Everyone is talking about the blade bait these days.
Or at least it seems that way.
Apparently one of the most effective baits of all time when it comes to near freezing water temps, the blade bait is all the rage right now. I personally have little to no experience with it and wanted to know what the craze was all about so I called on my buddy and smallmouth guru Ben Nowak to shed a little light.
“It’s not the most exciting way to fish, but it catches a lot,” he said. “And I can throw it all the way up til there’s ice on the water.”
Why the Blade Bait is so Effective
The later we get into the winter, the colder the water gets and the slower the bite tends to be. So to be able to fish a moving bait, no matter how slow it’s moving, certainly has some appeal to it.
“It’s almost like fishing a jig. I mainly cast it myself and rarely fish it vertical. I like to keep the bait within a foot or two of the bottom and just drag it or slow hop it,” Nowak said.
The presentation is also a lot like slowly fishing a lipless crankbait on the bottom, but the blade bait offers up a couple advantages to the trap. One, the bait sinks a lot faster allowing it to be fished deeper more efficiently. And it also has a tighter action.
But there are certain times where Nowak will lean towards the lipless crankbait.
“If I get in really dirty water I’ll go to the lipless crankbait because of the rattles,” he said. “Or I’ll change the color of my blade bait. My predominant colors are silver or white. And then if I get in really dirty water I’ll go with a chartreuse or gold blade.”
Nowak’s Blade Bait Gear
The gear Nowak uses is a little unorthodox compared to the bigger, stiffer baitcasting rods and heavier line used by a lot of anglers throwing a blade bait, but there’s a reason for it all.
“I throw a blade bait on a spinning rod all the way up to 5/8ths of an ounce and I don’t throw over a 5/8ths. A 7-foot medium fast or extra fast spinning rod with 15-pound test braid and an 8-pound fluorocarbon leader.”
Nowak prefers spinning gear because it allows him to throw lighter line. He prefers lighter line because it’s more effective at starting the bait’s action.
“A lot of guys are going to fish it on a baitcaster with 15- or 17- pound fluorocarbon and the blade bait just doesn’t start as fast once you’ve let it sink to the bottom with that setup as it does when you fish it on lighter line.”
There’s More to His Blade Bait Setup!
His unorthodox choices in gear don’t stop there.
“The other big thing is a really long leader on that spinning rod, like a 30-foot leader. I actually prefer a longer leader like this on all my spinning gear.”
The reasoning here is a little complex, but sound. Nowak explains that with a shorter, say 6- to 10-foot leader, you’re going to have issues where you shock your leader and you’re going to break off.
“Fishing a longer leader lets that fluorocarbon absorb the shock of a hookset but it actually lets you cast a lot further too. Think of how your line comes out of a spinning rod. When your connection knot hits that choker guide, it slows the line down coming out of the reel.”
As the knot catches the guide, the momentum of the braid behind it continues to push the line out while the leader line that has already passed the guide begins to slow down.
“Your braid catches up to the fluorocarbon and ends up tangling around your connection knot. With a longer leader, your line basically has more momentum coming out of the reel before your connection knot hits that choker guide and it comes out a lot cleaner.”
One thing’s for certain, fishing in near freezing waters often makes for a long day with little action. A blade bait may very well be the magic bullet you need to fire in the direction of deep, lethargic bass this winter.
There’s only one way to find out.
This article was contributed by an ANGLR Expert
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