Everyone and their brother wants to take to the water with the heaviest setup possible. Let’s get my ten-foot rod with 80-pound monofilament and let’s catch some bass! Many inexperienced anglers think this is the way to catch trophy-sized fish, but it’s not and never will be the right way to go.
Growing up, my grandfather always had a saying: “Bass is a lot like small children; much of the time they aren’t looking for a whole meal; they’re looking for a taste.”
That statement always stuck with me, and to this day, I still implement it in my fishing regularly. My grandfather was saying that bass are not prone to chasing after the largest lures because they are intimidated by them, they think it might require too much effort, and they might not need that much food all at once.
That is why finesse fishing is one of the best tactics for catching the most bass: lighter tackle, lighter line, and a smaller rod. Let’s get after it.
Understanding Finesse Fishing
First, we need to understand what separates finesse fishing from other methods. Power tactics prefer to use big, bulky lures and a heavy-action rod. This strategy will work a lot of the time, and it will bring in bass all year long, but many factors can cause bass not to take the heavy stuff.
Colder weather is the number one reason why larger lures aren’t as successful. When the weather changes and starts to cool down, bass become less active, and their metabolism slows down.
When they have a slower metabolism, they don’t eat as much. This means the bass that was more than willing to chase your large lure across the lake isn’t that interested in putting out as much effort now.
How to Choose the Right Gear
So you understand that finesse fishing requires lighter gear, right? What classifies it as lighter? A typical rig for me would consist of a medium-action six-foot spinning rod with a 10-pound test. We’ll get into lures later on.
A lightweight reel will also complete your rig. I love a good ultralight baitcaster because it fits nicely in your hands and allows you to comfortably work the lures for long periods of time.
The bottom line is that you want to feel every nibble and be able to react quickly, and with the lighter rods and lines, you’ll feel every bite and tug on the line compared to heavier rigs.
Finesse Fishing Rigs
Now for the fun stuff. You might be wondering what lures you should use for finesse bass fishing. There are so many different options, and everyone has their own opinion on what works. Any recommendation I give you is based on experience and talking with many other anglers about what they use.
1. Drop shots
If you use a four-inch finesse worm with a drop-shot hook set, you’ll be able to work the bass while still keeping the lure off the ground. This is an ideal situation because you can still present the worm however you want while stirring everything up just below the lure. This strategy works best for vertical fishing, but I find this to be the most effective way to get the bass going.
2. Wacky Worms
My dad was the king of wacky rigging, and he lived and died by his wacky worms. This strategy is an excellent choice if you are looking to cruise bass. Use a brightly colored worm rigged wacky and twitch your rod as you are presenting the worm. This type of motion, paired with the brightly colored worm and scent built in, is one of the best ways to appear irresistible to bass.
The Texas rig is commonly known as a large tackle rig, but it works just as well with the smaller stuff. You can use a ⅛ ounce bullet weight with a 10-pound small diameter line and a small, brightly colored worm or crawdad. This rig allows for a nice slow fall with light weights, so the bass have more of a chance to prey on the bait.
Presenting Your Finesse Rigs
There are a couple of different ways for you to present small and sensitive rigs. You can’t just throw out your line and hope for something to happen; take some of the pros’ advice and use their strategies.
Spybaiting is an open-water technique that you should use only in clear-visibility waters. The name came from thinking of the lure as a “spy” in unfamiliar territory. These spybaits are small spinner hardbaits with double props.
The difference between these and jerk baits is that you don’t have to work them as much for them to reach the bass. Once they are within striking reach with the props spinning and vibration happening, it might be enough to trigger a bass.
What about small topwaters? If you are looking for a strategy for catching bass when the season is winding down and things are cooling, this is a great way to go. Bass at this time are filling up on small baitfish, and they are looking for your small finesse lures.
You want to use a slow-sinking wakebait less than four inches long and deliver it using a light line. You want the bass to notice every motion you make, and each nibble or bite needs to be felt on your end. These techniques require incredible attention to detail, but they are successful when you give them what they need.
As you reel in just beneath the surface, you want to lower the tip of your rod closer to the water with each revolution. This draws their attention away from the school fish and towards your solo lure.
You’re doing this to mimic a fleeing minnow, and that is exactly what these hungry and weather-concerned bass are looking for. If you feel that you’re getting a lot of nibbles and there is plenty of action around, you can speed up your presentation and reel in faster as well. I recommend using a four-inch or less topwater shad for this strategy.
Putting it All Together
It’s crucial to understand that fishing isn’t as black-and-white as a lot of people think it is. Novice anglers think you simply hit the water with something on the end of your line, and the fish will bite.
We all know that isn’t true.
There are so many different strategies, and while we recommend picking something and making it your own, it helps to know the many different ways to catch fish. Finesse fishing is one of these methods. Use it wisely, especially when the water temperatures start to dip.
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