When you’re fishing before the spawn, the fish are going to be higher in the water column and they’ll usually be aggressive. They’re going to bite moving baits like the Thunder Cricket.
That’s not always true, but it’s true a lot of the time. One of the very best baits to throw this time of year depending on the type of cover you’re in is the Thunder Cricket Vibrating Jig. It’s especially great if you’re throwing into grass. This bait flat-out catches them.
Most of the time, I want to use the wake bait that just barely gets into that grass. I want to jerk it up out of the grass, because that’s when you get more bites. The weight you use depends on the depth of the grass—you’ll use a lighter bait in shallow grass, and a heavier bait in deeper grass.
What I’ve found in pre-spawn conditions is that you have to wind it really slowly. You see it in the water, and it’s just vibrating along, but you should barely feel it vibrate. If it starts to thump your rod really hard when you’re reeling it in, you’re going too fast.
I put a Strike King Blade Minnow on the back of it to match the color of the bait. I like to use a blue gill color in grassy conditions.
I have a lot of confidence in the Thunder Cricket. It wins a lot of tournaments, and it catches some big fish.