The nose down diving action of a crank bait allows you to cast it over rock and timber bumping it off structure drawing strikes. This nose down position keeps the tail pointing upwards assisting the hooks from hanging up. A floating crank bait can be paused as it hits structure to let it rise up and over before continuing your retrieve. Slow roll them or wind them fast drawing reaction strikes. A crank bait is one of the best shallow water lures going around coming in a wide range of sizes, depths, colours and brands.

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Jerk bait

A jerk bait or rip bait are a slender minnow shaped bait with a bill much like a crank bait but used very differently. Designed to be jerked or ripped with the rod, the bill digs in making the bait dart erratically. Coming in suspending, floating and sinking models they imitate a dying or fleeing bait fish. Fished around shallow structure generally with a “RIP, RIP, PAUSE” motion, bass can be real suckers for these. Sometimes it feels like they line them up from 10 feet away before flying in and annihilating the bait on the pause.

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Spinner Bait

A Spinner Bait falls into the category of a reaction bait. This style of lure is usually fished towards an edge or structure. Vibration, flash, retrieve speed, water displacement and deflecting off structure all can draw a reaction strike from fish. Not really looking like anything natural a bass would eat they can catch the biggest of bass. My theory is they imitate a school of small bait fish, skirt pulsing, blades flashing and vibrating acting like a bait ball fleeing a predator. Typically a larger profile than other lures, these baits have a time and a place to be fished. Spring to summer can be very productive when bass are active, but also when fishing is very tough. Using a spinner bait can draw a reaction strike when subtle techniques are not producing.

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Ice Jigs

Ice jigs were primarily designed for fishing vertically through a hole in the ice of frozen lakes in the northern hemisphere. These little baits have been equally adopted to targeting bass sitting directly below the boat. An Ice jig is usually a slender minnow or bait fish shape with wings attached to the tail. These wings give the bait an erratic action of darting around back and forth as you twitch it with your rod. A quality sounder is used to locate fish then it’s a matter of dropping in the ice jig down to them. From there a constant hoping of one to two feet could be enough to draw a strike, even just shaking the rod tip, or a ‘HOP’PAUSE‘HOP’ might get the bites. There are many ways in which an ice jig can be fished with some working better in certain situations.

Tail Spinner

A tail spinner comprises of a body, a swivel and blade on the tail. The body provides the weight and gives the lure a bait fish shape. As the tail spinner moves through the water the blade rotates giving it a vibrating and flashing action. Equally at home being casted to an edge and brought over structure but really comes into its element when targeting deep schooled fish especially on flats. Sunk down to the bottom or through suspended fish the tail spinner can be hopped along the bottom in large or small hops, slow rolled and even burnt through them to draw strikes. Coming in varying brands, weights, colours, even blade styles and sizes there can be a set up that will catch bass on any body of water.

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Top Water Presentations

Top water or Surface lures such as poppers, walkers, stick baits, frogs, wake baits and insect imitators have been productive baits since lure fishing for bass first began. The most successful times are low light periods of dawn and dusk around structure or to an edge. These baits are designed to mimic anything that could be on the surface from insects, frogs, mice, lizards to bait fish. The slow winding of a walker, an aggressive quick retrieve of a stick bait or shaking a popper on the spot all can catch fish at the right times.

All these lures are really just the tip of the ice berg in the wide variety of lures in which a bass will eat. Next up we will look further into each technique, get some Pro’s opinions on how they like to fish each lure and what they look for when choosing to fish a specific technique.