Lure Speed Critical for Pre-Spawn Bass Success
Bob McNally 03.14.16
Changing weather and water conditions, plus yo-yo temperatures, are a big problem in catching bass almost everywhere and in any season of the year. But in spring it’s especially troublesome, as fast-moving cold fronts are common, and sudden spring rains can quickly alter water temperature and clarity.
Dealing effectively with such fast-changing conditions is the hallmark of good anglers, and one way top fishermen do this is by changing lure speeds to tempt bass impacted by weather, water, sun, and other factors. Often faster speeds are needed in warm, stable weather and water conditions, while slower lure speeds are needed in less stable and colder situations.
Lure speeds can be changed a number of ways, and here are some methods good anglers use.
1) Changing lip styles of a crankbait can have a significant impact on the wobble or wiggle rate a lure has. This “illusion” of speed is important to bass and may help draw strikes. A wide-wobbling crankbait seems to be moving slower than a similar-size plug with a different shape lip that produces a tight, fast wobble. Experiment with different plugs of similar size, shape, and dive rates, but which have lips that produce wide, slow wobbles and others that have tighter, quicker wobbles.
2) Spinner-baits also can be made to look like they are moving slower or faster by changing out the size and type spinner blades. Small willow leaf or Indian blades seem to turn much faster than even small Colorado blades. Two blades are twice as fast, while a single large Colorado blade seems to be barely moving.
3) The use of a screw-tail plastic worm or lizard also has the effect of seeming to increase lure speed, compared to a similar lure with a straight or minimal-size tail.
4) Changing to a slightly heavier or lighter bullet weight alters lure drop rate, which is an important speed element in drawing strikes from spring bass. The same is true with jig head weights and head shapes or styles, which changes lure fall rates.
5) Merely altering a reel retrieve rate can speed up or slow down a lure that then can draw strikes from pre-spawn bass, according to changes in environmental conditions. If you’re not catching bass with a crankbait or spinner-bait, simply slow down the retriever for awhile or increase it to learn what speed is needed that day to tempt strikes.
6) Take note of your reel retrieve ratios and line type and size as you change outfits during a day of pre-spawn bass fishing. Rarely are all an angler’s reels of the same retrieve ratio or have the same size and type line. Retrieve ratios and line type can increase or decrease lure speed, even when the same artificial lure is used. The changes are subtle, but spring bass can be fickle.