Deep Diving Crankbaits
Sam Rayburn is known for its shallow grass, so lipless crankbaits are historically one of the predominant baits in an angler’s arsenal. The flooded conditions, however, had the “shallow” grass down in about 15 foot of water, making it challenging, if not impossible to fish a lipless crankbait effectively to get big bites.
Terry Bolton made adjustments to his setup, still playing the deep grass bite and inside grass lines to catch his fish using crankbaits. Rather than using a lipless bait, Bolton relied upon a Rapala DT14 and DT16 to catch his fish as well as mixing in a heavy, ¾-ounce Accent spinnerbait to get an additional few bites each day.
Across the field, and per usual on Rayburn, red was the most common color that anglers were using. In most places throughout the country during the spring, red baits are a key player. Typically in the spring, the water is stained and fish tend to be aggressive, chasing crawfish, so red baits imitate this forage effectively and stand out well in the dirtier water, making it a perfect choice.
The reason a heavy spinnerbait came into play this week was two-fold; it allowed you to fish a reaction bait slowly along the bottom and it also looked like a school of baitfish. While talking with some of the anglers, the consensus was, if they could have fished an Alabama Rig, weights would have been insane. Due to FLW Tour rules, Alabama Rigs aren’t allowed in competition, so a spinnerbait is one of the closest lures that can draw similar reactions from big bass.
One note from the top finishers was that the bass needed the bait along the bottom. Opting for a heavier 3/4 to 1-¼-ounce spinnerbaits allowed for this bottom presentation. It was effective in targeting fish that were feeding on baitfish as opposed to the traditional crawfish patterned offerings. The bass eating big spinnerbaits were focused on feeding up for the spawn and there’s not a much better way to fill up, than on big schools of baitfish.
Tour Rookie, Nick LeBrun, shows off a Prototype V&M 3/4 oz spinnerbait, that he used to catch most of his fish this that he weighed in this week.
Jigs and Carolina Rigs
Less talked about, but equally effective this week on Rayburn was a Carolina Rig as well as football jig. One of the predominant patterns from the top finishers was fishing hard spots, like a clay or rock bottom, on inside grass lines and both of these techniques are effective ways to keep your bait on the bottom and slowly fish through an area, picking up as many fish (and big fish) as possible.
Carolina Rigs and football jigs played an effective role because these baits allow anglers to fish small depth changes very effectively. Most of these inside grass lines were on small 1-2 foot, sloping contour changes where you didn’t want your bait to change depths or planes in the water column too quickly. By slowly dragging a Carolina Rig or fishing a football jig, the anglers were able to keep their bait in the strike zone for a long period of time and draw bites from pressured bass.