Power Fishing with Kevin VanDam: It's buzzbait time

Buzzbaits can be great tools for catching big bass this time of year.

KVD

About the author

Kevin VanDam as told to Louie Stout

Kevin VanDam as told to Louie Stout

Kevin VanDam is a 7-time Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year and 4-time Bassmaster Classic champion.

Buzzbaits can be great tools for catching big bass this time of year.

They're deadly on lakes where the bass are still relatively shallow and trying to recover from the spawn or are still guarding fry.

But don't give up on these lures after bass have moved into deep summer patterns. There are always some large fish that live shallow and lie around isolated cover.

It's a tool I utilize when searching for big fish living around shallow grass or brush. Because it attracts territorial strikes, work the bait parallel or as close to cover as you can.

Some buzzbait anglers error in lure choices, opting for the one that caught the biggest bass of their lives instead of the one that will fish the area effectively.

In dirty water or shallows with thick cover, I'll use a double-bladed version because I can fish it slower and keep it in the strike zone longer, giving the fish more time to react to it.

In clear water with sparse cover, I prefer a smaller, single-blade buzzbait that I can reel faster to disguise its appearance.

In ultra clear water, I will thin the skirt by 50 percent. The thinner skirt reduces buoyancy, creates a smaller profile, helps the bait run truer and allows the head (and hook) to ride a little deeper in the water. The latter is important because it increases the hookup ratio when fishing the lure fast.

My favorite sizes are 1/4 and 3/8 ounce, although I will go down to a 1/8 ounce on occasions. I like the Strike King Bleeding Bait Series because I think bass target the red hook and red head. I was hand painting the heads before companies began making them that way.

The 1/8 ounce is a real sleeper for those days when there is a presence of small baitfish in clear water, especially on those windless days with bright skies. Whereas most anglers think those aren't good buzzbait days, the 1/8 ounce can perform magic!

I'll fish the small one on spinning tackle spooled with thin diameter braided line so I can make long casts.

I don't worry too much about color in stained water but prefer translucent colors in clear water. On dark days, fish black.

Most of the time I'll throw the buzzbait on 20- to 25-pound monofilament because it adds buoyancy, and I'm fishing it around heavy cover.

You may miss a few strikes on a buzzbait, but I view those as opportunities — fish that gave away their hiding spot and I can catch on something else.

I always have a Strike King Ocho (stickworm) tied on and ready for those misses. A carefully placed Ocho will get them to bite again, or I may try a topwater like the Spittin' King and fish a little slower.

Misses in clear water could mean the fish are seeing the bait too well and aren't attacking aggressively. A change in skirt colors could make a difference, too. 

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