Elite punchbait logic

Okay, so punching is not like the drop shot’s technically proficient finesse, it’s not the laborious effort to find the precisely perfect jerkbait color, and it’s not the incredibly diverse array of spinnerbait options.

Yeah, punching is pretty blue collar. Not fancy stuff, but that doesn’t mean it’s a one-size-fits-all kind of deal.

“If you talk about not being one-dimensional, why do we carry 25 different crankbaits?” Elite pro Bill Lowen said. “Just like there’s no crankbait that does everything, there’s no punchbait that does everything. You gotta keep an open mind.”

Sure, the simple definition of driving a piece of plastic into dense cover seems pretty straightforward, but simplicity and options are not mutually exclusive.

Would punching the same bait in the same color everywhere you went produce bites? It could. After all, punching generally startles a fish into instantaneously biting out of A) defense or B) meal acquisition.

All this to say that consistent success demands constant analysis — even for the decidedly low-maintenance punching technique. Each scenario has its particulars, but here’s some food for thought.

Covert attack

The mere fact that most punchers keep it simple means a lot of repetition, right? Well, Chris Zaldain’s West Coast upbringing taught him the value of tiptoeing where others stomp; whispering where shouting’s common.

“I like subtle,” Zaldain said. “It’s the same premise as a stick worm, like the Senko. I just like subtle vibrations under water, especially when I’m targeting 7-, 8-, 9-pound fish.

“They’ve been around the block a time or two, and they’ve seen a bunch of different lures, so the more subtle, the better. We’re putting a bait right where they live, so it doesn’t take a lot of action. We’re not calling fish over from 10 to 20 feet like we would on a point with a jig.”