McClelland’s favorite fall lures

Alan McGuckin
There’s no clowning around when 6-time B.A.S.S. tournament champion Mike McClelland hits the water in the weeks surrounding Halloween.

You wouldn’t expect a guy nicknamed “Pee Paw” to place speed at the forefront of his autumn angling success, but in the weeks surrounding Halloween, there’s no clowning around when 6-time B.A.S.S. tournament champion Mike McClelland hits the water.

The 45-year-old class act from Northwest Arkansas graciously shared the lures he reaches for in the peak of football season, and three of them are rather fast moving. “I’m generally always going to try to catch fall bass on a shallow crankbait, spinnerbait or buzzbait first, and I’ll mix in the jig secondarily,” says McClelland.

He speaks of each lure, and the specifics of his use of them, in the paragraphs that follow.

Spro Fat John

“This has become my favorite fall crankbait,” say McClelland. “I throw it these days in place of the real small balsa baits that I used to throw around shallow wood and rock because it’s extremely buoyant and avoids getting snagged around thick cover.”

Notable is the fact that he pairs his shallow crankbaits with a fast reel. “A lot of guys crank with a 5.3:1 reel, but I use a really fast 7.3:1 Quantum EXO 100 because experience has taught me that bass want a crankbait to move fast in the fall. While a 5.3:1 is great for spring, and getting big baits deep in the summer, a faster gear ratio gets me way more bites when cranking in the fall.” 

Paired with 12-pound SunLine, McClelland can get the Fat John to run at least 6 feet deep, but typically he throws it on rocky banks and isolated wood in less than 3 feet of water using line as meaty as 20-pound test.

Double Willowleaf Spinnerbait and a Buzzbait

“I’m always going to have both a 1/2-ounce War Eagle spinnerbait - and a buzzbait - tied on at this time of year – and really, they go hand-in-hand,” says the winner of $1.5 million as a pro bass fisherman.

“It’s all about shad at this time of year, and both these baits will get bites as long as there are shad present,” he says “The key is to make sure the shad you’re fishing around are big gizzard shad. You’re likely to see lots of shad in the fall, but it seems like you’ll get more quality bites when you’re around bigger gizzard shad,” he emphasizes.