The Bassholes - It takes one to know one.

“Shakey Head” When to use it?
on Friday 12 August 2011
by Danny Ryan

What season should you throw a Shakey Head? Yep, you guessed it every season can be successful. Here are few helpful tips that will help you feel that tension and tug at the end of your line we all love. Where to start? Let’s talk equipment.

Preferred equipment for me is spinning tackle about 95% of the time. I like a 6’-0” to 6’-6” medium action rod with a fast tip. I like a smaller spinning reel preferably not larger than a 2500 series Shimano or equivalent. I use 8-10 fluorocarbon line in most applications. Braid is a popular option but I prefer to remain stealthy and stay with the fluorocarbon line. If you go the braid route you might want to consider a fluorocarbon leader or you will need to carry a black sharpie marker to color the line to help it disappear in the water column. I do use a bait caster reel with a 6’-8” rod medium heavy with fast tip for some applications. I don’t recommend going cheap on rods as you will need strength and sensitivity for more hook ups with this setup. In this application I will upgrade my line strength to 12-14lb test line. You need a reel that can handle light lures so make sure you have the right tool for the job here as well.

The next topic would be types of Shakey Heads and techniques. For me there are 4 main types that I use. I experiment with dragging, twitching, hopping…etc, with most all of what is listed below to find out which technique works best. It usually does not take long to figure out which is the best method for the situation you are in. Items 1-3 I use spinning tackle and item #4 I use bait casting equipment.

1. The first one and by far more versatile to me is the round ball or cylindrical head with bait holder (screw type or lead holder) that has a number 3/0 straight shank 60° eye Texas rigged. There are options out there for a wide gap hook which I do use, but will get to that later. The reason I say this is more versatile is the angle of the eye. At this angle you will be more successful in pulling it through wood, rock, grass, brush piles…etc. I will throw this head with a Zoom style Shakey Head worm or a Culprit 6” curly tail worm all year around. There are lots of lure options I suggest you use what you have confidence in with getting hook ups. I recommend if you are catching fish on your go to bait don’t be afraid to throw another type in that same area to see if you can improve your confidence with another bait. I find the key to catching fish in tough structure is that as soon as you pop it off a piece of wood or bounce it off a rock get ready, that impact will often trigger the bite. Once I pull through the rough cover I try to kill it and I usually get bit on the fall. Remember when fishing cover and light line to have your drag set properly and check your line often. This is another reason I like a good fluorocarbon line. Remember the key to finesse style is that you need to throw the smallest weight you can get away with and still feel the bottom or structure your fishing. I like silent entry into water or if you are going to make sound make sure you know how to skip it. That is a far better presentation compared to plopping it into the water. I guess I could have called this 1b but the other option is if you can have a wide gap option and know how to rig a tube on it stupid style you are becoming a Shakey Head Master. The stupid tube rig really gives the tube an unpredictable fall and really looks like a shad taking its last breath.

2. The second choice for me is a standup style head with a straight shank hook 60° or 90° eye. I will Texas rig this and wacky rig depending on the cover I am fishing. If I can get away with an exposed hook I will do it. I would pick the degree based on the structure I am fishing as well. 90° will give more range of motion with the bait and will give a more vertical presentation, but I am just not a big fan of losing baits, so if I get hung up too much, I switch to a 60° head. I like this head during the pre-spawn and spawn season. You can really make your bait look like it is trying to pick eggs out of the bed or just digging around with the standup head. Color selection here is a little more important to me than other times in the year. I try to match the hatch as much as possible here. Naturally the bluegill colors or crawfish colors are good during this time of the season, but find out what is the biggest threat to the bass and try to match that as best you can. I am not as concerned on the entry during this time of year as we all know this is one time of year we try to make the ladies made. Aggravate them enough and they will bite. Bed fishing I will run the wacky rig as lots of times they will just try to move the bait off of the bed and with the exposed hook you will have a higher hook up ratio. The males are a lot like guys in a bar that have had a few bottles of liquid courage. They will be pretty aggressive and can be caught with less effort than the ladies.

3. The third type for me is a 90° straight shank 3/0 or 4/0 hook when I am in more vertical situations. If I am drop shotting, I will have a Shakey Head tied on for a different presentation. With this presentation I like to use a tube where I can bury the head inside the tube, punch the eyelet through the tube and have the hook exposed. I like this for deeper open water situations. I try to find the bottom but keep it just above it twitching it up and down slightly. This keeps the bait in the area and keeps you from having to retie your baits often. With the exposed hook you’ll have a better chance of hooking up in deeper water. Fluorocarbon is a must as there very little stretch in the line so your hook sets will be better. This also allows for a little larger presentation than what you might have on your drop shot. This technique works for largemouth and smallmouth, but I have had more success with smallmouth in this application. The other think I like about this head is you can rig a small 3-4” swim bait on this head and just slow roll it through the water. Try rigging the swim bait upside down once before you give up on this technique and see what happens. I can’t explain it, nor do I have an explanation as when I am slow rolling it, the bait is obviously not dead, but it works. I did it by mistake once on Kentucky Lake fun fishing and did not realize it till the end of the day. The next day I rigged it properly and nothing for 15 - 20minutes. The first cast upside down and yep keeper #1 in the boat. This can be used in the late summer or fall or anytime you feel comfortable with a small swim bait.

4. The fourth type for me is the football head. I like a 4/0 straight shank hook. With this bait I will often use a little larger weight and a bait caster rod and reel. I like to use this when I am flipping and pitching to heavier cover. I am more accurate with a bait caster than a spinning reel so I like to use this when I feel a flipping jig is a little too much for the finicky fish. Typically I think of Shakey head technique as more of a finesse style, but it can be just as versatile as your standard flipping jig with a trailer. Don’t be afraid to throw a small creature bait, crawfish, tube…etc with this set up. I like this in summer, shallow water, pounding the bank applications.

Well, I am not a pro fisherman, but I do fish tournaments and do lots of fun fishing trips, but then again fishing is always fun to me. I don’t claim to be the best, but bass fishing is in my heart. I can tell you if I only had 1 option to fish with, I know I can catch fish with a Shakey Head option. I always have one tied on and I hope this article will help you catch more fish and have fun doing it. Remember a bad day on the lake is better than a great day at work anytime. Wet your lines often, and if you give the Shakey Head a valid try I believe you will have a blast.

Danny Ryan
Grip “N” Rip