The fall is heavily upon us now and this is one of the most crucial times of year to match the hatch when it comes to bait selection. With an overabundance of shad flooding the shallows of many fisheries, typically you have to pick something very similar in size and color to get bit, only depending on the action of the bait to help it stand out from the crowd.
There are rare cases where you’ll want to completely contradict this train of thought, but for the most part, this is what fall fishing is all about. So here are 5 baits to use this fall to match the hatch.
Match the Hatch: Lipless Crankbait
A lipless crankbait is one of the best, if not the best, fall-time match-the-hatch baits out there. Built to fish at various depths and with color patterns all but identical to the forage in many fisheries, a lipless crankbait represents a perfect bait for fall fishing.
Bass often push shad up onto flats in the fall as the baitfish make their way back into creeks, bays, and pockets. Since a lipless crankbait can be fished from just a few inches deep out to 10-feet or even more, it’s the ideal bait to throw up onto a flat and gradually fish deeper and deeper as you work your way back down the tapering bottom.
Use your retrieve to help the bass zero in on your bait. Sometimes it works best to hold your rod tip high and use a slow and steady retrieve to bring the lure back to the boat. Other times, yo-yoing the bait is the best bet. With this style retrieve, you’ll want to stop reeling intermittently and drop your rod tip, allowing the bait to fall towards the bottom. Then start reeling again while raising your rod tip and the bait will rise back up quickly through the water column.
Match the Hatch: Blade Bait
Very similar to a lipless crankbait, a blade bait makes another great fall fishing lure for matching the hatch. Though a blade bait has a similar profile to a lipless crankbait and can be fished in similar scenarios, there are a few key differences.
For starters, a blade bait is a solid piece of metal where a lipless is some sort of composite or plastic, typically with chambers for rattles.
A blade bait also has multiple holes along its back where the line tie clip can be relocated to adjust the vibration of the bait. And the key difference as to how the two baits can be fished comes down to depth.
Although a lipless crankbait can be fished deep as well, typically when trying to get a bait 10-feet or deeper, the blade bait is the better option of the two. It falls faster and can be reeled faster while still maintaining the same depth versus a lipless crankbait. Steady retrieves and yo-yoing are still great presentations with the blade bait as well.
Match the Hatch: Spinnerbait
Another fall favorite, the spinnerbait is perhaps the most widely used of all fall baits. Though as previously stated, the lipless is likely the best at matching the hatch, the spinnerbait is more widely used due to its all-terrain capabilities. Whereas the lipless crankbait with its 6 sharp, dangling hooks has to be reserved for more open water scenarios.
Having a bait capable of matching the hatch well around cover is crucial.
Bass will stage alongside trees, stumps, and other shallow cover in the fall and simply wait for bait to pass by. Insert a spinnerbait into that scenario and the fish can’t help but inhale it.
Small blades are typically your friend in the fall unless you’re on a fishery with gizzard shad or some other larger baitfish. For most lakes and rivers with threadfin shad, small 1/4-ounce spinnerbaits with number 3 willow leaf blades do a good job of matching the size of the forage. Or you can use a large 3/8-ounce spinnerbait with 3 or even 4 small willow leaf blades along the arm like the Booyah Super Shad Spinnerbait.
Match the Hatch: Small Topwater
Before the water gets down into the low 50s, you can still catch fish on top in the fall using small poppers, walking-style topwaters, buzzbaits, or plopper-style baits. The fish again have so much bait to choose from in the fall, that it can be difficult to get a bass to break the surface and commit to a topwater bait.
But, making sure you pick something small will increase your odds of getting bit if you’re just going down the bank. And it’s certainly a good practice to keep a topwater on deck in the fall in case fish come up schooling near the boat. The tendency is to want something that can be thrown a long way for this, so anglers will often have a big topwater tied on.
That’s all well and good on herring lakes where the bait is bigger, but for lakes with threadfin or other smaller baitfish, look for baits that are more compact like the 13 Fishing Dual Pitch 94 that can still be thrown a long way and you’ll find yourself getting more bites.
Match the Hatch: Shallow Diving Crankbait
Another great option for matching the hatch shallow around cover is a shallow diving crankbait. Anything from a traditional squarebill to a flat-sided bait like the SPRO Lil John 50 is ideal. Baits this size that dive in the 1- to 6- foot range are perfect for picking apart shallow cover in the fall.
These baits are perhaps the most effective for covering riprap.
They also work well fishing open flats. Taking a bait like this and intentionally letting it eat up the bottom of an open water flat is at times very effective at drawing attention to a bait and triggering strikes.
There are even times where you can fish a bait like the SPRO Lil John around balls of suspended bait in deeper water with no relation to cover or the bottom, much the same way you would a jerkbait with a similar action.
Obviously there are dozens of other great baits to fish in the fall that we didn’t touch on, jerkbaits, Shad Raps and ChatterBaits just to name a few. But these 5 bait categories that we covered are some of the very best when it comes to matching the hatch, thus making them some of the most effective when it comes to fall fishing. So get out on the water and give these baits a try and see if your numbers don’t improve.
This article was contributed by an ANGLR Expert
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