Best baits for spring bass

Springtime can be an exciting time to fish for bass.  Having the right baits on and knowing what the bass are doing makes a day of fishing great or frustrating depending on your preparation.

In early springtime, bass move adjacent to flats to start the feeding fest prior to spawning. They’re slower early on but as the water warms they really start chasing and that is the time we can really load the boat.

Position your boat around the outer edge from the flat, ideally inside ten to twelve feet of water. Bass will hold close to bottom transitions—areas in which gravel turns to mud, or mud turns to rock chunks, or you have emerging grass.  I like to fan cast from deep to shallow to find exactly where they are staging.

Most of us have our own favorite spring time lures we like.  I have also come to the conclusion that my favorite lures are sometimes a hindrance for me. I get so caught up in fishing the red rattle trap, the swim jig, slow rolling spinner baits that I forget why I am on the water.

Reaction baits of choice:

Swim Jig – primarily one of the easiest and hardest lures to fish.  I give this to my wife on early spring trips and say real it in slow.  This happens to get her a lot of hook ups early on.  I then try to duplicate it and make the lure do more than what it needs to.  A very slow retrieve in early spring will trigger some good strikes.  One of my favorites lures to use.

Rattle trap – I opt for two colors, a red version, and a chrome and purple.  Majority of the time it is the red colored one versus the chrome.  I switch to the chrome on those high blue bird skies in early spring.

Spinner-bait/chatterbait – also try to keep the colors to a minimum when using these.  White/red, and a blue gill colored bait are my favorite’s colors to use. I try to go with the gunmetal color blade.

Bass strikes can be light in colder water. If you feel a tick or even feel any suspicious weight on the line, set your hook hard.

So what happens when the area you fish gets pounded week after week with reaction baits?  This is something that I recently experienced.  I had caught 16 pounds of bass in one area and the next weekend could not buy a keeper bass.  So what happened? Did the fish move?  I know a lot of tournaments were held and that the area I like gets a lot of pressure.  The reaction baits were not producing at all.

Although I know what I should have done, the possibility with each toss of the rattle trap kept me throwing the reaction baits.  What I should have done was rigged a couple of plastic lures on and fished the area really slow.  The soft plastic bait may not have the flash of more modern lures, but nothing has produced more fish than a well rigged soft plastic. In springtime, the key for you to fishing soft plastics is keeping things at a minimum. Go along with smaller baits which have natural looking colorings. While actually fishing with it, keep unneeded movement to a minimum, giving the plastic bait a small pull every few seconds.

I hope you have a great spring time and some of this information helps you put more fish in the livewell.

Choosing a Fishing Line Color and Type

With so many colors and make of lines to choose from, choosing the correct one can get confusing. Most anglers will explain that choosing the color of fishing line is defined as a personal choice. I think it is a calculated personal choice. It is what has worked for you for a while. In competitive fishing loyalty goes a long way. There are things that can change loyalties, but that is a different topic.  Choosing the right color of line is only important after you make the first choice.  There are a few types of line to choose from, braided line, mono, and fluorocarbon types of line. Braided and Mono seem to come in a lot of different colors.  With Mono my choice has always been moss green and I never knew if that was the right choice but I had confidence in it.

Braided line – commonly used for combat fishing.  Generally I feel this line is best in heavy cover. When making long cast over thick grass beds with a floating frog you want to be able to get that fish out of there. Same for punching grass mats or hyacinths with Heavy tungsten weights.

Color selection: I choose to color the first two feet with a black sharpie. Does it matter? Not sure but I feel better about it. If you have confidence in a specific color I would continue to use that.  I am not concerned with the color of braided line since I am normally looking for a reaction bite.

Fluorocarbon – Best thing about this is the refractive properties make it virtually invisible underwater.  The biggest choice with Fluorocarbon is deciding what application to use it for.  I have it on most of my reels right now.  Some people say if it has a treble hook then they opt to not use fluorocarbon.  The only time I do not use it is when shallow cranking.  Since it is a heavier line I choose not to use it for shallow presentation, or top water lures.

So that leaves Monofilament fishing line.  How do you choose Mono fishing Line color?

Make use of a clear or blue fluorescent fishing line if viewing your current line above water isn’t that crucial. This color line makes a superb all-purpose fishing line to utilize for basic fishing to all types of water. The line is illuminated from the sun, making it capable of be seen over water.

Choose a gold line when you’re fishing in lower lit areas. You will have the capacity to see the line, without the fish seeing it.  This color is excellent for fishing at dawn or through the night.

Use a green line while fishing in water with a lot of algae or large plants. The line is going to be easily seen when it’s out of your water, but it will blend into the greenish waters along with the fish won’t simply detect it.

Why a Custom Rod?

The casual fisherman will get along just fine with factory made fishing rods. The more serious the fisherman becomes concerning fishing, the more demanding and targeted her or his needs become in terms of equipment and efficiency. The serious fisherman will appreciate the benefits of a custom crafted rod for it’s the best possible performance, superior construction, toughness, and designed the way you want a rod. These are the reason why I started building my own rods and reasons why custom fishing rods are getting increasingly popular. In my opinion, as an avid angler, there is absolutely no better choice regarding equipment than that of the custom fishing rod. Here’s simple explanation on what you get from a custom rod versus a factory made rod:


  • You receive more bang for your buck. Although custom rods on average cost more than factory rods, custom rods have better parts.
  • You receive better rod parts: a) that truly match, b) are definitely more durable, c) are of premium development (i. e., simply no short cuts), d) that improve the overall performance on the rod due to quality of development, and e) go with the appearance of the fishing rod.
  • You’ve got “Freedom of Option, ” meaning: a) you do have a better selection regarding rod components, and b) ultimately, the selection of components are yours … not someone else’s”


The custom rod is custom-designed (by you) and handcrafted by an authority … not a new machine. Your fishing rod is individually made, personalized, custom fit, and hand tuned.  Without a doubt, custom rod builders, build the best custom rods that are as unique as the anglers who fish with them…. so the standard is through and through better than any fishing rod that is manufactured. Be sure to check out our custom rods.  Let us build the perfect rod for you or choose from one of our already designed rods.

Selecting a Fishing Rod

Selecting a fishing rod should not be too complicated.  There are thousands of rods to choose from.  Here are three things to consider when buying your next rod, regardless of the brand: the lure weight range of the rod, the recommended line range, and of course the type (spinning or casting). Other variables do exist that should be considered like the length of the rod, application you are going to using this rod for but always keep in mind what the rod is rated for.  To explain this as simple as it was explained to me many years ago, the line, reel and rod all work together.  The reel has a certain drag it is designed to, the line designed to break at a certain pound test, and the rod is rated for a specific weight and line range.  If I wrap braided line around the handle of the reel to prevent the drag from working (trying to get my jig back), one thing will break, line, reel, or rod. Since I am using braided line it will either be the handle of the reel or the rod. If I use the right lure, line combo I actually increase the performance of the rod and hopefully prevent a quality rod from breaking.


Rod Length – Rods come in varying lengths from 6’ to over 8’.  I am sure we all have friends that still have a 5’6” or shorter fishing rod but generally those are not as common in today’s market.  I still remember the first 7’ rod I made, seems like so long ago and now I do not have one under 7’. If you are casting shorter distances, in tight areas, you will want a shorter rod.  And as to be expected longer rods are there when you need to cast a lengthy distance where there is nothing blocking your way.  I am actually putting a few 6’9” rods in my rod locker this year specifically for fishing docks up close.  I know there are a quite a few professional anglers and friends of mine that can skip a dock easily with a 7’ or long rod but I seem to have better luck with the 6’9” length rod.  Length of a rod is a choice you make based on your preference and type of fishing you prefer.


Rod Tip – The action in the rod is a tad bit more ambiguous than the actual rod length. The action is actually where the rod flexes when a load is given. Rods come in three types of action: slow, medium, and you guessed it, fast.

Slow action bends down in the bottom third of the rod by the reel. A slow action rod can be hard to cast long distances.  A Medium motion rod bends near the center of the rod. Fast action rods bend in the final third of the rod and have a stiffer feel.  This provides additional power and therefore make it possible to cast lengthier distances.  Just trying to keep it simple.  You can actually get an extra fast tip also if it fits your needs.


Rod Action – Aside from the tip, I feel this is what most people are comfortable looking for when buying a rod.  You can get an ultra-light all the way to extra heavy action rod.  Each of these have their own unique applications.  Some rod manufactures rate this in a numerical system while others just label the rod with the action.  One of the biggest things I noticed is a medium heavy or power 4 rod is not the same across multiple brands of rods.  This ties back to what I discussed in the beginning.  Make sure you are looking at the line/lure ratings of each rod.  There will be some differences but if you match those with what you are comfortable with you have a better chance of duplicating the action when switching or trying out a different brands rod.


If you are in the market for a rod and not sure what to get contact us and we can help. Even if you are not looking for a custom rod and have questions will be happy to answer them.

What lures work best for targeting springtime bass?

What lures work best for targeting springtime bass? Fishing may not be rocket science but no one can tell us to not think like a scientist when preparing for our first tournament of the year.  This year I have tried to keep it simple and only rig up the baits I have confidence in.  Of course, after the first tournament, we all rely on dock talk to get us thinking.  This year I will attempt to steer clear of the excess chatter in the morning. Doesn’t mean it will be forgotten if I do not get a bite in the first 10 minutes.

For me and the tidal rivers I fish I like to keep a swim jig, lipless crankbait, vibrating jig, and shallow crankbaits ready to go when I get to the river. I know suspending jerk baits work great this time of year I just do not have the patience to throw this all day long.  Another thing I probably should work on. The lipless crank is one of my favorite search baits early in the season with some variation of reds and chrome and blue being my colors of choice.  The swim jig and vibrating jig also have only two colors I choose from and that is a bluegill and shad colored bait.

The rod for these applications I also try to keep simple.  My swim bait rod is the same as my vibrating jig rod.  This application calls for the 7’3” medium +/Fast bait casting rod spooled with 12-14# fluorocarbon line.  Lipless cranks I prefer 7’4” Medium Heavy/Fast rod with 14# fluorocarbon line.  If I am fishing emerging grass I can get away with the fluorocarbon but if the grass is up I will switch to braided line.  Shallow cranking is a 7’3” Medium/Fast rod with 10# mono spooled.

Fishing the swimming jig is easier than most people make it.  When I first started throwing it I would just make a long cast and reel it in slowly, just keeping in touch with the top of the grass. As the water warms I will start adding more movement to the lure by twitching the rod tip and varying the retrieve.  If you have ever fished vibrating jigs then you know they have quite a bit of action already. I still like to treat them like a crankbait and bounce them off targets such as grass, docks, and lay-downs.  Crankbaits I have learned there is really only one bit of advice you need.  Keep the bait in contact with the bottom or cover you are fishing.

Ever hear hook sets are free?  Don’t be afraid early in the spring to set the hook if you feel a little bump or the lure swims funny.  As the water warms I find the strike is a bit more aggressive but early on if it gets heavy during the retrieve or you fill something out of the normal – set the hook.

Are Custom Rods actually better than factory rod?

As a custom rod builder I will always answer yes to this question. But why? Simple answer is in the name, Custom Rods. I look forward to customers coming up with ideas I have never heard of.  Those that think outside the box can really get exactly what they want if they are patient.

Special wraps and designs with thread can be costly but they really do make your rod pop.  Thread colors can be used for other ideas also, one customer likes to switch thread colors on his guides so that he can pick a rod out of the rod locker by color and know exactly which application that rod is for.

Grips can vary also.  The standard Cork or EVA foam can come in split grip, or not.  You can get composite type grips now. EVA grips now come with multiple color combinations.  There are a few other materials out there that work great also – search around and find materials that you like.

Like all other components reel seats come in multiple designs.  It is truly a matter of what you want. How do you choose?  When I first started building rods I went to a local sporting goods store and held a lot of the different types of reel seats.  This helped me decide on what I like best, and was the best form and fit for my hands.

Guides – the part that touches the line the most is very important.  You can go expensive or cheap when putting these on a rod.  Never recommend cheap if you are a bass tournament angler.  I repair a lot of guides and some manufacturers obviously try to save money where they can.  Rings breaking, popping out, or just breaking off from the base are typical problems.  Are the guides on your rod braided line friendly? How do you know? Unless the manufacturer states it on their tags, websites you do not.  Materials for guide rings are constantly changing. Make sure if you use braided line to get a guide that can support that.  Micro, macro, normal size, straight wrap, or spiral wrap are all questions you need to think about when buying your next fishing rod. There are pros and cons, I recommend that you talk to your builder about the different combinations and determine whether they are for you.

Ever buy your favorite brand of rod and realize that you would like the handle a little longer or shorter?  If you have a rod you like the handle length on currently measure from the back of the reel seat to the end of the rod to determine the length that works best for you.

Do they (Custom Rods) perform better?

Yes they do.

I know custom rods can be expensive and more costly than those $99 and cheaper rods.  Simple fact about those rods are no one is selling rods to lose money.  So think about the materials that go into those rods. Think about where they are made? Rods manufactured overseas really have less costs associated because manufacturing and labor are really cheap.  A custom rod is built with quality components.  Quality components accent a great blank and makes the rod more sensitive than those straight off the shelf. There are things done by a custom rod builder that manufactured rod companies do not consider.  Finding the natural bend, spine in a rod allows them to properly position the guides.  Ensuring guides are aligned properly and straight. Most importantly taking your concerns and wishes and putting them into your next rod.

If you are concerned about the price of components, do your research.  I have a customer that researches every part of his next rod.  When done, he sends me the exact blank (if not one of my current line of blanks), guides, reel seats, and grips he wants.  I tell him my labor for that combination and we go from there.

Shop around, don’t let someone tell you what you want, think about fishing with this rod all day long, then call your builder and commission your next rod.

Pre-Spawn Bass Fishing

Now that the season is turning into spring, the water in most lakes and ponds will begin to rise.  This not only brings the fish to the shallows but it fills most serious bass fisherman with anticipation.


Spawning is the strongest of instincts that a fish has.  And bass will spawn in the same place in a body of water every year.  If you fish in a particular pond or lake, you probably have an idea of where the bass are going to spawn every spring.  Shallow clear water lakes can look like the surface of the moon due to the craters that have been made by bass. When the bass begin to move to their spawning areas, they will first be located in the deeper water of lakes and ponds just a small distance from where they will eventually spawn.


In deeper lakes, the bass might spawn in deeper water.  Spawning usually happens in water of about five feet deep.  The pre-spawning area can be anywhere from three feet to ten feet.  It depends on the temperature and type of water.  Depending on the depth of each particular body of water, spawning may take place deeper than you might expect.  The ideal temperature for a largemouth bass to spawn is around 60 to 80 degrees.  These deep water areas can be the best bass fishing areas, especially during the springtime.  Weather can change rapidly in the spring, especially during the beginning of spawning season.  When the water temperature drops, Florida strain largemouth bass tend to move back into deeper water.  Just remember to do your research, search for the bass before they move shallow and follow them all the way up.  Do not forget to record you fishing experience in a log so you can look back on this from time to time.

Springtime Patterns for finding bass

Virtually all fish species start congregating at the edge of their winter areas to start their annual spring transfer to shallow water. Bass begin suspending more since the days grow longer and the surface water warms. The annual migration to the shallow areas does not actually happen at the same time across a large body of water.  One school of thought is that some fish stay relatively shallow year round and spend much of their time in, or around, secondary channels of feeder creeks, and shallow points.


Other schools of fish, those that stay deeper, remain closer to drop offs that transition to deeper water faster and probably never navigate to the back of the creeks. These fish typically spawn a little deeper and closer to the main river channel or near drop offs on the main lake.


It is essential to understand how a particular body of water warms to develop a good game plan when hunting these pre-spawn bass.  Depending on your location the spawn can take place anywhere from May and even June or later the farther north you go.  Those special southern places start in January or from what I have been told as early as December. One thought is the west or northwest side of a body of water warms faster.  I suggest you research this by spending time on the water and locating those warmer sections.  I tend to look for stained water with a lot of wood or rock in shallow water; I have found that shallow stained water does warm faster than clear water.


Bass need the water to remain at, or above, 60 degrees for a few days to get the spawn started. Biologists contend that bass spawn at 65 degrees. They may make several attempts at spawning during this time period. Most of us realize that pre-spawn bass, from the time they arrive from their winter hideouts to the shallow water migration, are not only a little easier to catch but are more aggressive.


Once bass move into shallow water or to the backs of creeks, they commonly remain there. It is easy to catch these shallow water bass with Rat-L-Traps, spinner baits, lizards, vibration style jigs, or my favorite the swim jig.  On lakes with shallow water vegetation, look for emerging grass to hold large schools of fish.


Look for some form of cover, fallen trees, weeds, rocks, shell beds, willows, or button bushes. Make your casts with moving baits on or around the thickest cover to increase your odds.


Jigs tend to work year round and are a good option for heavy cover, especially in the spring time. If you’re fishing wood in stained water, a good combo would have been a 1/4-3/8 ounce black/blue or June bug color jig with your favorite craw or creature soft plastic trailer. A white or white/chartreuse 1/4- to 3/8-ounce spinnerbaits or vibrating jigs are great search baits. I like to add a little red dye on these, not sure if the fish like it more but I feel it gets me more bites.


Every angler has their favorite colors to use during the spring.  I try to keep it simple and use whites/chartreuse or white for spinnerbaits or vibrating jigs.  I really like a swim bait style trailer for vibrating jigs or swim jigs this time of year.  My favorite color swim jigs are blue colored ones.  I tend to stick with the red variants when choosing shallow running crank baits or lipless cranks in early spring.


Rod selections can also vary depending on fisherman, cover, and type of lure.  I prefer a 7’3” Medium Fast rod paired with 12-15 # fluorocarbon line to throw for my shallow crankbaits, lipless cranks, vibrating jigs, and swim jigs.  Because of the type of guides and location of them on my Bulldog Rods a Medium action rod is actually a Medium Plus. Because the vegetation is generally not high yet I can get away with a medium action rod.  As the vegetation grows, I depend more on a ripping it out of the grass retrieve, I tend to use a 7’6” or 7’3” Medium Heavy action rod paired with braided line. These rod selection usually hold true unless I am fishing docks or tight to cover, at these times I will go to a 6’9” or 7’ rod.


It is an amazing time of the year when all bass fishermen start getting excited. This is unless you live in a climate that allows you to fish year round.  I do not typically get that chance on the Potomac. It is the season of fishing shows and sales.  Kids get excited when they have a snow day and we also get excited because we get a chance to find all the sales online I might need to start locking up my computer before spring so I can limit the amount of tackle I add to the already increasing stash.


This is also a great time to research your logs from prior years, and get all your tackle ready.  Remember to clean and lubricate your reels and check all the guides on your rods.  I typically use cotton or Q-tips to clean the eyes on the guides.  This will tell me if I have a bad guide also. Nothing worse than having your equipment fail on you when you need it the most.