The Details of Shaky Head Fishing
All you really need to fish a shaky head is a medium or medium light spinning rod, lighter line, a shaky head, and a finesse worm of your choice. You don’t really need any of the things that I use specifically, but being in the same ballpark is important. Honestly, you don’t even really need a spinning set up if you don’t like them, it just makes it easier in my opinion.
Plenty of bass fishing professionals and people that I have met use a casting setup because it is more comfortable to them. But for me, as a Great Lakes guy, I like the ole reliable spinning rod. My rod choice is the same every time, a 6’10 medium fast rod, paired with a 2500 series reel with a ten pound braided line to a six pound fluorocarbon leader tied with a double uni knot.
I prefer this setup because it gives you extra casting ability, because braid does not have memory, making it much easier to get a longer casting distance. Using the fluorocarbon leader really helps with being as stealthy as possible, it really helps fool those finicky bass as they have trouble seeing the fluorocarbon as opposed to going with just straight braid!
The Terminal Selection of Your Shaky Head
Now, when I pick the actual shaky head, I get picky. I am not a fan of a shaky head that the knot tie is in line with the hook point, I feel that from a distance I don’t get as good of a hookset. So, I tend to pick a shaky head like the Dirty Jigs Stand Up Finesse jig head. The line tie is imbedded in the jig head, and the screw lock is in just the right spot. This allows you to really fish it anyway you’d like, whether you’re dropping it straight down or casting out and fishing it from a distance.
When it comes to the soft plastic, you can really choose your favorite finesse bait. However, for late summertime fishing, you want something with a low profile, and well quite frankly, super finesse. Like I said before, I really like the Zoom Finesse Worm, but occasionally I will rig up a big cut tail worm. My favorite is the Gambler Ribbon Tail Worm in the 7 inch size. If you really want to stand out from the crowd, you don’t even need to use a worm.
You can easily go with a creature style bait which the bass might not see as often. A bait like the Strike King Baby Rodent would be a much different presentation that I lean towards when I know I am on highly pressured body of water.
Where to Fish a Shaky Head
You can fish a shaky head literally anywhere. Depending on the style of head, can throw it in the same places you throw a Texas rig, or you can throw it in places that a drop shot or Ned rig is commonly used. It is also a great tool to use when those other finesse tactics might not stand up to the cover or structure your focused in on.
One of my favorite places to throw on is along nice stretch of weed lines. Huck it on out there and give it some hops and twitches and hold on tight. The action you’ll get out of your bait will entice those finicky summer fish into taking advantage of a quick meal. Another great location to throw a shaky head is over nice big hump offshore. If you’re marking fish on your graph, simply drop it down to them and see if they’re in the mood to munch.
The Shaky Head is such a fantastic intro to finesse fishing and it can be thrown in almost any situation!
How to Work Your Shaky Head
As I said earlier, with shaky heads you do a lot of twitching and hopping. Think of how you fish a Texas rig and go a little bit slower, and really give those finicky summer bass some time to really look at this subtle presentation.
When it comes to hopping the head, as you twitch the bait, give the rod tip a slight pull upwards as you essentially “hop” it up off the bottom of the lake. This can really trigger a strike because of the subtle hop, and this is where you will get a whole lot of bites. If you hop this bait right past some sluggish fish on the bottom, don’t be surprised when you really wax them.
The most important aspect of fishing a shaky head in the summer is just going slow and taking your time. These fish are in very warm water and are not keen on moving a whole lot. This is not a bait to use to cover water, so try to locate the fish prior to throwing your shaky head.
Shaky Head Bait Color Selection
My favorite part of this whole deal is easily selecting your colors. There are about a million and a half colors to choose from in terms of a shaky head worm or a creature style bait. Obviously, the color you choose has as much to do with the water color as it does with how you fish it.
Before I go into the colors of baits, some people will say that the color of the shaky head itself is paramount. I tend to disagree with this, you would be fine fishing a green pumpkin, brown or even black colored head just about anywhere. So, the colors that I tend to go with vary and only change in incredibly clear water.
When it comes to the color of your bait, it’s much more than just picking one and tossing it out there. When I am on Lake Erie, I tend to roll with a candy craw color. I go with this color because it covers that classic green pumpkin color while also getting many different colored flakes as well.
Your normal color rules apply with shaky heads as they do with other baits. The dark, stained waters get blacks and blues, your cleaner and clearer waters get the green pumpkins and watermelon reds. The creature baits follow the same mindset as well, but keep in mind they put off quite a bit more action than the worm, giving you some more leeway with colors.
Make the Shaky Head a Go-To
Throwing a shaky head is seriously one of the easiest ways to get into finesse fishing, coming from a guy who was one of the most stubborn power fishing guys, it is very addicting. You wouldn’t find me without a crankbait, a chatterbait, and a Texas rig tied on anywhere I went. Now, I still love throwing my power fishing moving baits, but on those days where the fish are feeling a little lethargic, I am still able to put some in the boat!
Making a shaky head one of your go to baits will pay dividends in the long run. It will make learning finesse fishing easier and help bridge the gap between power fishing and ultra finesse fishing! On a final note, just give it a try, I know I don’t regret it.