I’ve read the posts from my last column. I’m concerned that some of my readers got the wrong impression about what I was trying to say about matching the hatch. It’s critically important that our baits look like what the bass are eating, but doing that isn’t a scientific process, and it doesn’t have to be perfect. Close is close enough most of the time.
Color matters the most because I think it’s the first thing they see. That doesn’t mean, however, that a shad hue with a little green in it is worthless because it doesn’t look exactly like the real thing or that a gizzard shad imitation must have a spot on its side. And, you won’t lose any bites just because there are no red gills painted on the lure you’re using.
Bass are cold blooded, prehistoric predators. They feed opportunistically. They can’t think, and they don’t reason. They react. Show them something close to what they’re eating and they’ll nail it. It’s what they are, and what they have been for thousands of years.
I’ll say pretty much the same thing about size. You don’t have to get the size perfect. You couldn’t do that even if you wanted to because not every minnow, crayfish, worm or nightcrawler is the same size. Do the best you can. It’ll work out for you, if not for the fish.
Don’t let perfect become the enemy of good.
There are financial and practical limits to bass fishing, too. Few anglers can afford three or four sizes of every bait they own in 12 or 14 different colors. And even if we could afford that many lures, how would we carry them in a bass boat? It’s impossible. It’d sink from all the weight.
I typically carry a couple of sizes of the lures I intend to use in maybe three or four colors — crawfish, black-and-blue, shad, bluegill and sometimes a chartreuse with a black back. I can come close enough with one of them. If I’m not getting bites, it’s not because of the color of my lure. It’s because I’m not fishing in the right place.
My plastic colors are even more limited. It’s a rare day when I carry more than two — green pumpkin and black-blue. At times I will carry a handful of white plastics along with a half-dozen Spike-it! Scented Markers. If I need to make up something special, I can do it in just a couple of minutes.
Action and other attributes only come into play if I have a tremendous bite going and I know exactly what’s going on with the bass. That’s rare even given the amount of time I spend bass fishing.
There is one exception to all of what I’ve said. That’s when the bite is very specific.
Maybe they’re feeding on blueback herring — all the same size and color, in big schools. If that’s the case, I’ll grab a hard bait or make up a bunch of plastic baits that look exactly like them. My lures will be detailed, and they’ll be designed for a specific time on a specific body of water. When that tournament’s over I’ll probably never use them again.
I hope this clears up any confusion. I don’t want any angler to think that they should spend their time customizing lures instead of fishing and having a good time.