35 techniques you should know

At the recent CITGO Bassmaster Tour event presented by Busch at Georgia's Lake Seminole, winner Gary Klein was asked if he was surprised at the skill levels of the younger pros in the tournament.

 "I'm not surprised at all," replied Klein a 23-year veteran of big-league fishing. "They've been privy to a tremendous fishing education through the pages of the magazines, the TV shows, the videos and the seminars over the years.

 "They are taking advantage of a luxury we never had. They arrive at this level with an impressive amount of knowledge. We've done a good job of educating them."

 For the past 35 years, Bassmaster Magazine and the BASS Tournament Trail pros have educated at least two generations of bass enthusiasts. With tournaments — conducted in every corner of the nation and under every conceivable weather condition — serving as their laboratories, the pros have devised numerous new techniques and refined countless old ones. Driven to acquire an edge over their competitors, these vagabond anglers have been steadily developing lures and refining techniques ever since Ray Scott launched the sport.

 Former Bassmaster editor Bob Cobb used to refer to the BASS circuit as a giant funnel into which the collective knowledge and experiences of the tournament pros poured, and nuggets of pure wisdom dripped out. And managing that educational funnel has been Bassmaster Magazine.

 Kevin VanDam, a three time BASS Angler of the Year and the 2001 Bassmaster Classic champion, was one of those Bassmaster kids. At the time he was born, Ray Scott was publishing his third issue of this magazine.

 "What did I learn from Bassmaster Magazine?" says VanDam, who has been reading it for as long as he can remember. "I learned all my basic knowledge about serious bass fishing.

 "That's where I first read about buzzbaits. That's where I first read about fishing spinnerbaits. I remember when an article came out about lipless crankbaits, and for nearly a year, all I fished was a Rat-L-Trap; and I caught the fire out of fish."

 His boyhood years witnessed the introduction of many innovative lures, he notes. "So many new lures and techniques came along from the time I was about 8 until I was about 15 — from basic things like Texas rigging a plastic worm, to real advanced things. Even in recent years, we've seen a lot of the trends on the tour, a lot of the new things like drop shotting or deep cranking. But you still refine them from the articles in Bassmaster. You can always pick things up in there. It doesn't matter how much you know; the guys who are experts at these techniques can always teach you more. I've been able to apply a lot of other people's presentations to my style of fishing and make it work.

 "And it's still that way to this day. When Bassmaster shows up, I can't put it down. I read it cover to cover, and then go back through it again."

 VanDam believes he had a "huge" advantage over the pros who came before him, the men who had to learn the lessons the hard way. Their efforts significantly decreased the learning curve for him and countless others.

 The enterprising minds of the thousands of professional fishermen who have plied their trade on the BASS trail deserve the lion's share of the credit for creating such a well-educated angling populace. It is through their sweat equity and trial-and error explorer's mind-set that we have benefited.

 "I don't think anybody had the foresight 35 years ago to see how accelerated fishing could be if you applied the pressure to excel," former Classic champion Ken Cook states. "You have 100 guys who want to catch more bass than the other 99, so somebody tries enough different things until he finds something that works. I think it's a matter of accelerated experimentation. We've seen things happen you'd just never believe.

 "When you look back, you think, 'Gosh, we've accelerated so many things. In that 35 years, we've gone from the basics to expanding every one of the lure categories into a myriad of different directions and specialties.'

 "When I started fishing, I didn't know you could catch a bass when the water was below 50 degrees. Now we're finding ways to catch them when it's in the 40s and below. We're constantly finding additional ways to catch fish under tougher conditions, and there are other ways to catch that we haven't thought about. That's what makes this so exciting."

 To Cook's way of thinking, only tournaments could have propelled the sport along so quickly.

 Listed below is a small sampling of the tactics that the nation's pros have developed over the years. They represent Bassmaster Magazine's choice of 35 Techniques You Should Know.






























































































































































































































































































1 Drop Shotting
























When/Where to Use












Excellent finesse


technique that utilizes a short leader and separate weight to position a


small soft plastic bait off the bottom.






A No. 1 offset exposed


hook placed about 6 to 12 inches Above a ¼- to ½-ounce specially


designed weight (usually on 6- to 10-pound-test line). Spinning tackle is


test primarily used.






Drop shotting is most


effective in areas that have plenty of fishing pressure, deep structure,


vertical presentation situations and bare banks.






2 Spider Jigs












Light line finesse


technique born out West.






Standard spider jig


consists of a lead jighead, a twin-tail grub and plastic collar. One piece


Hula Grub-type lures are also used. Usually tied to 4- to 10- pound line






Created for deep, rocky


reservoirs, spider jigs are most effective in clear water






3 Texas Rigging












Standard method of


rigging soft plastics for fishing in and around heavy cover.






The hook is rotated so


that the hook point can be embedded into the body of the worm, lizard,


crawfish, tube or grub. Any size bullet weight can be used.






Any depth or cover








4 Floating Worms












Colorful, weightless


worms worked on or near the surface to trigger visual strikes.






A 6- to 8-inch worm Texas


rigged on a 4/0 hook on 8- to 12-pound-test monofilament. A small barrel


swivel is often added ahead of the hook to limit line twist.






Clear water and thin or


submerged grass, wood, rock or docks.






5 Carolina Rigging












Time-tested technique


that utilizes a heavy weight and leader to probe deep water.






Components usually


include a ½- to 1-ounce egg-shaped weight, plastic bead, 3- to 6-foot


leader, hook and soft plastic bait.






Although sometimes used


for shallow water bass in sparse cover, the Carolina rig is primarily a


deep water tool. Works best on clean bottoms or thin vegetation.






6 Big Lipless Crankbaits












Using large, rattling,


lipless baits to explore deep structure.






¾- to 1-ounce


Rat-L-Traps, Cordell Spots and other brands on 12- to 14-poundtest line.






Most effective around


smooth, solid structure: humps, rocks, clay and sand points, bluff banks,


channel edges, etc.






7 Split Shotting Or Mojo









A simple finesse method


for either shallow or deep water.






Small, round split shot


weights or cylindrical Mojo weights are positioned 6 to 24 inches up the


line. In deep water, the weight helps the lure sink; in shallow water, it


drags the bottom, while the bait floats slightly above it.






Fairly clean bottoms and


sparse cover; good water clarity. Bites can be very light, with only a


"mushy" sensation.






8 Senko Fishing












Soft plastic stickbait


technique typified by Yamamoto's Senko, a salt-laden bait with a


distinctive, wobbling descent.






A 3- to 5-inch soft


stickbait is either Texas rigged or Wacky rigged without a weight on 8- to


12-pound line.






Shallow to mid-depth


situations with fairly good water clarity. Texas rigged Senko can be


fished around any type of cover.






9 Deadsticking












A methodical, almost


motionless way to fish a soft plastic to entice sluggish bass.






Texas rigged plastic bait











. Cold front conditions,


heavily pressured areas where bass position can be pinpointed.






10 Soft Plastic Jerkbaits












A versatile, lively


plastic bait that triggers strikes from both active and inactive bass.






A 4- to 6-inch


shad-shaped lure, Texas rigged with a 3/0 to 5/0 wide gap or offset hook


on 14- to 20-pound-test monofilament.






Works best in post-spawn


around any type of cover or (when Carolina rigged) structure. Good water


clarity is important.






11 Jighead Plastics












A versatile way to fish


worms, grubs and tubes.






A 1/16- to ¼-ounce


leadhead (of various shapes) molded on a small hook that is usually left


exposed. It can also be rotated and rigged Texas style.






Almost any situation at


any depth. With the hook point exposed, sparse cover is required.






12 Lipless Crankbaiting












Generic term for fishing


lipless crankbaits in a fairly quick manner.






¼- to ¾-ounce lipless


crankbait on 8- to 12-poundtest line.






Relatively shallow flats,


shorelines and grassbeds.






13 Slow Rolling A









A spinnerbait is reeled


methodically, just fast enough to make the blade(s) rotate.






A ½- to 1-ounce


spinnerbait is primarily used.






Mainly a deep water


technique for skimming the top of grass or crawling along bottom features


like points, humps and ledges.






14 Creature Baits












A soft plastic lure with


multiple appendages and an abundance of action.






Texas rigged with a ½-


to 1-ounce weight and tied to heavy line.






Most effective in thick


cover like weeds, brush and docks in off-colored water. Can be flipped,


pitched or Carolina rigged.






15 Swimming A Jig












A fast, aggressive way to


fish a jig and trigger strikes from active bass. The jig is scooted


through the top section of the water column instead of the traditional


bottom hopping jig routine.






A ¼- to ½-ounce jig


with a pork or plastic trailer. Many experts prefer white jigs and








This shallow water


technique works in and around wood, vegetation and docks, as well as


between objects in the water.






16 Buzzing Up Bass












Offset-style buzzbaits


are worked on the surface in search of bass.






¼- to ½-ounce


buzzbait tied to 8- to 12-pound-test line.






Primarily effective in


shallow, off-colored water in the post-spawn, but also makes big catches


in supercold weather.






17 Flipping












A close-quarters


presentation that provides pinpoint lure presentation. A fixed length of


line is stripped off the reel and held in one hand, while the rod moves in


pendulum fashion to propel the lure low across the water and drop it into


the cover.






A jig or Texas rigged


plastic lure, heavy (17- to 30-poundtest) line, and a stout 7- to 8-foot








Flipping works best when


bass are holding in heavy cover (wood or grass) in off-colored water.






18 Pitching












A long-distance form of


flipping, pitching is done by swinging the lure low to the water while


line pulls off the reel.






A jig or Texas rigged


plastic, heavy (17- to 30-pound-test) line, and a strong 7- to 8-foot rod.






Primarily heavy cover


(wood, grass or docks) in fairly off-colored to clear water.






19 Kneeling And Reeling












Popularized by 1982


Classic winner Paul Elias, it involves keeping 1 to 3 feet of the rod tip


under the water to get extra depth out of a crankbait.






Usually a fiberglass or


graphite-glass composite rod and deep diving crankbait.






Any structure too deep to


be reached with a crankbait retrieved normally.






20 Suspending Jerkbaits












Primarily a method for


coaxing coldwater pre-spawn bass into responding. The lure is jerked or


pulled, then allowed to pause for long intervals.






Many manufacturers offer


jerkbaits weighted to suspend. A floating lure can be made to suspend by


adding adhesive lead strips.






Cool water, fairly good


clarity and sparse cover. Bass will rise from relatively deep water to


take the lure.






21 Walking The Dog












A zigzagging, darting


method of fishing a topwater stickbait; achieved by intermittently


twitching and reeling.






Cigar-shaped surface


lures, like Heddon's Zara Spook, on 8- to 12-pound line.






A shallow technique in


off-colored water; can call up bass from surprising depths in clear water.






22 Spoon Jigging












Deep water tool usually


presented vertically to open water bass bunched up over structure.






½- to ¾-ounce lead


spoon tied to 10- to 17-pound-test line.






Best during summer (humps


and points) and winter (creek channels and ledges).






23 Shallow Cranking












A fast method for


covering water and picking off aggressive bass in cover.






A shallow running,


buoyant crankbait fished on 6- to 12- pound line. Plugs with small square


bills are often preferred for deflecting off objects.






Generally, depths of 1 to


4 feet; shoreline cover like sparse vegetation, brush, logs and docks.


Water clarity is usually not a factor.






24 Ultralight Worming












Finesse method that


sometimes catches big bass.






4- to 5-inch worms, 1/0


hook. 1/16- to 1/8-ounce bullet weight, and 6- to 8-pound-test line.






Shallow lily pads and


other vegetation; clear to slightly stained water.






25 Wacky Worming












Finesse technique that


uses the unique action of a specially rigged plastic worm to attract


visual strikes from bass.






Hook is impaled through


the middle of a worm with the point left exposed. A small finishing nail


is sometimes inserted into one end of the worm for weight.






Shallow to mid-depth; the


clearer the water, the better; hard, clean bottoms. Also can be twitched


around grassbeds.






26 Deep Cranking












Fishing crankbaits in 10


to 20 feet of water.






Large-billed plastic or


wooden divers, usually tied to 8- to 12- pound-test line. A fiberglass or


graphite-glass composite rod is often used.






Deep offshore bottom


structure features, rockpiles and stumps in all types of water clarity.






27 Burning A Spinnerbait












Briskly retrieving a


bladed bait to make it run 6 to 24 inches below the surface.






Usually involves a 3/8-


to ½- ounce spinnerbait with double willowleaf blades.






Fairly shallow water,


when the bass are active. Also works over deep water in winter and


wherever smallmouth live.






28 Bucktail Jigs












A deadly technique for


deep structure and schooling bass. The jig usually is pumped and dropped


just above the bottom.






¼- to ½-ounce


leadhead deer-hair-bodied jigs, usually tied to 10- to 14-pound-test


monofilament or 20-pound fluorocarbon.






Clear water, pressured


bass; deep structure, like humps, channels and points.






29 Float-N-Fly












A finesse method for


attracting smallmouth bass suspended over deep water during the coldest


months of the year.






The "float" is a


simple plastic bobber and the "fly" is a 1/16- or 1/8-ounce craft hair


jig that shimmers in the water. The fly is tied on 4-pound-test line and


suspended 9 to 11 feet beneath the float. Spinning gear is usually used.






Early winter, when the


water temperature dips into the mid-50s, as well as cold front conditions.


Especially effective for smallmouth suspended off the bank.






30 Rat And Frog Fishing












Topwater technique for


heavy vegetation in the late summer/fall.






Hollow-body plastic rats


and frogs tied to 20- to 30-poundtest monofilament or braided line and


fished on a stout 7-foot rod.






Shallow, thick hydrilla,


lily pads or other vegetation with any kind of water clarity.






31 Sight Fishing












Working for visible bass,


especially during the spawn.






Texas rigged tubes,


lizards, crawfish and creature baits, usually tied to fairly light line.






Clear to slightly stained


water; hard-bottom areas with vegetation or wood cover in shallow water.






32 Shaking/Doodling












A visual finesse


technique for catching sluggish bass; involves using the rod tip to invoke


subtle movements with the lure.






Small (4- to 4 ½-inch)


Texas rigged worms, grubs and tubes impaled on a No. 1 or 1/0 hook and


tied to 6- to 8- pound line. A small glass bead between the hook and


(5/32- to 1/8-ounce) sinker creates noise.






Especially effective on


suspended bass in clear, deep lakes, but will also produce under stained








33 Ripping A Jig












Aggressively hopping and


then pausing a jig on a slack line.






½-ounce rubber-skirted


jig, No. 11 Uncle Josh pork chunk and 10- to 14-pound-test line. The


weedguard is thinned and trimmed for better hooking ability.






Deep water ledges with


timber and brush.






34 Flipping And Pitching









Fishing beefed-up tubes


in bad places.






4- and 5-inch tubes Texas


rigged with a pegged ¼- to 5/16-ounce weight, 3/0 hook and heavy line.






Thick vegetation, brush


and shallow wood.






35 Dock Skipping












Casting a sinking lure so


that it skips across the water like a stone, far underneath docks and


other overhanging cover.






A jig or pegged worm,


tube or other soft plastic lure (with the sinker pegged against the hook)


on light line. Spinning or spincast tackle is easier to use.






Excellent method for


reaching bass hiding far back under docks and overhanging limbs. Works


best on sunny days.