Pros’ picks for sight fishing

It’s no secret that bed fishing has been a big part of the Guaranteed Rate Bassmaster Elite at Santee Cooper Lakes. With the cancellation of Day 3, we asked a few of the pros what their favorite bed fishing baits are. First up is Bryan New. The South Carolina native keeps it simple with a one-two punch of a Texas rig and a neko rig.
A Zoom Magnum Swamp Crawler rigged on a No. 1 Gamakatsu G-Finesse Wacky Hook is New’s choice when it comes to a neko rig. Sometimes he fishes it weightless, but prefers to have a nail weight in the bait.
New likes to Texas rig a Zoom Speed Craw on a 4/0 Gamakatsu Extra Wide Gap hook and a light weight.
“I like to keep the colors natural, but I do like the white Speed Craw,” he said. “I always have two or three bed fishing rods rigged up – something white colored and something natural colored.”
Another key component to New’s bed fishing success is adding Bait Fuel scent.
Jacob Powroznik is no stranger to fishing for bedding bass. His go-to set up is a Texas rigged Yamamoto Flappin’ Hog. The Virginia pro likes to dye the tails of the bait chartreuse to make it look more like a bream.
“A bass’ main predator when he’s up there spawning is usually a bream, so I like to make it look as natural as possible,” said Powroznik.
Powroznik also likes to target giant bedding bass with a massive tube.
“Ish Monroe catches giants on this deal, so I had to get some” he said. “It will make a giant eight or nine pounder want to bite.”
Clark Wendlandt is another pro who’s had a history of success bed fishing. The 2020 Bassmaster Elite Series AOY likes to keep it old school with a Strike King Denny Brauer Pro Flip Tube rigged on a 5/0 Owner Wide Gap Plus hook.
“I like this setup because it’s small and compact,” he said. “It doesn’t take much movement to make the tentacles to move.”
Second year Elite pro Pat Schlapper likes to target bedding bass with a Texas rigged 3″ Big Bite Baits Fighting Frog rigged on a 4/0 Owner Jungle Flippin’ Hook.
“It’s a compact bait that’s flat, so when you set the hook the hook penetrates through the bait really well,” he said. “It’s just a compact little snack that they like to eat.”
Shlapper will also mix in a weightless wacky rigged Big Bite Baits Cane Stick Worm when the fish want a slower rate of fall.
Greg Hackney likes to rotate through three different soft plastics on a Texas rig depending on the conditions. The Louisiana pro tends to use a heavier weight when he’s visually sight fishing for bedding fish, but if he’s blind fishing for them, he tends to stay in the 1/8-5/16- ounce range.
When the water is clear, Hackney tends to stick with both sizes of the Strike King Game Hawg.
If the water is more stained, Hackney opts to throw a Strike King Rodent (left) and a Strike King Rage Bug (right). When it’s early in the spawn, his go-to bait is the Rodent, but as the water begins to warm up later in the spawn, he’ll switch over to the Rage Bug.
Stetson Blaylock keeps it simple with a Texas rigged Yum Christie Critter. The Arkansan keeps a white bait as well as a natural color bait at the ready when the bass are spawning. Regardless which color bait Blaylock throws, he likes to use a red slip sinker.
“I’ve tried every craw on the market, but there’s something about this bait that really makes the fish mad,” he said.
Gerald Swindle is not sold on the idea of throwing a white bait at bedding bass.

“White baits are for people who just began sight fishing and read a few articles about it,” he said. “If I see a guy fishing a white bait at a sight fish, I want to fish behind him.”

A Texas rigged Zoom Z-Hog Jr. with a 1/2- ounce weight is Swindle’s go-to.
Keith Combs takes a two pronged approach to fishing for bedding bass. When he can visually see a spawning fish, he throws a Texas rigged Strike King Rage Craw, but when he’s blind fishing for spawners, he picks up a Texas rigged Strike King Shim E Stick.
When fishing the Shim E Stick, Combs sticks with a 3/16-ounce slip sinker and a 3/0 Owner Jungle Flippin’ Hook.
When fishing the Rage Bug, Combs uses the same hook but opts to throw a heavier weight.