In most situations, these are the only lures you’ll ever really need.
Duckett’s buzzbait choice is either a 3⁄8- or 1⁄2-ounce offset buzzer in black or white.
Pro Tip: “I throw white when it’s sunny, but most times I start with black,” says Duckett. “But don’t be afraid to swap it. If you’re on a buzzbait bite, the thing to do is throw them both. It just takes a minute, and bass will usually tell on themselves quickly.”
2. Carolina-rig weights
Forget about the pros who drag 3⁄4- and 1-ounce weights on their Carolina rigs–stick with lighter weights.
Pro Tip: Duckett believes the novice angler should use a
C-rig that consists of a 1⁄2-ounce sinker with a small glass bead, a swivel and a 3/0 hook.
“A half-ounce Carolina-rig weight is a size that covers a lot of situations,” he says.
A 1⁄2-ounce Rat-L-Trap in crawfish or chrome with a black or blue back is your best bet.
Pro Tip: “A half-ounce Rat-L-Trap is the most versatile crankbait,” he says. “You can run it across the top of grass, cover open water, bring it through docks or across laydowns. You can cover the water column from one to fifteen feet–if you’re patient enough.”
You’ll need two types of these small-lipped minnowbaits to cover the water column: suspending and floating.
Pro Tip: For a suspending jerkbait, Duckett recommends a shad-colored Strike King Wild Shiner. His floating version would be this 6-inch Smithwick Rattlin’ Rogue shallow-runner in black back with gold sides and an orange belly.
5. Jigs & Trailers
Load up on 1⁄2-ounce black-and-blue or pumpkin jigs with matching Berkley Powerbait Chigger Craw trailers to cover the widest range of scenarios.
Pro Tip: “You can use that size to cover most depths,” says Duckett. “Those two colors are about all I throw anymore. I’ve got a box full of colors, but that’s all you need. The key is where you throw them.”
With a couple of white or white-and-chartreuse 1⁄2-ounce spinnerbaits, you’ll be prepared for most situations.
Pro Tip: “That’s a good all-around spinnerbait,” says Duckett. “A half-ounce is a whole lot easier to work than a smaller or larger size. You can fish it fairly deep, run it through cover, like brush and grass, or wake it just under the surface.”
7. Texas-rig weights
We’ve tried to narrow the hardware to one size for each category, but the fact is that you’ll need four sizes of weights to keep your soft-plastic offerings in firm contact with the bottom.
Pro Tip: Duckett simplifies things by suggesting the 1⁄8- and 1⁄4-ounce size for 6- to 7-inch soft-plastics, and 5⁄16- and 1⁄2-ounce for 8- to 10-inch baits.
8. Topwater Lures
Limit the Classic champion to a single topwater teaser, and he’ll opt for the versatility of a Lucky Craft Sammy 100 that features a brown back and clear sides.
Pro Tip: This 4-inch surface lure, which emits a rattling sound, has a multidimensional appeal. It combines a walk-the-dog motion with the spitting action of a popper.
Bonus: Use Jumbo Lures When Bass Get Finicky
It’s an oxymoron as oddly appropriate as “jumbo shrimp.” “Power finesse” is the bass-fishing world’s latest buzz phrase, and it does seem to defy logic. Designed for use in tough fish-catching situations, this Shaky Rig gone wild looks like a jig-and-worm on steroids. Call it “upsized finesse,” and pro bass anglers are all over it.
“It works, just like with the smaller version,” says veteran professional angler Edwin Evers of Oklahoma. “I’ve been using the power finesse for a while–it works both deep and shallow.”
On Shaky Ground
Finesse tactics are nothing new; there are several variations using basic thin 4- to 5-inch straight-tail worms. Years ago in California, a slip-sinker and glass bead were used for finicky or suspended bass. In the Southeast, a jighead was used, and the Shaky Rig was born.
Now, the Shaky Rig has grown up. Instead of 1/8- and 1/4-ounce jigheads, or smaller, kick it up a few notches. Try a 5/8- or 3/4-ounce jighead, sometimes round or football style and maybe with a flattened bottom to help the worm stand up. The worm? Instead of a lithe squeaker, go with an 8- or 10-inch brute typically used in summer for punching vegetation or dragging on the bottom.
The beauty of the power finesse rig is that everything is together in one package. There’s no separation of the hooked worm and weight. It can be cast and dragged, or pitched around cover. Evers teams a Yum 10.5-inch F2 MightEE worm with a Pumpkin ‘Ed jig, which he designed. It features a flat bottom, so the worm (or craw, sometimes) stands up, and a spring lure holder.
“I’ve tried it just about everywhere I fish worms,” Evers says. “It’s really great in deeper water, like in summer when you’re working a ledge or shell bed. There’s no doubt you can catch fish with a crankbait or dragging a Carolina rig, but this puts everything together so you feel the bottom and the bites better. It gets down there faster than a smaller worm and lighter weight, too.
“I’ve watched this combination on the bottom in clear water. When it’s sitting still, it’ll stand up and the worm’s tail just rises and pulses. When you’re dragging it or hopping it, the worm bounces and vibrates. It’s power fishing.”
Although the big worms shine in summer, don’t overlook adding a craw or creature bait. A 4- or 5-inch craw, like a Strike King Rage Tail Lobster or Netbait Paca Craw, a Zoom Brush Hog or Yum Mighty Bug offers a big package with a different shape and a slightly different action.
Evers sometimes opts to flip a creature bait into cover and then shake it in place, virtually standing still save for the action of tail or claws. He used the head with a Mighty Bug last year to win an Elite event on the St. John’s River, taking an 8-pounder on the final day. ––Alan Clemons