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Summer Finesse Techniques
Bob R. Myers - Field Editor

In recent 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 began winning bass tournaments with this "finesse style of fishing," anglers from all across the country began to take notice.

Now that spring is over, anglers that want to increase their chances for catching bass on lakes that are either clear or heavily fished, would do well to learn a few basic techniques about finesse fishing.

In clear water, bass rely primarily on their sight when feeding, and since they have seen just about every kind of lure known they often have to be literally fooled into taking a lure.

I like to use either a split--shot rig or a Mo-Jo rig this time of the year when fishing clear water, especially for smallmouth bass- A split-shot rig is nothing more than a small number 4 split shot, crimped on your line about 12"to 14" above a small 1/0 hook. I like to use a light wire hook, such as the Mustad Ultra Point with the offset shank. To use a split-shot worm rig effectively, you must fish it on a spinning outfit. A 6' medium action spinning rod coupled with a Shimano Spirex 2000 spinning reel works great.

Since I am partial to baitcasting equipment, I use a Shimano Chronarch SF Reel on a 6' G-Loomis IMX Rod. With this equipment, I Can fish both a split-shot rig or a Mo-Jo rig. A Mo-Jo rig consist of using a cylinder shaped weight held in place by a Carolina Keeper. One of the advantages of using this type of weight, is the fact that it will come through rocks and brush without hanging up like a bullet weight, egg sinker, or even a split shot. When fishing clear water, I prefer using 12# Berkley Trilene Big Game in a green color. The green line is harder for the angler to see, but it also blends in with the water better and is less visible to the fish. On bright, sunny days, clear line reflects light and is more visible.

What type of plastic bait you use for finesse fishing depends largely on the clarity of the water and the type of species of bass that you are after. I prefer the RoboWorms made in California. These hand-poured style plastic baits are well suited to "finesse fishing." The 4 1/2" straight Tail, 4" Zipper Junior and the new 4" Fx Series are my favorites and will catch bass under even the most difficult conditions.

When it's a clear, sunny day, I use the Natural Shad or the Fuschia Thunder colors. If it's cloudy, or the water is somewhat stained then I switch over to the Purple Weenie or the Aaron's Magic colors.

RoboWorm has also come out with a new color of the 4" FX Series that works well when fishing around rocks. This new color called Early Craw is a phenomenal bait. The Academy Sports & Outdoors stores carry a full line of Roboworms and if you can't find the color your looking for or want to look at a color catalog, contact them at 1-877-GET-ROBO or visit them on the web:<. The FX Special Effect Series are available in either the 4" or the 6" sizes.

Another bait that I like to use during the summer months for both largemouth and smallmouth bass is a topwater. Some anglers don't think of a topwater lure as being a finesse bait, but the Splash-It made by Don lovino is one of the best finesse topwater lures made. I like to fish the Splash-It around rocky banks, both early and late in the day. Throughout the summer I always have one tied on in case I see schooling bass. The Splash-It is a superb handcrafted popper that features a lifelike finish and custom hand-tied feathers. There are two models available, the original size which is similar to a Pop-R and the new larger version, the Splash-It 2.

This topwater finesse bait comes in a variety of fish catching colors but for most lakes here in Oklahoma my best two colors are the gray ghost or the pearl/chartreuse. Iovino has a new color of the Splash-It called Miracle Minnow that I have already been catching bass on and as the water warms, this new color looks to be a great finesse topwater bait.

On days when our Oklahoma winds make it difficult to fish either a worm or a topwater bait, my favorite lure is the Terminator Tiny-T Spinnerbait. This small 1/8-ounce spinnerbait is an excellent "finesse" lure and has accounted for some nice bass out of both lakes Arbuckle and Murray. 1 like to fish this small spinnerbait around rocky ledges for both smallmouth and Kentucky bass and around grassbeds for largemouth. Even though this bait is small, I have taken some quality bass on it, under some tough fishing conditions. I like the bright white shad color most of the time because it represents a shad. Early or late in the day, or on a cloudy, rainy day, the chartreuse and white color works best.

There are days when bass seem to prefer a fast moving bait and for "finesse" fishing on top during this time, nothing fits the bill better than the new Terminator Tiny-T Buzzbait. Bass and smallmouth in particular, can't resist this buzzbait when you burn it across the tops of rock ledges or across windy points. Just like the Terminator spinnerbait, I prefer the white on sunny days and the chartreuse and white on cloudy days, or during periods of low light.

Light tackle, or "finesse fishing," demands more from the angler; it challenges both skill and equipment. It also has its rewards: More fish, quality fish, and often, greater satisfaction.

Under tough conditions such as during the hot summer months, on heavily pressured water or with finicky fish, "finesse fishing" will improve your chances for success.


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