Saturday, December 25, 2010

The Fish Finder - Part 2

How To Use a Fish Finder

Last time I talked about choosing the best fish finder. So today I'm going to help you learn how to use your fish finder.

I'll never forget when I was starting out as a young bass fishermen; I had never even heard of a fish finder. Until I saw a guy on tv with this new contraption that looked like a small TV which allowed him to actually see the fish under the the water. I was absolutely fascinated! I was sure that if I only had one of these, I could catch all the bass I wanted. All I would have to do is ride around until I saw a bunch of fish under the boat and catch them. It seemed like this fish finder thing would make catching fish a snap.

Well, needless to say, it didn't work quite that way. Although, after a few years of experimenting with, and using fish finders, I did come to realize that they are an extremely valuable and almost essential tool for catching bass in deep water.

Fish Finder Settings

In order to get a clear accurate reading on a fish finder, it's extremely important to set it up correctly. Settings and functions vary depending on the brand and type of fish finder you have; if you have a new 3D unit, I'm sorry, but I have no experience with those; settings may or may not be the same. Most units however will allow you to set the following.

For settings I'm going to start with the depth scale. In Part 1 of this post I touched on the depth scale. I believe it's essential that any fish finder have a manual mode function for the depth scale. This is even more important if you're learning to use a fish finder.

The automatic depth scale allows the unit to show bottom depth in different scales. For example if your boat is in 10 ft of water the side scale on the screen will be showing 0 to 10 ft then you come over a spot where the bottom drops off to 20 ft, the scale will change automatically from 0 to 10 ft to 0 to 20 ft.

The default depth scale setting for most fish finders out of the box is set on automatic. I recommend changing the setting to manual. Running the automatic scale takes away from the power and can become confusing if it's constantly changing scales as you move over bottom changes. If you're not interested in anything that's more than 40 ft deep, manually set the scale at 0 to 40 and leave it. You can change it anytime if need arises.

Next is the digital depth setting. If your unit allows, turn it off. This function is another power sucker and you can use the side scale to read depth.

Sensitivity, The sensitivity basically turns the units power up or down. For the maximum clarity and detailed readings you will want to run the the sensitivity as high as possible without getting noise or static on your screen. This setting will often need to be re adjusted to compensate for water conditions. For example if you're in muddy or dirty water and are getting static on your screen turn the sensitivity down just enough to get rid of the interference.

Grey Line. The grey line represents the bottom on your fish finders screen. This function can give you much much more information than just the depth and contour of the bottom. I'm going to talk more about grey line in a moment but for the settings you'll want it just dark enough to give good contrast in the lower and upper.

Chart Speed, Chart speed controls the speed that the chart scrolls across the screen. This setting should be set at maximum speed
The only time it should be set slower is for extreme depths such as 100 ft or more which never comes into play in bass fishing.

That has your main settings ready. I recommend you turn off any and all bells and whistles such as alarms etc. These things can be fun to play with and useful in certain situations but if you're learning to use your fish finder they're just a distraction. Most are simply put in units as a selling point. The only exception to these is the chart cursor. The chart cursor is a very useful function for pinpointing the exact depth of fish or other objects. You should keep this function turned on.

How To Read Your Fish Finder

A fish finder does find fish; but not always in the way you may think. After a few years of experience with my fish finder, I realized that it is much more valuable for finding the places fish live or the schools of bait that they feed on than for seeing the actual fish themselves.
This is especially true with bass. Bass are very cover oriented. When they get inside thick cover such as weeds or brush, you may see the cover on your graph but not the fish. If you do see fish around the cover it's a plus. But NEVER EVER let not marking any fish on your fish finder when you run over a good piece of cover or structure be a reason for not fishing it. I can't tell you how many times I've caught limits of nice bass off a spot that I graphed with my electronics and never saw a single fish.

There is no magic article or book that can instantly teach you to read your fish finder . However, with experience you will eventually be able to read your graph well enough to know what you're seeing on the screen at all times. Once you become experienced with this tool, you will be amazed how much information the fish finder can give you about whats under the surface of the water.
Just for example, a couple things that you may not know the fish finder can tell you: 1 the grey line which represents bottom can tell you the bottoms composition. A wide darker, or double grey line represents hard bottom and a narrow or weak gray line represents soft bottom. 2. A darker band on the screen between the bottom and surface is usually a thermocline. A thermocline is the depth where water temperature changes. This will normally come into play in summer when the upper layer of water is warmer than the deeper water. Bass like to be near the thermocline when water surface temps are very warm.

For those of you who have never used a fish finder at all, here are a couple good videos that should help give an idea of what fish, schools of bait and different types of structure and cover look like on a fish finder. fish finder Video 1 fish finder video 2

How to know where objects or fish are in relation to the boat.

The transducers cone angle determines how large the area you view on your fish finder. To give a more detailed explanation, the signal leaves the transducer and spreads wider as it travels down, hence the term cone angle.

I briefly touched on transducers and cone angle in the last post. I recommended that beginners use a standard 20 degree cone angle transducer which is commonly included with most fish finders. Without getting too technical, just to give you an example of the size of the area you'll be viewing on your graph: With a 20 degree cone angle transducer over a 20 foot deep bottom, you will be viewing a 15 foot radius of the bottom. Basically when you are traveling at idle speed, as soon as an object comes on to your screen the object or fish is directly under the boat. Once the fish or object is in the center of your screen it is behind you.

If you have your units settings correct. Arch shaped lines will indicate fish. However unlike the simulations you see on fish finder ads, you will seldom see complete arches. The reason for this is, the fish must be directly under the center of the transducer to get a complete arch. Normally fish will be to the sides causing your reading to be half arches or if the fish are moving, you will see a continuous long line; sometimes all the way across your screen.

Fish Finder Tips

Always check the fish finder transducer before putting your boat in the water. Make sure the transducer is level and not pointing back or forward.

Most fish finders have a simulation mode. You can use this to practice with your unit before you even put it into use on the water. It will also help you learn to identify what you're seeing on the screen once you get on the water.

Use a buoy marker on deep water structure or cover. When you see fish or structure that you want to try on your fish finder, drop the marker to mark the location. Keep in mind that the actual spot will be behind you when you drop the buoy.

Mount a fish finder on front of your boat and the transducer on bottom of your trolling motor. With your sensitivity setting turned up, you can actually see your lure on the screen and its location in relation to the fish or cover. Many time you can see the fish move up and strike your lure.

Once you are experienced with your fish finder, you will realize just how valuable this tool is for catching bass. There's a lot to learn about using electronics in bass fishing. I know I have not addressed every question that you may have on the subject. So feel free to use the comments below to ask any questions you may have on how to use a your fish finder; I'll be happy to answer all questions as best as I can.

Friday, December 10, 2010

The Fish Finder - Part 1

 Tips to help you choose the best fish finder for your bass fishing needs.

Whether you're going after Fall bass, Winter bass or getting ready for Spring, a good fish finder is a tool that every bass fisherman should consider seriously. Your fishfinder / depth finder is your eyes under the surface of the water.

Since marine electronics can be a sizable investment, you should make sure you don't spend more than you need to; and get a unit that fits your needs.

The fact is, most people who own a boat with a fish finder never learn to use it correctly. It's easy to find information on the internet on how to use a fish finder. The problem is, it's mostly geared to promote a particular brand or sales there of. And most give you nothing really useful. So this will be a 2 part post. Today I'm going to help you decide what unit would be best for you. Later I'm going to have another post on how to use a fish finder. There is a lot to learn on both these subjects; so get a cup of coffee and get ready to learn about fish finders.

Fish Finder Power

The power or wattage of a fish finder is most important for deeper water aplications. If you fish mostly visible cover in extremely shallow water (2 to 4 ft) and never fish deep water structure, you may only need something to tell you how deep the water is and show you whats on bottom . In this case most any cheap unit on the market will give you an accurate depth reading and will work just fine for you.

On the other hand If you fish deep water structure at all (deeper than 6ft) Your needs are going to be met best by a unit with at least 3000 watts peak to peak power. The more power the better readings / detail you will get.

Fish finder Pixel

Pixel as in power is also the more the better. The picture you get on the screen of your fish LCD is made up of individual pixels. Simply put the more pixels the unit has per vertical line, the more clear and distinguishable the readings will be. Pixels also play a huge role in giving you detailed readings are vital for distinguishing fish from other objects. If you fish deep water at all, a minimum of 640 vertical pixels is going to meet your needs best.

Fish Finder Transducers

Basically fish finders are under water sonar. The transducer is the component which mounts on or inside the boats hull. It sends down a signal which bounces off the bottom back to the transducer which sends the information back through the transducers cable to your screen translated into a picture of whats under the water. I Know, it's amazing isn't it?

As complicated as it may sound, transducers are fairly simple when it comes to choosing one. Most fish finders come with 1 basic, standard 20 degree cone angle transducer and a bracket which mounts the transducer to the outside Bottom of the boat. This transducer will work just fine.

Because it's Important and relates to learning to use your fish finder, (Which I'll be focusing on in the next post) I'm going to elaborate a little more on the transducer.

If you've read my blog in the past you know that I believe in keeping my tackle choices simple; and the same is true when it comes to electronics used for fishing. If you've been looking at electronics recently, you probably know that today's fish finders are very advanced and most include a wide variety of bells and whistles such as gps, side finder, and color view capabilities just to name a few.
All these features are great; but can make things very complicated for you if your just learning to use a fish finder. So I recommend starting with a good simple unit with adequate power, pixel and a standard 20 degree cone angle transducer. Unless you fish extremely shallow water as I mentioned above in this case it's fine to go with a wider cone angle transducer. You'll understand my reasoning for this when we get into learning to use your fish finder.

Fish Finder Brands And Prices


Before I talk about brands, just for the record, I am not affiliated with or sponsored by any of the companies that I may mention. Any recommendations or reviews I give are strictly based on my personal experience with the product.

There are lots of good fish finders on the market. And you don't have to spend your kids college fund or your own retirement to get a decent unit that will meet your needs.

Some of the best cheaper units that I've used are sold by Eagle Electronics. If you don't mind spending a little more for your fish finder Lowrance is the parent company of Eagle and makes what I believe to be the best. I've used Lowrance units on my own boat for 25 years. They have always been very dependable and I've never had any reason to change.
Another good brand that I've used on occasion is Garmin . I have lot's of friends who use Garmin consistently and I have not heard any complaints about their product. Hummingbird also makes a good fish finder. However it has been my experience that some of their cheaper units don't have a manual depth scale, which I consider a very important feature.

Whether you choose a bare bones cheaper unit or a top of the line with all the bells and whistles, there is one very important feature that your fish finder should have. That feature is a manual depth scale mode. This allows you to set the depth scale at the depths you desire and stops the scale (which is usually in automatic mode as the default setting on most units) from changing automatically. A constantly changing depth scale can become confusing; especially for an angler who is learning. Also the automatic depth scale setting takes away from the power of the unit and can sometimes cause distorted or false readings. I consider a manual depth scale mode feature to be a must on any LCD fish finder. I will also elaborate on this in the next post.

Hopefully what I've talked about so far will help those of you who have not gotten a fish finder yet choose one. For those who already have one, I'll be talking about learning to use a fish finder next time.

I know there are lots of questions you may have on this subject. Please feel free to use the comments to ask any questions you may have about fish finders.


Saturday, September 18, 2010

Fall Bass

Fall bass fishing tips

I was just thinking back trying to remember my last post which was topwater frogs. Fall is a great time for topwater fishing as well as for many other techniques. So today I'm going to touch on Fall bass.

It's that time of year again. Fall is one of my personal favorite times for bass fishing. Things are happening at this time of year. The water is cooling and the bass are on the move. The mood of Fall bass, is very similar to bass in the Spring; however the bass have a different motive for being very active. In Spring the motive is the spawn. Fall bass on the other hand have feeding on their mind.

Where to find bass in the Fall

As I mentioned bass become very active in fall as they do in Spring and they will often be found in the same area's as in Spring. When the water begins to cool in the fall, bait fish and craw fish start to migrate toward shallow areas where the water cools first. These areas on reservoirs are, the very backs of creeks, shallow flats, secondary points and the backs of coves. My main objective when looking for fall bass is to find bait. The bass are looking to prepare for the long cold Winter ahead; this means they have one thing in mind; Food. When you find large concentrations of bait fish in the Fall, the bass will be there.

I begin my search for bass in the Fall season, in the back of major creeks and work my way back toward the mouth. I'll be idling my boat, watching my graph and looking for any signs of large schools of shad or other bait fish. Some of the things that can signal bait is in an area, are birds such as loons, or herring. These birds often feed on bait fish. If they are in an area there's a good chance there's a concentration of bait there as well. Also watch for signs of feeding fish shad skipping along the surface of the water or bass actually busting the bait. once I locate an area that's holding bait, start fishing any visible shallow cover that's present.

Lures for Fall bass

Generally the bass are active and will feed aggressively in the Fall. So there's a very good chance they will chase a fast moving lure. I will start with one of my favorites for Fall the spinnerbait or a lipless crankbait. However as I always preach, keep an open mind and let the conditions dictate your methods; until the bass tell you what they want and how they want it. See Learn to Think Like A Bass

Some of the other lures which can be very good in the fall are topwater lures, jigs, and jerkbaits.

Fall is a great time to be on the water. The bass are bitting and nature is putting on the best show of the year. There is no better time to enjoy bass fishing. so get out and chase those Fall bass.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Frogs For Bass

When, Where and How to Fish With Topwater Frogs

Of all the topwater lures and techniques used these days, very few are more effective than bass fishing with frogs. When the season and other condition call for this type of lure, frogs are deadly!

If you read my last post on fishing line or any of the other posts, you should realize how important it is to consider fishing conditions in choosing your lure, as well as every other aspect of fishing.

frogs in my opinion, are one of the most misunderstood and mis-used lures available. Most fishermen try a frog once or twice in the wrong place or at the wrong time and chalk it up as a failed experiment. This is a mistake. Like every other lure, you should consider the frog as a tool; you need the right tool for the particular task that you want to get done.

Where to fish with frogs

Frogs work best in places where they are a natural prey of bass. In other words places where frogs actually live. Typically this will be shallow water area's with thick vegetation such as weeds, matts, lily pads or thick brush and stumps. As a good indicator, if an area is shallow and looks swampy, it may be a good place to fish a frog.

When to fish with a frogs

The frog lure that we're discussing today in general is a topwater lure; and should be used accordingly. While topwater baits can be effective in many different conditions and situations. Typically they work best in warmer water situations with surface temps from 60 to 80 degrees. The frog is no exception. The frogs spawn coincides with the bass in most parts of the country; making early summer one of the more productive times to fish frogs. However this lure may be productive any time bass are in shallow warm water.

How to fish the frog

The frog is one of the most weedless lures available and it's design is perfect for fishing in or on top of thick vegetation and brush. The ability to fish this lure move across or through those thick nasty matted places without snagging is one of the things that makes this lure (or tool) so effective on big bass in the places they like to hide and ambush prey.

As with any bass lure no one presentation works best all the time. Every day is different and you should experiment with your presentation and let the fish tell you how they want the bait presented. That being said one method that has worked best for me many times is a very slow twitch and stop retrieve. I cast the frog up on top of the mats or next to brush or stumps, twitch the bait once or twice and let it sit for a few seconds. I repeat this action all the way back to the boat.

If I'm fishing the frog on lily pads, milfoil or some other type of vegetation mat, I like to pull the frog off of the vegetation into an opening or hole in the mat and give it 2 short twitches and let it sit for 10 seconds. The strike will often come as the frog sits motionless on the water.

How to set the hook

The most common of mistakes that most beginners make with topwater lures, frogs included is in the hookset. The mistake is setting the hook too soon after the strike. Given the sudden explosive action when a big bass blows up on a frog or any topwater lure, it's easy to understand why. It's a natural reaction to jerk the moment the strike occurs. You must learn to delay your hookset until you feel the weight of the fish on the rod.

Different types of topwater frogs

The two most common types of topwater frog lures are the Popper frog and the kicking leg frog. Both will catch bass and you should try both in your own fishing situation to determine which works best on a given day. Some of the better brands I've used are

The Spro Bonzye frog, Stanley Ribbit, Scum Frog

Frog Lure Colors

I use the same principal for choosing color in frog fishing that I use with any other lure. The darker colors, Black, amber or darker green for dark water or low light situations and lighter or natural colors for clear water situations.

When used in the right places and at the right time, frogs are a very effective lure; especially on those big momma hawg bass. So dig down into that box of discarded lures and go fishing with frogs this summer.

Until next time

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Choosing The Best Fishing Line

 How to choose the best fishing line based on bass fishing conditions

My last post on spinnerbait fishing, seems to have triggered a lot of email questions on the best fishing line to use; so today I'm going to try to address some of those questions.

How to Choose the Best Line Size

The right line size to use depends on fishing conditions. In general I like to spool my reels with the largest strongest line that I can get away with.

Water clarity and line visibility are the first factors to consider when choosing line size. The more clear the water, the easier it is for the fish to see the fishing line and be spooked by it. If you fish stained or dark colored water heavy fishing line may be best.

The Best Line For Clear Water

When fishing very clear water such as found on most deep highland reservoirs and using slow moving finesse baits such as plastic worms jigs, or dropshot riggs, I often go down to line as small as 8 lb test; sometimes even 6 lb if not in heavy cover. I have experimented a lot with the best fishing lines over the years and I have come to the definite conclusion that It doesn’t seem to matter as much with faster moving reaction type lures but overall in clear water, the smaller the line size the more bites I get.

Some anglers seem to be programmed to believe that it's just impossible to pull big bass out of heavy cover unless you use big, heavy fishing line. This simply is not true. That being said, when conditions call for the use of light line sizes, there are a few ways to help compensate for the light line.

1. Use tough abrasion resistant line. One of the best fishing lines I've used for this situation is Berkley Trilene XT (extra tough) this fishing line has a very tough coating on it that resists abrasion when fishing in heavy cover. Just for the record I am not affiliated with or sponsored by Berkley.

2. Always keep the drag on your reel set light enough to compensate for light line. The drag is what makes it possible to land big bass on light line. Even the best fishing line in the world is going to break on a big fish if your reels drag doesn’t do its job.

3. Check the line for nicks or damage by sliding it through your fingers , from the lure 6 feet up the fishing line every 10 casts. If you feel any roughness or nicks in the line cut it off and re-tie above the damage. One small nick in your fishing line can be the difference in landing a big bass or losing it.

The Best Type Of Fishing Line

Monofilament Line

Even with all the advanced fishing line technology today, monofilament fishing line is still one of the best fishing line choices; and still used by most bass anglers in most fishing conditions today. Three factors are the reason for this. Low visibility, strength, and it's lower cost than most of the new high tech lines. Mono line has a higher stretch factor than most of the new line types. Stretch in fishing line does take away some of it's sensitivity; however stretch is not always a bad thing. mono with its high stretch can be much more forgiving for mistakes; such as a reel drag set to tight or a bad hook set when a big bass is on the line. For most all round fishing situations Monofilament is my personal choice for the best fishing line.

 Braided Line

Braid is one of the hottest new line technologies on the market today. This type of line is extremely strong with very small diameter. Braid is one of the best choices for heavy cover in stained or dirty water conditions. With its high strength small diameter it can also be very good in relatively clear water.

Braided line has no stretch at all, making it very sensitive; this is one of the best lines for fishing finesse style baits in vegetation. In my personal experience, the biggest drawback with most braided line is, I have found it to be far from the best line for heavy wood cover because of it's low resistance to abrasion.

Fluorocarbon Line

Fluorocarbon line is one of the best new fishing line technologies that has been introduced in many years; especially for clear water fishing conditions. This line becomes almost invisible in the water. It has great abrasion resistance, good strength, low stretch and is in my opinion and experience, the best fishing line available for fishing any type of cover in clear water. The only drawback to fluorocarbon is the price. It cost is on average about 50% more than mono.

The Best Fishing line Color

Line color, like lure color is a big controversial subject. Many anglers these days swear red fishing line is best; others, myself included, don't buy into the theory that red line is less visible under water than other color lines. I've experimented with red line, and have found it to be neither an advantage or disadvantage over clear line. My thought on the subject is, if the color red is so invisible under water, then why are red colors on lures and hooks marketed as being so effective?

When it comes to fishing line color, my goal is to keep my line as invisible to the bass as possible. So I match my line to the color water that I fish. i.e. green water green line clear water clear line. Dirty water doesn't seem to matter much.

Now that being said, hopefully this will help you with line selection based on conditions. However I have my own ways of doing things that work for my bass fishing. This doesn't mean that my ways are best for your particular fishing conditions on your water; and I encourage you to keep an open mind and experiment to find the best fishing line for you, in your waters.

Until Next Time

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Spinnerbait Fishing

Tips & Techniques on Spinnerbait fishing for Bass

In my last post Night Fishing, I touched on spinnerbait fishing in that particular application. since then I've had several request for more info on bass fishing with spinnerbaits; so today I'm going to talk more about the subject. There's a lot of information that you should know about this lure, so this will not be my only post on this subject.

Spinnerbaits or blade baits are one of, if not the, most versatile lures that a bass fisherman can have in his or her tackle box. And they don't just come in many different sizes and colors, but there's also a couple different types that you should know about and add to your tackle.

First I'm going to talk about the component of this lure that gives its name to get those of you that may not be familiar with spinnerbait fishing educated on the different blade types. The best spinnerbait blade to use depends on the fishing conditions. If you would like to know more about how to approach fishing based on conditions, you need to see Learn to Think Like a Bass

Spinnerbait Blades

Colorado Blade

The Colorado blade as you can see in the photo is the shorter more round shaped blade. This blade gives of more vibration but less flash than the willow leaf or Indiana blade; and typically works better in low light or dirty water situations where the bass are more dependant on hearing or picking up on vibration through the lateral line than finding prey visually.

Indiana Blade

The Indiana blade is a happy medium for vibration as well as flash. This is a blade that you should consider in most any spinnerbait fishing situation

Willow Leaf Blade

The willow leaf gives less vibration, more flash and the shape mimics a bait fish very well. This blade is typically best in clear water situations where a more natural looking lure works best.
All the different types of blades can be mixed and matched on a single lure as well, when using the

Safety Pin Spinnnerbait

This is the most common type of spinnerbait used for bass. These come in weights from 1 1/2 oz down to 1/32 oz and lots of different blades and blade combinations. As you can see, this type bait has a stainless steel or some brands such as the terminator have a titanium wire arm which the blade and swivel are attached to. This arm also acts as a weed guard making the lure much more weedless and more suited for fishing in heavy cover such as brush grass or stumps. I use baits with both the stainless wire and the titanium. Personally I prefer the titanium; because when they bend they snap back into place. However they are quite a bit more expensive.

Inline Spinnerbait

This type of spinner bait is normally smaller and usually can be found in sizes 1/32 up to 1/2 oz the inline as you can see doesn't have an arm and is more commonly used for trout or pan fish than for bass. However don't be put off by this fact. The inline can be a deadly bait for bass in situations of very clear water, heavy fishing pressure, or when bass are feeding on smaller bait fish; which calls for a smaller profile lure; and should definately be incorporated into you spinnerbait fishing tackle.

Spinnerbait trailers

It's common practice and usually a good idea to ad a trailer to your spinnerbait. A trailer is simply added to the hook on the lure to give the bait a little more or different action or larger profile. There are many different types of trailers available in different sizes, with different actions. However I personally prefer to use a pork chunk or pinch a 6 inch plastic U tail worm in half and use the end with the U for a trailer.

Trailer Hook

A trailer hook is commonly added to the hook. This is simply a common type hook with an enlarged eye which slips over the point of the primary hook. Personally, I only ad a trailer hook if I'm getting strikes but having a problem hooking the fish; as the extra extended hook takes away much of the weedless aspect of the bait. However the trailer hook can be very useful in situations that don't require a weedless bait.

Spinnerbait Tactics

As I mentioned at the beginning of the post, Spinnerbaits are one of the most versatile lures used by bass fishermen. They can catch bass at any time of year, in most any type cover, or structure shallow or deep. I have caught fish on this lure in 8 inches of water and as deep as 50 feet on brush, rocks, grass and clean bottom as well.

Slow Rolling

This is a very effective spinnerbait fishing tactic and one of my favorite tricks for deep water bass. I normally like to use a heavier weight bait for this method. I use a 3/4 oz if I'm fishing depths down to 15 ft. Deeper than 15 I go to a larger 1 oz spinnerbait. The reaseon for the heavy bait is because I want to keep the bait down on bottom.

I typically use the slow roll method when fishing on structure such as ledges or points. I cast the bait up on the structure, let it sink to the bottom. Then I reel just fast enough to make the blades on the bait spin without losing contact with the bottom. You always want to keep the lure bumping into rocks, stumps or whatever is on bottom. If you're not beating the paint off the head of your spinnerbait, you're not fishing it correctly.

Bump and Flutter

This is a spinnerbait fishing technique that I use often when fishing shallow cover such as grass, weeds or brush. I will normally use a lighter weight bait for this; a 1/4 to 1/2 oz. Cast the lure into the cover and reel; when you feel the bait hit something stop your retrieve and let it flutter down on a tight line counting to 5, then resume and repeat. The strike will usually come while the bait is falling so be alert.

Pump and Fall

This is another very effective deep water tactic. This method is deadly on deep ledges, bluff walls or steep banks.

I cast the lure up to the bank or out on the ledge and let it sink to the bottom. Then I slowly pull the rod tip up from the 9 o clock position to the 11 o clock position and then let it fall back to the bottom on a tight line; then real up the slack and repete all the way back to the boat. Again the strike will often come when the bait is falling so be alert and ready to set the hook.

Burning the Spinnerbait

This is a tactic that seems to work very well in clear water and windy conditions and has been extremely productive for me on spotted bass on points or humps in the fall season. I normally want a 1/4 to 3/8 oz bait and a single or double willow leaf blade for this spinnerbait fishing technique. Also, a high speed reel helps. 6:1 or 7:1 gear ratio.

Simply make long cast up onto the structure and real the bait back very fast keeping it just below the surface no more than 3 inches. In clear water, bass will often come up from very deep water and nail the bait like a mack truck using this technique.

Spinnerbait Color

The same color principals apply to this lure that apply to all the others. I plan to devote a post to talking about lure color sometime soon but for now you can get more tips in the post Best Bass Lure.

The key to successfully getting a bass to strike a spinnerbait is to make the bait act erratic or different from every thing else in the bass environment; as is the same with many other lures . Always keep your bait bumping into obstacles, hitting the bottom, or change retreive speed. Keep experimenting until you figure out what the bass want and capitalize on that.

So no matter what time of year, or what kind of conditions you may encounter on the water, always keep spinnerbait fishing in your list of bass fishing tactics.

Unitl next time


Thursday, May 27, 2010

Night Fishing

Tips on Night Bass Fishing

Last time I talked about using the baitcast reel. Since we're getting into the summertime, today I'm going to give you some tips on night fishing.

Summer brings hot weather in most parts of the country and hot weather can and often does mean inactive bass. When water surface temps approach the 80's and above, bass start to slow down their metabolism just as they do in the colder water periods and become less active. This does not mean they don't feed; it just means that their feeding periods change. Fishing at night can be one of the best tactics to catch bass during these times because the water temps cool slightly after dark and the bass become more aggressive and active.

Night Fishing Safety First

Ok, I'll get the most boring, but most important aspect of this tactic out of the way first. There's always certain risk involved in being on the water in a boat; but the danger is tripled when operating a boat at night. But it can be done safely. you just need to use common sense and take a few more precautions when night fishing. Here are a few safety tips.

1. Always become familiar with the waters you fish during the daylight hours before fishing at night. Know where all the obstacle that could be a danger are before you get on the water.

2. never run faster than idle speed after dark no matter how well you know the water. It's very easy to become confused as to your exact location in relation to obstacles in the dark. The slower your speed the more time you have to correct and avoid a collision.

3. NEVER EVER! be on the water at night without running lights. This is a mistake I see people make very frequently. And some of those fishermen are no longer with us.. Some people think they are ok without lights because they can see other boats that do have lights and stay out of the way. All that it takes is 2 boat operators with this mind set on a collision course to turn a night of fun fishing into a tragedy. Plus it will get you a hefty fine from the dnr in most states.

4. I hate to sound like a broken record but ALWAYS wear your life jacket, Your life may depend on it.

Finding bass at night

Finding bass at night is really no different than finding them in the daytime. Bass on most lakes or reservoirs will typically be on some type of deepwater structure or cover during the daylight hours in summer; and move up to nearby shallow water when they get ready to feed. If one is available, a good topo map can help you find likely places where bass will be.

Look for shallow area's on or near the main lake, that are close to deeper water drop offs or ledges. A good example of this on most lakes is a long tapering point. Bass will hold on deep water cover or structure off the sides or end of the point during the day; and move up on top of the point to feed at night. Points that have a creek or river channel adjacent can be particularly good during the summer months.

Lures for Night Bass Fishing

Most of the same lures that work well in the daylight such as I talked about in the recent springtime post best bass lures will work at night. Generally when bass fishing at night you're targeting actively feeding bass; so this is a good time to try those faster moving reaction baits. However, as always, you should keep an open mind. If one type of lure isn’t working, try something else. Although the fish may be active, a slow moving finesse bait such as the plastic worm or jig may be the favorite for the bass on a given night. Here are some of my favorite night bass fishing baits.

Night Fishing Top Water Lures

Bass feeding at night are often aggressive and will readily come up and bash a lure on the surface. Some of the best for my clients and myself have been.

The Buzzbait:

These are made by most all the same companies who make spinnerbaits.

Heddon Zara Spook or Lucky Crafts Sammy

Rebel Pop'R

The Spinnerbait

Spinnerbaits have been the most consistent night fishing lure in my tackle box over the years; and have been responsible for catching more of my clients big bass at night than any other lure.

Spinnerbaits for bass are made by lots of different companies and the quality varies. some of the better ones I've used are made by Strike King, Manns, and Booyah. The most important quality components to look for in a good spinnerbait are a good sharp hook, and a ball bearing swivel. some of the cheaper baits will use bad hooks and plain barrel swivel's as opposed to the ball bearing swivel.

Typically I use a ½ or 3/8 oz with a single large # 3 or # 4 Colorado blade. The Colorado blade gives off maximum vibration which seems to draw the fish from long distances at night. I use the heavier weight baits because I like to slow roll the bait along the bottom and keep it bumping into any rocks, stumps or other structure that may be present.

A word of caution when using this technique, when bigger bass hit this bait at night they will often slam the lure like a mack truck. I have had them laterally take the rod out of my clients hand; so be alert hold on tight to your rod.

Night Fishing Lure Color

Common sense may tell you that lure color would not be as important when fishing in the dark. Well, in this case don't listen to your common sense. I have found that color seems to be just as important at night as in the day. However the choice is easier. Dark colors work best 99% of the time. I use 3 colors in my night fishing applications no matter what type of lure I'm using. Those colors are Black, Black & Red and June Bug (June Bug is a dark blue with purple flake)

Summertime can be a challenging time to catch bass for most beginners as well as experienced fishermen. But remember, It's not because the bass aren’t feeding; it's because their feeding periods have changed. Summertime fishing is often a matter of timing. So, If your bass fishing has become more fishing and less catching during the hot summer months, try night bass fishing. It just may open up a whole new world of fun fishing for you.

Until Next Time


Thursday, March 25, 2010

Mastering The Baitcaster

 Tips for Using The Baitcast Reel

Just as important as the best lure It's very important to have a good reel to cast, flip or pitch that lure with. There are two basic types of reels commonly used by most experienced bass fishermen. One is the baitcaster; the other is the spinning reel. The spinning reel (often referred to as an "open face reel") is generally used for deeper, clear water, light line applications or finesse fishing; and the baitcaster for everything else.

Unlike other types of reel, the baitcaster does take some practice and patience to learn to use effectively. but I strongly recomend that anyone who is serious about becoming a good bass fisherman take the time to learn it.

The number one problem that most inexperienced fishermen have with the baitcast reel is the dreaded backlash or also known as the birds nest. The backlash happens when the lure is cast. The lure hits the water and stops but the reels spool continues to spin resulting in a wadded up, tangled mess of line in the reel. Everyone who has ever used a baitcaster including pro bass fishermen has experienced this to some degree. And if you use one it will happen to you as well. Just accept the fact, use the tips I'm about to give you, and practice. Before you know it, you'll be casting very well and the backlash will never enter your mind.

How To Avoid Backlashes in your Baitcaster

The first and most important lesson in avoiding a tangled mess in your reel is learning how to properly adjust it.

Most more modern baitcast reels have two adjustments which allows the user to adjust the reels spin to the weight of the lure, which helps prevent backlash. The adjustment which adjust the reel to the weight of the bait is located just beside or below the reel handle.

This is the first adjustment that should be made each time you change lures or lure weight.

How to adjust the baitcaster

Step 1: Tie on your lure, pull out 6 inches of line and hold the baitcaster in your left hand (reverse if you're reel is left handed) with the rod straight out in the 3 o clock position tighten the adjustment knob down snug. Step 2: with the left hand press the thumb bar to release the spool. step 3: with the right thumb and forefinger loosen the adjustment knob until the lure begins to slowly drop toward the ground or water. As soon as the lure begins to fall stop. this should give you the correct weight adjustment.

The second adjustment is normally located on the opposite side of the baitcast reel. This adjustment is basically meant to help compensate for wind when you're casting into the wind. Your reel will cast its best when this adjustment is set low at 1 or 2 clicks. However, if you have your weight adjustment is set correctly but are still getting spool over run, set this adustment up one click or number at a time until you eliminate the problem. eventually you will learn to control the spool with your thumb as the line comes off. Then you will be able to loosen up both adjustments and make very long accurate cast without the worry of baitcaster backlash. A quick tip, spray a little wd-40 or silicone on your line and spool. This will lubricate and make for much smoother casts and lessen backlash as well.

How to cast the baitcast reel

There's not alot to be said on this subject. Basically the baitcaster can be cast just the same as your old spincast reel; with two exceptions. There is only 2 exceptions but they are important. exception number 1, unlike the spincast, the baitcaster should be held reel handle up in the 12 o clock position, this puts the spool vertical instead of horizontal and helps tremendously with eliminating backlash problems. Just hold the rod and reel just as you would a common spincast, then twist the wrist 1/4 round to the left (right if you're left handed) and cast.

Exception number two, Unlike the spincast reel which keeps the line from spooling off until you make your cast by holding the release button down. The baitcaster spool is secured by holding your thumb directly on it. One tip here is, when you cast let your thumb ride very lightly on the spool as the line goes out until the lure hits the water.

How to choose the best baitcaster

There's tons of baitcasters on the market and prices vary from $10 up. I encourage the beginner to buy a good reel to start. The mistake I see time after time is beginners who buy a very cheap reel. Some of the extremely cheap reels are almost impossible to adjust correctly and they have problems with extreme backlashing. This frustrates them and they give up on using the baitcaster completely. This is not to say that you must spend a lot of money. You can buy a decent reel for around $40.

Some of the best brands are Shimano, Abu Garcia, Quantum, Pflueger, Okuma, and Diawa. Each brand will have several different models with a couple different gear ratio's. The gear ratio is important. If you're not sure what gear ratio means, for example. a 5:1 gear ratio means that the spool turns five rounds to each one round of the real handle. In other words the higher the first number the faster the reel will retrieve line. A good common medium that will work just fine for fishing most any type of lure is the 5:1 ratio.

If you decide to go with a lower priced reel, which I do reccomend for your first experience with a baitcaster. I reccomend Shimano. All the brands make great reels but Shimano seems to be better on the lower priced reels. If you decide to go ahead and spend a little more and get a great reel right out of the gate, I reccomend Shimano also. My favorite is the Shimano Curado. In my personal opinion the curado is the best reel on the market at any price. I'm not sponsored by the company and I don't get paid to say this. I simply like the reel. You can pick one up for just over $100 if you shop around.

If you're serious about bass fishing I recommend that you get yourself a baitcaster. With a little practice and patience, you'll be casting like a pro and catching bass before you know it.

Until Next Time


Saturday, February 27, 2010

The Best Bass Lure

The Best Lures for Springtime Bass Fishing

Last time I talked about the best
fishing knots. Since spring is just around the corner, today I'm going to discuss some of the best lures for the pre-spawn season and give some tips on where, when and how to use them.

Lets start with early pre-spawn, which has already began in the southern states and will soon begin in the northern states as well.

If you have some experience or have studied some of the bass fishing literature such as
Learn to Think Like a Bass that I recommend, you probably know that when the daylight hours start to become longer as springtime approaches, the fish start to become much more active and visit the shallow water and look for spawning area's. They'll be feeding heavily as the water warms and will much more readily chase faster moving lures than during winter.

There are literally hundreds of lures which will catch bass during early spring. However if you try them all you'll spend all of your fishing time tying on, and casting different lures instead of catching bass.. So my approach is to keep things simple. I base my lure choice as well as presentation on fishing conditions.

As I have talked about many times, bass are very moody creatures.. Basically there are two moods which dominate in early Spring, either the bass are active or inactive. The variables which determine the mood of the bass are almost endless; and much too extensive to begin discussion in this article. However I'll say this. whether the bass are active or inactive is basically controlled by weather conditions.. For example if the weather has been consitently warm and stable for several days, I expect the bass to be crusing shallow water, ready and willing to pounce on a fast moving lure. If the weather has been consistetnly warm and suddenly turns nasty or cold just before my fishing trip, I expect the fish to be deeper staging on structure and not very active.

Best lures for inactive Bass

When bass get in the inactive mood. they simply move tight into cover or some type of structure and sit there. they're not interested in feeding. However this doesn't mean that you can't catch them. Bass are opportunist; even though they are not actively seeking food, if given an opportunity to eat a nourishing meal without moving off of their resting spot they'll usually eat it. and that meal could be your lure. In this situation I choose a lure that I can fish with a very slow and deliberate presentation.
Here are my best lures for inactive bass in Springtime

Plastic lizard

This lure has been one of my favorite lures for spring bass fishing for many years. When a bass see's a lizard in the spring, he has two great reasons to eat it. one, lizards are an enemy to bass because they are notorious for eating fish eggs and the bass are about to spawn. Two, the lizard is a nice meal for the bass and full of nutrition. The plastic lizard lure can be rigged and fished in several different ways. Two of the best rigs for spingtime are the carolina rig and the texas rigg. The texas rig will work best when the bass are tight to cover such as brush or tree limbs. The carolina will work best when the bass in grass, weeds or structure such as points, humps, or stumps. Both riggs are finesse lures and fished basically the same. For info on how to rig and fish this lure see
plastic worms

Jig and Craw or Jig and Pig

The jig and craw and jig and pig are basically the same; both are crawfish imitations. the difference is the trailer which is hooked onto the jig which gives the lure a more natural realistic appearance. the jig&craw has a plastic crawfish trailer, the jig&pig uses a trailer made of pig skin. In recent years the plastic trailers have become much more popular; but personally I prefer pork. Both will catch fish at any time of the year.

Just as with the lizard, crawfish are a favorite food of the bass and they also are known to feed on fish eggs making them an especially favorite food of bass in springtime.
Both these lures can be fished slowly on bottom or in cover making them very effective lures for inactive bass.

Best lures for active bass

Diving Cankbait

diving crankbaits are meant to imitate baitfish such as shad, small perch or other types of fish which bass feed on. These lures are extremely effective when bass are actively feeding. Because most crankbaits are equiped with multiple treble hooks they can be tough to fish in thick woody cover. However, when bass are active, they will readily come out of the cover and smash a bait which is moving past his hiding place.


The term jerkbait refers to the action which the angler uses to make the lure act erratic and trigger a strike. Jerk baits cover a wide variety of different lures but there are two basic types. one is the hard lure which resembles the crankbait but will normally have a much slimmer profile and smaller lip than the diving lures. The other type is the soft plastic jerkbait. to simplify, her are a few of my favorites of each type. In soft plastic I like the
Senko and Zoom trick worm. For the hard baits, the 4 or 6" Bomber long A, or Cordell Redfin. Rapala also makes a number of very good jerkbaits.

Choosing the Best Lure Color

I could write a book on this one element of lure choice; and there have probobly been a few written. You can buy any of the lures mentioned here in most any color in the rainbow and some colors not in the rainbow. Ask 10 different fishermen what's the best lure color for bass and I can almost guarantee that you'll get 10 different answers. Lure color is important but don't let this make bass fishing complicated for you, as so many fishermen do. Keep things simple and basic. Let the water conditions tell you what color to use; It's as simple as that..

As a rule I keep in my box 2 to 3 different colors of each lure. If the water is clear I normally stay with natural colors. By natural I mean matching as close as possible the actual color of the prey which the bass are feeding on, such as the darker greens, pumpkin or whites.. If the water is stained or muddy then I'll start with some of the brighter or more exotic colors such as chartreuse, red, pink or blues. If your unsure what color to use, you normally you cant go wrong with either chartreause or white in any condition your faced with.

Hopefully this will help you be better educated on choosing the best bass lure this Spring
Until next time good luck and good fishing.