Bringing back old-school tactics

Because I’ve been around bass fishing for most of my life, I’ve seen a lot of trends and bait styles come and go.

And resurge.

The buzzbait is a good example. It was highly popular a few decades ago but lost its pizazz, but now you’re seeing more anglers pick it up again.

Ditto the Texas-rigged worm.

How do such successful baits fall out of favor? It’s not because the bass lose their appetite for them. It’s usually because a new technique or lure design comes along and pushes them aside.

It wasn’t that long ago that everyone was flipping tube baits into cover. Even though the bass still bite it, anglers have gravitated toward more creature or craw-style baits.

Carolina rigging is another example. When I started fishing, everyone Carolina rigged soft plastics. It’s what you did to catch fish, whether it was during spring through fall and shallow or deep.

But then drop-shotting came along and the Carolina rig was pushed to the bottom of preferred techniques along with some of the baits that made it popular – lizards and French fry styles.

If you’re a young angler, you probably don’t remember the French fry bait craze. It was one of the forerunners to today’s stick worm fad. The fry is similarly shaped and sized to the wavy French fry we love to eat.

Back in the day – well before we had stick worms - I was skipping boat docks and catching a ton of fish with French fry baits. In fact, I was going through some baits the other day and came across a bunch of cucumber-colored fries that were killer on our northern lakes years ago.

Well, I’ll let you in on a pro tour secret – Carolina rigging, lizards and fry baits are making a quiet comeback and rightly so.

Those two style baits offer different, yet productive presentations when Carolina-rigging or even Texas rigging.

The bulky lizard falls slowly, but it has several appendages that move and displace water. It has a great swimming action, whether you fish it shallow with a light sinker or deep with a bigger Carolina rig sinker.

The lizard can be a great choice during the spring when you have high water and the bass are around shallow cover. That’s when I will Texas-rig it with a light sinker and catch bass that others don’t get.

One of my favorite Carolina rigging lizard situations is during the spring while covering water on barren or gravel banks. I can’t tell you how many bass I’ve caught with that rig during spawn or postspawn by just dragging it around flats where I had no specific targets.

The fry is more of a finesse presentation, ideal for those post-frontal days when the bite is slow or there is a lot of fishing pressure. You can Carolina rig it, or use it Texas style or wacky. It has a subtle action that can be deadly, especially when bass are finicky or spooky.

In fact, the “KVD Supa Fry” was one of Strike King’s new production introductions for this season. When lure designers were kicking around new product ideas a year ago, our pro staff veterans agreed that the fry-style bait was extremely deadly, had been forgotten by most anglers, and the market needed one to meet today’s demands.

The Supa is slightly bigger, bulkier, softer and heavily salted. It has a flat bottom and rounded/ribbed sides. It will work as a heavy Carolina rig, a finesse Texas rig or rigged wacky for skipping docks.

So when you are organizing your tackle or pondering techniques to put to use in the upcoming season, consider some of those old-school presentations. It will give you a chance to offer bass “something different” and be on the front side of newly developing trends.

It’s all about the attitude!

Kevin VanDam's column appears weekly on Bassmaster.com. You can also find him on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.