Although it gets very expensive to have several bass fishing rod and reel combinations laying on the deck of the boat, having a variety of bass catching baits rigged up and ready to go can improve your odds at having a great day on the lake.
Multiple baits available helps you hone in on an effective pattern quicker by not having to retie baits, or becoming hesitant to try different baits because you are able to utilize versatility without wasting time.
It also allows you to cast multiple baits quickly after you have located a bass from either a missed strike or seeing it swim by or swirl on bait. The simple fact is that there is a variety of ways to catch bass and many of these will work on any given day and change from day to day or hour to hour, and the more baits you have quickly available to experiment with, the faster you will be able to dial in and stay dialed in on the bass.
Take swimming baits (crank baits, spinnerbaits and swim blades) all present a different vibration, flash, and action to the fish. I have seen many days when the tight wobble of crank baits will out produce the thump of swim blades and visa versa. If you have both of these rigged up and on the deck you can work them on the structure or through cover you know to be seasonally correct and with in just a couple minutes have an idea of what to try on your next area.
Another advantage to having a variety of baits on the deck is water color and light penetration changes. On many of our lakes and rivers it is not uncommon to see water that varies from clear to stained or stained to muddy, these changes usually require a change in baits; either in vibration, flash or color. Same goes for light penetration. When you go from clear skies, to partly cloudy, or even cloudy skies; this changes the level of light penetration that makes it into the water and can change what bass are looking for in the way of color, vibration or flash. Don’t forget that the level of wind can change light penetration as well, the larger the waves the less light getting through!
When I head out on a body of water, whether I have been there recently or not I have at least six basic set ups on the deck to start the day. First and foremost, no matter what time of year, I will have a jig tied on. The size and color of that jig will be determined by what time of year it is, what type of cover I expect to be fishing and what I know about the water color of the lake. This jig might change ten times throughout my preparation; after I get to the water I might change it immediately again. If the fishing reports I had heard were wrong, or something changed on the way, I won’t waste time on an improper bait simply because I thought it would work before I got to the lake.
Next I will always have a Texas rigged worm set up. I usually start with a 3/8 oz tungsten weight and a 4/0 hook. This combination will fit most fishing conditions and is a great starting point. I usually don’t have baits on it until I get to the lake and get a feel for the water. If the water is muddy or has low light penetration, I will go with some sort of creature bait. If I have good light penetration, I will tone down the vibration and go with a basic curly tail worm or even a straight tail.
My next must have bait is a 3/8 ounce spinnerbait with a Colorado over a willow leaf combination for blades. The skirt color will be the best guess I can make before I get to the water, but I won’t hesitate to change it while waiting my turn at the ramp if I notice the water might require something different. I will also have a double willow and a double Colorado hanging in the wings of my rod locker just in case.
One of my biggest producers over the last couple years has been the fluke or fluke type baits. I keep a rod ready with a watermelon candy fluke that has a small nail inserted into the main body. Even if, this is not a productive pattern for the day, it is in my opinion the best follow up bait there is. If you miss a strike on anything, even the jig, toss the fluke past your missed strike and twitch it a couple times into the strike zone and then kill it. This has saved my fishing trip with some really large bass many times.
Top water! Even in the winter time you will see top water baits handy in my boat. This will range from buzz baits to spooks to frogs depending on the season and the cover I am fishing. Here in North Louisiana, you never know when you can find a top water strike. I have seen bass schooling in late December, and still schooling early January (February is about the only month that a top water bite is not expected).
Last but not least is some sort of crank bait. This will largely depend on the lake and its available cover. On shallow grass filled lakes, it will be rattle trap or lipless crank bait type bait. On deeper, rocky lakes, I will have a deep diving crank bait tied on for probing ledges and deeper rock points. Finally, on lakes with a lot of wood cover, I will have a shallow running square bill crank tied on for its wood deflecting properties. With the exception of the spring, I will almost always have a shad type color on, in the spring I like to go with reds and crawfish patterns. Bass will load up on crawfish for the higher protein content to assist in the development of their eggs.
As you can see with these choices, I am ready for anything I might come across on a given day on the water. With minor adjustments in color or size, I can very quickly dial in a productive pattern and bring a limit of bass to the scale. This is not to say these baits will guarantee your success (after all it is fishing) but having them ready to go and available will definitely help you maximize your bass fishing trip and capitalize on every opportunity presented to you that day.
So next time you are fishing down that bank line and see a perfect laydown stretching off the bank, if your set up is versatile, you will be able to present different choices to the fish hanging around it in just a matter of a couple of minutes. Then when the next perfect laydown comes along, you will already know what the bass want!
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