This is probably what you've been waiting for all along in this series — coverage of the baits Mike Long prefers when chasing giant bass. There's nothing wrong with that, of course. We all love tackle and the gear that makes bass fishing possible.
But Long has a caveat: "Don't get so caught up in the gear of trophy bass fishing that you forget the basics we've already covered, like finding the right water, having the proper mindset and taking care of yourself so you can best use your time on the water. Those are essential in your quest to catch the biggest bass of your life.
"The best bass lure ever made won't catch a fish if there's none there, but a bad lure can work if you fish it in the right place."
In fact, any lure could catch a world record if you put it in the giant bass' face when she's ready to feed. It could be a tiny crappie jig or a huge musky plug, but for that to happen with those sorts of baits, you'd be relying on luck. As you'll see throughout this series, Long works very hard to remove luck from the trophy fishing equation. Certain lures and lure types put the odds more in his favor. Long is all about playing the percentages.
Long believes four bait types are your very best bets for the bass of a lifetime. Ranking them in order, they are the jig, stickworm, swimbait and plastic worm.
Over the course of his angling career, Long has caught more than 70 percent of his bass over 10 pounds on a jig. Many of them were taken while sight fishing for bedding bass, but plenty came before the spawn as he "stitched" a jig near spawning flats. It's probably true — though it could never be proved — that the jig has produced more bass over five pounds than any other lure type in history.
Big plastic worms have also been enormously successful over the years, though Long's methods differ from most. The stickworm, as exemplified by the Senko from Gary Yamamoto Custom Baits, has been around for less than 20 years, but it's already a proven commodity both on the tournament trail and among big bass fanatics. And the swimbait has become a part of almost every bass angler's arsenal over the past two decades.
"I sometimes swim a jig," Long says, "but I generally think it's best when you keep it in contact with structure or cover. I love jigs because they're so versatile. You can fish them on deep structure, flip and pitch them to shallow cover or use them to sight-fish for bedding bass, and all you need to do to go between those methods is change the color, weight or style of the bait."