Carrying tools of trade
Published: Friday, June 1, 2007 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, June 1, 2007 at 12:00 a.m.
When it comes to bass lures, you might think it would take the ability of a psychic to make sense of the enormous array of brands, models, sizes and colors on the market. And the bank account of Donald Trump to afford a well-stocked tacklebox.
Believe it or not, that is not the case.
It is possible to put together a barebones tackle system that is versatile enough to cover most fishing situations, yet costs far less than $100. And you can accomplish that by selecting bass-catching baits in sizes that cover the broadest spectrum of cover and conditions an angler is likely to encounter.
To accomplish this, we employed the help of veteran Alabama pro Boyd Duckett. Not only is Duckett the reigning Bassmaster Classic champion, he is largely unencumbered by fishing lure sponsorships - making him the perfect pro to speak candidly when it comes to choosing one-size-fits-all baits for your tacklebox.
"We're putting a tacklebox together for the guy who doesn't have a lot of money and the amateur angler that gets confused by all of the stuff that's out there," Duckett said. "It's easy to get confused. They're reading that I'm flipping a 1-ounce weight and using braided line one day and deep spinnerbaiting the next. And they run from one technique to the next and the next without mastering anything. That's the problem with amateurs.
"We're going to answer the question: 'If I just want to go out and catch a pretty good bag of fish what are my basics?' "
Duckett recommends buying a couple of white or white-and-chartreuse 1/2-ounce spinnerbaits with tandem No. 3 and 5 gold or silver willowleaf blades.
"That's a good all-around spinnerbait," he explained. "A 1/2-ounce is a whole lot easier to work than smaller and larger sizes. You can fish it fairly deep, run it through cover like brush and grass or wake it along the surface. That would be my spinnerbait."
Following our theme of one all-around lure for each category, Duckett's choice for a crankbait would be a 1/2-ounce Rat-L-Trap. His color recommendations are crawfish and chrome with a black or blue back, which mimic the coloration of two of the bass' main food sources.
"A 1/2-ounce Rat-L-Trap is the most versatile crankbait of all," he said of the venerable lipless crankbait. "You can run it across the top of grass, cover open water, bring it through docks, across laydowns. And you can cover the water column from 1 to 15 feet - if you're patient enough."
Over the years, the role of the rubber-skirted jig has been expanded from simply flipping and pitching to heavy cover. These days, jig techniques also include swimming, stroking and crawling (in deep water).
For the ultimate in versatility, Duckett recommends a 1/2-ounce pumpkin or black-and-blue standard jig with a matching Berkley Powerbait Chigger Craw trailer.
"You can use that size to cover most depths," he said. "In all honesty, those two colors are about all I throw anymore. I've got a box full of colors, but that's all you need. It's all about where you throw them."
Since bullet weights are relatively inexpensive, we deviate slightly from our one-size-fits-all theme. But Duckett simplifies things by suggesting the 1/8- and 1/2-ounce size for medium-sized (6- to 7-inch) soft-plastics and 5/16- and 1/2-ounce for larger (8- to 10-inch) baits.
You read a great deal about the pros dragging big 1/2- and 1-ounce weights in front of the Carolina rigs. But Duckett recommends that the novice angler stick with a C-rig that consists of a 1/2-ounce bullet-shaped sinker, small glass bead (below it), two-way swivel, 3-foot leader and 3/0 hook.
"A 1/2-ounce Carolina-rig weight is a good size that covers a lot of situations," he said. "For an amateur, I always put lighter weights on. A guy that uses a 1/2-ounce in 20 feet of water will fish better. He won't rush it around. He'll be forced to slow down and fish."
For perhaps the most fun a fisherman can have, Duckett's buzzbait choice is either a 3/8- or 1/2-ounce offset buzzer in standard black or white.
"I throw white when it's sunny, but most times black is my starting point," he noted. "But don't be afraid to swap it. If you're on a buzzbait bite, the thing to do is throw them both. It just takes a minute. And the bass will usually tell on themselves quickly."
With these small-lipped minnow baits, you will need two types: suspending and floating.
For a suspending jerkbait, Duckett recommends a shad-colored Strike King Wild Shiner; his floating version would be a 6-inch Smithwick Rattlin' Rogue shallow-runner (black back/gold sides/orange belly).
Limit the Classic champ to a single topwater teaser and he will settle for a Lucky Craft Sammy 100 that sports a brown back and clear sides. This 4-inch surface lure, which emits a rattling noise, has a walk-the-dog motion and the spitting-action of a popper, which enhances its versatility.
That lineup of lures creates a well-stocked tacklebox that is capable of catching bass throughout Florida. And it won't require taking out a bank loan to be well-armed.
Comments are currently unavailable on this article