Thirty Five Techniques You Should Know

Methods to catch bass anytime, anywhere

About the author

Tim Tucker

Tim Tucker was a legendary bass journalist and longtime Senior Writer for Bassmaster Magazine. He authored seven books on bass fishing. Tim died in 2007, but his work and legacy live on.

At the recent CITGO Bassmaster Tour event presented by Busch at Georgia's Lake Seminole, winner Gary Klein was asked if he was surprised at the skill levels of the younger pros in the tournament.

 "I'm not surprised at all," replied Klein a 23-year veteran of big-league fishing. "They've been privy to a tremendous fishing education through the pages of the magazines, the TV shows, the videos and the seminars over the years.

 "They are taking advantage of a luxury we never had. They arrive at this level with an impressive amount of knowledge. We've done a good job of educating them."

 For the past 35 years, Bassmaster Magazine and the BASS Tournament Trail pros have educated at least two generations of bass enthusiasts. With tournaments — conducted in every corner of the nation and under every conceivable weather condition — serving as their laboratories, the pros have devised numerous new techniques and refined countless old ones. Driven to acquire an edge over their competitors, these vagabond anglers have been steadily developing lures and refining techniques ever since Ray Scott launched the sport.

 Former Bassmaster editor Bob Cobb used to refer to the BASS circuit as a giant funnel into which the collective knowledge and experiences of the tournament pros poured, and nuggets of pure wisdom dripped out. And managing that educational funnel has been Bassmaster Magazine.

 Kevin VanDam, a three time BASS Angler of the Year and the 2001 Bassmaster Classic champion, was one of those Bassmaster kids. At the time he was born, Ray Scott was publishing his third issue of this magazine.

 "What did I learn from Bassmaster Magazine?" says VanDam, who has been reading it for as long as he can remember. "I learned all my basic knowledge about serious bass fishing.

 "That's where I first read about buzzbaits. That's where I first read about fishing spinnerbaits. I remember when an article came out about lipless crankbaits, and for nearly a year, all I fished was a Rat-L-Trap; and I caught the fire out of fish."

 His boyhood years witnessed the introduction of many innovative lures, he notes. "So many new lures and techniques came along from the time I was about 8 until I was about 15 — from basic things like Texas rigging a plastic worm, to real advanced things. Even in recent years, we've seen a lot of the trends on the tour, a lot of the new things like drop shotting or deep cranking. But you still refine them from the articles in Bassmaster. You can always pick things up in there. It doesn't matter how much you know; the guys who are experts at these techniques can always teach you more. I've been able to apply a lot of other people's presentations to my style of fishing and make it work.

 "And it's still that way to this day. When Bassmaster shows up, I can't put it down. I read it cover to cover, and then go back through it again."

 VanDam believes he had a "huge" advantage over the pros who came before him, the men who had to learn the lessons the hard way. Their efforts significantly decreased the learning curve for him and countless others.

 The enterprising minds of the thousands of professional fishermen who have plied their trade on the BASS trail deserve the lion's share of the credit for creating such a well-educated angling populace. It is through their sweat equity and trial-and error explorer's mind-set that we have benefited.

 "I don't think anybody had the foresight 35 years ago to see how accelerated fishing could be if you applied the pressure to excel," former Classic champion Ken Cook states. "You have 100 guys who want to catch more bass than the other 99, so somebody tries enough different things until he finds something that works. I think it's a matter of accelerated experimentation. We've seen things happen you'd just never believe.

 "When you look back, you think, 'Gosh, we've accelerated so many things. In that 35 years, we've gone from the basics to expanding every one of the lure categories into a myriad of different directions and specialties.'

 "When I started fishing, I didn't know you could catch a bass when the water was below 50 degrees. Now we're finding ways to catch them when it's in the 40s and below. We're constantly finding additional ways to catch fish under tougher conditions, and there are other ways to catch that we haven't thought about. That's what makes this so exciting."

 To Cook's way of thinking, only tournaments could have propelled the sport along so quickly.

 Listed below is a small sampling of the tactics that the nation's pros have developed over the years. They represent Bassmaster Magazine's choice of 35 Techniques You Should Know.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1 Drop Shotting

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tackle

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When/Where to Use

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Excellent finesse

 

technique that utilizes a short leader and separate weight to position a

 

small soft plastic bait off the bottom.

 

 

 

 

 

A No. 1 offset exposed

 

hook placed about 6 to 12 inches Above a ¼- to ½-ounce specially

 

designed weight (usually on 6- to 10-pound-test line). Spinning tackle is

 

test primarily used.

 

 

 

 

 

Drop shotting is most

 

effective in areas that have plenty of fishing pressure, deep structure,

 

vertical presentation situations and bare banks.

 

 

 

 

 

2 Spider Jigs

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Light line finesse

 

technique born out West.

 

 

 

 

 

Standard spider jig

 

consists of a lead jighead, a twin-tail grub and plastic collar. One piece

 

Hula Grub-type lures are also used. Usually tied to 4- to 10- pound line

 

 

 

 

 

Created for deep, rocky

 

reservoirs, spider jigs are most effective in clear water

 

 

 

 

 

3 Texas Rigging

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Standard method of

 

rigging soft plastics for fishing in and around heavy cover.

 

 

 

 

 

The hook is rotated so

 

that the hook point can be embedded into the body of the worm, lizard,

 

crawfish, tube or grub. Any size bullet weight can be used.

 

 

 

 

 

Any depth or cover

 

situation.

 

 

 

 

 

4 Floating Worms

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Colorful, weightless

 

worms worked on or near the surface to trigger visual strikes.

 

 

 

 

 

A 6- to 8-inch worm Texas

 

rigged on a 4/0 hook on 8- to 12-pound-test monofilament. A small barrel

 

swivel is often added ahead of the hook to limit line twist.

 

 

 

 

 

Clear water and thin or

 

submerged grass, wood, rock or docks.

 

 

 

 

 

5 Carolina Rigging

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Time-tested technique

 

that utilizes a heavy weight and leader to probe deep water.

 

 

 

 

 

Components usually

 

include a ½- to 1-ounce egg-shaped weight, plastic bead, 3- to 6-foot

 

leader, hook and soft plastic bait.

 

 

 

 

 

Although sometimes used

 

for shallow water bass in sparse cover, the Carolina rig is primarily a

 

deep water tool. Works best on clean bottoms or thin vegetation.

 

 

 

 

 

6 Big Lipless Crankbaits

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Using large, rattling,

 

lipless baits to explore deep structure.

 

 

 

 

 

¾- to 1-ounce

 

Rat-L-Traps, Cordell Spots and other brands on 12- to 14-poundtest line.

 

 

 

 

 

Most effective around

 

smooth, solid structure: humps, rocks, clay and sand points, bluff banks,

 

channel edges, etc.

 

 

 

 

 

7 Split Shotting Or Mojo

 

Rigging

 

 

 

 

 

 

A simple finesse method

 

for either shallow or deep water.

 

 

 

 

 

Small, round split shot

 

weights or cylindrical Mojo weights are positioned 6 to 24 inches up the

 

line. In deep water, the weight helps the lure sink; in shallow water, it

 

drags the bottom, while the bait floats slightly above it.

 

 

 

 

 

Fairly clean bottoms and

 

sparse cover; good water clarity. Bites can be very light, with only a

 

"mushy" sensation.

 

 

 

 

 

8 Senko Fishing

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Soft plastic stickbait

 

technique typified by Yamamoto's Senko, a salt-laden bait with a

 

distinctive, wobbling descent.

 

 

 

 

 

A 3- to 5-inch soft

 

stickbait is either Texas rigged or Wacky rigged without a weight on 8- to

 

12-pound line.

 

 

 

 

 

Shallow to mid-depth

 

situations with fairly good water clarity. Texas rigged Senko can be

 

fished around any type of cover.

 

 

 

 

 

9 Deadsticking

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A methodical, almost

 

motionless way to fish a soft plastic to entice sluggish bass.

 

 

 

 

 

Texas rigged plastic bait

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

. Cold front conditions,

 

heavily pressured areas where bass position can be pinpointed.

 

 

 

 

 

10 Soft Plastic Jerkbaits

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A versatile, lively

 

plastic bait that triggers strikes from both active and inactive bass.

 

 

 

 

 

A 4- to 6-inch

 

shad-shaped lure, Texas rigged with a 3/0 to 5/0 wide gap or offset hook

 

on 14- to 20-pound-test monofilament.

 

 

 

 

 

Works best in post-spawn

 

around any type of cover or (when Carolina rigged) structure. Good water

 

clarity is important.

 

 

 

 

 

11 Jighead Plastics

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A versatile way to fish

 

worms, grubs and tubes.

 

 

 

 

 

A 1/16- to ¼-ounce

 

leadhead (of various shapes) molded on a small hook that is usually left

 

exposed. It can also be rotated and rigged Texas style.

 

 

 

 

 

Almost any situation at

 

any depth. With the hook point exposed, sparse cover is required.

 

 

 

 

 

12 Lipless Crankbaiting

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Generic term for fishing

 

lipless crankbaits in a fairly quick manner.

 

 

 

 

 

¼- to ¾-ounce lipless

 

crankbait on 8- to 12-poundtest line.

 

 

 

 

 

Relatively shallow flats,

 

shorelines and grassbeds.

 

 

 

 

 

13 Slow Rolling A

 

Spinnerbait

 

 

 

 

 

 

A spinnerbait is reeled

 

methodically, just fast enough to make the blade(s) rotate.

 

 

 

 

 

A ½- to 1-ounce

 

spinnerbait is primarily used.

 

 

 

 

 

Mainly a deep water

 

technique for skimming the top of grass or crawling along bottom features

 

like points, humps and ledges.

 

 

 

 

 

14 Creature Baits

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A soft plastic lure with

 

multiple appendages and an abundance of action.

 

 

 

 

 

Texas rigged with a ½-

 

to 1-ounce weight and tied to heavy line.

 

 

 

 

 

Most effective in thick

 

cover like weeds, brush and docks in off-colored water. Can be flipped,

 

pitched or Carolina rigged.

 

 

 

 

 

15 Swimming A Jig

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A fast, aggressive way to

 

fish a jig and trigger strikes from active bass. The jig is scooted

 

through the top section of the water column instead of the traditional

 

bottom hopping jig routine.

 

 

 

 

 

A ¼- to ½-ounce jig

 

with a pork or plastic trailer. Many experts prefer white jigs and

 

trailers.

 

 

 

 

 

This shallow water

 

technique works in and around wood, vegetation and docks, as well as

 

between objects in the water.

 

 

 

 

 

16 Buzzing Up Bass

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Offset-style buzzbaits

 

are worked on the surface in search of bass.

 

 

 

 

 

¼- to ½-ounce

 

buzzbait tied to 8- to 12-pound-test line.

 

 

 

 

 

Primarily effective in

 

shallow, off-colored water in the post-spawn, but also makes big catches

 

in supercold weather.

 

 

 

 

 

17 Flipping

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A close-quarters

 

presentation that provides pinpoint lure presentation. A fixed length of

 

line is stripped off the reel and held in one hand, while the rod moves in

 

pendulum fashion to propel the lure low across the water and drop it into

 

the cover.

 

 

 

 

 

A jig or Texas rigged

 

plastic lure, heavy (17- to 30-poundtest) line, and a stout 7- to 8-foot

 

rod.

 

 

 

 

 

Flipping works best when

 

bass are holding in heavy cover (wood or grass) in off-colored water.

 

 

 

 

 

18 Pitching

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A long-distance form of

 

flipping, pitching is done by swinging the lure low to the water while

 

line pulls off the reel.

 

 

 

 

 

A jig or Texas rigged

 

plastic, heavy (17- to 30-pound-test) line, and a strong 7- to 8-foot rod.

 

 

 

 

 

Primarily heavy cover

 

(wood, grass or docks) in fairly off-colored to clear water.

 

 

 

 

 

19 Kneeling And Reeling

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Popularized by 1982

 

Classic winner Paul Elias, it involves keeping 1 to 3 feet of the rod tip

 

under the water to get extra depth out of a crankbait.

 

 

 

 

 

Usually a fiberglass or

 

graphite-glass composite rod and deep diving crankbait.

 

 

 

 

 

Any structure too deep to

 

be reached with a crankbait retrieved normally.

 

 

 

 

 

20 Suspending Jerkbaits

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Primarily a method for

 

coaxing coldwater pre-spawn bass into responding. The lure is jerked or

 

pulled, then allowed to pause for long intervals.

 

 

 

 

 

Many manufacturers offer

 

jerkbaits weighted to suspend. A floating lure can be made to suspend by

 

adding adhesive lead strips.

 

 

 

 

 

Cool water, fairly good

 

clarity and sparse cover. Bass will rise from relatively deep water to

 

take the lure.

 

 

 

 

 

21 Walking The Dog

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A zigzagging, darting

 

method of fishing a topwater stickbait; achieved by intermittently

 

twitching and reeling.

 

 

 

 

 

Cigar-shaped surface

 

lures, like Heddon's Zara Spook, on 8- to 12-pound line.

 

 

 

 

 

A shallow technique in

 

off-colored water; can call up bass from surprising depths in clear water.

 

 

 

 

 

22 Spoon Jigging

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Deep water tool usually

 

presented vertically to open water bass bunched up over structure.

 

 

 

 

 

½- to ¾-ounce lead

 

spoon tied to 10- to 17-pound-test line.

 

 

 

 

 

Best during summer (humps

 

and points) and winter (creek channels and ledges).

 

 

 

 

 

23 Shallow Cranking

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A fast method for

 

covering water and picking off aggressive bass in cover.

 

 

 

 

 

A shallow running,

 

buoyant crankbait fished on 6- to 12- pound line. Plugs with small square

 

bills are often preferred for deflecting off objects.

 

 

 

 

 

Generally, depths of 1 to

 

4 feet; shoreline cover like sparse vegetation, brush, logs and docks.

 

Water clarity is usually not a factor.

 

 

 

 

 

24 Ultralight Worming

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Finesse method that

 

sometimes catches big bass.

 

 

 

 

 

4- to 5-inch worms, 1/0

 

hook. 1/16- to 1/8-ounce bullet weight, and 6- to 8-pound-test line.

 

 

 

 

 

Shallow lily pads and

 

other vegetation; clear to slightly stained water.

 

 

 

 

 

25 Wacky Worming

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Finesse technique that

 

uses the unique action of a specially rigged plastic worm to attract

 

visual strikes from bass.

 

 

 

 

 

Hook is impaled through

 

the middle of a worm with the point left exposed. A small finishing nail

 

is sometimes inserted into one end of the worm for weight.

 

 

 

 

 

Shallow to mid-depth; the

 

clearer the water, the better; hard, clean bottoms. Also can be twitched

 

around grassbeds.

 

 

 

 

 

26 Deep Cranking

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fishing crankbaits in 10

 

to 20 feet of water.

 

 

 

 

 

Large-billed plastic or

 

wooden divers, usually tied to 8- to 12- pound-test line. A fiberglass or

 

graphite-glass composite rod is often used.

 

 

 

 

 

Deep offshore bottom

 

structure features, rockpiles and stumps in all types of water clarity.

 

 

 

 

 

27 Burning A Spinnerbait

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Briskly retrieving a

 

bladed bait to make it run 6 to 24 inches below the surface.

 

 

 

 

 

Usually involves a 3/8-

 

to ½- ounce spinnerbait with double willowleaf blades.

 

 

 

 

 

Fairly shallow water,

 

when the bass are active. Also works over deep water in winter and

 

wherever smallmouth live.

 

 

 

 

 

28 Bucktail Jigs

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A deadly technique for

 

deep structure and schooling bass. The jig usually is pumped and dropped

 

just above the bottom.

 

 

 

 

 

¼- to ½-ounce

 

leadhead deer-hair-bodied jigs, usually tied to 10- to 14-pound-test

 

monofilament or 20-pound fluorocarbon.

 

 

 

 

 

Clear water, pressured

 

bass; deep structure, like humps, channels and points.

 

 

 

 

 

29 Float-N-Fly

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A finesse method for

 

attracting smallmouth bass suspended over deep water during the coldest

 

months of the year.

 

 

 

 

 

The "float" is a

 

simple plastic bobber and the "fly" is a 1/16- or 1/8-ounce craft hair

 

jig that shimmers in the water. The fly is tied on 4-pound-test line and

 

suspended 9 to 11 feet beneath the float. Spinning gear is usually used.

 

 

 

 

 

Early winter, when the

 

water temperature dips into the mid-50s, as well as cold front conditions.

 

Especially effective for smallmouth suspended off the bank.

 

 

 

 

 

30 Rat And Frog Fishing

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Topwater technique for

 

heavy vegetation in the late summer/fall.

 

 

 

 

 

Hollow-body plastic rats

 

and frogs tied to 20- to 30-poundtest monofilament or braided line and

 

fished on a stout 7-foot rod.

 

 

 

 

 

Shallow, thick hydrilla,

 

lily pads or other vegetation with any kind of water clarity.

 

 

 

 

 

31 Sight Fishing

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Working for visible bass,

 

especially during the spawn.

 

 

 

 

 

Texas rigged tubes,

 

lizards, crawfish and creature baits, usually tied to fairly light line.

 

 

 

 

 

Clear to slightly stained

 

water; hard-bottom areas with vegetation or wood cover in shallow water.

 

 

 

 

 

32 Shaking/Doodling

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A visual finesse

 

technique for catching sluggish bass; involves using the rod tip to invoke

 

subtle movements with the lure.

 

 

 

 

 

Small (4- to 4 ½-inch)

 

Texas rigged worms, grubs and tubes impaled on a No. 1 or 1/0 hook and

 

tied to 6- to 8- pound line. A small glass bead between the hook and

 

(5/32- to 1/8-ounce) sinker creates noise.

 

 

 

 

 

Especially effective on

 

suspended bass in clear, deep lakes, but will also produce under stained

 

conditions.

 

 

 

 

 

33 Ripping A Jig

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Aggressively hopping and

 

then pausing a jig on a slack line.

 

 

 

 

 

½-ounce rubber-skirted

 

jig, No. 11 Uncle Josh pork chunk and 10- to 14-pound-test line. The

 

weedguard is thinned and trimmed for better hooking ability.

 

 

 

 

 

Deep water ledges with

 

timber and brush.

 

 

 

 

 

34 Flipping And Pitching

 

Tubes

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fishing beefed-up tubes

 

in bad places.

 

 

 

 

 

4- and 5-inch tubes Texas

 

rigged with a pegged ¼- to 5/16-ounce weight, 3/0 hook and heavy line.

 

 

 

 

 

Thick vegetation, brush

 

and shallow wood.

 

 

 

 

 

35 Dock Skipping

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Casting a sinking lure so

 

that it skips across the water like a stone, far underneath docks and

 

other overhanging cover.

 

 

 

 

 

A jig or pegged worm,

 

tube or other soft plastic lure (with the sinker pegged against the hook)

 

on light line. Spinning or spincast tackle is easier to use.

 

 

 

 

 

Excellent method for

 

reaching bass hiding far back under docks and overhanging limbs. Works

 

best on sunny days.

 

 

 

 

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