After a long Winter season, Spring is in the air and most of us can’t wait to bust out the shorts and sandals and soak up the sun. Although the warmer weather is always welcome, for fisherman it means that some of the best fishing of the year is about to take place over the next few months. Fishing is always on the top of my list, but the winter months can be quite challenging for most, so rather than face the cold or tough fishing conditions many people hang up their fishing rods waiting for March to roll around.
There are many techniques and lures to choose from while targeting bass in the Spring, and one of my favorites is the Paddle Tail Swimbait. Bass quickly ramp up their appetite in the pre-spawn period and target the shad to fatten their bellies before nesting. This is the perfect time to cover water with a smaller shad profile swimbait as bass transition from the deeper water to the shallows where they prowl in search of food.
The best thing about a Paddle Tail is they come through the water so naturally and mimic a shad like no other lure can which is why they often out produce anything else in your tacklebox.
Today, you will find just about every kind of swimbait on the market which come in variety of shapes, sizes and colors, but I like to keep it simple. I prefer a 3-inch – 3.5-inch Paddle Tail and my go-to colors are white or anything shad-colored, depending on the water clarity or depth.
There are three techniques you can try which usually get the job done, but my go-to is a ¼-ounce Trokar Boxer Swimbait Jig Head paired with the Paddle Tail Swimbait. A few styles of Paddle Tail that you may want to try would be the Keitech Swing Impact, Kalins Sizmic Shad or the Reaction Innovations Little Dipper.
This is the perfect size to cast long distances and with a varied speed of your retrieve, you can cast and cover shallow water very well. In addition, when fishing deeper water, you can use a countdown approach letting bait fall to bottom or designated depth and retrieve to find those suspended fish. You may trade out the Boxer Jig Head out with a smaller 1/8-ounce size for shallow water or when looking for slower sinking retrieve. Size up to a 3/8-ounce when you want that bait to get down deeper or when wanting to move the bait quicker yet wanting to keep it down in the strike zone. You will need to vary your retrieve speeds to figure out which best triggers the bass to strike.
There are times when the Spin Head Jig Head will out produce the plain Boxer Jig Head. This style of jig head has a small blade attached which will put out a little vibration. This gives your bait that extra flash or attention which can appear as a small school of baitfish vs just a single shad.
When bass are feeding on shad you will notice they can be easy to catch when pushing bait to the surface or in a heavy feeding period during the day. On the other hand, when they retreat to the bottom or are in more of a negative mode, I slow way down by drop shotting the Paddle Tail. This is a simple casting technique where you allow the bait to hit the bottom after the cast, then slowly pull and twitch your line. Wait patiently a few seconds and then repeat. The bass will usually strike as you pause and let the bait slowly fall to the bottom after a slight drag. This keeps the shad presentation close to the bottom structure and makes it too hard for them to resist as it swims past.
My recommended set-up for this is a 7” Medium Duckett Spinning Rod paired with the Duckett Fishing 2500 Sri Series Reel. This is the perfect set-up for long casts because it gives you excellent power for hooksets and the right action to handle just about any bass that eats your swimbait. This set-up also works great with lighter lures or when you’re fishing in the wind. For fishing line, I recommend using the 20lb Seaguar Smackdown Braid as your main line paired with the 8lb-10lb Seaguar InvizX leader line for the last 10 feet. The leader is invisible which will help you get more bites. The braid allows for instant hookups especially on long casts when the fish strikes right away due to its sensitivity and zero stretch.
Pick up some Paddle Tail today at Shoppers Supply and be sure to have one tied on your next fishing trip.