The Right Application

Written By: Roger Lee Brown, March 12, 2012
Species: Bass

The Right Application

One of the most important factors in bass fishing whether you are a beginner, novice, or even a tournament contender is using the right application of equipment to coincide with your bait patterns. This is very important because you can “over work” your baits, thus causing the fish not to strike.

Over working ones bait can be a contagious disease especially for a male angler. (Okay ladies! this one’s for you...) because a woman has more patience at working baits than a man does, (sorry guys, but it’s a proven fact.) I have noticed this many times in the past from either the husbands with their wives, girlfriends/boyfriends, brothers/sisters, and even the male/female “tournament team” anglers while they were attending my 3-day bass fishing school.

Overworking one’s bait can be caused by several different reasons. Probably the biggest reason for overworking baits is caused by using the wrong retrieve speeds with your reel.

Let’s take a crankbait for example; a crankbait is designed to work a certain way at various speeds. That’s one of the reasons why they manufacture crankbaits with different shapes and sizes. For instance, a crankbait with a narrow body is designed to work much faster than one made with a fat body (which is usually designed to work at a much slower speed.) Now, if your reel has a 6:2 retrieve speed, at a normal wind your reel would cause the crankbait to work way too fast.

On the other side of the coin, if you had a 5:1 or a 4:3 retrieve speed, a normal retrieve would allow the crankbait to work properly. Even though there are many different presentations you can work a crankbait, you should experiment with your speeds and let the fish dictate on any given day how they want the bait.

Let’s talk about reels for a moment. Baitcasters and spinning can be considered tools of the trade. A personal preference from each individual will pretty much decide what type of reel one would use. I use both types for different applications when I fish. Daily conditions, size and weight of the bait, and the areas to be fished will always tell me which type of reel I use under different circumstance.

Let’s say that we are facing into the wind and we are fishing around and under docks with a finesse baits and we have to cast into the wind, which reel should we use? If I used a baitcaster and it is windy, I really don’t think that I could cast a little bait into the wind because of getting that “professional over-ride” (or BACKLASH! Oohh, that’s such a nasty word.) In this situation a spinning rod or better yet a rod equipped with a push button spincasting reel is the way to go.

There are many different types of bait, presentations and techniques used today in the sport of bass fishing, and the reel selection mostly depends on what is the most comfortable for the angler.

Now, please don’t take this the wrong way because I am not going to say that you have to use a certain reel for certain applications, but I will tell you what works the best for me. I personally use a baitcasting reel about eighty percent of the time because I feel that I have much more control at casting, hook setting, and comfort than the others mentioned.

I like the thumb control on the spool with a baitcasting reel because it allows me to stop the bait on a dime when it comes to accuracy. I also like the power in the retrieve, especially when it comes to horsing big bass out of vegetation and different structured areas.

I like the spinning reel for vertical fishing and making casts with lighter baits. Here are the reel applications I mostly use for the following: For flipping, pitching, Carolina rigs, top water lures and spinnerbaits, I use baitcasting gear exclusively. For Texas rig plastics, crankbaits and soft jerkbaits I use both spinning and baitcasting gear. For dropshotting I use spinning gear exclusively.

Next, let’s talk about rods. Using the proper length, strength and action of a rod is extremely important when it comes to fishing various types of artificial baits. This is the reason why the rod manufacturing companies make so many rods in so many different sizes, lengths, and strengths.

For example, if I were to fish a crankbait I would definitely use a softer tip rod with a medium or lighter action. Using this type of application will allow me to catch more fish than if I were to use a stiffer action rod. The reason is because most of the crankbaits manufactured are made with treble hooks, and if you were to look at the treble hooks verses the single wide gap worm hooks, you would see that the points of a treble hook are very close together and the shank of the hooks are very short.

If you go to set these types of hooks with a strong hook set, you would more than likely pull it right out of the bass’s mouth. You just don’t get the penetration into the bass as you would a single worm hook. So, by using a soft tip rod, it bends (or flexes) to where you won’t have a sudden stop as if using a stiff rod. And a steady pressure while retrieving the bass back to the boat will usually land the fish.

The lengths of fishing rods can also be a key factor while fishing different types of baits. If you were to fish a Carolina rig, a longer rod would be much more helpful than a shorter one. This is because of the sweeping action one needs to pick up slack quickly to keep pressure on the fish.

A longer rod is also helpful when it comes to flippin’ and pitchin’ like a Jig & Pig combo or a creature bait because one would get more distance fishing pockets or pitchin’ for distance.

On the other hand, a shorter length rod would be helpful if an angler was fishing around fall-downs, dock areas, and close structured areas. Again, lengths of rods can be ones preference with the various bait applications but the ones mentioned seem to work the best for me. Next, believe it or not! The weight of a rod can be a very big help for an angler that fishes all day long. In the past years I have had several different rod sponsorships with companies that make quality rods, and it seems that each rod with the same size and action from each of the different companies would be of a different weight.

The weight of a rod can make a big difference when you spend a whole day on the water literally making hundreds of casts or pitches. There has been many times when I thought my arms were about to fall off from casting so much with a heavy rod.

These are just a few of the applications that seem to work the best for me after years of trial, frustration, and countless hours of experimenting. I hope this article helped you, at least get a better understanding of equipment and bait applications.

Roger Lee Brown is one of the nation’s most prominent bass fishing instructors and he also runs his own charter operation. When Roger talks bass, folks listen for good reason! For more information about him and his bass fishing school check him out on the web at

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