Peek into the rod lockers of top anglers and you’ll spot some unusual baits, cinched up and ready to throw. Many pros rarely use a bait they haven’t tuned. Tinkering ranges from minor alterations like changing skirts on spinnerbaits, bending out treble hooks on crankbaits, coloring soft plastics, and trimming jig skirts, to novel looks lure manufacturers might hardly recognize.
In 25 years of tournament bass fishing, I’ve seen some of the oddest alterations. But every time I think I’ve seen it all, I see a new one.
Speedy Spinners — Extra-heavy spinnerbaits are deadly for big smallmouths in wind-blown waters. Adding a Water Gremlin Pinch-Grip or Rubbercor sinker (with the rubber removed and weighing from 3/8 to 1 ounce) behind the head of a spinnerbait makes a bait that can be cast far to spooky fish and retrieved fast while running true, spurring the fish’s predacious instincts. Try switching the standard #4 or #5 willowleaf blade to a #3 or #3 1‚ĀĄ2 blade to reduce water resistance and increase depth at speed, while increasing casting distance. Also trim the skirt to the bend of the hook to reduce drag and prevent short strikes; shorten the skirt and thin the strands as well. Pinching a smaller weight on a single-blade Colorado spinnerbait makes a great tool for fishing areas with current, to get the lure deeper into cover.
Slow Rolling — To make a better slow-rolling spinnerbait, reduce the size of the rear blade by one or even one and a half sizes. With a smaller blade, the bait runs deeper to barely tick bottom cover. And the reduced flash can be a plus. This modification especially improves lighter spinnerbaits. To make a spinnerbait run deeper, bend the arm to ride closer to the hook, which also increases snag resistance.
Trailer Hook Tips — Adding a single trailer hook to spinnerbaits and buzzbaits is common practice. Some anglers secure large-eyed hooks over the main hook with a section of surgical tubing around the hook eye on the trailer. Use a silicon ring or a round piece of hard plastic (cut up coffee lids from the quickie store with a hole punch) to secure the trailer hook, while allowing it to swing freely. I’ve caught bass on a second trailer hook, and sometimes I’ve even heard of deploying a third for particularly late strikers.
In many cases, a double-hook stinger works better and remains straight behind the main hook. Cut the bottom tine from a #4 treble hook so the hook eye is flat and centered between the two remaining tines. Insert the eye through a section of tubing and impale the tube on the main hook so it rides up. Its V-shape avoids weeds and brush better than a larger single hook.
Teaser Tails — Tease extra strikes with a ‚Äútailgunner‚ÄĚ spinner. Attach a #2 or #3 Colorado blade to a ball bearing swivel and insert the other end into a section of surgical tubing. Slip the tube over the spinnerbait hook to secure it.
Thumper Blades — Bass pro Jay Yelas adds one of Storm’s SuspenStrips to one side of a willow-leaf blade, which throws it a bit off balance, changing its underwater thump. Placing the silver strip on a gold, copper, or painted blade also creates a two-tone flash. Create a different thump by punching a 1/8-inch hole in a Colorado blade. Several companies use this trick in their production models.
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