Elite Series pro Matt Reed is a renowned offshore-structure specialist. If the situation requires a methodical dissection of deep cover, he's the guy you want to have all your chips on.
Conventional wisdom says that you have to use heavier baits in order to be successful out deep, but Reed cautions that conventional wisdom can often be misleading.
"If possible, I really prefer to use a heavy bait because I can cover more water in less time," he says. "That being said, there are situations where you just aren't able to do that."
Clear water and high pressure days, Reed contends, are two such scenarios where heavier baits won't be as effective out deep. "I'll often scale down to 10-pound line and a lighter jig, even though it would be easier to throw heavy line and a 1-ounce football head," he says. "The jig and line have to be downsized when there's heavy fishing pressure or the water is clear. Downsizing out deep will get a lot more bites on those tough days," contends Reed.
"I've been in situations where going from 10-pound test down to 8-pound test made all the difference in my day," he says. "Rather than dragging a 1/2-ounce jig around, you can drop down to a 1/4-ounce jighead and start picking up some bites."
Reed cautions, however, that when fishing deeper than 20 feet, using a lure lighter than a 1/4-ounce can prove to be pointless. "The problem you encounter with light baits is that they just take too long to get to the bottom," he says. "They will get down there eventually but just not quick enough so that you can fish it effectively."
The basic rule Reed lives by is that in clear water and/or high-pressure lakes, downsizing equals success. "You want to fish something that's more subtle so you're not apt to spook the bass as much," he points out. "You have to keep in mind that if you're in clear water, or on a high-pressure lake, the fish are just going to be naturally skittish. Dropping a 3/4-ounce jig on 20-pound line down on them is going to cause the fish to scatter."
Reed also points out there are finesse situations when a little bulk might actually be beneficial. "In cold, clear water you will probably want to oversize your jig's trailer," he says.
In fishing, says Reed, it's all about opportunity. "In my mind, anytime the water temperature drops below 40 degrees, the bass are just listless and not interested in much," he says. "I want my bait to have a real slow fall so that it will hang in front of them long enough for them to decide to eat."