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Football Jig Fishing and Learning Curves | Staying Versatile on the Water

A football jig is one of the best big bass baits out there. There is absolutely nothing quite like the thump of a jig bite. Don’t get me wrong, having a bass annihilate a topwater bait or load up like a stump on a crankbait gets my blood pumping too. But nothing makes me want to jack something’s jaw like a bass knocking slack in my line on a jig bite.

Traditionally, a football jig is best suited for colder weather. Not just the dead of winter but in particular the pre-spawn and early post-spawn. I’ve had some of the best fishing days and tournaments of my life fishing a football jig in Costa Series events on Lake Guntersville in February and Wheeler Lake in May. In this article, we’re going to take a look back at those events.

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Football Jig Fishing | Costa Series Southeastern Division: Lake Guntersville – 02/28/2013

On Guntersville, I was fishing rocky points and bluff walls with my football jig anywhere from 10 to 25-feet of water. There was a pretty good stain to the water and a decent amount of current. These two factors were key in my decision to go with a football jig. The current pushes the fish to the bottom where they are able to hide behind rocks and other pick-off points waiting for food to wash by. 

I believe the stained water also pushes the fish to the bottom where they don’t have to rely as heavily on sight to hunt. In swift, stained water, bass have a better chance of success when targeting crawfish moving along the bottom than they do chasing baitfish suspended in the middle of the water column. 

While I proved this theory on day one with 4 of my 5 fish for 26-pounds and 6-ounces coming on the football jig, I also proved it in a lot less exciting way on day two as I delivered 17-pounds and 5-ounces to the scales and my co-angler dropped near 20-pounds on an Alabama Rig. Both my co-anglers threw the Alabama Rig days one and two along with 90% of the competition back then. I fished the same places both days and tried to force the football jig but the current had slowed and the water clarity had improved quite a bit from day one. 

Football Jig(1) Football Jig(2)

Day one on the left and day two on the right… I was still catching some fish, but the bite certainly wasn’t as consistent on day two. 

Day one my co-angler only had a couple of bites. But my day two partner smoked me with the A-Rig and I was too stubborn and ignorant to adjust. I was reluctant to throw the A-Rig on principle and that arrogance cost me money and a shot at a top 10 as I fell to 15th for the event.

Video from Guntersville Costa Series

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Football Jig Fishing | Costa Series Southeastern Division: Wheeler Lake – 05/09/2013

For our final Costa Series event of 2013, we made our way to Wheeler Lake in north Alabama. I only had one full day to practice and decided to check the bluff walls right away. I wanted to go shallow since I knew there should be a few fish still trying to spawn but thought I had better rule out the bluffs first. The little shelves on the bluff walls of the river are perfect for smallmouth, spotted bass, and largemouth to move up from deeper water, spawn and then return to deeper water without having to travel far. Once I made it out to the river, I also noticed the water was moving and there was a pretty good stain, so you know what I went with. 

The great thing about a football jig is that it can be used to cover the whole bluff.

I would throw the bait up to the bluff wall and it would often land on a shelf anywhere from 1-to-5 feet deep. If I didn’t have a bite from a spawner, I would gently pull the bait until it fell from that first shelf to the next one a few feet further down. 

It was imperative to do this slow and easy so as not to move the bait far from the vertical bluff between the shelves. If you go and look at the aquariums at Bass Pro Shops, you’ll notice the bass hanging alongside the rocks and in little crevices in the bluff wall itself. That artificial habitat was created to mimic the very same style bluffs I was fishing. I would let my bait fall on a semi-slack line: slack enough so as not to pendulum the bait away from the wall but tight enough that I could tell when the bait stopped. Often times while doing this I would feel a thump or just see my line start swimming off to the side where a fish had bit the bait on the fall. 

On my one full practice day I got a few bites in the first hundred yards so I picked up my trolling and moved to another bluff. Two bites almost immediately. So I picked up and moved another ¼ mile. Another bite on my first or second cast. And almost all of the bites I was getting were 3-pounds or better. I sampled miles and miles of bluff wall that day trying to figure out exactly where the better concentration of bigger fish were and I had one of the best problems I’ve ever had fishing, I couldn’t dial anything in because they were everywhere. I was only setting the hook about every 4 or 5 bites but all the fish I was catching were solid with the occasional 4-to-5 pounder mixed in. I finally gave up after who knows how many bites and just elected to run around and fish as much water as I could on day one. 

Unfortunately, when day one came, the bite slowed way down. I was devastated.

There was no way I had hurt them by catching what I had caught along 6 or 7 miles of bluff wall two days prior. I tried to keep my bait in the water and not get rattled and run around too much but that proved difficult knowing all the places I had gotten bites the previous day. The water was still stained, the current was still on (though possibly not as strong and that may have been the culprit but I can’t say for sure). I scratched out 14-pounds and 1-ounce and ended the day well outside the top 10 with a quite nauseous feeling as though I had let a good tournament slip through my fingers. 

On day two I picked up where I had left off but the bite was still much slower than it had been on that magical practice day. With a little over an hour to go in the day, I made long run to the back of Elk River but as soon as I shut the boat off I knew I had made a mistake. It just didn’t feel right. 

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I ran back to the bluffs and caught three fish between 4 and 5 pounds in the last hour on the football jig to weigh 19-pounds and 11-ounces and finish the event in 18th. 

Looking back I’m still not sure what changed. I caught the fish late on day two up near the bluffs and beside laydowns, though I had fished those exact laydowns and several more like them during the tournament. I wasn’t as diligent about checking generation schedules back then as I am now and the most likely culprit was a change in current. 

I do remember catching a few fish when the bite was slow way off the bluffs in 20-feet of water near the boat. Perhaps they moved out and suspended and a jerkbait, spinnerbait, swimbait or scrounger would have been a better presentation when they weren’t biting the jig as well. Another learning experience where the main takeaway was that I needed to become more versatile. 

Video from Wheeler Costa Series 

Shaye’s Football Jig Gear

The rod and reel I used in these videos have been discontinued. My current big football jig setup consists of the following gear. 

Rod: Fitzgerald Rod Vursa Series – 7’ 6” Medium Heavy 

Reel: Lew’s Super Duty 7.5:1

Line: Seaguar InvizX 15, 17 or 20-pound test (Depending on cover and water clarity)

Jig: Nichol’s Football Jig 1/2 to 3/4 ounce (Depending on current and depth) 

Trailer: Strike King Rage Craw

Tokyo Rig Fishing | A Tokyo Rig Breakdown with Flukemaster

We sat down with ANGLR Expert and bass knowledge treasure trove Gene Jensen (AKA The Flukemaster) to get his take on the Tokyo Rig. Here’s what he had to say about one of his new favorite bass fishing techniques.

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The Action of a Tokyo Rig

A lot of people think the Tokyo Rig is just a short leader dropshot, which it kind of is, but you don’t get the same action as you would from a dropshot. The action is just a little bit different. And it’s different enough to make a difference in the catch rate. 

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I went from fishing a dropshot down in Florida to a Tokyo rig and went from catching 2 or 3 an hour to 40 an hour. 

The difference to me is the weight itself goes down in the mud and keeps the bait up above the silt and gives the fish an easier target. Other than that, I can’t put my finger on it. All I know is the bass destroy it. A month later, my son had a high school fishing tournament on Lake Lanier with all spotted bass and he finished 6th fishing the Tokyo Rig. 

3 Ways to Apply a Tokyo Rig

You can do a lot with the Tokyo Rig. My favorite three applications for it so far are fishing grass lines, flipping docks and punching grass. I like to drag it up to grass lines and shake it kind of like you do a dropshot where you don’t move the weight and only move the bait. Or I’ll punch it like a normal punch rig but the difference is that it really does penetrate a whole lot easier than a regular punch rig. 

What I’ve been doing lately is fishing it under docks. It gets pretty silty under docks, especially post docks, but bass like to hangout around those wooden posts. If you throw a jig in there it’s going to sink right down in the silt where the Tokyo Rig is going to stay up above the silt. It still acts just like a jig but the bass can get to it a lot easier.

My favorite three style baits for it right now are some sort of creature bait like a Strike King Rage Bug, a Zoom Brush Hog or Baby Brush Hog and then a big worm. Larger profile baits. 

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You’re still kind of finesse fishing it but with bigger baits. 

I just kind of think of it as power finesse fishing. It’s really one of those things that I tell people you just have to try it. I just tried it one day and was amazed at how well it worked.

Gene’s Tokyo Rig Gear

Rod – 7’3″ Med Hvy Fate Black 

Reel – 8.1:1 Concept A 

Line – Seaguar AbrazX 

Lure – VMC Tokyo Rig 

Baits – Zoom Brush Hog or Baby Brush Hog & Strike King Rage Bug

 

A Video on How To Tokyo Rig with Flukemaster

Spring Fishing Got You in a Slump? Here’s How to Bust Out

I should have known my Spring fishing was doomed the moment I answered this question at the end of a recent fishing presentation.

“You pretty much always catch something, right? Do you ever get skunked?”

My answer was honest. It does happen on occasion, I said, though I couldn’t recall the most recent skunking off the top of my head.

On my very next trip, the fishing gods served up a helping of humble pie as I returned home empty handed. It was a somber reminder that even diehard anglers get whooped from time to time.

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What Causes the Spring Fishing Slump?

Now that I think about it, most of my skunkings have happened in the Spring. Here in Idaho, like many places, sSpring is marked by unpredictable weather. Rain, wind, fluctuating water temperatures and river levels can make it hard to plan and execute your tried-and-true fishing strategies.

I followed up my goose egg trip with one that got canceled by storms and another that only produced tiny panfish. It was official… this was a slump. But slumps are made to be broken, and I was determined not to let this one last. With a free Saturday on the horizon, I dialed up my go-to fishing partner, Caleb.

Summer Fishing

It was time to go Spring fishing slump-busting on Brownlee, a Snake River reservoir on the Idaho-Oregon border.

I loaded my boat with bass, crappie, and catfish gear. No matter what was biting, I was going to be ready. That’s one of the keys to summer fishing, bring a variety of gear so you can adapt to changing conditions and give yourself the best chance of putting some fish in the boat.

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Breaking the Spring Fishing Slump

It was a crisp, clear morning as we arrived at Brownlee. In a welcome sign, Caleb landed two monster crappies right off the boat launch while I was parking the truck.

“We’re not getting skunked today, boys!” he announced.

I took a few casts and reeled up a hilariously small crappie. The skunk was off, but my slump was still intact. We motored off in search of Brownlee’s famous flathead catfish. My hard luck continued as Caleb reeled in one 19-pound monster, and then another.

“Next one’s yours,” he said. “I can feel it.”

Like a baseball player mired in a hitting slump, the key to turning things around is patience and a positive outlook. I stayed loose by taking in the sights and sounds and enjoying Caleb’s run of success.

And then, like a hanging curveball in the heart of the plate, my opportunity arrived. A fish bumped my lure once, twice and then BOOM! My rod doubled over as it ran for deeper water.

Big flatheads play the slow game, hugging the bottom while you gradually work to regain your line. Caleb seemed even more giddy than I was, nervously scanning the water for a glimpse of this big cat.

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Photo Credit: Missouri Department of Conservation

Finally, the flathead surfaced. A huge, mottled green head and gaping, whiskered mouth never looked so pretty! At 13 pounds, he wasn’t our biggest catch of the day. But Caleb and I agreed, the slump was history.

We closed the day with some more big crappie for the frying pan, and I also wrangled a big channel catfish on my ultralight rod. The bite was never red-hot, but we worked hard enough to make it a successful day. Which, ultimately, was the important lesson this whole experience refreshed in my mind. 

Sooner or later, every angler hits a slow patch. When your slump comes, use persistence and a positive attitude to send your slump packing.

3 Tips to Bust Your Spring Fishing Slump

  1. Bring a variety of gear so you can adapt to changing conditions!
  2. Keep working hard and try new techniques if the bite is slow!
  3. Stay positive and be ready for anything, a big fish might come when you least expect it

Power Drop Shotting | A Power Shotting Rundown with Justin Lucas

Power shotting is essentially power fishing a drop shot on heavier gear. Though this power drop shotting technique has gained popularity in bass fishing nationally over the last few years, it has been an ace in the hole for MLF Bass Pro Tour pro Justin Lucas for over a decade.

In 2007, while fishing an FLW event on the California Delta as a co-angler, Lucas used the power shot to put a 13-pound, 9-ounce bass in the boat. More on that monstrous fish catch in a minute. 

First, let’s run through the power shot with Lucas.

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Power Drop Shotting | The Basics of Power Shotting

I don’t really upscale my line super high or use really big hooks, nothing like that. But I do go from a 6 to 8-pound test leader to 12 to 15-pound test straight fluorocarbon on the baitcaster. I I use a 2/0 offset Fusion hook with a ¼-ounce weight 95% of the time. 

I use a really short leader between the weight and the hook, only 6 to 8-inches. If I’m going to dropshot on a baitcaster, I’m doing it because I’m pitching around shallow cover in 2 to 4 feet. So you don’t want the bait too high up in the water column. And with a longer leader like 15 or 18-inches between the weight and the worm, you’ll get that weight hung up all day long on whatever wood or grass you’re fishing around.

The length of the worm is a pretty good judgment on how long I make my leader. Like this year I used a Berkley Maxcent Hitworm a lot and that’s about 7-inches long. So I would put that worm on my hook and then put the weight wherever the tail dropped to.

When Do You Change From Drop Shotting to Power Shotting?

It all depends on how shallow I’m fishing and if the cover is thicker. If I’m fishing 4-feet or less, I’m going to power shot with a baitcaster because I won’t need to pull line out to let the bait hit the bottom. Like at the Potomac (when Lucas won the Elite in 2016) I was fishing a drop shot in 4 to 8-feet. With a baitcaster I would have had to pull line off my reel and my bait wouldn’t fall straight down. But in 1 to 4-feet of water there’s enough slack line when I pitch out that it’ll fall straight down without me having to feed it any line. 

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Then I’ll also use it whenever I’m fishing around thicker shallow cover, usually in the spring. 

A dropshot is so deadly around beds, so I like to use it where I know fish are spawning but I can’t see them. I like to pitch that thing around instead of a wacky rig or whatever everybody else is doing to show them a little something different. It’s just something we grew up doing at the Delta that worked really well. 

The Revo Stx 8:1 will work but I really like an MGX 8:1 because it’s built to cast lighter baits. When you’re talking about a ¼-ounce weight and a 6-inch worm there’s not much weight there on 15-pound line so you need a reel that will cast really well.

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Tell Us More About Power Drop Shotting That Big One? 

The fish were up spawning. It was a full moon and they had just moved up on beds. A lot of big females were up. The water was pretty dirty and it was a lower tide. We were fishing down a stretch where we knew they were spawning but couldn’t see them. We were pitching that power shot around. 

When you’re going around fishing behind people who are fishing with 20-pound fluorocarbon and a creature bait, you’re just going to get a lot more bites and with that power shot and catch some big ones in the spring. 

That was just what happened there. It was a community area that probably a bunch of people had fished throughout that day. That fish had probably seen several baits that day but not a dropshot pitched right in front of it. There was a little pocket in the reeds and it was just a perfect little circle for a fish to be spawning in even though I couldn’t actually see her on the bed. 

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The fight was insane. 

She was dogging me. She had me around a bunch of tules but I finally got her in. I caught that fish on my last cast of the day and I culled out a 12 and a half incher.

Justin Lucas’s Power Drop Shotting Gear

Power Drop Shotting Rods

7’3” Medium Heavy Abu Garcia Fantasista Premier 

12 to 15 pound Berkley Trilene 100% Fluorocarbon

Power Drop Shotting Reels

Abu Garcia Revo Stx 8:1 

Abu Garcia REVO MGX 8:1

Megabass Magdraft | Megabass Swimbait Fishing With Chris Zaldain

There are fewer specialists these days touring the larger bass fishing tournament trails than in previous decades. There was a time when the Denny Brauers and Tommy Biffles of the world made a good living with one rod on the deck. In both their cases, a flipping stick. For others it may have been a crankbait or a frog. But now you have to be versatile to even survive on tour, much less thrive.

It seems though that those who win more often than not still have the edge on some technique. Though they can do it all, they still have the upper hand given the right situation. As versatile as Kevin VanDam is, should a crankbait come into play, he can still lock it in his hand and kick in the teeth of the competition. If you can get one blow up on a frog, Dean Rojas can get 10 and bury you with his expertise.

So can be said about Chris Zaldain when it comes to a swimbait, his favored Megabass Magdraft to be exact. As diverse and good of an all-around fisherman as Zaldain is, let the conditions align for his swimbait to leave the deck and enter his hand and you’ll be in for a home run hitting highlight reel. We sat down with Zaldain to discuss the ins and outs of his favorite technique.

Chris, tell us about the Megabass Magdraft swimbait.

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Megabass Magdraft | Selecting the Right Size

“There are 3 sizes to a Magdraft: 6, 8 and 10 inches. Being the tournament fisherman I am, the 6-inch Magdraft gets the most play because you get the most bites on it. It catches big ones still, but it also catches numbers. I catch a lot of 3-to-5-pound bass on that size. The 8-inch I mostly bring out as a tournament fisherman when we go to a fishery that has an abundance of gizzard shad in the system. Places like the Tennessee River or any of the big fish lakes in Texas. Every time I set the hook on the 8-inch Magdraft it’s likely to be in the 4-to-10-pound range.

I typically bring out the 10-inch version only when I’m trophy hunting outside of tournaments. This is my 8th year as a professional tournament fisherman and I may have broken out the 10-inch version a couple of times in a tournament situation.

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The two main colors I throw are the albino in stained water and then the white back shad in clear water.

When most people think of swimbait fishing they think of only clear water. But because of the Magdrafts signature head to tail wiggle it gets a lot of bites in stained water too. The 2019 Bassmaster Classic in Knoxville was a great example of that. The water clarity was maybe 2-1/2 feet but because of that wiggle the fish were able to feel my swimbait and search it out in the water and once they got close they were able to see that albino color and come up and eat it.

Megabass Magdraft | Do Bigger Baits Really Draw Bigger Bites?

Absolutely. We’ve all heard ‘the bigger the bait, the bigger the bass’ and that’s absolutely true. A great example of that happened in the Bull Shoals/Norfork Elite Series a few years ago. I had a really good limit on the 6-inch version and to see if I could get a bigger bite I broke out the 8-inch version and I ended up catching a big one.

I rarely catch a 3-pounder on the 8-inch, those bites are usually over 4. But I do get less bites on the 8-inch for sure. I don’t care what bass lake it is in the country, if I throw the 6-inch Magdraft all day, I think I can get at least 8 bites on it. But if I throw the 8-inch all day, I might get 1 or 2 bites. So there are a lot fewer bites on the 8-inch but they are going to be big.

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Megabass Magdraft | What Are Your Ideal Conditions for Throwing a Magdraft?

The Magdraft light comes on in mind when it’s sunny to partly cloudy and about a 10 mph wind. The more sun penetration I have, the more those fish are going to be able to see it. If a fish is 20 feet away from a swimbait and it’s cloudy, they just don’t see it as well. I don’t care if the water is crystal clear, they just don’t see it as well if it’s cloudy. So the optimal conditions is a 7-to-10 mph wind so it breaks up the light penetration but there’s still plenty of light and sunny with just a couple of clouds in the sky.

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As far as cover, I fish the most obvious stuff in the whole lake.

Yes, a million boats have fished that spot before me, but 99 percent of those anglers fish a spinnerbait or jig or crankbait. Still to this day not a lot of people throw a swimbait. So when I introduce a bait that isn’t thrown often to a spot that is fished often, my chances of catching the big one have gone up tremendously. That obvious spot obviously has fish on it, it’s a community spot for a reason. But you have to show them something different.

I don’t care if it’s spawn, pre-spawn or post-spawn, main lake points are what to look for. I’m a big believer that the biggest fish in the lake relate to the main lake. So I’m always going to start on the main lake then just fish the most visible stuff as possible like I said earlier.

Megabass Magdraft | How Do You Fish the Bait?

Slow and steady retrieve, just enough to keep the head and tail wiggling. I’ll hardly ever burn it. Whenever I can, I like to position my boat close to the bank almost like I’m fishing from the bank. Then I cast my bait out to deeper water and let it sink towards the bottom.

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As I reel my bait in, it stays in that deeper water and in that strike zone longer.

I also have a lot of fish follow the bait when I’m fishing a swimbait. And I get a lot more of those followers to commit when I’m fishing the bait deep to shallow than any other way. I feel like the fish thinks it has trapped that baitfish and a lot of times it will go ahead and commit.

Megabass Magdraft | Do You Ever Modify Your Magdrafts?

One thing I’ll do is weight the swimbait down a little if I want to fish it a little deeper. I don’t weight the 8 inch at all. Never have. But for the 6-inch version I’ll use an Eagle Claw Pagoda Nail Weight in the belly if I want to get the bait just a little deeper.

Straight out of the package, the 6-inch Magdraft works best in 4 to 6 feet of water. I’ll use a 1/16th ounce tungsten nail weight in the belly to get it to go deeper. A 1/16th ounce weight doesn’t sound like much when you’re talking about a bait that weighs more than an ounce but it’s just enough to throw the balance of the bait off and when you do that it will stay down in the 8 to 10 feet range.

Zaldain’s Megabass Magdraft Gear

Megabass Magdraft 6-inch

Megabass Magdraft 6-inch

Seaguar InvisX 15-pound

Orochi XX Perfect Pitch 7’2″

Shimano Metanium 7.4:1

Megabass Magdraft 8-inch

Megabass Magdraft 8-inch

Megabass Destroyer Mark 48

Seaguar InvisX 25-pound

Shimano Curado size 300

Jerkbait Fishing for Post-Spawn Bass with Chris Zaldain

Bassmaster Elite Series Pro Chris Zaldain is one of the most proficient anglers in the world at jerkbait fishing. We sat down with Zaldain to talk about what changes he makes to adapt a jerkbait to post-spawn bass fishing.

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What’s the Difference Between Jerkbait Fishing in the Post-Spawn Versus the Pre-Spawn?

In the pre-spawn when the water temps are in the 50s, it’s a jerk, jerk, pause deal for slow, fat, and lethargic fish. In the post-spawn when you’re dealing with 60 and 70 degree water, you have to speed that joker up. It’s more of a rapid set of jerks followed by a short pause. Jerk, jerk, jerk, jerk, quick pause, jerk, jerk, jerk, pause.

I use the same rod, reel, and line setup but instead of the original Megabass 110 jerkbait I love the 110 Magnum. Basically it’s about an inch longer and has a wider stride to it, a lot like a soft plastic jerkbait. It has a more lateral movement and I believe in the post-spawn that wider, almost underwater walk the dog technique drives those big fish nuts and triggers them into biting.

Post-spawn fish are exhausted and don’t want to go out of their way to track something down. So, this really fast moving jerkbait with real wide glides is moving a lot of water but not moving forward. That quick, lateral movement is what you want.

With that 110 Magnum you stay in the strike zone a lot longer. If you jerk the original 110 10 times, you’ve moved that bait 10 feet or so from whatever you’re targeting. With that Magnum you’re getting twice the lateral movement and only moving the bait maybe 5 feet in 10 jerks.

Jerkbait Fishing the Post-Spawn: What do you Target?

I like to target any windblown bank near where they’ve just finished spawning. I’ll start at the spawning flat and go to the first point coming out and eventually make my way to the main lake points.  

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Docks and shade are also really important in the post-spawn.

These fish have been in the sun for weeks looking for bedding areas and bedding. So, a lot of times they hang on that first big piece of shade like a dock or a laydown for a week or so. If you add a little wind to that then you have the perfect post-spawn scenario to throw that Magnum 110 into.

The bass are also guarding their fry in these shady areas after the spawn and a jerkbait is a great bait for triggering those bass who are trying to protect their fry from bluegill and other predators.

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Do you Relate This Style of Jerkbait Fishing to Fishing a Glide Bait in the Post-Spawn?

Absolutely. I get questions about glide bait fishing a lot. A glide bait is just an oversized jerkbait. The beauty of a glide bait, no matter if it’s the spawn, pre-spawn, or post-spawn is that it triggers those big bites with that super wide glide. It stays in the strike zone two or three times as long a crankbait or spinnerbait.

Do You Use a Jerkbait to Catch Fish Relating to the Shad or Herring Spawns Jerkbait Fishing the Post-Spawn?

For sure. That’s another great way to use a jerkbait in the post-spawn. You hear a lot of people talking about how bad the post-spawn is and how hard the fishing is but there are a lot of things going on in the post-spawn that can really give you an advantage, like targeting that shade or like fishing shad spawns and herring spawns or even a bluegill spawn.

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So, a jerkbait matching the profile of all those bait fish is the perfect choice to capitalize on those baitfish spawns. Photo Credit: Garrick Dixon

Jerkbait Fishing: Zaldain’s Post-Spawn Gear

Megabass Ito Vision 110 Magnum

Shimano Metanium 6.2:1

Seaguar InvisiX 12 or 15 pound

Megabass Destroyer Oneten 6’ 11”

Wacky Rig | How to Fish a Wacky Rig with Bassmaster Elite Chris Zaldain

A wacky rig is perhaps the most subtle, natural, and non-invasive presentation we have at our disposal as anglers. One of the best to ever employ a wacky rig is Bassmaster Elite Series pro Chris Zaldain. We sat down with Zaldain and had him give us an in-depth look at his wacky rig setup and how he fishes it throughout the year.

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Wacky Rig: Focusing on the Technique

The wacky rig works particularly well in clear water. It’s a very finesse, slow presentation. It’s not your typical cast and reel presentation like a spinnerbait or crankbait. They’ll bite a wacky rig when the bite is wide open and they’re biting everything. Now, when the bite is tough, they’ll still bite a weightless wacky rig. That’s the beauty of it. It doesn’t matter what mood the fish are in.

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If they’re in a negative feeding mood or a positive feeding mood, you can always get bites on a wacky rig.

Five-inch stick baits like a Senko work the best because they are heavily salted. I find these baits more effective when weightless wacky rigging than any other worm. The heavily salted baits have a nice shimmy when they fall and it takes less time for the bait to hit the bottom which is important in tournament situations.

I use 15-pound Seaguar Smackdown Flash Green for my main line and a 4 to 6-foot, 8-pound test Seaguar Tatsu leader. I tie those together with an FG knot with about 25 wraps. One thing that I will do when throwing a wacky rig is I’ll leave about a 1/4-inch tag on my braided line when I tie that FG knot. Then I’ll twist that tag end until I make a fuzzy little ball out of it.

For the guys that fly fish, that’s called a strike indicator.

When I skip that wacky rig under a dock or a shady tree or just up on the bank, that hi-vis green line with that shorter leader and that fuzzy little ball helps me detect those subtle bites. A lot of times when a wacky rig is falling, a fish just inhales it or grabs it real slow and then starts to swim off with it or swim towards you. With that little strike indicator I can detect those bites because it sticks out in the water like a sore thumb. Most of those bites on a wacky rig you won’t even feel, so bite indication is key for landing those fish.

A reel set is also important when setting the hook. We’re dealing with small, sharp hooks with a small diameter. So you don’t need a lot of power to set that hook. I just like to reel into the fish when I get a bite and let the rod load up. The rod is important too. I like a short rod with a short butt for skipping the bait and maneuvering the fish out of cover. That short butt doesn’t get hung up on your clothes or hit your arm when you’re fighting the fish. I use a Megabass F4 6’ 8” Ronin Orochi XX. That rod loads up really well too on the reel set.

I almost always use a Trokar Neko Hook with the pro v bend in size 2 with an o-ring or collar on the worm. That v in the hook holds the worm in place really well. If I’m fishing really heavy cover like timber or a lot of grass under the water that I can’t see, that’s when I’ll go with the weedless version. But 80% of the time I’m just going to throw the non-weedless version. That works really well.

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How to Fish a Wacky Rig During the Pre-Spawn

You can catch bass on a wacky rig all year. But there’s one special time where nothing else will get bit. There’s a short window where fish go from a pre-spawn feeding frenzy to actually going on the bed where a wacky rig really shines. The fish are done eating the big swimbaits and the big jerkbaits. They’re done eating, they’re just up there shallow looking and waiting. Waiting for the moon phase or the water or weather to get just right so they can actually start spawning. And when those fish are shallow in that cruising mood, they don’t bite. You can see them, big ones everywhere. But they just won’t bite. That’s when I pick up a wacky rig.

How to Fish a Wacky Rig During the Spawn

A lot of times you’ll see a pattern during the spawn where you’re going down a bank and you start to see clearings. Not necessarily sight-fishing where you can see the fish. You’re just going down the bank and you’re seeing clearings. I’ll see a dark spot mixed with a light spot in a clearing and I know that’s where a bed is.

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I won’t see the fish, but I’ll blind cast that wacky rig to that clearing and I know there’s a bass within 10-feet or so.

When they’re spawning, the key isn’t the cover, but those clearings. That’s when that weightless wacky rig is really going to payoff. When you’re working against ‘the book of bass fishing’. The book of bass fishing tells you to fish all the heaviest cover you can find. But in that spawn mode, you want to fish the voids. The areas that are clear.

How to Fish a Wacky Rig During the Post-Spawn

In the post-spawn, bass are very lethargic. They’re recovering from the spawn and they don’t have the energy to go out and chase things around. In the post-spawn, you have a lot of fry guarders too and if you switch from a salted stick bait to something more like a trick worm or a floating worm, that works really well around fry guarders.

Chris Zaldain’s Wacky Rig Setup

Trokar Neko Hook

8-pound Seaguar Tatsu

15-pound Seaguar Smackdown Flash Green

Megabass F4 6’ 8” Ronin Orochi XX

Trokar Neko Weedless

Shimano Stradic Ci4+ 2500 6:1

O-ring or collar

Heavily salted stick worm

Trick worm

Early Post Spawn Bass Fishing with Bassmaster Elite John Crews

Post-spawn fishing in notoriously tough. The bass have just come off the beds and are exhausted. With their sole focus on resting and recuperating, they often times refuse to bite if it requires much energy at all. Elite Series pro, John Crews, steps in to help us breakdown the early post-spawn, where to look first, and how to target and actually take advantage of the post-spawn.

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Post Spawn Bass Fishing: Targeting the Bass fry

The main thing to look for in the early post-spawn is bass fry. You’re looking for fish based on where you think the bass fry will be. Look for isolated cover that’s back in pockets and protected. A topwater bait works really well because the fish are up high in the water column around the fry.

Your buzzbaits and Pop-Rs as well as your Horny Toads and SPRO frogs. All that stuff is going to shine in the early post-spawn. If you have any willow grass, swimming a jig is hard to beat too.

Post Spawn Bass Fishing: Looking at Ledge Lakes

They get on the shallow bars first. The long points and hard spots near the spawning areas, with shallow being 6 to 10 feet. They’ll be on that kind of stuff for 2 or 3 weeks.

A Carolina rig is really good this time of year with a smaller bait.

If you get a lot of wind or weather you can catch them on a jerkbait and cranking too. But the Carolina rig is definitely my go-to with that deal. The thing about a Carolina rig is you can throw it up there in 1 or 2 feet of water and work it all the way out to 10 or 15 feet. Plus, you can pinpoint exactly where they are. Sometimes they’ll be up on top of the point really shallow and sometimes they’ll be out in 6 or 8 feet of water farther out on the point. But if you’re throwing a crankbait you’re kind of locked into one particular depth range.

Once you find out what depth they’re in, you can throw something else at them like a crankbait to give them something different to look at. A Fluke is really good on those shallow bars too.

Post Spawn Bass Fishing: Looking at Highland Reservoirs With Herring

Any of those lakes with the blueback herring in them, bass get on those red clay points and saddles where those bluebacks will be spawning. The herring spawn right after the bass so the bass will finish spawning and 2 weeks later they’re gorging on those bluebacks.

That usually is a morning bite with a topwater bait or swimbait, but they’ll be around those same areas all day. Later in the day you can finesse them with a Ned rig, shaky head, dropshot or Carolina rig. And sometimes you can still trigger them up later in the day with a topwater bait too.

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Post Spawn Bass Fishing: Use the Shad Spawn to Your Advantage

The shad spawn starts about the same time the bass start to spawn but the shad spawn lasts longer. The shad spawn is an early in the morning thing and then it’s over with. But you can fish around the bass fry all day with a topwater.

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The shad will spawn in marinas, along floating docks or riprap, bushy grass, willow grass.

But the key is, it’s got to be calm. If you get any wind at all, the shad won’t spawn. If there’s a little ripple on the water, that’s a deal breaker.

Post Spawn Bass Fishing: Find Bass in Docks and Marinas

In the immediate post-spawn, the bass will usually be on the walkways or on the back sides of the docks. Not out on the ends but up shallow. That’s where the fry will be hanging around. A wacky rigged MISSILE Baits 48 is hard to beat.

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The marinas are more of a shad spawn deal to me.

They will either be there early during the shad spawn or there won’t be much there. Some will hang around the marinas all day, but the shad spawn is definitely the primarily deal there.

Post Spawn Bass Fishing: Key in on Shallow Brush

You can definitely catch fish in the early post-spawn around shallow brush. But for me, it’s not something I do a lot. I don’t fish the same lakes often because I’m fishing on the road, so I don’t have a lot of shallow brush I know about on the top of my head. I more so pattern points and docks that I can see rather than isolated brush.

The post-spawn is the one time of year I don’t throw a jig, other than a swim jig. If I am fishing brush like this, I want to throw something straight and non-intrusive. Like a shaky head, dropshot, Neko rig or ned rig. Throw something more on the finesse side and you’ll catch 5 times as many fish. They’re out there healing up and they’re still eating, but they don’t want a lot of wild action to the bait.

Post Spawn Bass Fishing: Always Check Around Bream Beds

They get on bream beds heavy in the early post-spawn too. Those will be in the back of pockets and you can kind of run a pattern if you start catching a few fish on them. You can see the beds from a mile away. If you get up there to where you can actually see the bream on the beds, you’re too close. You have to make long casts on those deals.

The little prop baits and poppers are good on bream beds. But an old school shaky head is hard to beat. I like a wacky rig around bream beds too, but for the most part, that shaky head is the deal.

The early post spawn is one of my favorite times of the year to hit the water. These bass do get finicky, but when you figure out their deal, you can catch a boatload! Make sure you give it a try this season!

Glide Bait Fishing | A Full Breakdown with Alex Rudd

Big swimbait fishing is alluring and addictive, but not easy on the old ticker. Everyone who has thrown a big swimbait any reasonable length of time has at least one heartbreaking horror story involving a lost giant and a lesson learned the hard way. We sat down with big bait aficionado and ANGLR Expert Alex Rudd to discuss how he approaches glide bait fishing to help you cut down on the learning curve.

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Fishing a Glide Bait: When to Throw a Glide Bait

Early spring when the water temp is in the low 50’s, the bass seem to want those big paddle tail, soft body swimbaits for some reason. But the more we start to move into the high 50’s and low 60’s when the fish are moving into the late pre-spawn, that’s when I want to get the glide baits out. I think it has a lot to do with the fish fattening up right before they go onto their beds.

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I like a glide bait all throughout the spawn though.

I live in Tennessee. In the south, we’ll have fish all over the place. There will be some pre-spawn, some spawning, and some post-spawn. A lot of the time the bass I’m wanting to fish for are spawning in 10-feet of water where I can’t see them and actively fish the beds. So, I’ll just lock a glide bait in my hand because I can draw bites from the big pre-spawners that haven’t spawned yet, I can draw spawners off the bed because they think it’s a bluegill, and then I can get those post-spawners to eat because they are coming off the bed and their instincts are driving them to eat.

Fishing a Glide Bait: Where to Fish a Glide Bait

You can target spots, smallmouth, and largemouth with a glide bait. The spots I’m usually going to try to draw up out of deep water. So, main lake points are good. I’ll target anything with a shelf where it goes from like 5 to 15-feet of water, then has another shelf from 15 to 30-feet. I’m just going to cast it up there and start working it back and you’ll have packs of fish come up and try to kill it.

For smallmouth, I definitely key in on where the river channel swings.

Those big obvious areas where the river channel swings in and there’s a gradual taper. I’ve found that those smallmouth, on bright sunny days, will want to move up there and feed while they just kind of hang out and sun themselves.

With big smallmouth and big spots, they’ll want to spawn beside something big. So, if you find an area with gravely rock and then big boulders, you’ll want to work it past those big boulders and they’ll crush it.

If I’m targeting largemouth, I’m looking for any kind of hard structure. Boat docks, laydowns, seawalls. All of those really obvious places where you think, ‘well somebody’s already hit that a thousand times’. Well yeah they probably have, but they haven’t thrown an 8-inch glide bait at it. It if looks good and you think a fish ought to be sitting there, I’m going to throw that glide bait at it.

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Fishing a Glide Bait: How to Throw a Glide Bait and Why

I’m going to make more than one cast at those areas too. I want to make 5 or 6 casts. I want to change my angles. Because a lot of times when you’re fishing for a bigger than average fish, that fish’s instincts are a little more honed than the young ones. So, you have to mess with the angles to get them to come up and investigate the bait.

A lot of times when you’re fishing laydowns or docks, the fish will come up out of there just to see what it is. I think they do that because of two main factors. There’s nothing that displaces that much water with that kind of signature.

That bait is just so big and pushes so much water that those bass just have to come out and see what it is.

The other thing is, usually when a bass sees something that big, it’s not fake. You have a lot of bass that are conditioned to certain baits and certain sound signatures whether they’ve been hooked before or not. Over time, that self-preservation instinct in their mind flips them into a mood where they don’t want to mess with anything. But when you throw an 8-inch glide bait at them that’s slow moving like that and lumbering, that’s an easy target for them and something they’re going to eat.

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I always want to be able to see the bait when I’m fishing it.

The biggest reason is, I want to be able to see the followers. You have to read their body language. You’ll have fish that come in on it real hot and then pull off of it. You’ll have fish that follow it out and are just lazy and investigating it. Then you’ll have fish that I call trackers. Every time that bait glides, those trackers will follow it and be right on its tail.

In most of my experiences, those fish will eat the bait. Their body language is telling me that. So when I see that, I’ll start to make more distinct movements. I’m not just gliding it at that point. I’ll make a few big twitches and make the bait do a 180 and turn around and look at them. Or I’ll speed it up and make it look like it’s trying to get away from them. And that’s when you can get that reaction bite. That’s the deal. Once you see the fish, you want to get them to react to the bait.

You can catch them in a little dirtier water too where you can’t see them. I’ve done it where they just blast the bait and I never see them. But most of the time, I’m looking for that little bit clearer water where I can see the fish and determine if they’re going to want to actively eat it or if I’m going to have to work them a little to get them to eat it.

Fishing a Glide Bait: Gear to Use

Glide Bait Rod

My rod is a little unique. It’s an 8-foot Extra-Heavy, moderate action G-Rod. But it’s a prototype. The main thing those is the 8-foot Extra-Heavy gives you enough back bone to really toss those big baits. I’m throwing 200 S Wavers, 8-inch Mag Drafts, even a Depps 250 on that thing. Those are anywhere from 8-to-10-inches and 3-to-6-ounces.

One of the other big things about that rod is the moderate action, because a glide bait is really just a giant crankbait. I think a lot of people lose big swimbait fish because they use too fast of an action rod. You have to have the heavy power because your throwing those big baits. But the action can be different. You also want that moderate action so when they bite it, you can drive a hook in but not rip it out. It’s really easy to rip a 2/0 treble hook through a fish’s face.

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When you have that moderate action, it also absorbs the shock of the fish eating it.

And then it drives the treble hooks in and doesn’t rip them out. It’ll load up like a cranking stick, almost to the first guide. The action also helps on throwing the baits because you can load the rod up and really whip the baits out there and get them to go.

Glide Bait Reel and Line

I use a Lew’s Super Duty 300 reel spooled with 25-pound P-Line CXX. It’s a copolymer mix between monofilament and fluorocarbon. It’s neutrally buoyant so wherever you put it in the water column, that’s where it’s going to stay. It doesn’t sink or float. It has a little more stretch than fluorocarbon but not as much as mono and I feel like that little bit of extra stretch in the line helps absorb a little of that shock too. The one thing about swimbait fishing is when you do get a bite, it’s usually going to be a big one and they’re usually going to freak out when you hook them. So, you have to have something that absorbs that shock like the moderate action rod and the copolymer line.

Selecting the Right Glide Baits

My three go-to glide baits are a 200 S-Waver, a Deps 250 and a Megabass I Slide in the 185 and the 262 sizes. The 185 and 262 I Slides are a little bit different. You want to work those baits really hard. They’re still glide baits technically, but you want to work them almost like a jerkbait. I start to fish those baits more towards the post-spawn because the bass seem to be a little more aggressive.

Glide Bait Hooks

One thing I’ll do every time is change my treble hooks. Something like the Owner Zo Wire Hook is what I’ll use most of the time, but honestly, I use a lot of different ones. I like something that’s still a strong, stout hook, but with a little finer diameter so you have a better chance of hooking the fish. Especially with big spots and big smallmouth. They’ll tend to slap at it more than really commit to it and eat it. Those fish will come up out of deep water and hit it but more with the intention to kill it and not eat it right away. I feel like with a little smaller diameter hook you have a little better chance of hooking those fish that just want to slap at it.  

Watch Some Glide Bait Action Below!

Covering the Fishing Rod Basics: Selecting Your Rod System For Bass Fishing

Fishing is a sport which can be done with the most basic and rudimentary equipment. A simple cane pole, 5-yards of line, a bobber, a small hook, and live worm will get the job done in many situations; unfortunately, this low cost option is not realistic as we begin to advance and specialize in our pursuit. The advanced bass anglers in particular and anyone competing in the sport, know how specialized our sport has become over the past 20 years. You can find a variety of technique specific fishing rods and even a full variety of fishing lines for specialized presentations.

There are rods, reels and lines made to work exclusively for Spinnerbaits, Crankbaits, Jerkbaits, Chatterbaits, Frogs, Senkos, Punch Rigs, Carolina Rigs, Drop Shots, Shaky Heads and more. There is so much specialization, even anglers at the highest level of competition are outfitting themselves with 12 to 16 technique dedicated rods. Some of the B.A.S.S. Elite, FLW Pros and Major League Fishing Pros may even keep 20 or more fishing rods in the rod locker, to cover the gamut of possibilities.

But being realistic, I know not everyone wants to own this much equipment and some of the biggest questions for the beginner, intermediate or minimalist anglers are;

Why do we need so many different fishing rods?

What makes one fishing rod different than another?

How many fishing rods does a bass angler actually need to cover the bases?

In this article , I want to shed light on these questions and hopefully simplify the task of selecting a proper bass fishing arsenal. Before we get into my recommendations, we must first examine the characteristics of a fishing rod to learn what makes each fishing rod unique.

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Fishing Rods: Material, Power, and Action

To identify what makes one fishing rod different from another, we must look at three major characteristics: material, power, and action. These are the primary characteristics which contribute to the way a rod performs and also determine what type of lures and situations they are suitable for. There are other visible and not so visible components (including: reel seat, grip, guides, wrapping, color, finish and craftsmanship), but in general the way a rod blank performs has to do with the materials used, the weight rating or power of the rod, and the action of the rod blank.

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So what are the various materials, powers and actions?

Fishing Rod Material

Fishing rods can be made from bamboo, steel, graphite, fiberglass and composite material; but the overwhelming majority of modern manufacturers are designing rods from graphite, fiberglass or a combination of both graphite and fiberglass (called composite).

Each of these materials have their own advantages and disadvantages:

  • Graphite

Graphite is the most common material used when making bass fishing rods and for many very good reasons. Graphite is light, sensitive, responsive and the most effective choice of material when fishing Jigs, Texas rigged plastics, Dropshots, Carolina rigs, Frogs and Spinnerbaits. Some anglers may even opt for graphite when fishing Topwater, Chatterbaits and Rattletraps depending on the fishing situation.

  • Fiberglass

Fiberglass is the second most common material used when making a fishing rod blank. Fiberglass is much heavier and slower than graphite, but also more durable. Rods made from fiberglass are an excellent choice when fishing with live bait, Crankbaits, Topwater and any time an angler wants a slower/softer response from the fishing rod. The drawbacks with some fiberglass; aside from being heavier, is the reduction of sensitivity and fish steering power.

  • Composite

Composite rods are made with a combination of both graphite and fiberglass, which makes them sort of the best of both worlds. The blending of these two popular rod materials, allows the rod blank to respond slower but still maintain some of the rigidity and sensitivity found in graphite. The composite material is also lighter, faster and more responsive than 100% Fiberglass ; and is a great option for Crankbaits, Chatterbaits, Rattletraps, Topwater or anytime you want slightly more sensitivity and control than Fiberglass.

Fishing Rod Power

The next major rod characteristic is rod power; and this is simply the rods ability to handle lure weight, line, and various cover situations. The options here can often be confusing, as not every stick is measured with the same power rating system. Some manufacturers rate their fishing rods with a power number and others classify the rod power as Ultra Light, Light, Medium-Light, Medium, Medium-Heavy, Heavy or Extra Heavy. I’ve found power ratings can vary greatly from one rod manufacturer to another, but the typical ratings are: Medium-Light (4 power), Medium (5 power), Medium-Heavy (6 power) and Heavy (7 power).

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There are some extreme situations where other rod powers may be used, but 99% of the time these are the rod powers a bass angler should consider:

  • Medium-Light (ML = 4 Power)

A Medium Light power is the type of rod a bass angler might use for very small jigs, dropshots, split shots, and other light tackle presentations. I personally avoid Medium-Light because of my primary fishing style, but anyone who fishes lightweight finesse lures often, may want to consider a Medium-Light. In general a Medium-Light is classified as a 4 Power and works best with 4 to 8-pound test and 1/16-ounce to 3/16-ounce lures.

  • Medium (M = 5 Power)

The Medium power rod is popular amongst bass anglers and best with medium weight lures and also when cover and vegetation is minimal. I own a few rods in this power and find them very effective with light weight Topwater, Texas rigs, Shaky Heads, Tubes, Grubs, Jerkbaits and some Crankbaits. The Medium power stick is most commonly classified as a 5 Power and works best with 6 to 12-pound test and ⅛-ounce to ⅜-ounce lures.

  • Medium Heavy (MH = 6 Power)

The Medium-Heavy power rod is the most popular rod power for Bass anglers and will work for an incredible range of lures; it’s the staple rod power for most SpinnerBaits, Crankbaits, Toads, Spooks, Chatterbaits, Casting Jigs, Spoons, BuzzBaits, Carolina Rigs and more. The Medium-Heavy power rod is almost always classified as a 6 Power and will work best with 10 to 17-pound. test and ¼-ounce to ¾-ounce lures.

  • Heavy (H = 7 Power)

The Heavy power is the big boy stick and not commonly used in every area of the country; unless extreme situations call for extreme sized lures and great amounts of leveraging power. The Heavy power rod is the kind of rod we typically want for Flipping Jigs, Punch rigs, Deep Diving Crankbaits, Hollow Frogs and on some occasions very large Topwater baits. A Heavy power rod is often referred to as a 7 power rod; and works best with 14 to 25-pound test and ⅜-ounce to 1 ½-ounce lures.

Fishing Rod Action

Another very important characteristic to consider when selecting a fishing rod is rod action. Some fishing rods are made to react and return to rest very quickly and other rods are made to react and return to rest very slowly; and this is what we call rod action. A few things to keep in mind are; SLOWER rods will typically cast better but have lower sensitivity and less fish steering power; while FASTER rods will typically cast more poorly but have greater sensitivity and more fish steering power.

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There are rod actions which fall between fast and slow and some rod actions which fall beyond these actions; below I will outline these and what each rod action is generally used for:

  • Extra Fast

The Extra Fast will flex only about 10 to 20% down the rod blank, allowing an angler to quickly utilize the blanks power and backbone. These rods are excellent for single hook baits and anytime an angler wants the greatest level of sensitivity, control and the most leveraging power during the hookset; but conversely they are poorer performing rods during the cast and can sometimes pull lures away from the fish too quickly during the hookset.

  • Fast

The Fast action will flex about 20% to 30% down the blank before getting into the rods backbone; providing a good balance of sensitivity and castability for the majority of fishing techniques. These rods are often used for Texas Rigged Plastics, Jigs, Carolina Rigs, Frogs, SwimBaits, Buzzbaits, Spinnerbaits, Rattletraps in grass, Jerkbaits, Drop Shots, Shaky Heads and more. When in doubt about rod action, just remember fast action rods will be suitable for half of the presentations and lures required when bass fishing; and are the most common action found in any bass anglers arsenal.

  • Moderate Fast

A Moderate Fast action will flex about 30 to 40% down the rod blank and should be strongly considered when fishing Spinnerbaits, ChatterBaits, JerkBaits, Spooks, SwimBaits and Squarebills. The Moderate Fast action will provide a fraction of a second slower reaction time than a standard Fast action and be more forgiving throughout the cast and hook set. I believe Moderate Fast action rods are the best choice for power fishing moving baits or for any situation when sensitivity, castability and additional rod forgiveness would all be equally important.

  • Moderate and Slow

Moderate action and Slow action fishing rods are on the slowest end of the spectrum, and will flex from the halfway point of the blank and sometimes down towards the handle. These slower reacting rods are designed almost exclusively for Crankbaits and other treble hook style lures. They are generally manufactured with all Fiberglass construction or sometimes a mixture of materials called Composites. These more flexible design materials offer greater durability and additional flex throughout the rod blank; which improves casting and hooking percentage, but can conversely lower sensitivity.

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My Fishing Rod Recommendations

The process of narrowing down my top 5 recommendations has been somewhat tedious, mostly because we all fish for bass in different parts of the country. The type of power and action required in the South may rarely be needed for fishing for bass in the North. So, in making my recommendations I decided to look at every possible bass fishing situation an angler could face anywhere in the United States and then I placed a strong emphasis on rods which can serve multiple purposes.

With this approach, naturally, some of the more specialized rods have been excluded.

I believe the following fishing rods have the best multi purpose capabilities; and will allow you to cast the majority of bass fishing lures while accommodating the broadest range of presentations. So, here are the five bass fishing rods every angler should have in their arsenal.

  • 6’6” to 6’10” – Medium power Fast action (Graphite Spinning Rod)

A medium power fast action multi purpose spinning rod is an absolute must own; it’s capable of throwing Tubes, Worms, Senkos, Mojo rigs, Drop shots, Shaky Heads, Poppers, Jerkbaits and Light Crankbaits. The medium power fast action will cover almost every sparse cover and deep water finesse situation imaginable. This is the rod many bass anglers start with when first getting into the sport; it’s easy to cast and covers a variety of medium weight bass presentations up to a ½-ounce.

  • 6’6” to 7’1” – Medium-Heavy power Moderate-Fast action (Graphite Baitcasting Rod)        

A medium-heavy power moderate-fast action baitcasting rod may be a surprising choice for some of the experienced anglers reading this article, but I’ve found the moderate-fast action can do everything a standard fast action can do with only a small sacrifice in lure control and fish steering power. This type of fishing rod is great for casting moving lures up to ¾-ounce; including Spinnerbaits, Chatterbaits, Squarebills, Rattletraps and some styles of Topwater. The moderate-fast action is an advantageous choice for presenting moving baits, but when spooling up with 40 or 50-pound braided line, the moderate fast action can become suitable for casting plastics and jigs. Because of the additional rod flex, energy distribution, and forgiveness, this is one of the most versatile bass rods you can own.

  • 7’ to 7’3” – Heavy power Fast action (Graphite Baitcasting Rod)

A Heavy power fast action baitcasting rod may not always be a necessity. There are many areas of the country when this much fishing rod will not be required; however, a Heavy power rod would be an important tool for those anglers who consistently find themselves fishing through the heart of lily pads and matted surface vegetation in the Summer. This is the rod an angler could use for casting  hollow body frogs, flipping jigs and punch rigs up to 1 ½-ounces. It’s probably the least versatile rod of the bunch, but when bass settle into the gnarliest combat conditions, it becomes a crucial piece of the arsenal.

  • 7’6” to 7’11” –  Medium-Heavy power Fast action (Graphite Baitcasting Rod)

For an angler who wants to properly present Flipping jigs, Carolina rigs and Medium Sized Swimbaits; there is no better solution than a 7’6” to 7’11” medium-heavy power fast action graphite baitcasting rod. This is the rod used most often when rigging lures up to 1-ounce. This rod will have a longer handle and plenty of backbone for horsing fish from cover, but can also serve as an open water Swimbait or Carolina Rig rod. I personally prefer the 7’6” as my Multi-Purpose Flipping combo.

  • 7’ to 7’6” Medium-Heavy Power Moderate Action (Composite Baitcasting Rod) 

Last but not least, is the medium-heavy power moderate action rod, also referred to as the crankbait/reaction rod. When casting diving Crankbaits, Lipless Crankbaits or anything else with a treble hook; this becomes a must have fishing rod. The moderate action offers an improved hooking percentage with treble hook reaction lures and the medium-heavy power will provide the weight rating an angler needs to cast medium to large Crankbaits. The longer 7’6” Crankbait rods will handle deep diving crankbaits better because they generate longer casts; but the 7’ Medium-Heavy Moderate is a better all around performer for a mix of shallow, medium and deep presentations.

Covering the Fishing Rod Bases: Summary

So again, not all fishing rods are created equal, they are made from a variety of materials and designed in different powers and actions. Just as every golfer uses a variety of clubs for different golf course situations; every angler will want a few different rods to cover the widest range of fishing situations.

Loaded with this knowledge, you can now get serious about bass fishing; and these 5 rod recommendations will allow you to confidently cover the bases. I truly hope this article helps make you more informed and successful, as you begin to build your angling arsenal. Also don’t forget to add each rod combo and lure into your personal ANGLR Gear database; it’s a great way to inventory your gear and see what gear has produced best. So try it out today and take one more step towards becoming a better angler!