Saturday, 10 December 2011

Dead-Stick Surface Smallies

I got such a good response from one of my blog posts on topwater fishing for Bass that I thought I would answer a few questions people had for me regarding how I decide what cadence to use on any given day for smallmouth bass.

When I decide to fish for smallmouth bass with topwater baits, I usually have a good assortment of baits tied on and have a system based on the conditions I`m faced with on any particular day.

As for baits, I`ll tie on two totally different colored Strike King Spit n Kings, one in a natural baitfish and the other in a totally opposite tone like firetiger or bright gold with orange belly.

One another rod, I`ll have a small three to four inch walking style bait that creates less noise and can be worked very slow or very quickly depending on the mood of the fish.

My fourth rod will have a bigger profile walking style bait that has rattles inside and creates a big splash, moves alot of water and is a big target for larger fish to zero in on. I`ll use this bait if the water is slightly choppy or if I`m fishing in the rain. Louder is better, sometimes!

On the next rod, I`ll have a "back-up" bait tied, rigged up and ready in case one of those big bad brown bass decide to roll on my topwater bait and won`t commit to eating the topwater, but instead want a sub-surface bait that they usually take a shot at. This rod is usually rigged with Strike King Zero in either bright bubblegum tone or a green pumpkin/red flake on a 2/0 wide gap Daiichi catch & release hook, which is very similar in shape and design to a circle hook.
Nine times out of ten, they will eat the Zero.
Find them with the topwater, catch them with the stickworm.

Now when it comes to choosing a cadence to start my day, again I`ll look at the conditions I`m faced with at that moment. Is it ultra calm, overcast, high bright sunny conditions, choppy, it all plays a part in my decision on which bait to throw first.
I`ll usually start with the spit n king in the bright colored tone and see if the fish are aggressive and smash my bait. If that doesn`t produce the strikes I am expecting, I`ll change to the natural tones in the spit n king and alter my cadence to try and provoke a strike.
Still no action?
This tells me two things. Either the fish are not in the area I am expecting them to be, or they want the bait and/or presentation slowed way down. Its up to you as an angler to figure out what your next course of action will be.

I`ll put down the spit n king and pick up another topwater bait, only this time, I`ll go with a smaller profile bait like the walking style, mini-cigar-shaped bait and make longer casts to potential areas and slow down my approach to an almost dead stop and leave the bait sit stationary for long periods of time, up to thirty seconds at a time if the bite is super slow.

Changing baits and altering my presentation speed usually will result in a strike, boil or hook up if the fish are in the area. They simply cannot stand a bait that stays in their strike zone for long periods of time, before one of them decides to take a swipe at it. Its basically in the DNA of smallmouth bass, very similar to cats, they have to investigate every single thing that enters their domain and sometimes that leads them to more trouble than they can handle.

This do nothing, dead-stick approach is exactly what I had to do while filming a show this past summer for season ten. I had an awesome looking location, with ultra flat conditions, warm water and still the smallies made every effort, NOT, to eat or smash my topwater baits if they we`re moving.

But, once I let the baits sit in one spot for longer periods, the bigger fish made the decision to "suck the baits" down from the surface without moving very much water. I had to watch the bait like a hawk, signalling the soft, pull down inhale of those bigger bass.
The bites we`re so soft, I thought the first bite was maybe a perch inhaling my topwater lure, but once I leaned back and the tiny treble hooks found their mark, all I could feel was weight!
An awesome feeling.

Next time your out on one of your favorite lakes, rivers or ponds and you decide you want to have some fun catching smallmouth bass on top and they decide they will drive you bonkers by swiping, rolling and bumping your bait instead of eating the topwater baits, try the "do-nothing, dead-stick" approach to provoke more bites.
It takes patience and a strong will not to move that bait once it lands.
But, trust me, when you start hooking up with those lazy, moody smallmouth when everyone else is complaining about the lousy bite, you`ll thank me.
Slow it down, fish with confidence, focus on what your doing and you`ll catch a lot more and possibly bigger smallmouth bass on top next season, good luck and fish extreme!


  1. Dead sticking is the most effective way to catch bass...wether it's 30 feet deep or on the surface...Great blog KK

  2. You make it sound so easy my friend! This has given me some great ideas for the spring, just gotta learn where the are hanging on my local lakes.

  3. Great post KK.
    Another option for me to try next season.
    You,your show and these blog posts are a wealth of knowledge.
    Keep 'em coming!


  4. I've gotten hints that I should be doing this when I was throwing a small crank upstream and backlashed a bit. The slow current drifted my crank and before I could untangle, a 2 pounder sucked it under. I managed to get him in but with a mess of a reel. Thanks for the great tips!

  5. Hey Karl,

    What colour of zip'n ziggy and tango dancers are in your arsenal?


  6. Some day's the hardest part is beeing able to let that bait sit there long enough...but it's worth the wait when you see the water boil up!

  7. How I miss Bass fishing already...