Facing Tough Bass Fishing Conditions? Try Inline Spinners

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Mepps Aglia In-line SpinnerThinking back to those early days when just starting to fish, I clearly remember the first two lures added to my fledgling bait collection in my single tray: a red and white Daredevil spoon and #2 Mepps in-line spinner.  Though both lures are fairly versatile, it was the in-line spinner that has remained a staple part of my angling repertoire ever since!

A Bass Fishing Standard Through the Years …

Dating back to the early part of the 20th Century, the Mepps version of the in-line spinner really grew into favor shortly after the end of World War II here in the U.S.

Comprised of a single French or willow-shaped blade that is attached by a clevis to a straight wire shaft with weighted brass bodies and plain or dressed treble, the in-line spinner comes in a variety of sizes and styles enhancing its versatility.

The four Mepps varieties typically found in my tackle box today include:

  • Aglia with plain and dressed trebles in sizes #1 through #4;
  • Aglia Long Minnow in sizes #1 through #3;
  • Comet Minnow in sizes #2 and #3; and
  • Black Fury in sizes #1 through #4.

My personal choice for rod, reel and line combination when fishing inline spinners include either 6 or 6.5 foot, medium-light action, spinning rod with a 2000/2500 series reel and fairly light monofilament line ranging from 4 to 8 pound test.

Bass, particularly leaping smallmouth bass, have a tendency to throw in-line spinners so be sure to sharpen the hooks frequently when using them.

In-line Spinner’s Extreme Versatility Often Saved the Day!

Even though I may not fish them on every trip, I always keep a small plastic tackle tray in the storage locker of my boat with an assortment of in-line spinners (mostly Mepps but several Blue Fox spinners as well).

Why?

Simple … on those days when things are particularly tough, I can almost always catch several fish (not always limited to bass) with those nearly magical lures.

Cast the spinners along the edge of emergent weed beds or over the top of submerged weeds where the weeds do not breach the surface. Make sure there is sufficient water between the water’s surface and the top of the weed bed to avoid hang-ups.

As bass and other game fish watch the open water above the bed, they suddenly see a shiny spinner overhead rising up to attack it before it escapes.

On many occasions, I have had to vary retrieval speeds and change lure size to determine the combination that best triggers strikes. Examples would be to slow down a rapid retrieve, bring the spinner in rapidly after starting it out slow or suddenly killing the retrieve when it reaches an edge along the weed line.

One problem with inline spinners is line twist.  In order to avoid line twist, simply use a quality ball-bearing swivel to attach the spinner rather than tying it directly to the line.

Since inline spinners have exposed hooks, be sure to clear the spinner of any weeds after each cast so that the blades can turn without interruption and the lure better imitates small baitfish.

Want to learn more?

Following is video prepared by the folks at “Angling Edge” demonstrating the effectiveness of inline spinners (though not Mepps in this case) for catching smallmouth bass with a few other cool inline spinner fishing tips …. Enjoy …

Tight lines and full live-wells ….

When Subtle Differences In Cover Mean More Bass Fishing Success

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bass in the weedsDid you ever have a day on the water when noticing how a subtle change in cover seemed to make a huge difference in catching bass?

I know I have!

It sometimes amazes me how sometimes the even a subtle difference results in a tremendous change in either the quantity or quality of bass brought over the gunwale …

I remember one time fishing South Watupa Pond in southeastern Massachusetts when my partner and I were working a shoreline with numerous overhanging trees.

As we worked along skipping baits (un-weighted, Texas-rigged, black Fliptail lizards) under the branches, we were catching a keeper bass (12’-13” range) here and there until we came upon a willow tree.  When skipping the plastic lizards under the willow branches, however, we quickly boated four bass all over 14.5”, a substantial difference.

Better yet, the willow tree pattern continued for the rest of the outing and even produced our best fish of the day, a 3.75 pound smallmouth. This was definitely a total surprise since most of the fish coming from the tree rows were largemouths!

Another example happened years later when fishing a team tournament on Mill Pond (also in southeast Massachusetts).

During most of the morning, my partner and I were working various types of cover managing to catch a limit of keeper size largemouths. As noon approached, we headed back toward the lower edge of the pond stopping to fish a small, shallow cove full of coontail and lily pads that averaged about four feet deep on the way.

MillPondWeeds

Since the early morning cloud cover had cleared, we started pitching five-inch reddish-colored Senkos to pockets and holes in the weed cover.  After weaving our way through the different weed beds, we entered a small clearing behind a several weed beds and noticed the water depth increased from four feet dropping into a small depression (~50’ x 30’) averaging 5.5 feet deep.

No sooner had we started to work the weed edges surrounding the depression that we started to catch bigger bass.  Forty-five minutes later we had completely culled our original limit (~ 7 pounds total) with five fish ranging from 2.9 to 3.6 pounds and increasing our total weight to just under 16 pounds for the tournament (good enough for second place).

It still amazes me to think that such a seemingly minor difference in the cover or bottom conditions can make such a huge difference in bass catching results …

Keep that in mind the next trip on the water when things suddenly heat-up after a prolonged slow period. Always remember to take a moment to note the nature of even the most subtle difference leading to a sudden surge in your bass fishing success.

Keying in on similar areas for the rest of the day can be very rewarding!

What’s In Your Bass Fishing Line?

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fishinglinessmlI was talking with a friend recently who only fishes a few times a year and he started asking me about the different types of bass fishing line. Of course he really wanted to know which type, monofilament, fluorocarbon or braided line is the best.

As I sat there gathering my thoughts on how I was going to answer this question without making it a full lecture (I have a habit of doing that sometimes!), I decided to keep it to an overview of the three main types of those bass fishing line: monofilament, super-lines (braided line), and fluorocarbon.

Given the time of year (people prepping for next season) and fact many people maybe even be looking to purchase some line as present for fishermen, I decided my answer would make for a great “short” post on this site …

Monofilament Lines:

Though monofilament lines were originally invented in the late 1930s by DuPont but did not really start to gain in popularity until the 1960s.  Some of the benefits and weaknesses of monofilament lines include:

  • Benefits
    • Relatively low cost;
    • Shock resistant (it stretches … actually a plus & minus);
    • Great for baits needing a little give (crankbaits, topwaters, etc.);
    • It floats;
    • Variety of colors for different applications;
    • Varying abrasion resistance depending on need;
    • Fairly limp (though abrasion resistance lines are stiffer).
  • Weaknesses
    • Line stretch means harder to detect softer bites on worm rigs, jigs, etc.;
    • Line stretch can also cause hook-setting problems (though this can mostly be offset with the pull hook setting technique);
    • It can absorb water and react with chemicals causing it to weaken; &
    • Monofilament lines tend to be more visible than others like fluorocarbon lines.

Fluorocarbon Lines:

Fluorocarbon lines are polymer-based with a refractive index nearly identical to water and were originally developed in Japan as leaders for that very reason.  Benefits and weaknesses include:

  • Benefits:
    • Nearly invisible in water therefore highly useful in clear water situations;
    • It has little stretch and therefore is more sensitive (better for worms, etc.);
    • It sinks, another plus (great for sinking baits)/minus (not good for floating baits) characteristic;
    • It is inert and does not react with chemicals therefore retaining its strength;
    • It does not absorb water (also helps retain strength);
  • Weaknesses:
    • Invisibility sometimes makes it harder for as to detect strikes by line watching;
    • Much more expensive than monofilament;
    • Lack of stretch can cause line to break on hook set;
    • It tends to be stiffer than monofilament giving it memory therefore can cause handling problems (line “fluffing off” reel during cast); &
    • Many fluorocarbon lines break easily at the knot.

Braided Lines:

Though braided Dacron and nylon have been around for over half a century, it wasn’t until the 1990s when the super-braids (microfilaments) took the market by storm due to their high strength and low diameter properties.  Benefits and weaknesses include:

  • Benefits:
    • High strength – low diameter combination;
    • Lack of stretch meaning increased sensitivity; &
    • Low (coated braids) to no memory (non-coated braids).
  • Weaknesses:
    • Highly visible to fish (sometimes combined with fluorocarbon leader);
    • Low stretch means possible to tear hook from fishes mouth on hook set; &
    • The line is abrasive sending off unique signal when interacting with certain hard objects (boat docks, stumps, rocks, etc.).

Just as I told my friend, I actually use each type of bass fishing line (monofilament, fluorocarbon, braided) for different fishing situations.  The best thing to do is consider the type of fishing you do most often, research the appropriate line choices and select the one best for that scenario.

One other thing, all line will eventually wear so remember to change your fishing line frequently!

Tight lines and full livewells …

Bass Fishing Tactics: Fishing Flooded Shorelines

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floodflish2The topic of this post may seem a little strange considering the previous article (scouting during low water periods), but observations made during those scouting trips can benefit times when fishing for bass along flooded shorelines as well.

Think about it for a moment … While scouting, you are not only observing exposed offshore structures on these scouting trips but you are also noting the “dry” shoreline conditions at the same time!

Getting Ready To Fish Flooded Shorelines …

Lakes and rivers often flood their shorelines, inundate adjacent real estate and the flood waters remain stable for several days, bass and other game fish often follow baitfish into this newly created aquatic realm.  Knowing how the bass adjust then position themselves around new cover is the key to finding enough quality bass to make the trip worthwhile.

Depending on the nature of area where the flooding occurs and level of development adjacent to the water body, this new territory usually has a number of possible fish holding structures ranging from stands of bushes/trees, flooded fields with fence rows or other man-made items.

Quite often cover in the newly flooded area is so thick it appears bass could literally be anywhere! Identifying a specific bass fishing pattern (and not just cast to every piece of cover) to maximize your efforts is, to say the least, daunting.

One approach to address this dilemma; focus on isolated cover rather than try and hit each and every tree trunk in forest in the area you are fishing.

Tactics For Fishing Flooded Shorelines …

I remember fishing a tournament several years back when a series of exceptional spring storms combined with snow melt runoff causing the reservoir we were fishing to flood extensive areas of the shoreline.  Timing was during the latter part of the spring and some bass were in all stages of the spawning cycle (pre-spawn, spawn and post spawn).

Most of the flooded areas covered extensive areas of brush.  Fortunately we located a couple of coves where the brush was only present in scattered pods.

By focusing our efforts in the coves with scattered brush pods, we were able to locate decent concentrations of quality bass including one largemouth weighing 5 lbs. 13 oz.; the largest bass caught during the two-day tourney!

treefloodA few years earlier, another lake went into flood after heavy winter snows and a fast spring melt sent torrents of water discharging down mountain streams.  Water entering the lake was frigid but warmed quickly once it rose and flooded the adjacent camping and picnic areas.

Even though there were extensive stands of flooded brush and trees, the areas with the scattered picnic shelters again held both the greatest numbers of quality bass.

So the next time you are fishing for bass along flooded shorelines or backwaters, remember that sometimes it is alright to be a little “scattered” in your approach!

I’m Gonna Miss Her – Brad Paisley’s Take on Bass Fishing?

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brad-paisleyIt’s been a few years now since Brad Paisley released his “fishing song” titled … “I’m Gonna Miss Her” but it sure struck a chord with many fishermen and still does today.

Though some may have believed this was just a song performed by a country singer with little bass fishing experience that is not the case with Mr. Paisley.  Considering where Brad was raised (northern West Virginia on the Ohio River) it seems bassin’ and country singin’ were inbred from the start.

So here for your enjoyment is a video of Brad Paisley performing the song at the Grand Ole Opry  …

Makes you kind of wonder though … would he really miss her?