It's morning time and the water is like glass. The morning fog is rising off the water like steam off a warm bald head. The sun has not yet broken the horizon and you see topwater strikes off in the distance. You open up your tackle box labeled "topwater" and browse through your lure selections. You tie on a topwater minnow and work it slowly on a surface and then try a popper but the bass don't seem interested. You need something you can count on to churn up the surface and let the fish know its there, something to really get their attention. You tie on a buzzbait and watch as it chirps across the glassy surface. Varying your speed and casting angles you see and explosion as the glassy suface is shattered and a heavy weight on your line, good morning Mr. Bass.
Buzzbaiting is one of the staple topwater techniques used by all successful largemouth and smallmouth bass anglers alike. For those of you who are unaware as to what exactly a buzzbait is, it looks a lot like a spinnerbait, however where a spinnerbait has blades, a buzzbait has more of a propeller designed to churn and cause turbulence in the water, whether fished on the surface or subsurface.
The majority of anglers fish buzzbaits exclusively on the surface causing explosive topwater strikes and land some solid bass. Few, however capitalize on this baits ability to churn up the water below the surface. Using this presentation is much like fishing a spinnerbait. For this presentation I strongly suggest selecting a buzzbait with a metallic blade that will produce a flash comparable to the blades on a spinnerbait. This combination of flash to attract the fish and turbulence to trigger explosive strikes is a deadly combination for landing huge bass when fishing buzzbaits subsurface. Fishing a buzzbait below the surface is most productive in situations where you would be inclined to use a spinnerbait. I find the subsurface approach best on windy days with low water clarity, since it produces a high amount of vibration.
More commonly implemented, the topwater approach is most productive in the morning and evening times and even when night fishing for bass. The buzzbait was designed for topwater fishing, and performs most effectively when cranked across a glassy surface as described above. Being the smart anglers that we are, we know that bass are more inclined to break the surface right before the sun hits the water and right after the direct rays of the sun leave the water. That being said your best bet at landing a lunker on a buzzbait will come first thing in the morning and right at dusk.
A few different techniques should be explored when fishing a buzzbait as a topwater bait. Factors to consider are, speed, angle, and location. First, and most important is location. If you are not casting your bait where there are fish, you aren't going to catch anything. Focus on shallow flats and weedlines, and remember that if you are throwing a buzzbait over deeper water; the clearer the water the better. Secondly plan your casting angles as to not startle the fish, but reel the bait over them to get them interested and allow them to chase it down. There is nothing like seeing the wake from the back of a fish chasing your bait behind the wake created by your buzzbait. Understand that this lure creates a very high level of noise and vibration and will attract fish from a further distance than many lures in your tackle box. This makes buzzbaits deadly when you have a lot of water to cover. Lastly varying speeds until you find which speed will put the most fish in your boat for that day is essential. Depending on an array of factors and conditions bass will be more likely to strike a buzzbait running at a certain speed. The key to buzzbait speeds is in the weight of your buzzbait, and all you need to remember is this: the lighter the bait, the slower you can swim it. Swimming light buzzbaits is my first approach when throwing this type of bait. If this is not successful I work my way up in 1/4 oz increments and swim the bait with increasing speed until I find a productive rhythm. Another noteworthy tip to employ is beginning your retrieve a split second before the bait hits the water so it hits the water running.
When fishing a buzzbait, spinnerbait, or a similar bait you may find that in some situations the bass will just come up and nip the end of the bait, causing missed bites. This is a good time to attach a trailer hook to your bait. A trailer hook is an additional straight shanked hook with an enlarged eye made to thread onto the hook that is integrated into the lure. This is usually secured onto the original bait with a small peice of plastic tubing, although one can use a a small section of rubber worm to keep the trailer hook from sliding around.
Another similar bait to the buzzbait is the prop bait such as the Rapala "Skitter Prop." This bait is similar in presentation, however it creates less wake. This lure will succeed in similar situations as described for the buzzbait, yet is also a great choice when the water is a little more rough and choppy.
So next time your hitting the water early in the morning or about to come off the water as the sun sets, tie on a buzzbait and and watch the explosive strikes that this bait entices.
-Happy Bassin' (Discuss This Article and Much More On The BASStard Forum!)
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