Bobby Lane will be fishing his sixth consecutive Bassmaster Classic in 2013 and already has two Top 10 finishes in the championship. He's "money" on Florida waters, where he grew up and learned to fish for bass, but he's just as dangerous anywhere else in the country, as evidenced by his Kentucky Lake Elite Series win in 2009. When fall comes to his favorite waters in Florida, Georgia or Louisiana, he ties on a couple of topwaters and looks for vegetation that may hold the bass of a lifetime.
Water temperature: 70-80 degrees.
Water color: Lane generally looks for clearer water. Occasionally runoff from fall rains can stain an area, but this affects his lure color choices more than the pattern itself.
Wind/current: If there's wind, Lane will look for the lee side of the lake in the morning and late afternoon. During the middle of the day, when the sun's high, a little wind can help to break light penetration and keep the topwater bite going.
Structure: Look for weeds that are growing and healthy. If there's runoff from recent rains, stay in that area — it should be good.
Cover: Edges of grass, points in grass and boat docks.
Depth: 3-7 feet.
Rod: For both topwaters, Lane likes a 6-foot, 9-inch medium-heavy action Abu Garcia Veritas casting rod with micro guides.
Reel: Abu Garcia Revo SX (7:1 gear ratio).
Line: 15-pound-test Berkley Big Game monofilament. Braid would catch in the blades of the prop bait, and Lane disdains using monofilament leaders with braid.
Cast/Flip/Pitch: Casts will range from long to short, but casting accuracy is essential to this pattern. If you're not up to the task, practice, practice, practice.
Retrieve: Lane will experiment with his retrieve cadence, but always starts with a slow retrieve at this time of year. He especially likes to experiment within a cast. He'll begin a presentation with a slow retrieve. Once the bait is about halfway back to his boat, he'll stop the lure for several moments and then reel it in for several cranks before stopping again and then reeling it the rest of the way at a different speed. He believes in mixing things up when it comes to retrieve speeds.
As Lane puts it, "I used to get in trouble for not being able to put a lure in just the perfect spot on a cast, but I worked at it and got a lot better. If you were in the boat with me, you'd see me put these baits with all those treble hooks into places that just aren't 'safe.' I think that gives me an edge. If you're going to make this pattern really work for you, every cast needs to be spot on."
Originally published October 2011