fishing with "sissy baits" isn't just a technique that
works for Western bass, as anglers in Oklahoma have discovered.
For the past few years, the trend in bass
fishing seems to have moved toward heavier lines, stiffer rods,
larger lures and high-speed reels. However, many bass anglers have
found that some of the best techniques for clear-water lakes, and
lakes that receive a vast amount of fishing pressure, are lighter
lures and equipment.
Several years ago in California, top pro
bass fishermen started the technique of "finesse
fishing," which basically means using smaller baits on light
line. The technique was slow to spread to the rest of the country.
But when top-name pros started winning tournaments with these
"finesse" techniques, anglers from all across the
country began to take notice.
If you fish a lake here in Oklahoma that
has clear water and suffers from heavy fishing pressure, you might
want to try pitching and flipping with lighter line and smaller
Many anglers have found out that they can
pitch or flip smaller lures effectively with a spinning outfit
spooled with 8- or 10- pound-test line. In fact, there are times
when light-line flipping may be the only way to successfully get a
limit of bass on a pressured lake.
Light line allows for better control. It
allows you to use a lighter bait that drops slower and perhaps the
most important feature of all, light line enables you to feel the
bait better and detect strikes. When I talk of light line, I'm not
talking ultra-light. For the most part I use Berkley Big Game in
either 10 or 12 pound test. If I need to go smaller than that, I
will use 8-pound Trilene XL, and it's important that the line be
green colored since clear and clear'blue line reflects light and
is more visible to the fish.
Under tough conditions such as during a
cold front, on heavily pressured water or with finicky fish, light
tackle will improve your chances for success. However, angling
mistakes are also magnified. This is where knowledge of your
equipment, how to properly utilize it and its condition are all
Since I am not a big fan of spinning
tackle, I utilize bait casting gear for all of my light tackle
situations. With a Shimano Chronarch Super Free bait casting reel
coupled with a G-Loomis IMX 6' light action rod (Model #CR721) I
can use light line and throw small baits. I use this rod and reel
combination for not only split-shotting, but when throwing small
spinnerbaits and jerkbaits.
I have caught hundreds of smallmouth here
in Oklahoma using light line, small lures, and light tackle. Most
of the time the areas that you usually fish for smallmouth are
around open water near points or underwater ledges. If you have
good equipment and set your drag properly, you can catch trophy
size bass on light tackle.
When fishing a spinnerbait or buzzbait
for brownies, I like the Terminator Tiny-T's. These small 1/8
ounce baits have been my mainstay when fishing clear lakes. For
the most part, I throw a white bait, but if the water is stained,
or if it's cloudy, I like a chartreuse or chartreuse/white color.
My favorite plastic bait is the line of
worms manufactured by RoboWorm. Although they make a wide variety
of styles and colors, their little 4" Sculpin FX Series is my
favorite. These hand-poured style worms will catch both smallmouth
and largemouth on any clear water lake in Oklahoma. My favorite
colors are the Fuschia Thunder, Aaron's Magic, Purple Weenie, and
If you like to fish a jig and pig for
bass in clear water, the Terminator Tiny-T or Finesse Jig is a
good choice. If the bite is slow I like the Tiny-T Jig in
black/blue, black, brown & pumpkin, pumpkin & pepper green
or the pumpkin & orange colors. If the surface water
temperature is above 50 degrees I use a Zoom Tiny Chunk Trailer.
If the water temperature is below 50 degrees, I go with an Uncle
Josh baby crawdad trailer.
If the fish are more aggressive or when I
am looking for bigger bass, I switch over to the new Terminator
Finesse Jig in either the 3/16 or 1/4 ounce size, depending on the
water depth that I am fishing. The new "Air Alive"
skirts on the Terminator Finesse Jigs make the jig literally seem
to come alive.
Using lighter tackle may not be wise in
all situations, but more and more anglers are finding out that for
many clear-water lakes, it often means the difference between
having a great day on the water and just an outing.
Many of the top bass pros were critical
of "finesse fishing" when it was first introduced to
bass anglers by way of California. However, almost without
exception, today's pros realize that there is a place and time for
light tackle, and often it's on the tournament trail.
If you want to have more fun while bass
fishing this year, and just perhaps catch more fish, lighten up.
Until next time, remember to practice
catch and release.