By Marc Rogers
Finesse Fishing for Bass
There are countless techniques available to catch bass, but finesse fishing techniques are often overlooked by many anglers. Many anglers often use the term finesse fishing without really understanding its application. To most it means using techniques that require lighter lures and line, often using spinning equipment. This is a generally accepted definition but does not clearly state several of the most popular finesse techniques.
Many anglers immediately picture spinning equipment in their minds when hearing the words finesse fishing. It is true that spinning equipment is a great way to present small, light lures to bass but bait-casting equipment can be just as effective when using finesse techniques. Medium and Medium-Light action rods are required when using bait-casting equipment because a limber rod is essential to casting the light lures used. Rods with heavier action will be ineffective when attempting to make casts with light lures.
My favorite finesse fishing lures are small jigs, often called finesse jigs, and small plastic lures including worms and crayfish imitators. I use these primarily on small rivers and streams as well as heavily pressured impoundments. Bass that are bombarded with large, noisy lures everyday often times tend to ignore the larger offerings. Some anglers think it is because the bass learn to associate these lures with danger from getting hooked. However, I think it is because the bigger lures are easier for the bass to see the details in the offerings and can distinguish them from real forage. The smaller lures, especially in clear water, do not allow the bass to get a good look at the lures and therefore they look more natural in the water.
When using finesse jigs it is best to let the water clarity dictate what color of lure is chosen. Dark color lures are more visible to bass in dirty or stained water while lighter colors are visible in clear water and do not look out of place in the natural setting. For dirty or stained water a black or black and blue jig is a great choice. When fishing clear water, natural crayfish colors are the best choices. These color choices apply to plastic worms and plastic crayfish as well.
Presenting these lures where current is available in rivers and streams it is best to keep the presentation slow. Slowly lifting the lure off of the bottom and letting it fall naturally, while allowing the current to move it, will produce the best results. When a rod tip is lifted six inches it creates a lot of movement at the end of the line. If an angler lifts a rod tip 18 inches it could move the lure three feet along the bottom. It is best to make short lifting actions to create a natural movement at the end of the line. Crayfish do not hop off the bottom when traveling in the water they will crawl slowly and only move large distances if a predator is in pursuit. There are times when a fast erratic retrieve will trigger reaction strikes but most often the slower retrieve is the most productive.
If the bass are not reacting to a finesse jig a good back-up technique is a shaky worm. Shaky worms are small finesse worms, generally five inches or less in length, with straight tails. They feature small diameter bodies and appear to have little action. When teamed with a shaky head jig they create enough action to entice a bass. The worms are best when cast and left to settle on the bottom without any added action. Once they settle, anglers should gently shake the lure while trying not to move it along the bottom. This presentation creates action in the tail of the lure and allows it to gently move back and forth. Many times it may take 15 seconds or more to get a bass to strike shaky worms using this technique. The shaky worm color choices should also be darker colors for dirty or stained water and lighter, natural colors for clear water.
There are many styles of shaky jig head available. My personal choices include a Midwest Custom Tackle Football Stand-up Shaky Head. The spring lock is used to secure the soft plastic lure to the jig head. Then the hook point is inserted into the worm making it weedless like a Texas rigged worm. The other choice is a Gambler Giggy Head and is rigged the same way. The major difference is the Gambler Giggy Head has a double barbed point protruding from the bottom of the jig head and allows the lure to easily pull away from the jig head on a hook set. This feature helps to prevent the lure body from filling the hook gap.
When fishing pressure is at its peak during the busy summer months on your favorite lake presenting these micro-sized bass lures can save you from an unproductive day. However, do not discount the big bass catching ability of small lures. Also, if you are fishing for more numbers of bass instead of a few big ones, these small offering tend to produce better results. In small streams and rivers where the forage is generally smaller finesse lures are a great choice as well.