I’m on a mission to get caught up on this squarebills in early spring thing, and have been wasting all kinds of time on the hinterwebz trying to track down more info â€“ and happened across the following article written by Rick Clunn himself.
The article is on fishingworld.com, a website I still can’t figure out, but anyway here are the highlights:
> I was fishing at Buggs Island Lake in Virgina June of 1976 when I received my first lesson about fishing squarebill crankbaits. Actually these baits were refered to as Big “O”s or Alphabet Baits back then because most were named after the initial of the carver.
> These were custom hand made wooden lures that sold even back then for $20 to $50 apiece.
> Some of my biggest career wins were on these baits. My first BASS Masters Classic win at Lake Guntersville, Ala. was in 1976…on a Bagley Honey B, a mini version of the big squarebills. I caught 22 of my 27 bass on the Honey B.
> In 1989 I qualified for the Redman All-American at Bull Shoals Lake, Ark. on a Bagley B3. I went on to win the All-American that year at Lake Havasu, Arizona.
> I won my foruth BASS Masters Classic in 1990 at the James River using the Poe RC 1 and Poe RC 3…. [He goes on to name several more wins (dang!) and other baits including the Norman Big N.]
> You can understand my love for wooden squarebills yet these baits had problems. Number 1 Problem: Wood is not very durable. Of all the Tournaments mentioned above I never fished the final day with a Grade A wood bait. All my grade A lures had been broken or ceased to run correctly by the final tournament day and I was forced to use poorer-performing lures. Number 2 Problem: Availability of quality wood baits is limited. It is very difficult even for the best wood carvers to achieve consistency with wood crankbaits.
> For every 6 baits purchased I might find 2 grade A wood baits, 2 grade B or C baits, and the remaining 2 would not perform at all.
> As most of you know I use a 7′ heavy-action rod (RCL704CR) for all techniques, but it is especially important when using the larger [squarebills]. I use a Bass Pro Shops Rick Clunn Signature 6.4 gear ratio reel. I use 12- to 20-pound monofilament line. The stretch of monofilament is essential to getting hung crankbaits free without changing boat position.
> Even though I fish these baits year round, the prime seasons are mid-spring to mid-summer and early fall.
> I tend to fish squarebills in early spring to mid-summer around the same type of habitat that most anglers fish spinnerbaits. I prefer off-color water….
> The larger the lure, the more speed I use. I will burn it down into shallow logs, rock or brush, forcing it to deflect off those objects. I usually pause it briefly after it deflects, then I take off again. Most strikes occur after lure deflects off object. I usually use 17- to 20-pound line on these larger versions.
> Where the smaller versions may get more action, these larger versions win the tournaments.
> The one time I don’t fish these baits fast is cold, muddy water. I also use the rattling versions [but] most the time I prefer the non-rattling versions. That was one of the best qualities of the original custom wood baits. They were silent runners. Another time I prefer rattles is when I am trying to draw bass out of thick weedbeds.
> Another lesser-known technique is early summer ledge fishing with the RC 2.5 and 3.5 squarebills. These lures will run 6-10′ (deeper than most anglers realize) on 12- to 14-pound line. This technique is not used much and is deadly when worked around creek and river channels ledges in 5-10′ (ledge tops) dropping into deeper water. Speed is really important in this warmer water.
> [In fall] I like to use squarebills in the backs of creeks (preferably off-color) around shallow wood and rock. I also like to use it around docks, where fish tend to suspend this time of year. This time of year the proper size to use can change from small to large depending on size of available baitfish.
> Again, speed is very important. Repetitive cast to a object is very important this time of year as well. Sometimes the strike will occur only after throwing 8 to 12 times to the same object.
Got all that? I do! Now to sneak my credit cards out of the house and call Tackle Warehouse….