There is as much skill in deciphering a bass fishing report as there is to catching the scaly creatures contained in one.
The angling world offers its own lexicon, complete with lingo that can make even a seasoned angler offer a sheepish look when they’re enlightened about some newfangled and highfalutin approach to boating big bass.
I offer as an example a bass fishing remark about a lake nestled northwest of the Metroplex from a weekly fishing report compiled for the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and circulated statewide.
Observation: “Good bite reported on Jackall ASKA 60 squarebills in TN Shad mid day along shallow points.”
Translation: At least one angler has caught largemouth bass near shallow structure on a crankbait in a light color resembling a shad that dives thanks to a squared bill rather than a curved one.
Knowing what’s biting and how to make it happen — and more importantly on what lure — can be a finicky proposition. However, there remain a number of tried and true methods that continue to work for bass anglers regardless of what lake or reservoir they’re lucky enough to frequent.
Here’s a look at six ways to rig bass fishing lures that you might find on a fishing report, including one that recently has gained notoriety by banking on a similar technique used mostly in saltwater situations.
- ■ Texas rig: This is one of the most utilized and successful ways to fish a plastic worm. The hallmark of this rig, which includes a bullet-shaped weight ahead of it, is that the hook is stuck back into the body of the lure to make it weedless. Some anglers simply say they have Texas-rigged a lure if they stick the point of the hook into the lure whether they’re using weight or not. The weighted rig typically is dragged along the bottom with an occasional lift and drop of the rod tip to vary the presentation.
- ■ Carolina rig: This setup is similar to the Texas rig, the exception being that it separates the hook and lure from the weight with a leader (a shorter piece of line). To tie a standard Carolina rig, simply put the lead on your line, follow it with a red bead and tie it to one end of a barrel swivel. Then tie a leader onto the other side of the swivel attached to your hook and lure. The rig allows the bait to flutter near the bottom and along drop-offs and other structure, which is where finicky bass may be lurking.
- ■ Alabama rig: This presentation has caught fire in the bass fishing world and is being used with regularity in freshwater wherever it’s legal, including Texas. This setup is akin to the “umbrella rig” that has been used for years when trolling for striped bass and other open-water species. The main line is attached to a hard bait lure body from which multiple wire arms extend. Lures are attached to the ends of the wires, which can be formed into whatever pattern is desired, usually one that mimics a school of bait fish. Because of its success, the rig has been deemed illegal for use in many fishing tournaments, including in the Bassmaster Elite Series.
- ■ Wacky rig: This is simply a different way to present a worm, Senko or other similar soft plastic lure. You simply bend the lure so the ends touch and slide a hook right down the middle of the bend. This rig will cause the ends to flutter and drop as it’s pulled through the water, which will entice a hungry bass in most situations. The key is that your presentation looks like a wounded critter. Lure companies now market a plastic O-ring that you can put on a worm to hold the hook rather than sticking it into the plastic body, which will prolong the life of your baits.
- ■ Drop shot: This rig is another one that anglers have used for years, including in saltwater. It simply is a way of tying on a hook and lure above a weight that will rest on or near the bottom. The easiest way to rig it up is to use the old reliable Palomar knot and leave a tag end the length you want your lure to be up off the bottom. Bring the tag end back through the eye of the hook so the lure will remain straight and attach a weight at the end. You can use whatever type of weight you prefer, including split shots, which can fall off easier if they get hung on structure and won’t make you have to re-rig the whole setup.
- ■ Shaky head: This refers to a style of fishing a plastic worm or other straight lure on a jig head designed to keep it upright. The technique typically can be used in a number of situations when you know where bass might be but they won’t take another lure. You flip your lure rigged on a “shaky head” jig to where fish might be and allow it to hit the bottom, typically keeping the line slack. The key to the tactic is to wiggle the line just enough to make the lure look like a critter feeding on the bottom while keeping the jig head stationary.
There’s more than one way to skin a cat when bass fishing enters any discussion, especially when that fishing is tough. However, anglers continue to be masters of adaptation, and when the going gets tough, ingenuity sparks jargon that quickly is reeled in by the fishing masses.
You might have the next buzz bait already sitting in your tackle box.