Largemouth bass behave differently during tournaments, responding to boat traffic by being more difficult to catch. In the third part of this series on KayakAnglerMag.com, Wilderness Systems pro Alejandro Pérez-Arteaga talks about his favorite tournament lures and how they can help you during the toughest conditions.
I use these hard baits when the bite gets though or when I want to pick larger individuals from schools during tournaments. Spinbaiting is a finesse Japanese technique that uses front-located prop baits and light line. I use the Spinbait 80 by DUO Realis. It is a 3/8-oz, 3.15” hardbait. It is very easy to cast even in wind conditions and has very good hooks, although replacing them with Owner trebles is always good. If you do so, be sure to match the size to the originals, as the action of the bait depends on the balance of all the components.
I prefer a Medium-Light rod with a lively tip, such as Kistler Rods Magnesium Drop Shot-Finesse Worm. Spinning or casting gear is your choice. Any good-quality reel will do the trick as long as it has a good, smooth drag. I use light fluorocarbon line (6-lb) for baitcasting gear or 10lb braid main line with a long (around 30 feet) 6-lb fluorocarbon leader on spinning gear.
Where to Use
I got great advice from David Swendseid when I started learning spinbaiting. What stuck in my mind were his words “use it where you would normally use a big swimbait”. I’ve found good success fishing them in depths 3-10 feet, on the outer edges of standing timber, where it picks out larger individuals from schools, and in main-lake pockets where bass are positioned beneath bluegill (using a bluegill color in this situation is an obvious choice), when bass will readily attack the spinbaits with fury.
Just cast and retrieve. If you find bass at a certain depth that you want to target, count down until it sinks to the desired depth. Make long casts and retrieve very slowly. You have to find the correct speed; if you retrieve too slowly it will sink to the bottom, and if you retrieve too fast, the subtle action will be killed. It is very important that when you hook a fish, your drag is adjusted right, as you will be working with light line.
Surprisingly, spinbaits are quite snagless. With a sensitive rod you will be able to easily detect when it hits a branch. If it snags it can frequently be popped free; if not, just paddle past it and retrieve it. In any case, having a lure retriever handy is always good as these baits are not cheap.
Spinbaits work by presenting to the fish a unique, subtle action. Despite having a prop, they’re designed to turn at very slow speeds, so they has just a slight vibration, and produces a nice side to side rolling action. The bait swims nose-up, presenting a unique profile. Watching a spinbait work for the first time is not very convincing, but believe me, they are definitely good tournament baits. Spinbaits will catch bass from all sizes and will also attract panfish, but when you are catching small bass on a tournament, tie one on and use it as described above. Just think of it as a big swimbait and you’ll be surprised!
Alejandro Pérez-Arteaga is a Wilderness Systems pro, as well as Adventure Technology Paddles, Kistler Rods, Yak Attack, RAM Mounting Systems and a member of the HOOK1 Crew. He lives and fishes in central Mexico.