Aside from locating bass, if you want to be an angler that regularly catches bass, you need to learn how to pattern them, and have a bait or several baits that you fish with confidence. Locating bass is the first step, but if you do not know how to discover a pattern or fish a bait with confidence, you’re going to have a very hard time catching them. There are countless articles on pattern fishing, and fishing with confidence, so I won’t be focusing too much on those things in this particular article. What I would like to talk about is learning how to pattern fish with your confidence baits. This article is all about versatility.
All of us at one point or another have been on a body of water with a buddy where the fishing is hot. You tell your friend, “yesterday I was killing em here on a jig”. You both end up throwing a jig without any bites and your friend decides to switch up to a crank bait and just starts whacking them. You’re not familiar with fishing a crank bait, but decide to start throwing one and don’t catch a thing. The whole while, your friend is tearing them up standing next to you. What do you do in a situation like this?
Before we go too in depth, what your friend has stumbled across is a change in a pattern. You patterned the fish yesterday in 10 feet of water with flooded timber and were catching them on a jig.
The fish are still holding there, but for one reason or another, they want a crank bait instead of a jig. This is what pattern fishing and adjusting your pattern is all about. Finding fish in a particular area on a lake where they are biting a particular lure and repeating this success in other areas. If the pattern isn’t working, you adjust accordingly. But, if you know the fish are now biting on a crank bait in this area and you just can’t fish one confidently, you’re probably going to have limited success tying one on. You can either learn to fish a crank bait with confidence, or adjust the presentation of your favorite lure.
My primary confidence lure is a jig, so I will be focusing most of my reasoning with this lure. If I can’t get fish to bite on a jig and pig with its standard presentation, and I know they are biting on crank baits, I will change to a swim or vibrating jig. Both of these lures have the “jig” profile that I love, but a different action than a standard jig. If my friend is catching fish bumping a crank bait through the timber and pausing the retrieve when he makes contact with the cover, I will take a vibrating swim jig and do the same thing. Maybe the fish are biting on a deep flat where it would be appropriate to throw a carolina rig. I will take a heavy jig or football jig and drag it on the bottom like one would a carolina rig. Maybe the fish are biting on a spinnerbait over grassy shallows, but I just can’t get the confidence bite I want. I’ll take a bladed swim jig with flash and fish the same area one would with a spinnerbait. Maybe the bite is tough, and folks are catching them on a drop shot. I just can’t get the bites they are. I’ll take a shakey head (just a small jighead) with a finesse bait and try to duplicate the success of dropshotters.
It’s not just a jig that has many applications, many other baits do also. Maybe your primary confidence bait is a crank bait, and you just can’t catch them on a jig like your friend can, so make adjustments in your confidence bait. In a situation, where bass are not on a fast retrieve but a slow fall; if you know this, you can take a bait like a red-eye shad and yo-yo it. A lot of lipless crank baits on the market have a slow fluttering fall when you kill it. If you know the bass are eating crawfish and a jig would be suited but don’t feel confident fishing one, try yo-yoing a lipless crank bait in crawfish colors. If fish are biting on spinnerbaits in grassy shallows, try taking a lipless or shallow diving crank in a chrome color and ripping it through the grass as you do with a spinnerbait. When pattern fishing, it’s all about letting the fish tell you what they want.. Some people are gifted and can fish just about every bait with confidence. But for most fisherman, it just isn’t that way. Just look at the career of Denny Brauer. His lure of choice is a jig, and he would probably tell you this is the case because he has the most confidence in it. He has numerous ways to fish a jig, and it has paid off for him big time. If you can learn to become more versatile with your confidence baits to hone in on various patterns, you will catch more fish.
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