GROWING UP IN THE LATE ’70s and early 1980s, I lived the pursuit of big bass vicariously, watching bass television legends such as Bill Dance, Jimmy Houston, Roland Martin and Orlando Wilson slugging it out with lunkers on top lakes across the country.
At age nine, I first tasted actually hanging into a bass on an old Devil’s Warhorse topwater worked along some shallow timber on Toledo Bend reservoir. By my late teens, I had learned much more about bass and was learning about working the grass on Sam Rayburn.
At this point, it was obvious anglers who wanted to catch really big bass did things differently. Over the years that has become even more evident.
There are many different styles of bass fishing, and some suit some anglers better than others. I have picked my favorite slow, medium and fast strategies for catching big bass. I think they will help you improve your game by connecting you with the right lure for the right time, with the right reel.
Slow is not my forte. I am an intense, bull in a China shop. I have to really work hard at anything that can even be loosely
construed as slow or finesse. However, many times that is exactly what is required to catch big bass.
One of the absolute best ways to catch huge bass is to slowly fish swimbaits in areas where few fish see them.
Swimbaits are essentially soft plastic crankbaits that allow anglers to cover lots of water and fish with a simple retrieve to target big fish. Most major tackle companies have some sort of swimbait on the market, ranging from foot-long $40 trout-mimicking works of art to more affordable fare.
“Swimbaits have been invaluable for me fishing on Lake Falcon in particular,” said 2008 Bassmaster Classic winner Alton Jones. “They will get big fish when other baits don’t seem to get the job done. I have seen big fish get up and follow a big swimbait when they seemingly get lockjaw in clear water.”
I, too, have had good luck getting big bass to come out of hiding with swimbaits when nothing else seemed to work. This is particularly true when it comes to clear water.
One particular set of private lakes I fished had super clear water. Everyone threw small, delicate lures and caught few big fish. However, throwing a big swimbait in natural colors and slowly swimming it adjacent to cover seemed to draw more strikes.
Rigged on a casting reel with a little slower gear ratio such as 6.3:1 or similar is a great way to get those big fish to come out. The gear ratio describes how many revolutions the reel makes per turn of the handle. The higher the number, the more line gets pulled at once and vice versa.
I like to simply reel the swimbait at about the rate of speed it takes to keep it from sinking. Just swim it on an even, steady keel and be patient. You won’t get many strikes, but the ones you do get will most like be better than average fish.
This is my favorite pace to fish because I can use medium depth crankbaits to fish the end of boat ramps, piers and docks.
Most anglers fish right against the bank, along the bulkheads and all around the pilings.
If you look closely at how all of these structures are designed, there’s much more than the eye can see. With a good depth finder you will notice boat docks extend out much farther than you think. Piers sometimes have concrete padding or support beams underwater that go out from the main structure. These spots are rarely fished, so if you chunk a medium diving crankbait on a casting reel with a ratio somewhere in the 7.1:1 category, you can quickly cover these locations. You can also pick away at the normal spots on the visible structure.
Bass see many topwaters worked over their lairs, but how many times do they see lures walked quickly?
Topwaters are great for catching big bass. When you have a falling barometer and the fish are in heavy feeding mode, try “walking the dog” as fast as you can in transition zones between deep and shallow water. Any spot where the water drops immediately from say three feet, to eight or 10 feet is a killer place to find a monster bass.
You will need a reel with a higher ratio of at least 7:1 or up to 8:1 for this technique. Topwater fishing creates a lot of slack in the line, and a higher gear ratio helps you take up that slack quickly for hookset.
This technique works great, but for added fun try it at night. Big bass like hitting surface plugs after hours.
These techniques require different gear ratios to coincide with the diverse lures and speeds required. The Daiwa Tatula 100 comes in 6.3:1, 7.1:1 and 8.1:1 ratios and is incredibly light, allowing for a very comfortable angling experience.
“This is by far the best reel they have come out with including the Steez”, said Brent Ehrler, Major League Fishing Bass Pro. “I had the fortunate opportunity to use it when it was in the prototype stage, and I was asked multiple times to return it so they could check the wear and tear.
“I refused to return it. That’s how much I like it.”
No matter which reel you buy or where you fish these techniques can help you find big bass and at the end of the day that’s what matters, right?
THE TATULA 100 is the smallest and lightest reel in the popular series from Daiwa. It is the most comfortable and palmable reel seen in many years. With a featherweight 6.9 ounces it may be the lightest, most fatigue-free, reel Daiwa has ever built.
The Zero Adjuster spool setting and T-Wing System level wind, casts longer and more accurately. The comfort is enhanced by redesigned Soft Touch Handle Knobs. The reel is also well suited for junior anglers with smaller hands. The bones of the reel are strong with an Aluminum Frame providing rigidity and a smooth performance.
• Compact 38mm Size
• Feather Weight of 6.9-ounces
• Magforce®-Z cast control
• Zero Adjuster
• T-Wing System
• Redesigned Soft Touch Handle Knobs
• Aluminum Frame for strength, rigidity and smooth performance
• A Light Line Baitcaster well suited for finesse applications
• Matte Black Finish with Custom Spider Graphics
• Available Gear Ratios (6.3:1) (7.1:1) (8.1:1)
Pro angler Brent Ehrler profiles Daiwa’s Tatula 100 reel.
—story by CHESTER MOORE