love to fish a bait very fast and see all of those visual reaction strikes. The trouble
is that the majority of the time the bass simply are not active enough for this to work.
The method I use everyday is to start fishing fast baits and gradually slow down until I
hit on what the fish want. I do this when guiding, in a tournament, looking for fish, or fishing for fun. Most times, I'm forced to fish slower than I would like.
It's as simple as this. You have to fish on their terms, not yours, in order to catch them.
Years ago, I took a tip from Larry Nixon and that was when I really started catching bass.
He said "you have to learn to fish slow, fast." I had to repeat this to myself about 100
times to really get it. Basically it means that the bass can always be caught with a
slow retrieve but, everything other than the retrieve must be done as quickly as possible
without sacrificing execution. This means getting more casts over the course of a day by
not fishing dead water. If bass are holding tight to cover such as stumps, don't waste time
fishing the water between the cover and the boat. Don't make 50 foot casts when you can get
within 15' of the bass without spooking them. Fishing a few feet closer to the fish means
you will get 100 more casts in during the day. Concentrating on this strategy helped me
slow my presentations dramatically. I still have to tell myself to slow down when I'm
not getting bit.
Slowing down is very tough to do, especially when you're not catching fish but, slowing down
is the one thing that will help you catch them. It's not changing baits, colors, areas,
it's slowing down that will catch them every time. I know this is not exactly what you
asked but, regardless of the reel, you are still the one that must slow down. Reels
definitely help in certain situations but they can't do it all. After all that, I'll
try to help you with reels.
Everything in life has sped up the last few years and reels are no exception. A fast reel
is great when burning a Rat-L-Trap over grass but they are terrible when trying to fish
a deep running crankbait. The reason is, when you gain speed in a reel, you lose power.
A high speed reel simply does not have the power needed to crank a deep running plug.
You can barely turn the handle. After 2 casts, you're worn out. I'm sure everyone has
said the same thing at one time, "how do the pros fish one of these baits all day?"
The answer is simple, it's all in using the proper reel to get the job done.
I used deep running crankbaits as an example because this is the #1 bait that requires a
specific type of reel to fish it properly and not wear yourself out. Until 4-5 years ago,
gear ratio was all that was mentioned concerning a reels speed.
Finally there is a much more important, and accurate method, to help an angler choose a
reel for a specific technique. It is "line recovery." This is shown in catalogs such as BPS.
Line recovery is the amount of line that a reel takes in with 1 turn of the handle. This
is the only true measurement of how fast a reel is and it can vary greatly between 2 reels
with the same gear ratio. This is especially true with spinning reels. I answered this same
type of question last year and I could not believe the response of many people. Many of
them came right out and said I was nuts, there was no way a reel could retrieve 24" of
line with each turn of the handle. The fact is, many reels are much faster than that.
At the same time, the faster they get, the less power they have. Pick up a BPS catalog
and use these facts. Line recovery is listed for every reel. Due to this speed thing that
everyone seems to think they need, it's very hard to find a good crankbait reel.
Shallow crankbaits can be fished fine with just about any reel you would use for spinnerbaits,
worms, anything. They do not have the resistance of a deep diver. You need a slow, low gear
ratio reel to deep crank. When I hand one of my cranking rods to a client, they generally
freak out. They pull a bait thru the water like a warm knife thru butter. There are few to
choose from. My favorite has been discontinued. This goes to show how little people know
about crankbait fishing. A few people on here found some on e-bay a while back after I
remarked about them. I'm sure they will tell you what a huge difference they made in their
fishing. This reel is a Pinnacle PL10. If you find one, buy it. Make sure you are getting
the right one. It has 10 bearings, 5.1:1 ratio, and a line recovery of 19.5". This is a
fantastic reel. With 10 bearings, you can imagine how smoothly it operates.
Another great crankbait reel that many people don't realize even exists is a
Shimano Curado #200B38. This model Curado has a 3.8:1 gear ratio and a line recovery of 15".
You can get this reel although few places keep it in stock. You may have to order it.
The Curado is one of, if not the biggest selling reels in the country. Everyone buys
the 6.2:1 model and few know about this one. These 2 reels are real power houses and also
work great for pitching jigs or plastics in the heaviest cover. A lot of people got the idea
that a fast reel was the way to go when flipping and pitching because you could reel the bait
in quickly for the next pitch. I can tell you for a fact that having a reel with a line recovery
of 28" will save a few seconds here and there but, when a 10 LB. bass heads for the thickest
hydrilla you have ever seen, this reel does not have the power to turn him around.
The two I just mentioned do have it.
Like I said, "fish slow, fast", not slow, fast, and stupid. When you hook the bass of a
lifetime, do it with a reel that has the power to do the job.
For jigs and plastics, You often hear people say to use a slower reel. This makes sense
as far as power goes but, they are referring to these as being slow techniques and a slow
reel helping to fish them slow.
That makes no sense because you work these baits with the rod tip - not by turning the reel
handle. Nothing will slow you down except yourself when fishing jigs and plastics. When it
comes to other baits, spinnerbaits, buzzbaits, lipless crankbaits, whatever, there are two
reels that I use. These are the only reels that I would suggest buying. They are the Curado
and the Castaic. Both with a 6.2:1 ratio and 23" of line recovery. When fishing these
horizontal baits you can't beat these 2 reels. If you went to a slightly slower reel,
you would just crank a little faster to make up the difference.
There is one way that a reel will definitely slow you down. I'm not suggesting that anyone
do this but it will slow you down. Take a Curado 200B38 and only fill the spool about 5/8
full. The reel only has a line recovery of 15". This is only with a full spool. By only
filling the reel 5/8 full, you would cut this down to maybe 10-12". This will cut down
on your casting distance but you would get by. Remember, this or any reel adjustment
will only slow down your horizontal bait presentations.
These are not the methods that many people have trouble with fishing too fast. Bass fishing
is a thinking persons game. Once you get to a certain level with your mechanics, it all
becomes mental. Take the pros for example. Out of 175 anglers in a tournament, probably
165 of them are equal in their mechanics. They can all cast, flip, and fish any technique
on a pretty equal basis. What makes the difference between 1st place and 100th place?
It's making the right decisions and execution. You must constantly be aware of your
surroundings and what you are trying to accomplish. Keep telling yourself to slow down.
I wish we could spend a couple of days on the water. Keep an open mind and never say "I can't." Good luck, Rob.
by Ranger Rob