ODD LURES AND TECHNIQUES FOR BIG BASS
article by KENNY COVINGTON
I am a lure tinkerer. I tweak, paint, twist or change something about almost every hard bait I throw into the water. I change spinnerbait blades, treble hooks, shave the plastic lips off crankbaits, and have even went as far as tearing a lure completely a part and rebuilding it almost from scratch to my own liking. Overkill? Perhaps, but such is the mindset of this bass fisherman.
Every now and again I find a lure or a technique that doesn’t need anything done to it in order for it to be effective. As many recipes will say, “Just add water.” Today’s lures, even though they are mass produced by their respective lure companies, really don’t need a lot done to them for them to be effective fish catchers. However, it is the fact they are mass produced that I believe changes their overall big fish catching characteristics.
In this month’s Bayou Life article, I want to show you some lures and techniques, some I have kept quiet about throughout the years, that are simple and don’t require a lot of angler input. I had discovered these through my own trial and error as well as taking the old ways of the past and bring them to the modern-day world of bass fishing. Here are a few examples:
I first saw a “Herb’s Dilly” when I was fishing with my father at Lake Altus in Oklahoma back in the early 1970’s. I will never forget the unique sound that came from this gurgling topwater as my father rapidly cranked it across the lakes surface, occasionally being interrupted by the sound of a large bass engulfing the lure. This was a few years before a buzzbait was introduced to the fishing world, so the Dilly was the forerunner of the buzzbait overload we see now.
Fast forward a few decades and through eBay I was able to purchase a few of the older model Herb Dilly’s. I have come close to winning The Majestic Tournament on D’arbonne Lake a couple of times over the years with this almost fifty-year-old bait. It will not get you as many bites as a buzzbait, but the overall size of the bites will be better-quality fish. The way to distinguish the original Dilly bait is how the hook is held onto the spoon. The newer versions use a cheaper hook held on by a pop rivet, while the older model uses a stout 5/0 hook that is secured by a small flathead screw. By far, the older version is the better choice.
The Depp’s Buzzjet came to my attention about ten years ago while I was researching Japanese fishing shows. While the interaction on the shows is always in Japanese, the lures they would be using were shown in English. The thing that struck me when I saw a couple of shows featuring the Buzzjet was the size of the bass the anglers caught with it. My thought process automatically became, “if they can catch those large bass on their heavily pressured lakes, why wouldn’t it work here on ours?”
I have used the Buzzjet and while I have had some success with it, the lure seems to do better on clearer water lakes. It was instrumental in two tournaments I won fishing with Daron Fuller on Caney Lake some years ago. The key to the Buzzjet’s success is finding the right cadence with your lure retrieve. If you reel it too fast, the lure will not work effectively, too slow, then it won’t work at all. I have read where a lot of anglers will use a stop and go retrieve but I have had my best success using a straight, slow and steady retrieve. This is one of the few topwater lures that I will only use monofilament with, and I always use 20-25 lb. test.
I have been a Zara Spook fan since I was a kid. I first remember seeing how deadly a Spook could be watching on a show Jimmy Houston did peacock bass fishing in Brazil. A short time later, I remember reading about Roland Martin throwing a Spook using his flipping stick to get more distance out of his cast. Back in those days braided line hadn’t been introduced, so heavy monofilament 17-20 lb. test was used. I used the heavy line, flipping stick idea to catch one of the biggest bass I have ever caught out of the Ouachita River in a tournament I fished back in the late 80’s.
Back when I first starting using a Spook, the only ones you could buy were made of wood. Fast forward forty years later and the Spooks you purchase now are made of plastic. I still have a couple of the wooden versions that I only use in tournaments and having used both the wooden and plastic versions and I can honestly say the old wooden Spook will catch bigger fish.
Old lures, new lures, this sport is always evolving to another level but often, this leads anglers to forget tried and true methods of catching bass. When was the last time you used a floating lizard around grass and cypress trees in the springtime? Or what about swimming a twelve-inch worm over scattered grass patches? Has anyone used a ¼ chrome/blue Rat L Trap lately? What about a Heddon Tiny Torpedo, when was the last time you tried that on schooling fish? The list goes on and on.
For the record, my first bass was caught off my grandmother’s pier at Lake Lafourche on a 6-inch chartreuse worm, in May of 1972. I bet I could rig up that same worm today and go catch a bass on it, and I bet I would feel the same thrill I had fifty years ago, starting what has become a lifelong addiction of chasing these little green fish.
Well, it looks like we have run out of time and space for another month. I hope we have given you some information that will you put more fish in the boat and enjoy being on the water. Now that we are in the middle of hunting season please be extra careful in the woods and on the water. Make sure you catch one for me and I will see you next month!