Why bass miss my lure. Do bass strike my lure and miss or is it some attempt to run my lure offering out of the area? There are very few days in any angler’s bass fishing career where they can honestly say, “I caught every bass that hit my bait.” There are thousands of reasons why a bass can completely miss a lure. Vegetation, water clarity, wave action, and light penetration are just some issue causing factors. If a bass’s timing is not perfect, these factors obstruct a bass’s ability to catch its prey. However, a bass is an eating machine and has many tools to help target food, even with these inhibiting factors. The proof is in the days when a bass eats a hollow body frog presented over nine inches of the thickest slop. When it’s right, a bass will get this frog every time. So why is it some days they seem like they need glasses?
Why Bass Miss My Lure Blind Bass
When we have these days of blind bass, I like to believe our presentation was close to providing everything a bass needs/wants to effectively target prey but needs fine-tuning. The presentation was close enough to draw a bass’s attention, however at the last minute the bass changed its mind or lost the lure. A single miss is not cause for concern, occasionally a bass misses. However, if the misses are continual, then we need to look at our presentation. There are several factors we can adjust to improve hookups.
Anglers are taught the first step when bass miss or fail to commit is to change color. If bass track and even strike a lure but fail to inhale it, changing color can make them more aggressive. However, I like to change the presentation versus taking the time to change color. If I have their attention, then I’m confident my bait choice is acceptable. Speed is the easiest adjustment. Most anglers start by slowing down; however this can be a mistake. Many times the correct move is to speed up a retrieve. Bass have to react quicker and with more force creating a better hook up. There are times when a slow retrieve is effective, so don’t rule it out. If the water I’m fishing is clear or warm, I start with a faster retrieve. If the water is muddy or cold, I slow my retrieve.
Once I’ve ruled out the retrieve as a factor, I switch to color options. I start with subtle changes. Dye is an angler’s best friend. Dipping the tail of a bait in chartreuse, red, or blue can be all it takes to force commitment. Don’t forget about hard baits. Most dyes will add a hue to the clear coat on a topwater or crankbait, and could be the committing factor.
Why Bass Miss My Lure Forage Maybe
If retrieve speed and a subtle color change don’t change the attitude of the bass, it’s time to get more aggressive with options. At this point, I start thinking about forage. Are they feeding on crawfish and I’m presenting shad patterns? Was there a frog hatch? Even a heavy mayfly hatch can change the feeding patterns of large bass; they’ll eat the bream feeding on the mayflies. Determine what the primary forage is and match bait choices accordingly.
Lure size can have a dramatic effect on a bass’s commitment level, especially in schooling situations. Bass will key in on the size, shape, and speed of prey and thumb their noses at anything else. In this situation, downsizing and increased retrieve speeds are a great start. A quarter ounce lipless crank bait burned through the school can be very productive. The bait is small and moving at a high rate of speed, preventing bass from getting a good look at it. This lack of visual information enables a reflex strike. In the south, some shad species can grow to sizes between nine and twelve inches long. If bass are keyed in on these, the small lipless crank bait will not work. Switching gears to a super-sized fluke or another swimbait is more effective.
Lure weight can be a determining factor in generating a strike. Best explained with an example: Two anglers both fishing a spinnerbait, one is fishing a three-eighths ounce and the other a half ounce. Both are using the same rod, reel, line size and retrieve speed. The angler with the half ounce spinnerbait is generating strikes while the angler with the three-eighths ounce bait is strike-less. Obviously with all conditions equal the half ounce bait is falling deeper through the water column. It sounds simple, however, without the second angler in the equation it can be difficult to determine. A single angler can spend a lot of time trying different skirt colors, blade combinations, blade sizes or colors when the only determining factor was water column depth.
Heavier lures can help anglers catch shallow water bass by generating reaction strikes. Vibrating jigs like the NuTech Crazy Jig and Terminator spinnerbaits are a perfect example. By increasing the weight of the lure, retrieve speeds can be increased without breaking the water’s surface. Conversely, if slowing the retrieve is required, going to lighter lures allows a presentation to stay off the bottom at slower speeds. Often in colder water conditions a balance of lure weight and retrieve speed are needed to just touch the lake bottom or top of submerged grass to generate strikes.
Why Bass Miss My Lure Line Size
Getting very technical, line size can affect the performance of a lure. Heavy lines deaden vibrations. Different types of fishing line can change fall rates and retrieve depths. For example, fluorocarbon will allow a crankbait to dive deeper than monofilament of the same line diameter. Thinner lines have less drag and also allow baits to run deeper. When casting or flipping jigs and soft plastics braided lines, fluorocarbon lines, and monofilaments all have different fall rates. Normally anglers don’t have to get this technical; however, on lakes with a lot of fishing pressure line type can be a factor.
There are times when bass are taking a bait very well, but we still can’t hook them. This usually comes down to hook set mechanics, hook sharpness, or wrong/inadequate equipment. We all know how to set the hook; however, I see a lot of weak hook sets in my days on the water. The hookset is the only chance anglers have to put the hook through the jaw of a fish. Some presentations, crank baits for example, have a better land ratio with a sweeping or mild hookset. It’s just the nature of treble hook baits. But for single or double hooked baits, anglers need to swing with all they have. A sharp, strong hookset is required to move a lot of line and force the hook into the jaw of a bass. A bass in the four-pound or better class has larger bones in their mouths; these bones will completely stop a hook set. The angler’s job is to use enough force to cause the hook to slide around the bone and penetrate through the jaw. NuTech has developed a very impressive technology into their lures which ensures a roof of the mouth hook-up on every hook set. The roof of the mouth is the most reliable place to hook a bass due to a lack of bones and abundance of soft tissue; NuTech Technology makes it happen every time.
Sharpen those hooks. I fish with anglers who simply never sharpen their hooks. When they load their rods in the boat, their hooks are rusted, bent, or even missing. It’s imperative anglers make sure hooks are clean and sharp. Rusted or dull hook points inhibit penetration. Bent hooks may never have a chance. I carry a small file in my boat so I can touch up hooks throughout the day. If the hook does not stick in my fingernail, I sharpen or replace it.
Use the right equipment. Rods and reels can cross over to many presentations; however some presentations will be more effective with specific equipment. A good example is fishing a hollow body frog over slop. A medium heavy to heavy power rod with a fast to extra-fast action tip will help anglers hook bass smashing a frog over vegetation. Add a braided line to the equation to see even greater improvements. A rod designed for fishing crank baits simply will not have the power necessary to set the hook of a hollow body frog. There are way too many possible presentations to list all the best combinations; however, visit the Ultimate Bass forums to find answers or ask a specific question.
The next time bass seem to have blinders, try changing retrieve speed or adding a splash of color. Both are very quick to do and can make all the difference in the water world. If those adjustments don’t help, get more aggressive with color changes and lure sizes to find the bait bass can’t pass up.