Level your odds

This is a weird time of the year. In some places the bass are prespawn, in some they’re on the beds and in others they’re postspawn. For this column we’ll forget about the ones that are on the beds and just talk about the prespawners and postspawners.

The prespawners tend to be aggressive. They’re more interested in eating than anything else. On the other hand, after they spawn they’ve had a lot taken out of them physically. They’ll still eat, but they’re not nearly as aggressive about it.

If you want to be versatile, you need baits that’ll work slow or fast, and that can catch them at different depths. I’ll recommend four that meet that criteria. They should get you through both stages. 

At the end of each section I’ll mention the specific bait I use, and why I use it. That will give you a place to start if you want to compare and contrast other options. 

OK, here goes … four baits that’ll help you level your odds.    

A hard jerkbait

The thing about a hard jerkbait is that you can fish it fast and aggressive if your fish are prespawn. They’ll kill it as long as the water’s reasonably clear. Fast snaps and short pauses will usually get it done. But, if the fish are postspawn and a little lethargic, you can slow things down without ever changing baits.

My choice is a Rapala Shadow Rap. I prefer the deep diving model. It has a good vibration and a quick stop. You need those in a jerkbait. My preferred color is albino shiner or ghost shiner. 

A simple stickbait  

This one will get their attention no matter what they’re doing. Whatever it is that makes a simple stickbait irresistible to a bass is beyond our human understanding. What we understand doesn’t matter, though. It’s about the bass and what they like. 

I hook mine right through the middle and let them fall regardless of whether the bass are prespawn or postspawn. My favorite stickbait is a Zoom Zlinky Stick Worm in green pumpkin. They’re soft and flexible. That’s what you need with this bait.  

O-rings are a popular way to rig plastic stickbaits, but not with me. I think they interfere with the hookset sometimes. I rig mine right in the plastic. 

A swimbait

A plastic, boot-tail swimbait is about as versatile as a fishing lure can get. If it has a well designed boot-tail and if it’s flexible, you can fish it fast or slow, or up near the top or down on the bottom.

I usually rig mine with a 1/2-ounce head. Most of mine are fancy and pointed, but I also use plain, unpainted ball heads. Every head design will give the bait a slightly different roll.

My boot-tail swimbait is a Zoom Swimmer Paddle Tail Swimbait in the 5-inch size. I fish with ayu or shad colors.   

A good topwater bait

Both prespawn and postspawn bass will strike a topwater bait. There must be hundreds of good designs, shapes and sizes around that catch them. But, for my money all you need is a simple buzzbait with a trailer. 

You can cover a ton of water with a buzzbait, but that’s not how I fish mine. I target structure or cover and rarely make a cast over 15 yards. And, I wind mine back steady with only an occasional soft jerk or snap of my wrist.

My choice here is a Zorro Baits Head Knocker Buzzbait. I take the skirt off and replace it with a Zoom Horney Toad. Black is a good all-around color.

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