Frugal Angler: Think local

How to find a lure that'll catch bass where you fish, and how to avoid wasting money on those that don't.

Brent Chapman

Let's talk about crankbaits. I won't be recommending any particular make, model, size or color of lure. Rather we'll talk about how to find a lure that'll catch bass where you fish, and how to avoid wasting money on those that don't.

For most recreational or casual tournament anglers, the issue is catching bass. It isn't about catching the biggest one in the lake or setting a new club record. It's about spending a day on the water, catching a few, having a good time and then reliving the experience with friends and family later.

To do that you need a bait that'll catch bass. That bait is often the local favorite, not one that caught a bunch of big ones a thousand miles away. This is not brain surgery. Lures become local favorites for a reason. They get the job done.

The easiest way to find the local favorite is to ask around. Do your homework. Visit several local tackle shops. Ask them for recommendations. Go back and visit them again a week or two later. Check their pegs. What's selling? The answer to that question will help you make the right choice.

Elite Series pros are another good source of information. We come from all over the country. We learned to fish on local water, most likely one of us learned on your local water. We know what works on a particular lake.

Find one of us from your neck of the woods, go to his Web site and e-mail him. Be blunt. Ask him point-blank what he used before he turned pro on his (your) home lake. You'll be surprised at how candid most of us will be in our answers.

Let me give you an example of all this: On Lake of the Ozarks, one of the most effective crankbaits you can throw is a Storm Wiggle Wart. I don't know if it's the size, shape, color or action. (Most likely it's the action.) Regardless of the reason, however, that's the lure most guys should be throwing. It catches fish in that lake. Why would you want to spend your hard-earned money on something else?

It's easy to get carried away in this business. You read or hear that so-and-so caught them on a particular lure in a certain size and color. So you run down to the local Bass Pro Shops and buy a dozen of them thinking they'll help you next Saturday. Maybe they will, but just as likely something else will work better on your lake.

There's no shame in going with the flow or throwing what everyone else is throwing, especially if the other guy's catching bass and you aren't.

Don't get sucked into the world of the touring Elite Series pro. Sure, we have hundreds, if not thousands, of crankbaits. Keep in mind, however, that we fish all over the country and earn our living doing it. Sometimes we have to do something different. That's not most guys. What we do isn't necessarily what you should do.

Another subject I want to touch on briefly is color. My work with Tightlines Lure Company and their new UV colors has taught me that bass probably don't see half of the small color differences we think they do. Subtle differences in hue aren't worth the money for most anglers.

Again, go with the local favorite. Who cares if we humans know why a purple crankbait with yellow polka dots works on the reservoir behind your house. All we need to know is that it does — and that buying 14 other colors is a waste of money.

Unless you're earning your living as a touring professional, or are an advanced amateur, keep it simple. Buy two or three local favorites, in the local color, and then go out and have a good time.

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