As America’s favorite game-fish species, bass – both largemouth and smallmouth – receive their fair share of attention. With so much interest, there’s no question as to why there are so many lure options on the market. An online search will yield thousands of those options.
Generally speaking, most lures are designed to be fished in specific ways under specific conditions. Manufacturers invest resources to ensure their baits perform at the highest level in these situations.
Take the Rapala DT20, for example. It’s a fabulous lure, but it has a narrow window in which it’s seasonally appropriate.
On the other hand, there’s a handful of lures that perform extremely well no matter the time of year. These baits get tied on in the spring and stay attached through the summer and fall. They’re players at ice-out and they continue to be a threat until ice-up. Simply put, I refer to these as the “broad baits” for bass.
In terms of broad baits, the Ned Rig is really a hard one to top. It can be used during any timeframe and in nearly any situation. It works in rocks, in weeds, or on sand, and it can be used shallow, deep, or anywhere in between.
The lure is a great choice for largemouths in shallow weed flats, but it also gets a lot of use when I’m targeting smallmouths on rock flats or over weed transitions. I may change the weight of the head as appropriate, but ultimately the same rig is always in use. My head of choice is the VMC Ned Rig Head, primarily in the 1⁄16-ounce size
Another versatile bait for bass is the swim jig, specifically the Terminator 3⁄8-ounce Swim Jig – simply because I can fish it in so many situations. Early in the season, I use it for targeting shallow, emergent vegetation. As the season progresses, the swim jig is perfect for targeting bass suspended over deep weeds. In the late season, this same bait excels as the vegetation starts to die off.
For me, this is truly one of the confidence baits that always has a place in my boat. It’s one of the best lures for covering a wide range of water as fish move around throughout a season.
The drop-shot is another rig that has a wide fishability window. It’s most commonly used in the summer when bass are on deep weed edges or deep rock. However, it’s also a great option throughout the spring and fall, as well. It’s extremely versatile, as a quick switch in weight or plastic is all that’s required to catch fish during any season. An interesting note about the dropshot is how well it works for all species. I’ve caught countless bass, panfish, and walleyes on the rig.
Next on the list of broad baits is one of the more versatile options: the jig and paddletail. They come in many shapes, sizes, and configurations, but one of my favorite options across the entire season is a 1⁄4-ounce VMC Hybrid Swimbait jig and a 4-inch Big Bite Baits Pro Swimmer. One of the greatest advantages of these baits is that they can be fished during any timeframe and at any depth. I rely on them anytime I’m targeting bass that are high in the water column, but it’s also a great choice for fish near the bottom.
One of the final options on my list of all-season baits is the hair jig, particularly a black, marabou jig. A lot of anglers associate this with the early season when fish are shallow, but the truth is that a hair jig is effective all season long. Smallmouth bass are known to use shallow water throughout the open-water season, especially when the sun comes out.
It has become a truly dominant technique for any scenario involving clear-water smallmouths and has accounted for a number of plus-sized bass catches in my boat.
There are countless different presentations that work for catching bass, many of which are most effective during specific seasonal windows or under certain conditions.
But there also are baits and techniques that work well throughout the entire open-water season. Developing an understanding of these techniques and implementing them in the right situations are keys to becoming an effective bass angler.
This article was originally published on www.outdoornews.com