Ledge lures and tactics with Foutz

Bassmaster Elite Series pro Jacob Foutz is skilled at catching big largemouth on the ledges of the Tennessee River as it flows through Lake Chickamauga. His tactics and tackle are ideally suited anywhere that power-generated current attracts bass to deep-water ledges of riverine impoundments. 
“The final progression in the postspawn for bass in riverine impoundments with generated current is they move out to deep water,” Foutz said. “Largemouth (and smallmouth) get lazy and will do what they can to work the very least for a meal.”
In power-driven current impoundments, bass favor the combination of deeper, cooler water that attracts shad, a main source of food. The bass stage behind high spots, humps or down in a saddle, to get out of the current and into calm water. The combination of slack water and cover creates the perfect ambush point as the bass look up to feed on passing baitfish. 
“On Chickamauga that can be underwater islands where they set up at the head of the island,” Foutz said. “Where the current hits the hardest, to create that eddy, is where the bass will be. That could be at the head of an island, or even a creek channel bend.” This is his summertime ledge box with the essentials you need to cover all the bases when the power generates, or it goes slack during the hot summer months. 
“Ledge fishing success is all about getting the bass to react, to get the school fired,” Foutz said. “For that reason, I always start with some form of crankbait. Speed is everything when you want to get the fish to react and fire the school, and especially with a silent crankbait. You want to crank it fast as you can so they don’t have any choice other than to attack the bait.”
Rapala DT16; Ike’s Caribbean Shad, Green Gizzard Shad
This is the first lure that Foutz will use to fire a school. “It’s a bigger profile crankbait that will attract the biggest bass in the school,” he said. “I like a silent bait like the DT Series, because I can get the bass to react quicker. It sneaks up on them and triggers their predator instinct for a reaction bite.” 
Strike King 10XD Green Gizzard Shad, Chartreuse and Blue
“If big largemouth make up the majority of the school, then I like to throw the 10XD for its bigger size,” Foutz said. 
“It’s a different action than the DT Series, with a more aggressive action, a wider wobble and is my alternative choice for a crankbait to fire a school.” Foutz fishes the 10XD on 15-pound fluorocarbon to get it into his desired strike zone of 18 to 22 feet. 
Nichols Lures Lake Fork Flutter Spoon; Blue Shad
When the crankbait action cools, Foutz switches over to this big structure spoon in two scenarios. “You can usually tap into a few more big ones after the crankbait bite slows, and the other scenario is when you are on a school and the power generation stops.” It’s also another option for days without current at all, when the bass will suspend over the bottom.
“The spoon allows you to cover that water column when the bass suspend off the bottom, as they do without current,” he said. “You can keep the spoon in a certain depth range, because they are always looking up to feed, and a spoon allows you to do that.”
Buckeye Lures 3/4-ounce Mop Jig; Green Pumpkin, PBJ
The third phase of the summertime ledge program is switching from the spoon to this football-head jig. “I call this my cleanup bait as the bite slows even more,” he said. “You might get fewer bites, but this will produce big ones, and I’m not in the business of catching small bass.”
The living rubber skirt adds motion when the bass is stationary in between hops across the bottom, and this jig’s bigger profile gets the bigger bites when paired up with a color matching Zoom Z Craw.   
Strike King 5.5-inch Shadalicious Swimbait; Blue Gizzard Shad, Green Gizzard Shad
Foutz rigs this big swimbait on a 3/4- or 1-ounce Strike King Internal Swimbait Head to keep it on the bottom, depending on the current speed. “You can slow roll it off the bottom, fish it like a swim jig or give it a few quick retrieves and let it fall,” he said. “You can also keep it in that suspended strike zone when the bass are off the bottom.”
With its hollow-bodied design, Foutz likes to cut a slit in the top of the back and insert the jig into the head. “It gives it better action, especially when slow rolled.” 
OSP DoLiveCrawler 5.5-inch, 2/0 Owner Cover Shot Hook, 3/8- or 1/2-ounce weight
Foutz reaches into his secret compartment for this Japanese-inspired soft plastic finesse worm to fashion a drop shot. 
“It’s different than what gets thrown on the ledges, especially after they get pressured thorough the summer,” he said. “Unlike a typical ledge reaction bite, pressured bass look at a bait longer and the scent gives this setup an edge.” 
Above all else, Foutz believes leader length is more important than any other application of a drop shot. “On days without current, I want the bait to suspend higher off the bottom into the strike zone; I go shorter when the current has them nearer the bottom.” Foutz ties 18-inch leaders for no current and shortens up depending on the current speed.
Fire up a school of big bass with these choices for summertime ledge fishing. Take along plenty of water. You’ll need it, but the sweat equity will be worth it.