Bass Hitting Hardbaits
Inside the Outdoors, July 25
, 2014

It’s a known fact, bass, may they be large or smallmouth, love to hit any kind of imitation bait particularly when in a feeding frenzy.

So when a gentleman approached me at the Latrobe’s Farmer’s Market recently and told me his son had done exceptionally well using his favorite lure, a yellow bottomed body Torpedo with a black top, it only proved the point I continually try to make. Bass will go after plug if they are properly presented.

And he was indeed all smiles because he used a philosophy I’ve always applied to my approach to the sport time and time again; limit yourself as to lure choice. Many times he would boast of catching bass after bass using this one particular lure. And there’s something to be said for that.

Of consequence, I’ll always stand by the fact that one only needs no more than a half dozen of lures if it is even that amount. With that said, I have often taught anglers that instead of buying a tackle box and filling it up with lots of ‘pretty’ lures, talk to the old timers and let them advise you as what works best and they will tell you the same thing I am suggesting.

First on my list would be the black and silver Original 7S Rapala. This lure, approximately three inches long, may be considered a small fish imitation, such as a shad or a shiner. Like Great Blue Herons, bass will look for these fish swimming about along the outskirts of the currents or in the shallows of the lakes or streams.

Second is the Rebel Wee Crayfish, not that the Teeny won’t work just as well, but the small imitation hardbait will attract a lot more fish. Sometimes fish, including bass, will become fussy as to their choice for dinner. They will pick up the small stuff first before taking on the challenge of an attempt to stuff themselves with something larger. Really large species will chow down the bigger imitations, but they are far and in between. Very rarely does one find a whole school of lunkers hanging together. They are far and in between. Their counterparts are more plentiful. They will be the ones, in the most part, hitting the recommended baits.

Next we have the Leland Crankbaits. They look and act so much like the real thing that fish will instantly tag them if ‘they are properly presented.’ I will always highlight that because that is the secret to catching fish. When I first used just one of them, I couldn’t believe how many different species I caught. And now, since success stories have entered the picture, the company has made a variety of colors that are selling like hotcakes.

My father-in-law is the person who always said, “If your presentation is made properly, you will get your fish.” So, there isn’t a time I don’t throw out a lure that I don’t think of his advice. So his advice should be your advice as well. If you aren’t catching fish, ask yourself why. Don’t blame the lure. Chances are it’s not the culprit. Of course, there is a whole lot more to fishing than just tying on a lure. Obstacles may include time of day, water depth and whether or not the fish catches sight of your presence.

Consider, too, the fact that bass are territorial. They are quick to jump on something invading their space. Imitation frogs skirting to top of the water will be easy prey for a hungry bass. Skirted spinnerbaits thrashing through the water will be stopped in their tracks by a bass that insists that they not be permitted to invade that area. And anything that looks like a worm that has fallen into the drink or swept downstream will be easy pickin’s for a bass that knows there is a hardy meal, delicious at that, to be sucked in and swallowed in one swoop.

Keep in mind, bass love eating small fish of any kind. If a Worden’s white ‘0’ Rooster Tail worked for trout, then one twice the size will work for bass, and has, according to this fisherman.

Spinners of any variety may do the trick that are a bit larger than trout lures. That’s not to say that trout lures won’t work. In some instances, they will. Go for the ones that have hair attached to them. Mepps makes a number of these lures.

Let me make some suggestions. First, bass love to hug to stumps, stick-ups and weed growth. Cast your lures as close as possible without getting snagged. Second, remember these are ‘mighty meal malls’ for them and know their appetizers and main courses will be nearby. Third, keep notes. By comparison of facts, your dos and don’ts will become apparent.

- Paul J. Volkmann
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