Even bass get lock jaw. When the conditions are at their worst and the fish are not interested in eating, it’s time to break out the finesse lures. Like the name says, a finesse lure is designed to move slowly and work carefully. The three-inch soft plastic lure on a light jighead is a perfect match for a light spinning rod. The best tactic is let the lure sit on the bottom and do nothing. The subtle motion of the soft plastic, and the small, helpless appearance are too much for even the pickiest bass to turn down.

Vibe Kayaks team angler Zach Adkins grew up fishing finesse lures in the clear, cool water of West Virginia’s mountains. “Each year I’ve learned more about fishing finesse,” he says. Today, Adkins uses the tactic to win tournaments and achieve Mountain State Kayak Anglers 2020 Angler of the Year award.

Best Bass Fishing Baits And Lures: Finesse Fishing

Photo: Zach Adkins
A well-placed cast with a quick two-inch meal will entice a bite. | Photo: Zach Adkins

When to Use a Finesse Lure

Winter and summer are when finesse fishing shines. During winter the water temperature drops and so does the bass’s metabolism. The fish don’t have to eat much. A well-placed cast with a quick two-inch meal will entice a bite. In summer, hot water has bass lethargic. For river smallmouth, I use finesse presentations ninety percent of the day. Light tackle, small lures and a stealthy approach are the golden ticket for getting a stubborn bass to bite.

How to Choose a Finesse Lure

Water clarity and local forage dictate lure color and presentation. One of my favorite things about finesse fishing is the multiple rigging options for each type of lure. I can rig a finesse lure Texas style with a small bullet weight. I can also fish the lure with a jighead. Even small tubes can be rigged at the nose with an unweighted hook and fished like a fluke or just dead drifted.

How to Work a Finesse Lure

Finesse baits are best fished slow and methodically. In frigid winter water, a retrieve can last up to five minutes. In the summer, I use the same tactic. I let the lure sit on the bottom and the current does the work. Another tip, be quiet. I approach the target area slowly, paying attention to each paddle stroke. I land the lure with the least noise, the slightest splash could spook the fish.

A light touch to catch big bass. | Photos: Zach Adkins
Finesse fishing uses a light touch to catch big bass. | Feature photo: Zach Adkins

Finesse Tackle Box

  • Rod: 6’6” light-action and 7’ medium-light
  • Reel: 1500 on the light rod and 2500 series on the medium
  • Line: Four- to eight-pound monofilament on the light rod and six- to 10-pound braid on the medium
  • Leader: Four- to eight-pound fluorocarbon

Best Finesse Lures

Z-Man TRD CrawZ in The DealZ-Man TRD CrawZ

  • Length: 2.5”
  • Color: The Deal


Z-Man Finesse TRD (Ned Rig)

  • Z-Man TRD Finesse lure for Ned Rig in Yoga PantsLength: 2.75”
  • Color: Yoga Pants


River Rock Custom Lures finesse lure in Green Pumpkin Flash

River Rock Pro Finesse Tube

  • Length: 2.75”
  • Color: Green Pumpkin Flash


Finesse Fish Story

Recently, I experienced a great example of finesse fishing paying off. I made some casts with a couple of larger baits without luck. In summer, I always have a Z-Man TRD in the Yoga Pants color ready to fish. The lure matches our local hellgrammites. After a few casts with the TRD, I felt a thump on the line. From the powerful headshakes, I could tell I hooked a good fish. In the end, I landed a 21-and-a-half inch, five-pound smallmouth. If I would have stuck with the larger baits instead of switching to a more finesse approach, no doubt I would have missed that opportunity.

This article was first published in Kayak Angler Issue 46. Subscribe to Kayak Angler and get the magazine delivered to your front door. Download the Kayak Angler Magazine+ app to seamlessly glide between the digital archives, the latest articles and videos.


Finesse fishing uses a light touch to catch big bass. | Feature photo: Zach Adkins



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