Tips & Techniques

by Full Limit Outdoor Media

With air and water temps on the rise, as well as many lakes from spring rains, love is in the air...or water. Bass are spawning or about to in many areas of the country, so we decided to get some insight from Strike King's Bassmaster Elite Series pros on how they find and catch bag-busting limits during the spawn.

Kevin VanDam

“My favorite search bait for shallow fish headed to spawn is undoubtedly the 5" Caffeine Shad. I love it because I can twitch it erratically and cover water, and I can also deadstick it next to targets. It has an incredible quivering action coupled with a slow horizontal fall that they just can't resist.

"My favorite two colors are watermelon red or KVD magic in clearer water, and pearl in muddier water.”

“My two best flipping baits for spawners and target oriented-fish are the Game Hawg and Rodent."

Here's the Rodent:

Mark Davis

“Right now my favorite search bait is the Rage Menace Twin Tail Grub. That’s how I located and caught the majority of the fish I recently weighed in at the Table Rock Elite event. I fish it on a 3/8- or 1/2-oz 'swinging-head' type of rig using 17-lb flourocarbon.

"In clear water I prefer candy craw or green pumpkin. In stained water, I have better luck with black and blue.

"When I'm flipping, pitching and casting to individual beds or bedding cover, I prefer the Game Hawg – green pumpkin or Bama bug typically cover most water clarity scenarios. I Texas-rig it with a 1/4-oz Tour Grade tungsten weight on 15-lb fluorocarbon line."

James Niggemeyer

My favorite search bait for when fish are shallow and heading for beds has to be the KVD 1.5 or 2.5 crankbait in sexy shad or chartreuse sexy shad depending on weather, water color, forage size and overall bass population size.

"Prior to setting up on the beds, bass typically will adopt territorial characteristics and have a tendency to be tight to hard cover such as wood and rock. That makes those baits the the ideal searching lure.

"I can get tight to cover due to the baits' high deflection qualities, which enables me to get close to the fish when they don't want to move far to get a lure.

“My favorite flipping bait for when they're on beds is the Rodent. The Rodent is so effective and easy to present to tight quarters such as overhanging trees, flooded bushes and emergent grass. And because of its compact design and the fact that the appendages come out towards the back of the lure, it doesn't get hung up in places where fish spawn, which is typically in and around targets.

"Spawning fish can also have a tendency to nip and peck baits, so the overall smaller more compact profile is great on those days and gives me an even higher bite to land ratio."

Chris Zaldain

“When the fish are shallow and moving up before the spawn, I like to keep the trolling motor on high and search them out with a KVD 2.5 Squarebill. The high buoyancy and wandering action of the 2.5 allows me to crank the shallows in '4-wheel drive.' Anything and everything from barren flats to heavy cypress trees I will crank the 2.5 alongside without the worry of getting hung up.

"I like the chartreuse perch color because of its 'toned down' chartreuse base – it stands out in clear water and dirty water without looking un-natural. My choice of line is 15- to 20-lb fluorocarbon.

"Once the fish are more committed to the shallows and are spawning, I like flipping isolated targets with a Shim-E-Stik in green pumpkin or black/blue for big, lazy females. I just pitch the bait in there, let it fall to the bottom, and repeat.

"I rig this bait three ways:
- Weightless, Texas-rigged (for 0-2' depths)
- Texas-rigged with a 3/16-oz Tour Grade Tungsten Bullet Weight (for 2-6' depths)
- Weightless wacky rigged (for clearer water and a more free fall)

"The subtle action of the Shim-E-Stick is particularly appealing to the big spawning females that aren't in the mood to chase down faster-moving baits. I like to throw this bait with 50-lb braided line and 15- to 20-lb fluorocarbon leader."