Think small and slow, sometimes

I had an interesting experience at the 2018 Bassmaster Elite at Lake Martin presented by Econo Lodge that I thought I’d share with everyone. Maybe it’ll help you catch more bass somewhere along the line.

There were some good fish out, near the bottom at the end of a long point. They were really deep, anywhere between 35 and 45 feet. They were important to me so I threw everything in my tackle box at them trying to get them to bite. They ignored all of my offerings. 

Out of desperation I tried a 1/4-ounce hair jig but that didn’t work any better. As I was sitting in my boat in desperation I remembered something I’d seen another angler do when I was on a foreign trip. Tiny lures with a painfully slow fall when nothing else seemed to get the job done. I dug around in my boat and found a handful of 1/8-ounce hair jigs. They were leftovers from an old smallmouth trip. 

It was hard mentally to tie one on and then cast it. It takes a long time for that size lure to get down to the fish. We fish on the clock. Waiting a minute or two for your lure to fall is something that seems like a waste of time to most of us. It isn’t a waste of time, though, when we catch fish that help us qualify for the 2019 GEICO Bassmaster Classic presented by  DICK’S Sporting Goods and earns us a check in the process. And that’s exactly what that little hair jig did for me. 

About half the bass I weighed in were caught on a Rapala # 8 Shad Rap. That’s old school but the bass didn’t know that. The other half were caught on tiny hair jigs. That’s old school, too. But, once again, the bass didn’t know that. 

There are a couple of things about that experience that are worth noting and worth remembering. The first is that you don’t have to have every new, fancy lure that comes out to catch bass. Don’t throw out your old stuff in favor of the new. Use them all. 

The next is to think outside the box when things get tough. Fish don’t always respond the way we think they should. They may not have big brains, but they know what they want and they can be very picky.

The last thing is that sometimes small and slow is the best way to fish for bass. My Lake Martin bass didn’t want any of the standard baits I tried for deep bass. They didn’t even want a 1/4-ounce hair jig. They wanted something falling very slow and right in front of their nose.

We all need to keep in mind that regardless of what we read or hear about at the dock it’s important to think creatively if the bite goes slow. We can’t keep doing keep the same things over and over until we’re exhausted. Sometimes we need to go stupid.

Mike Iaconelli's column appears weekly on You can also find him on Facebook and Twitter or visit his website at,