You ready to hammer some melons?? Course you are! I CAN’T WAIT either. Til that time feast your peepers on these pre-spawn bait/gear recommendations, brought to you by your friendly neighborhood BassBlaster….
Heads up that I’m givin’ the BassBlaster sponsors some love here cuz they make great stuff and are BassBlaster “enablers.” So just sit back, put your tray tables up and enjoy the ride yo!
Gitcha finesse on!
Some options fer ya:
1. BOOYAH Finance Jig + YUM Craw Papi
The Finance Jig got that name cuz it’s #money for putting fish in the boat. Here’s the color called — you guessed it — “money:”
> If you need you a dang good stand-up shakey head, check Megastrike offerin’s, notably the Shake2 Pro Model:
> If all else fails, break out a YUM Dinger and fish it any way you want. There’s no bad way to fish a Dinger yo! If the basses don’t bite at that point, get your phone out, order a pizza and meet it at the ramp.
Be a jerk!
A jerkER I mean. A jerkbait jerker. Because the water’s cold and that’s when all bass-heads turn into jerks — I mean jerkERs. A few recommendations:
Here’s what you need to know: The Shadow Rap slowly sinks on the pause, and the Shadow Rap Shad slowly rises. That tells you a few things:
> Make sure you pause long enough for these baits to do their thing!
> They are not interchangeable baits.
> Fish want different actions at different times/water temps.
The also both have hooks like velcro…. Great colors but only gonna fish “silver” this year cuz it’s the same color as my fave Original Floater which still kicks b*tt:
2. Strike King
A newer bait for the kings of bass-strikes is the KVD Deep Jerkbait. Can you dig it? I mean, can you dig that bait all the way down to 11′? Yep! That’s what he needed and if he needed it you just might too. Here ’tis in KVD’s all-time fave color that I don’t even need to name:
Didja know Lunkerhunt has a jerkbait? Yep, the Sushi. FLWer Matt Arey gave up this little tiddy-bit:
> The Sushi jerkbait would be an excellent choice for targeting staging fish that may be relating to the points (first and secondary) in and around spawning pockets.
Lunkerhunt makes some fine baitfish colors, but check this one…”turbo craw:”
Yep I just might fish it!
Someone taught Mike McClelland everything he knows about jerkbait fishing, but the last time that guy was seen he was having dinner with these fellas:
In the meantime, here’s Mike’s McStick 110 in “ghost Table Rock shad:”
For deeper water jerkin’, Elitist Chris Zaldain likes Seaguar TATSU Fluorocarbon. Says the thin diameter helps the bait run deeper, it’s pretty much invisible in clear, cold water and there’s less stretch for better hookups. Use 10-12 lb.
For shallower-water jerkin’, he likes Seaguar Rippin’ Mono “because it doesn’t sink like fluoro so I can cover more ground without hanging up. And because it doesn’t sink like fluoro, it’s also far easier to work around cover because there’s far less drag and hangup issues in shallow water vs fluoro.”
Works for me….
1. Lew’s Custom Speed Stick Topwater Rod + Lew’s Custom Pro SLP Speed Spool
The Speed Stick Topwater Rod might be your jerkbait rod. Yep, jerkbait. Some jerkbait-labeled rods can be too limber for some bass-heads, but this stick has some backbone PLUS a short handle that doesn’t get in your way when you’re jerking the bait down.
Pair it up with a Lew’s Custom Pro SLP Speed Spool in a 6.8:1 gear ratio (maybe with some 10-12 lb Lew’s APT Fluorocarbon). That’s a good middle-ground retrieve speed because you can speed up or slow down all kinds of baits with it. That reel can also sling some lighter baits like Shad Raps and even 1/4-oz spinnerbaits.
2. Okuma Scott Martin Signature TCS Rod + Helios LP Reel
Word is the Okuma Scott Martin stuff is the real deal. I haven’t fished the stuff yet, but for spring the 7′ 11″ medium-heavy rod has me feelin’ this way:
Okay curious, but not two cats stoned on catnip curious. Jerkbait curious. That’s an odd length and action for some — and would be longer than normal for me — but sounds like it could be good for that application:
Pair that up with a Helios LP Reel. If Scott says it’s good, it’s good enough for me to check out.
Spring’s the time to wind, so make sure you’re a-windin’ these!
1. Rapala Shad Rap
The Shad Rap may be THE BEST cold-water crankbait. You might thing it’s “one of the best” but either way it’s got that “best” word by it. Casts good, tight wobble so in cold water it’s:
Word is this color, “live river shad,” has been killin’ it:
If you’re a-lookin’ fer somethin’ different, check the Rapala Shad Dancer. Facts: fishin’ (and bassin’) legend Al Lindner says “it’s special.” Elite guys say it’s a bass-ketcher (also in live river shad). Shad profile, aggressive action, hand-tuned, tank-tested:
2. Strike King Series 3
Small body, can get deeper, catches fish — what’s not to like about the Series 3. Elitist Mark Menendez says he never leaves home without ’em:
Warning: Mark is fishing with a wimp stick. Order up a chili craw (no beans) Series 3 from TW:
3. SPRO Fat Papa 1.5
Elitist Russ Lane — who can still throw a fastball 100+ mph — designed the Fat Papa, which comes in 2 sizes: 70mm (3.0) and 55mm (1.5). Russ says the baits have a computer chip lip for more kick and deflection, thin walls, you can crank ’em fast and they hunt.
Also said the 1.5 is a great spring-time search bait:
4. Bill Lewis Echo 1.75
The Echo 1.75 now comes in a silent version — cuz it’s literally impossible to hear a silent echo I guess?? Also dives about 1′ deeper. Pro blue is pretty sweet:
Keith Combs has only fished cranks once in his life so take his crankin’ advice with a grain of salt (lol!):
> “Fluorocarbon is vital for all crankbait fishing because it sinks and doesn’t affect the action of your bait. The size of the line and diameter also play a big role in how deep your crankbait will dive and how quickly it will get down….
> During colder months he downsizes his line to 10- or 12-lb Seaguar InvizX Fluorocarbon — vs the 15-lb he uses when it’s warm. “Seaguar is very thin compared to other brands — that helps the bait dive deeper and also makes [the line] much easier to manage when air temperatures are cold.”
Combs sure does get cranky a lot….
Who needs lips??
All lipless cranks are not the same. If you’re looking for a different look and different sound, here’s some choices…and you might want ’em ALL in the boat because sound, wiggle and color ALL MATTER this time of year.
1. Staple 1: Rat-L-Trap
Of course gotta start this out with the Rat-L-Trap — if you don’t have bunches o’ ‘Traps in your boat pre-spawn, you crayzay! It’s a staple.
> The original ‘Trap is keepin’ it fresh with new colors, includin’ the new American Handpaints series — all painted in-house by Bill Lewis’ black-belt painters. Hand-sprayed with flip-flop paints, metallics and other stuff for extra pop — custom quality at affordable prices.
Personally I’m diggin’ the American Handpaint goldfire craw color (below) but pro gold and swamp craw are sick too:
Some of the new colors were created by Goldmember who’s a huge bass-head:
2. Staple 2: BOOYAH One Knocker and Hard Knocker
The One Knocker has that duller what I call “rock” sound and has been knockin’ the feeshes over the head for decades. My plan is to fish the “sunset craw” color this spring cuz it looks like it’s workin’ all over the country:
If that’s a wrong number for some reason, get the louder cousin (you know you have one too!), the Hard Knocker. Can also get it in “sunset craw,” but hard to beat “Rayburn Red.”
A couple colors I’m diggin’ — crayfish (I gotta try more pink…seriously) and orange craw:
4. New options: Yo-Zuri Rattl’n Vibe and 3DB Vibe
If/when everyone else is throwin’ the above, chuck these:
The Yo-Zuri Rattl’n Vibe is a premium-quality Japanese bait that ain’t a wallet-killah! Not only that, comes in 3/8- and 5/8-oz so…not 1/2- and 3/4-oz. Bet fish haven’t seen/heard that size….
The Yo-Zuri 3DB Vibe is fo sho different, and cool. Kinda like the Rattl’n Vibe but with Yo-Zuri’s 3D Prism finish and Wave Motion Technology = what those ridges are on the bottom. They move water. All the “differents” — look, action, sound, color — you need. Check it in “prism crawfish:”
All kinds o’ other cool stuff.
1. It’s blade time.
Aw — is your water dirty? Could it get dirty?
HAHAHA! Okay seriously — if it’s dirty (baby) you know you need a blade like the BOOYAH Blade Double Colorado Spinnerbait — or a single like Jason Christie fished at last year’s Bassin’master Classic — either way with a YUM Pulse swimbait trailer (here’s one of my fave colors, “summer gill”):
One of the secrets of that Pulse is those ribs — give the bait a little rolling action and prevent it from rising too much — and we all love good ribs:
2. New Storm 360GT Searchbait.
No wrong way to fish the Storm 360GT Searchbait swimbait. Easy, works — Elitist Jacob Wheeler even says so in this vid:
Deep, shallow, slow-roll, burn — gotcha covered. Here’s a closeup, check ’em at TW:
3. Lunkerhunt Spud and Straight Up.
The Spud spoon and Straight Up are great for catching deep winter fish, says FLWer Matt Arey. “Both can get a reaction from sluggish, cold-water bass suspending around bait over deep water.”
4. Kistler Magnesium 2 rods.
These Mag 2 rods are just dang good. Daaaaaang good. Alton Jones uses ’em, Matt Herren uses ’em, and I do too (like that means anything…lol). Anyhow, a couple tech-like reasons why they rock:
> North Fork Composite Graphite Blanks by Gary Loomis and Trey Kistler
> Ergonomic Winn Grips increase feel and decrease fatigue…and may help with hookset motions
Why does KVD get all the custom cool stuff? Couldn’t be all the wins, could it?? Anyhow, this has 9 more sound patterns “designed by Kevin VanDam himself for a number of fishing situations.” They’re called:
Top Water Schooling
Off Shore Structure
Off Shore Schooling
Off Shore Finesse
My only question: Why isn’t this on Tackle Warehouse yet??
6. Wave Away.
You got screens? Course you do. It’s not like we’re getting less screen area in our boats soooooooo…gitcha Wave Way. Safe, quick cleaning, no more smudged screens, which stiiiiink!
7. Denali Attax Rods.
Gonna keep this short: Denali Attax are stupidly nice, light rods at an almost-stupid price ($119.99 on TW). I have the 7′ med-heavy, it’s sweet.
Make sure your arch rival in the club ain’t be seein’ your baits! Or better yet: Put some sandbag baits in the sacks and leave your boat alone for 10 minutes! lol
Jay Kumar is the guy who created BassFan.com, co-hosted Loudmouth Bass with Zona, was a B.A.S.S. senior writer and a whole lot more in bassin’. Jay Kumar’s BassBlaster is a daily-ish roundup of the best in bassin’, and is the #2 daily read on any given day in the wide world o’ bass.