Take It Down A Notch: Power Fishing with Finesse
Take it down a notch. A lot of people have been telling me that lately. And, in one way of thinking, I have. I've added finesse to my power fishing.
There was a time when I thought power fishing was a rip and slam approach to catching bass. Burning large spinnerbaits, pitching half-ounce jigs into heavy cover and ripping four-inch square lipped crankbaits around lay downs was the order of the day. But my thinking has evolved over the last year or so.
Now when I'm power fishing I look at it entirely differently. Sure if you make more casts, generally you'll catch more fish, but it's not a casting contest out there, it's a fish catching contest. So I try to make a ton of casts but I also try to make the most out of each and every one.
Let me give you an example. You think the bass are holding tight to cover along a bank. Between you and the bank is a shallow flat with some aquatic vegetation on it. You might work that bank over with a jig, pitching it into the heaviest cover as you work along. Or you might try to pull some bass out of the grass between you and the bank with a spinnerbait. Either might work well. But here's what I've been doing lately and I've been kicking their tail. I'll pitch a PowerBait ® 3-inch Sabertail Grub from Berkley ® on a weedless 1/4- to 3/8-ounce ball head jig right in the thickest stuff I can, work it fairly slow, then rip it back to the boat. If there's a bass in the cover he'll eat it, if the bass is in the grass out front he'll come out and slam it just like if it were a spinnerbait. The key to making this work for you is to make the bait look like food.
Bass are either going to be slow, low and inactive or alert, active and hungry most of the time. I go after them both at the same time. I've added finesse to my power fishing in such a way that I haven't given up anything. I'm still making lots of casts and I'm in and out, in and out, but if the bait is in the water I make it look natural.
New fishing products are helping me evolve my thinking. The Sabertail Grub I described is new and the line I'm using, the new FireLine ® Crystal from Berkley, is clear so it's like using a braided line that looks like monofilament.
Here's another example. Say a guy is working an area in front of you with a walking type topwater bait. He may get a blow up now and again but basically he's catching nada. Don't change your thinking just because he didn't catch them and you're confident in a topwater bite. Work the same water with a Berkley Bat Wing Frog. Make sure it flutters on top of the water as you retrieve it but not so much. I fish it on 50-pound Spiderwire ® Stealth with a big 4/0 wide gap frog hook. It's still power fishing with a noisy surface bait, it's just toned down.
I like to say it's fishing slow very fast. Confusing, I know, but all I'm trying to tell you is make the very most out of every cast. Don't just blow through good areas. Move, move, move but make the bass eat in the process.
OK, here's another example. You've beat the brush to death with a jig and you've got squat to show for it. Switch baits to something like the new PowerBait Beast. It falls and glides and just looks more natural to the fish. Rig it on a big 4/0 wide gap hook and if the water is at all clear, use 20-pound test FireLine Crystal. You will make almost as many pitches with this bait as you would a jig, but it will look more natural to the bass. If the jig is working, fine, stay with it. But if you have given 100% with the jig for no fish, switch to the Beast. It's just that simple.
Power fishing is still a very good way to catch bass and win tournaments, but it's even better when you chill it out a bit. It works most everywhere I fish in most every season. It takes a little practice but not all that much. The key to power fishing with some added finesse is to try to make the bass eat, not just hope that they will.