Spring time Clearwater Fishing
Don't wait to go weightless!
Somebody asked me recently about fishing Senkos and Cut Tails in clear water. Whoa, little did he know, he touched upon a subject here that really excites me, especially as we start to move into the springtime and spawning seasonal patterns associated with catching bass. For me, the two baits that were mentioned, The Senko and Cut Tail, are two of the most effective baits that I now have in my arsenal of Yamamoto products that give me a great advantage over my competition.
They also have assisted me tremendously in providing successful guiding trips for my clients, in that, these two baits fished weightless in the spring, just plane catch fish at a rate far greater than any bait I've ever used.
And out here in California, with the exception of the California Delta and ClearLake, we don't experience too much in the way of stained water. All our impoundments are gin clear. And during the spring, I find that some of the best action I can find with these two baits on the Delta & ClearLake, are when I find clear shallow water, that the bass are frequenting as they migrate to their spawning locations.
As you can see and gather from my into, I really only use these two baits in the Spring. For me, they provide me with far greater action that at any other time of the year. I git far more bites on these two baits than any other bait in my boat. Yet after the spawn, which will generally last through mid June out here, the number of bites for me on these weightless baits tends to fade and I have other baits that I rely on that produce far more strikes than the weightless Senko or Cut Tail.
During late February when our temps begin to rise and git above 55 degrees, that's when I start thinking about using a 9L Senko. Of course, it's very tough for me to put down that jig-n-pig at this time. Yet, when that temperature hits 60 degrees, our Senko bite is in full swing. If you don't have this bait tied on and in yer hands, your missing out, plain and simple. Now I have found, that the clearer the water, the better this bait works. A shallow bass that has migrated up to begin the spawn, will come from great distances to grab this bait as it slowly falls with that ever so enticing dip dee do this it's tail and nose does. It's truly amazing how aggressive these fish can be when this bait enters the water.
Most often we would associate the temperment of a bass as being very gun shy and wary in shallow, clear water, yet I find it to be just the opposite in the spring. I have seen these fish come from out of no where to grab my Senko. Pitch that bait to a flat six feet from the nearest piece of cover, such as a willow bush, and just watch that dark green torpedo out of there to come gobble up that slug of a piece of plastic.
In the spring, I don't do a lot of site fishing. Doing so just frustrates the bajeebers out of me. Yet when I got that Senko in my hands, I can pitch and flip that bait to visible fish with extreme confidence. And, I'm also pitching it blindly to locations that I believe a bass should be taking up residence at this time of year.
By far, a weightless Senko Texas rigged, is my deadliest tool in clear water during the spring. I wouldn't leave home without it.
Now, the other bait mentioned is the Cut Tail. Oh man, did I jump fer joy and mess my pants the first time I got my very first sample of those giant 7X baits. That 6.5" slug of plastic was just what I needed to git a big edge over my competition. It also gave me a bait to toss at these bass that had seen every single color and size Senko imaginable, that had become wary of the constant barrage and plopping of Senko Mania.
The 7X Cut tail is the perfect compliment to a Senko. It now has it's place on my deck right along with the Senko in the Spring time. Although, I really don't start tossing the Cut Tails until late in April. This season may be different though due to the success I had with the Cut Tails last spring. And I fish the Cut Tails exactly the same as I do the Senko, a 6'6" MH Cameron baitcaster is my rod of choice teamed up with an ABU Garcia 4600 UltraCast reel spooled with 16# Sugoi Flourocarbon line and a 2/0 Gamakatsu Offset Round Bend worm hook. For me, this set up is the perfect match for tossing these weightless baits with a free fall do nothing presentation.
Also, one other thing I should mention about these Cut Tails, they can be fished in another fashion in the Spring that is more deadly than fishing em weightless. And that's on a dropshot rig. For this rig I'll use a 1/8oz Mojo Dropshot weight and a 1/0 Sugoi worm hook. I tie that worm about 6-8? above the weight. You now have a weapon in your hands that is second to none I the spring, especially if'n yer site fishing! As much as a bass can't stand to see a Senko or Cut Tail free failing in it's bed room or just laying on the bottom, they absolutely can not stand and will not tolerate this long, slinky piece of plastic sitting there suspending anywhere near them off the bottom. This is a presentation that virtually no shallow bass have seen. The dropshot has been well known and documented for it's deep water application. But let me tell you what, this technique is far more versatile than you can imagine. And it's our use of that imagination, in applying this technique to different situations, that will git you far more bites than the next guy.
Like I mentioned previously, I don't do a lot of bed fishing by sight. But I indeed now do sight fish in the spring, but not necessarily am I 'bed' fishing. And where guys like Shaw Grigsby and Guido Hibdon are renowned sight fisherman and have won millions of dollars doings so over the years with such baits as Tubes and the Guido Bugs, I now have a bait that I can use and feel ever bit as confident that I can site fish with the best of em. Pitchin' and flippin' a dropshot Cut Tail to sighted fish, is deadly, I can't emphasize this enough. These bass just have never seen an artificial bait that sits there and quivers like that Cut tail does. Suspending that bait off the bottom like that, puts you and keeps you in the most strategic of all strike zones for spring time bass. Especially in clear water!
So, in answering the original question posed to me, "When should I think about changing from my jerkbaits to Senkos and Cut tails, and do they work in clear water?" I say stick to those jerkbaits until that water hits near 60. That jerkbait can too, be very deadly on transitional fish that are migrating from their winter haunts to the shallows for their spawning ritual. But once that water temp moves upwards and the fish move to the shallows, now's the time to really think about tossing these two baits, particularly in clear water!
Keep A Tight Line!