By Mike DelVisco
Mid-Atlantic Staff Writer
February 25, 2011
If you have ever attended one of my seminars, read any of my articles, watched any of my TV segments or perhaps been paired with me at a tournament event, you know I like to fish fast, especially in the springtime. But we’re still a couple weeks out before spring so I thought it important to cover some alternatives when conditions are changing, or when trying to squeeze a few fish out of an area . . . so let’s just slow things down.
It’s been my experience that starting out fast on certain areas is a means to locate and catch the aggressive bass first and maximize my time on the water. Furthermore I like to dissect an area with multiple retrieve types to make the most out of my bait slinging efforts, but when I stop getting bit, I am now faced with a decision: leave the area and find new spots or switch gears and change techniques to catch a few more fish in the areas I know already have fish. I choose the later.
I’ve learned that there are a whole lot more fish in an area than you might think and just because you can’t catch them fast does not mean that you caught them all. Bass become conditioned quite quickly and totally uninterested after you have made a few passes with fast moving baits. When I am convinced I have caught what I can on fast baits, I slow down and apply a more subtle finesse approach.
This slow approach saves me a little time since the bass have already given up their locations when tempted by the fast moving baits. Remember that in the springtime bass really like to bunch together, but that’s not to say the fish are not spread out but my first efforts. My slow-down baits usually are plastic, and I downsize my line and rods depending on the areas I am fishing.
Shaking Things Up
What could be simpler than a ball head style jighead and a small worm or other small bait?
The shakey head technique is nothing more than this and I’ve used it effectively throughout the year and under many conditions. I especially favor it in the springtime as I catch fish in any depth and type of cover. The components are simple; a jig head, a worm or other plastic, some light line (8-12 pound test) and a spinning or casting rod (I favor a very light 7 foot casting rod). There are some specifics within these components that I feel are important: first is the head. Most shakey heads feature a line tie that is set on an angle and some may even have a screw type protrusion to attach the small worm. Gary Yamamoto Custom Baits introduced quite a unique shakey head that not only excels in this technique but also can be used for many other plastic offerings. Gary’s Swim Jig (the 36-series) is my choice when fishing finesse plastics and solves a couple of common problems associated with this technique. Firstly, the line tie comes directly off of the head in a straight line. This ensures that the head will not rotate upon the hook set, and, the majority of the time, hooks the bass right in the roof of its mouth. Jig heads with angled line ties have a tendency to rotate when you set the hook, causing you to miss some opportunities. Another advantage to this style design is a more snag-free head that can be fished in cover. I additionally always to try to fish with as light a head as I can get away with, my favorite weight size being 3/16 oz., using one with a 2/0 hook for slender baits and a 3/0 hook for bulkier offerings.
Give the 9P Pro Senko, the Baby Craw or Baby Fat Craw, the 3-inch Ika, Shad Shape worm or Kut Tail worm a try with this jighead. I always like to match my bait choice to the color of the water, selecting more natural shades when the water has some clarity (at least a foot) and darker shades when the water is stained or dirty. Remember to fish this set-up slow and maintain contact with the bottom, as many times the bass will relate to very subtle pieces of individual cover. When such cover is detected you can stop your retrieve and shake the bait in place enticing a strike. Try different baits and let the bass tell you what it wants as any of these offerings can work at any given time.
Doing the Hula
I love to fish is a 4-inch Hula Grub (93-series) on the 66-series Hula head in 1/4 or 3/8 oz. size in the spring. The slightly smaller body size, compared to its bigger counterpart, the 97-series, makes it a great choice for finesse fishing and in my opinion, is more versatile than a rubber skirted jig. It takes very little movement to give the Hula Grub action and I can drag it on the bottom until I find cover. From there I can shake it in place to entice strikes. You can also be very creative with the components of the Hula Grub, mixing and matching different skirt and body combinations, simply by getting some 11-series Hula skirts and going to town. You can totally change the color, appearance and bulkiness of a bait just by combining these different items and additionally show the fish something completely different to garner a few more strikes. So with these few jig heads and baits you can put together an infinite amount of combinations while getting the maximum amount of potential out of your springtime fishing areas.