Sometimes the best lure action is no action
By Babe Winkelman
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Whether you're jigging, rigging, cranking,
spinning, spooning, worming or popping, there are literally infinite
ways that you can impart action on your bait. For jigging, you can
swim it, drag it, hop it, drop it, twitch it and everything in
between. The same thing applies to retrieving soft plastics.
When casting or trolling crankbaits, there's no end to what you can
do with those either. Rip 'em fast, slow-roll 'em, wobble 'em at the
the list goes on. And with topwater poppers, prop baits or
"walkers," you can work them violently or with subtle finesse.
savvy fisherman is always tinkering with little nuances in the
retrieve, to dial in the precise presentation that fish respond to
on a given day. Sometimes they want it fast and furious. Other
conditions will call for slow and lazy.
However, there's another presentation that I haven't yet
mentioned, and it's often the best one. That, my friends, is to do
nothing at all. Before I get into ways you can do nothing, let's
first consider the creature we're after: the fish.
Fish must eat, that's obvious. And like every other predator on
planet Earth (humans included), fish want their meals to be easy. It
is a natural instinct to expend as little effort as possible when
feeding (or attempting to feed). Survival depends on maintaining
body mass and energy levels —
because, let's face it, when a fish isn't eating, he's basically
trying not to get eaten himself!
With that said, ask yourself: Would the average fish rather chase
a racing, zigzagging minnow, or eat one that's just hanging around?
Most of the time, they'll take the easy meal. So next time you're
fishing, serve up a simple snack.
This is really easy to do when jigging or fishing with soft
plastics. In a walleye scenario with a jig and minnow, pitch the jig
to your chosen spot (let's say it's 16 feet down on a rocky hump).
Let the jig reach bottom and let it just sit there. Assume a walleye
has seen it drop and has rushed in to investigate. Maybe he inhales
it right away, or maybe he's nosing it and waiting for it to make
its next move. During this period, pay very close attention to
"feeling" a bite or seeing your fishing line twitch. If nothing
happens after 10 seconds or so, give the jig a hop and let it go
motionless again. If fish are there, and they're hungry, you will
[to top of second column]
Do-nothing soft plastics for bass can be especially deadly. A lot
of bass guys call this "dead-sticking." I remember a particular day
on a good bass lake when every largemouth I caught was on a dead-sticked
Senko rigged "wacky style." I'd make a cast, reel up the slack and
just wait. Sometimes it took several minutes before a roaming bass
came upon the bait and sucked it in, even though it was just lying
there on the bottom.
Dead-sticking is particularly effective when catching bass and
panfish on spawn beds, too. Find a bed, pitch a soft plastic into
it, and eventually the fish guarding that piece of real estate will
pick up the lure to get it the heck out of there.
To dead-stick crankbaits, there are two lure styles involved:
floaters and suspenders. With floaters, simply twitch or retrieve
the lure and then stop. Let it float to the surface and sit there
for several seconds. You'll be amazed at how many strikes you'll get
when it's sitting still. It's the same drill when you're working
topwater baits (poppers, prop baits, etc.).
For suspenders (or neutrally-buoyant) crankbaits, retrieve the
lure down to its desired depth, stop, and let it hang there. Try
this just beyond the outside edges of thick underwater weed lines.
Game fish will tuck into those edges for cover, then dart out for
unsuspecting bait fish that get caught loafing around.
Even spoons and spinners, especially when fished vertically, can
be dead-sticked. And naturally, any type of live bait presentation
underneath a bobber (float) is a fairly motionless bait and an easy
target for a hungry fish.
Next time you decide to get out there and do something about
catching fish, try doing nothing instead. It's a proven method for
capitalizing on a fish's tendency to be a lazy, opportunistic
[By BABE WINKELMAN]
Babe Winkelman hosts "Good Fishing" and
"Outdoor Secrets," the most-watched fishing and hunting programs on
television. Tune in on NBC Sports Network, Destination America,
Velocity, Time Warner Sports Texas & New York, and many local
broadcast channels. Visit
Winkelman.com for airtimes and more information. Follow
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