Randy Howell gets a little cranky during the spring season, but the 2014 Bassmaster Classic champion never loses his easy-going nature; he just patiently puts his Livingston Howeller to work doing what it does so well — bump along hard bottom and trigger aggressive strikes. Calling this bait a good all-around option for the mid-depth zone, Howell feels confident fishing the Howeller anywhere in the 5- to 10-foot range.
“It’s a really good rock bait; I won the Classic on riprap rocks with this bait,” he said. “The way the line tie is positioned on the lip, the bait has a hard wiggle and it dives as an angle that allows it to back out of cover. It will go down into those rock cracks and float backwards out of stuff and not hang up.
“The Bleeding Tennessee Shad is a good color for this time of the year, especially with the front red Daichi hook because bass are on feeding on the shad, so this is a good color all over the south.”
Howell said he’ll fish the Howeller on 12-pound Gamma fluorocarbon; 10 if he needs to reach deeper. Parallel casts keep his bait in the strike zone longer, but this strategy is not without its risks.
“This is when baits hang up a lot coming across those rocks because of the cracks and the way rocks lay,” Howell said. “But that’s what the bait was made to do and it walks through the rock really good.”
A 26-year B.A.S.S. pro, Howell has fished claimed 37 top-10 finishes with four wins and has amassed more than $1,920,000. Here’s a couple more of his favorite spring baits.
Howeller Square: Employing the same body as the original Howeller, this bait is made to bump and grind its way through most any time of shallow cover, but it’s really good in wood. And talk about making it’s presence known — the Howeller Square sports a circuit board lip, which gives this bait an enticing wiggle.
“It’s a really rigid lip, which gives of a lot more vibration; you feel it in your rod,” said Howell, who favors the Bluetreuse color for this bait. “It has a really wide wobble but with a hard vibration. It’s good for that 2- to 5-foot depth zone.
“We flared the bill so it sticks out on both corners. It’s not a true squarebill and that helps it deflect off that wood so you can reel it through those nasty laydown trees. It also really does well over the top of submerged grass.
Howeller Plus: Noting that he likes the gold shad color for spring, Howell said this slightly longer bait with it’s wider girth contrasts the original Howeller’s tight wiggle with a bigger, bolder display, thanks to a broader lip.
“That lip has a wider flare and that’s what gives the bait a different attitude when it swims,” he said. “That slows the bait down and it seems to do better in the really tougher conditions where you want a crankbait to really walk through cover and push a lot more water.
“I like the Howeller Plus better in stained water. I’ll keep this and the original Howeller tied on and rotate them back and forth. Sometimes, I’ll get way more bites on the wider wobble, even in the same depth zone. I think the fish feel it more because it’s pushing more water.”
Lastly, Howell notes the bait’s Electronic Baitfish Sound MultiTouch design, which allows him to alternate between shad, crawfish or baitfish sounds. Stimulating the fish with recordings of actual forage can seed the ground for great opportunity.