It seems like every spring, a lot of the bass anglers I meet are throwing all the hot new lures they bought with their Christmas gift cards. If it’s new, they can’t get it wet fast enough, and they’re hoping whatever “it” is becomes a fresh magic bullet. We’re always looking for the hot ticket, no doubt, but that mentality always seems amplified in spring because of the cabin fever release. I’m all for new techniques and technology, but I warn you: Don’t ever forget about the tricks that were oh-so-familiar to you a generation ago. You know, all the stuff that’s considered “old school” now. I’ve always said lures that catch fish aren’t cyclical to the fish, just to the fishermen. Here are a few such lures—a few of my personal favorites—that seem to fly under the radar in spring.
The soft-plastic jerkbait took off back in the days of the Slug-O and the original Zoom Fluke. Hard to believe that was 20-plus years ago. Throwing these lures is not a forgotten technique by any means, but I see fewer and fewer guys twitching a soft-plastic jerkbait over flats for springtime cruisers every season. The “new-schoolers” often go the Senko route. We’ve also transitioned away from bright-colored floating worms. Remember worm colors like Merthiolate and Sherbert? I sure do, and I tie them on often in mid-spring. Part of the reason I believe floating worms and soft-plastic jerkbaits took a popularity nosedive is that they need to be worked all the way back to the boat each cast. You can read that “they take too much work to work.” These days everyone is into those types of plastics that you cast and just let sit there, but they don’t cover as much water as these 90s favorites.
How about an 8-inch Texas-rigged lizard? Remember those days? Considering the onslaught of high-tech creature baits that hit the market over the last few years, the lizard rig is probably the least sexy thing on the planet to the modern bass angler. But the reality is that lizards remain effective because there’s just a little more going on with one than a regular plastic worm, yet a lot less than a modern creature bait with 900 appendages. It’s a happy medium. The lizard is the perfect plastic to pitch around stumps and wood where shallow spring bass are lurking and spawning in mid spring. Be sure to use your old lead weights, too. Lead isn’t as sexy as tungsten, but I’ve found that the larger lead weights more closely match the profile of the head of the lizard, making the overall presentation more uniform.
If you really want to go old school, crimp a light split shot about 15 inches above a 4-inch finesse lizard and cast it around flats that feature juvenile grass growth. The old-school-ness of this technique may send some of the younger hotshot guys into shock, but believe it or not, it still works for several reasons. First, the light split shot isn’t cumbersome enough to bury in the grass and spook fish like a larger Carolina weight might. The split shot allows the small finesse lizard to glide over the short emerging spring vegetation and settle gently into the sweet spots. Now back to watching “Saved By The Bell.”