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Mattlures

The mindset of fishing for big bass

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I often see guys asking what to use to catch big bass on this and other boards. The answers are usualy the same. Big worms, jigs, etc. I always find these answers very interesting. I use these baits just like anybody else, or at least I used to use them alot but not as much anymore. Here is the way I look at it. If I am worm fishing, how many fish over 6lbs do I catch out of a hundred? I would guess about 2 or 3. Jigs would be around 10 out of 100. I dont use many cranks or blades so I cant say for those. But when I am throwing swimbaits I would say about 30-35 out of 100 are 6lbs or better. Also out of those hundres only a handfull of the small fish are under 3lbs  but with the other baits 1.5-2lber are the norm. So next time you think about your favorite big fish bait consider how many small fish you had to catch before you got a good one. Of course it matters where and how you fish  the diferent baits but I am always looking for big fish and all the baits are used in the same spots. Another way to look at it is like this.

When I am worm fishing and I get a 5lber, I am excited, and I feel like I have caught a big fish.

When I am throwing swimbaits and I get a bite I am excited at the possablities and I always assume its a BIG fish but as soon as I see or know its a 5lber I am emiediatly disapointed. Dang! its a small one, is going through my mind. Its simply a difernt mindset with difernt expectations.

There is NO doubt in my mind if we knew the average weight of bass caught on the diferent baits, swimbaits(real ones) would have a significantly higher average weight. I would guess jigs would be #2 but after that I wouldnt know. Worms do catch big fish but they catch so many small ones that they would have a low average.

When I am fishing for big bass I put as many factors in my favor as I can. I give myself the best possible odds. That doesnt mean that the guy dropshotting a 4in Robo wont catch a bigger fish than me but over the course of a year I know I will catch a lot more big fish than him.

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Thanks for the post Matt. I have a couple of your baby bass and bluegill but have yet to throw them that often. I also have a couple Huds that I dont throw that often. The reason why Im not throwing them as much is Im not sure when to throw em.  Ive heard that late spring is best for the baby bass and early spring is best for the bluegill. Theres not a whole lot of info out there when it comes to swimbaits, everyone that uses them is hush hush. I try them for a little while when I go out but I just dont have confidence in em. Plus the "time of year" also plays a role. So I end up throwing what I know. I hope to soon have enough confidence in swimbaits to throw em all the time. If you have any advice that would be great!

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Matt, if you're disappointed in a 5lber on a swimbait I need to move to where you're at.  ;D

I'm excited about most of the fish I catch, bank runner or 6-8lb hawg.  If I ever lose that excitement I think I'll just sell all my crap and take up knitting or curling.

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"Big bass" are relative to the region. Here in the Mid South a 10 lb bass is rare. I run with a lot of guides and tournament fishermen who have never caught a bass that big. I think I could fish swimmbaits exclusively and would probably catch a 10 or two every year, but I'm wondering if my gross number (not percentage) of 5-10 lb bass would improve?

The Tennessee State Record largemouth is 14 lb 8 oz., so if you think you are going to target 15 lb bass around here, fishing is going to be slow. For those of us outside of Florida, Texas, Georgia and California, I think jigs and soft plastics are the baits that will consistantly produce the biggest bass and the greatest number of "big bass".

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I think that putting a bait where they live is the key. Not ao much the size of the bait as most would claim. No doubt some baits are simply better at getting bit by big fish. Swimbaits might be the quintescential big bass bait. However, a question for the Cali guys and Matt.....if you dragged a Tora tube or other significantly large bait in the same places that you fish swimbaits, do you think you would catch larger fish or get bit by larger fish as often?

And let's also clarify something here regarding catching these large California bass. What is the frequency that an average swimbait angler actually catches a 10+ lb fish? I know several guys out there who have told me it is feas tor famine, often going months without a bite. It obviously takes dedication and discipline to throw exclusively for big fish.

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Bassmaster magazine has a section called the Lunker Club it's free and open to any BASS member. In this club anyone catching a largemouth bass over 10 lbs submits a photo of the fish along with where and on what the fish was caught. This information was put into an Excel spread sheet and sorted by lure. The results showed that the plastic worm caught more large bass by an 12 to 1 margin over the jig with this margin dramatically widening over all other lures.

Now most people respond by saying that the worm is fished by more anglers than any other lure accounting of these results. So another study was done concerning why the worm is the # 1 Bass Bait of all Time.

Here is the official answer:

Plastic Worm (Texas rigged) It's a long, thin shape resembles the profile of a wide variety of forage in the world of the bass, including earthworms, snakes, eels, and baitfish. Its action is almost entirely dependent on the contours of the bottom; and the rod movements of the fisherman, making it very random. It moves with little noise; the noise that it does make comes mostly from the random clicking of the sinker as it hits bottom. Bright colors and larger size can be used to increase its attracting qualities. Because of its basic resemblance to a wide array of living forage, this lure presents very few negative cues, and is hard for big bass to learn not to hit.

The plastic worm is the only lure made that a BASS CANNOT REMEMBER!

That is, a bass will continue to strike a worm even after repeated catches, whereas a bass will "turn off" to other lures, spinner baits and crank baits etc. after wearing them out on them. That's why you cannot continue to catch them on your honey hole with the same lure over and over. Bass will stop eating that which will eradicate them. Not true with the plastic worm, however. Although we all know bass will prefer a different bait at different times (i.e. "the pattern") you can always go back to the worm to catch them.

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I totally agree with RW . Where I fish anything bigger than 6lb is rare. Got 2 since march both on soft plastics. If I used swimbaits fishing was going 2 be extremely slow.

As RW said:

I think jigs and soft plastics are the baits that will consistantly produce the biggest bass and the greatest number of "big bass".

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I have found with my limited experience in swimbait fishing, its all about timing as far as getting bit regularly. I found some 3-6lb largemouth runnin bait on a bridge...big bait (12-14in gizzard shad). I caught a few on 12in Sassy shads, but they wouldnt touch anything smaller. Same bridge different day 2-3 in threadfin and ghost minnows- it took a 3in hand poured finnesse minnow 6lb FC drop shot to get em'. All about timing here in the sooner state.

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There is no question that in California swimbaits rule the roost for huge bass. Once you leave California all bets are off. Will swimbaits catch big fish in other states? Absolutely. Will they catch as many as they do in California. NO. We all want to believe that they will but they just don't. Not in Texas or in Florida.

I have tried them and have caught 2 in the 7lb class for my efforts. Now not small but not huge either. 1 was caught in Texas and 1 in Florida. It just seems that the California guys assume the entire country will produce just like their home waters and wonder why those of us who do not fish those waters do not have the same luck as they do?

I will be throwing swimbaits more and more in the Stick Marsh/Farm 13 as if they are going to work in Florida then this is the best lake to give it a true test. I caught a 7.5 on a Storm 4" wild eye live shiner a few weeks ago.  So I have a few baby bass lures of Matt's that Dan(Lightninrod) gave me. I will see if they produce anything. I do know that George has produced some huge bass on Senko's and other plastics.

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I just started throwing swimbaits last year and didn't put forth a quality effort until this year here in Virginia. I have fished a small pond with worms, jigs, crankbaits, etc that I knew had bigger fish in them and couldn't get them to bite for anything. I threw a 3:16 mission fish and on my second cast landed a 6lb 10oz largemouth. Another small pone I knew had a few 4 and 5lbers in it. Again they wouldn't take any plastic presentation I gave them. 3 consecutive casts with Mattlures produced two 4lbers and a 3lber. Not huge fish but bigger than the norm and they produced when other baits wouldn't. I know those results aren't typical but I have caught bigger fish this year on a swimbait than on a worm or other soft plastic.

Swimbait fishing takes a totally different mindset. I am ok with going out and not getting bit or catching a fish while throwing a swimbait. Heck, there have been plenty days where I've gone without a bite on worms and soft plastics as well. I know when I do get bit with a swimbait, the chances of it being a good fish are high. A 10lber is not all that common here in VA but I know they are out there. My personal best is an 8lb 3oz and I think a swimbait can take me to the double digits if I'm fishing a lake that is known to have big bass and I target the right spots. Most people think of swimbaits as a 10lb + bass catcher and get scared of using them. But in truth they will catch just as many 3, 4 and 5lbers. You'd be surprised on what will hit an 8" bait.

4lb 4oz on an 8" Spro BBZ-1

index.cfm?p=gi&i=36026&r=7165&t=reg

I look at swimbaits as a new personal best waiting to happen. I don't have the same high confidence in a worm, jig, or other soft plastic.

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if you dragged a Tora tube or other significantly large bait in the same places that you fish swimbaits, do you think you would catch larger fish or get bit by larger fish as often?

No. We fish extremely clear water in lakes that receive the highest big bait pressure in the country. We have smart fish that can see you from 20 feet. Throwing a "tora tube" anytime except bed fishing, is not the big fish tactic some people make it out to be. I don't know any big bass guys that will spend time fishing giant tubes, except on beds.

And let's also clarify something here regarding catching these large California bass. What is the frequency that an average swimbait angler actually catches a 10+ lb fish? I know several guys out there who have told me it is feas tor famine, often going months without a bite. It obviously takes dedication and discipline to throw exclusively for big fish.

I have just started trophy hunting. In all the time I have done it, I have only caught one fish over 10. That one fish wasn't even caught on a swimbait. A swimbait wasn't the right tool for the job. They aren't a cure-all or silver bullet. But I bet 12 out of my 15 biggest fish have come off of swimbaits. People don't see all of the work put in. All they see are Donkeys with Hudds hanging out of their mouth. It may be feast or famine, but alot of us go hungry. But let me tell you guys, there is very little that is as exciting as a swimbait bite or watching a giant fish cruise in all the way to the boat while she's checking out every spot and fin on your bait.

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Guest avid

Fishing swimbaits can feel alot like work  

Most true cali swimbaits  are heavy lures, Mattslure babybass at less than 2 ounces is fairly light ofr this class.  Most are heavier.  If you don't have a good drift going, casting these things can get old fast.

I know when I do get bit with a swimbait, the chances of it being a good fish are high.

I believe this is true.  It's why I fish em even though The heavy equipment and lures make it a "not fun" way for me to fish, the knowledge that when I hook into something it will probably be substantial makes the effor worthwhile.

I havent' had much luck with swimbaits.  I have had days where I would spend hours tossing nothing else.  I have caught two decent fish on a mission fish but so far that's it.

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Hate to say it, but the LA Slider has a big following in TX and WA. A 5" or 6" soft swimbait with interchangeable weight/hook is a big seller in other states besides CA.

post-5930-13016300531_thumb.jpg

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Thanks for the post Matt. I have a couple of your baby bass and bluegill but have yet to throw them that often. I also have a couple Huds that I dont throw that often. The reason why Im not throwing them as much is Im not sure when to throw em. Ive heard that late spring is best for the baby bass and early spring is best for the bluegill. Theres not a whole lot of info out there when it comes to swimbaits, everyone that uses them is hush hush. I try them for a little while when I go out but I just dont have confidence in em. Plus the "time of year" also plays a role. So I end up throwing what I know. I hope to soon have enough confidence in swimbaits to throw em all the time. If you have any advice that would be great!

:-?  Anytime I've been asked about swimbaits(tackle, retrieves, small Bass, etc.) on here(and other sites), I've answered to the best of my ability.  Matt does too when he gets the time to surf and read. :)  And, IMO, there is no "season" for swimbaits.  They can be effective at almost anytime of the year.  My PB(on a Matt's Baby Bass) came in the middle of the day during August of last year.

Dan

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Here is a radio program to listen to as well with Bill Siemantel.  He explains some of the thoughts of his book, Big Bass Zone, and how to change your thinking on targeting big bass and on using swimbaits.  If you haven't read the book, it's definately worth reading.  Take some time and listen the radio show as well.  

http://www.catch-n.com/audio/bills.mp3

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Feast or Famine is a mind set.     When you decide to throw one, its for a reason.    

I tie one on knowing that I might go awhile without any strikes, thats not famine, its reality that I expect.

I also expect that when I do hook up, its a nice toad or better.

I don't think 4-6 inch baits are true swim baits, they are average sized and DD 22 isn't much smaller.  

When famine is used as a term, I think of the 9 inch or larger baits as the true trophy swimbaits.

I can take the storm wild eyes out, 4-6 inches, and have great success in TX on any outing, afterall, its a bait that 2 lbers slam easily.     Its the larger baits that earn the feast or famine awards.

The mind set is easy, throw something smaller and it appeals to all bass, throw something large and it appeals to a larger class, but not as many.

I would not find it surprising to see some one catch 10 bass in a day with 4-6 inch baits.

On the same note, I am not surprised when I throw an 11'' castiac shad all day and don't get bit, but the day I do, you can bet its normally worth all the days of throwing it.

Hookem

Matt.

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Craigs statement,

"I think that putting a bait where they live is the key. Not ao much the size of the bait as most would claim."

You can argue it, you can discuss it, but the above statement is the one that you can take to the bank.

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I'm not disagreeing with Craig or George, but when it comes to soft plastics there is another aspect that comes into play. Although small bass will eat a big worm, not as many will attack the bait. I fish the GYCB 6" Senko because I don't seem to catch as many small fish on that size. However, the biggest bass I have ever seen in person was caught by a friend of mine on a 5" Senko. Go figure. Maybe that illustrates the point George and Craig are making, but I want to discourage smaller fish, at least a littlle.

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Good point. Even when I wasn't fishing worms all the time I still caught all my big bass on them so know that is all I use. The more work you do before you head out the better chance you have!

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For those of us outside of Florida, Texas, Georgia and California, I think jigs and soft plastics are the baits that will consistantly produce the biggest bass and the greatest number of "big bass".

That's the truth! IMHO

Ronnie

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If everyone outside of the big 3 states were constantly throwing swimbaits, replies would be different I think.  Most of us think that plasitcs and jigs are the best big fish producer because that's what we've thrown all our life.  Big fish are caught on those because there are a lot more people throwing those type baits.  It's proven swimbaits (depending on the size of the bait) will catch fish from 1lb on up to whatever the biggest size fish is in your lake.  Obviously you have to be fishing in the right spots but I think if more people were throwing them or had more confidence in throwing them opinions would be different.  It's a different mindset.

I know it's not a guarantee, but 8" and up sized swimbaits rule out a lot of the smaller fish that will bite a jig or worm and that's what I'm looking for.  That one big bite.  :D

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For those of us outside of Florida, Texas, Georgia and California, I think jigs and soft plastics are the baits that will consistantly produce the biggest bass and the greatest number of "big bass".

That is absolutely correct. Being from MO is the main reason that I haven't added a single swimbait to my arsenal. I have a monstrous variety of soft plastics and a good selection of jigs. If I am big fish hunting I am using one of those two things and fishing ANY STRUCTURE I can find very slowly and meticulously.

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For those of us outside of Florida, Texas, Georgia and California, I think jigs and soft plastics are the baits that will consistantly produce the biggest bass and the greatest number of "big bass".

This statement is exactly what I am talking about. I resectfully disagree. You guys have no idea how many guys are sucsesfuly using swimbaits in just about every state and catch big bass. Some of them know they have that bite all to themselves so they keep it quiet. others post about it and talk. You will see over time. I think you guys missed the point. Jigs in general will catch a bigger grade of fish then most methods. Worms will not. I dont care if its a 12 power worm. Small fish eat them regularly. Do big fish eat them to? of course but the overall average fish caught on a worm would be less then 2lbs if you took all the bass ever caught on them and averaged them out. If you did the same with swimbaits the weight would be much heavier. The reason that jigs and worms do produce the biggest fish in other states is simple. I bet around 80% of all bass fishing is done with some type of plastic worms. So obviously around 80% of all bass are caught on them. This % is just a geustimate but I am sure I am in the ball park. When I speek of big bass its all relative to your area. I am not talking 10lbs. For most of you thats not too realistic. I am not posting this as a baitmaker. I am posting this as a fisherman. The baits that I have availible are small in the world of swimbaits but I do fish the big baits too. Also another common misconseption is that finding the particular spot is how you catch big bass. this maybe true with regular techniques but with swimbaits you cover water and pull fish to you. Every time I go to a lake I will try to hit my "spots" as corectly as I can but I am aslo casting as I work my way inbetween spots. I still get most of my fish from my known spots but I do get a few along the way.

Feast or famin is an interesting theory. For beginners thsi is usualy true. I am not an expert but I am aslo not a beginner. When I feel like its a good time for a swimbait bite I almost always get bit. maybe only a couple bites or only 1 in a day but rarly do I go bitless when I thought I would get bit. There are guys like Mike Long who regularly catches numbers of good fish practicaly every time he throws the big baits. Over time you get a feeling for when its a good time to throw them. Every bait has the potential and at some point has produced a big bass. lok at Capt Cali. he stuck 2 of them on a little dropshot worm. does that mean its a good bait for big fish? No its probably one of the worst.  I posted this with big fish in mind, not giants. I am talking about the upper 10% class of your fish. I do every thing I can do to increase my odds of getting a big one. There are times when that is a buzzbait at midnight. Its not always swimbaits. I fished for 20 years before I caught a double didget. I got very good at worming but it wasnt untill I decided I had to break 10 at all costs that I started to catch bigger fish. I simply stopped fishing for little ones. If you keep doing the same things you will get the same results. catching big bass consistantly is not getting lucky. Its about changing how you fish. Think of a big bass as a completly diferent species with difernt habbits and force your self to learn them. Then you will catch them.

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For those of us outside of Florida, Texas, Georgia and California, I think jigs and soft plastics are the baits that will consistantly produce the biggest bass and the greatest number of "big bass".

This statement is exactly what I am talking about. I resectfully disagree. You guys have no idea how many guys are sucsesfuly using swimbaits in just about every state and catch big bass. Some of them know they have that bite all to themselves so they keep it quiet. others post about it and talk. You will see over time. I think you guys missed the point. Jigs in general will catch a bigger grade of fish then most methods. Worms will not. I dont care if its a 12 power worm. Small fish eat them regularly. Do big fish eat them to? of course but the overall average fish caught on a worm would be less then 2lbs if you took all the bass ever caught on them and averaged them out. If you did the same with swimbaits the weight would be much heavier. The reason that jigs and worms do produce the biggest fish in other states is simple. I bet around 80% of all bass fishing is done with some type of plastic worms. So obviously around 80% of all bass are caught on them. This % is just a geustimate but I am sure I am in the ball park. When I speek of big bass its all relative to your area. I am not talking 10lbs. For most of you thats not too realistic. I am not posting this as a baitmaker. I am posting this as a fisherman. The baits that I have availible are small in the world of swimbaits but I do fish the big baits too. Also another common misconseption is that finding the particular spot is how you catch big bass. this maybe true with regular techniques but with swimbaits you cover water and pull fish to you. Every time I go to a lake I will try to hit my "spots" as corectly as I can but I am aslo casting as I work my way inbetween spots. I still get most of my fish from my known spots but I do get a few along the way.

Feast or famin is an interesting theory. For beginners thsi is usualy true. I am not an expert but I am aslo not a beginner. When I feel like its a good time for a swimbait bite I almost always get bit. maybe only a couple bites or only 1 in a day but rarly do I go bitless when I thought I would get bit. There are guys like Mike Long who regularly catches numbers of good fish practicaly every time he throws the big baits. Over time you get a feeling for when its a good time to throw them. Every bait has the potential and at some point has produced a big bass. lok at Capt Cali. he stuck 2 of them on a little dropshot worm. does that mean its a good bait for big fish? No its probably one of the worst. I posted this with big fish in mind, not giants. I am talking about the upper 10% class of your fish. I do every thing I can do to increase my odds of getting a big one. There are times when that is a buzzbait at midnight. Its not always swimbaits. I fished for 20 years before I caught a double didget. I got very good at worming but it wasnt untill I decided I had to break 10 at all costs that I started to catch bigger fish. I simply stopped fishing for little ones. If you keep doing the same things you will get the same results. catching big bass consistantly is not getting lucky. Its about changing how you fish. Think of a big bass as a completly diferent species with difernt habbits and force your self to learn them. Then you will catch them.

Amen!  :D  Makes me wanna go out and chuck them now.  You hear basically the same thing from all the guys like Matt that are catching big fish on swimbaits so you know it's proven and tested.  Check out swimbaitnation.com.  There are guys on there from Oregon, New Hamshire and other states that are catching their personal bests on swimbaits.  They may not be 10lbers but they are big bass for their states and they are the biggest bass they've ever caught.  

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I love these kind of topics.  I agree 1000% with Matts odds that he put up.  I also agree with Roadwarriors comments that big is defined by the area that you live in.  I have been fishing swimbaits seriously for about a year now.  I can't tell you how much I have learned about big bass during those times.  By using swimbaits I am CONSISTANTLY catching bigger fish.  I catch dinks (12-15 inch fish)all the time on 8 inch baits but my ODDS are HUGE that I will catch a 5lb + fish.  I strongly believe that if you throw a crankbait by a brushpile and turnaround and throw a big swimbait your chances just tripled in catching a big fish out of that brush.  BIG FISH are lazy and they want a meal.  Also one problem that I am running into is schooling fish.  Anyone ever caught a schooling fish on a sammy 100 and while reeling in your dink you see 4 School Bus SIZED spots following your hooked dink which are more active to begin with???  Try throwing a swimbait and those little fish are "less" prone to hitting a big swimbait.  Kinda like seperating the men from the boys if you will.  

Now George's situation is a little different.  He's got huge fish everywhere so he probably catches alot of big fish on smaller sized baits than i will due to having more bigger fish in the pond.  Small and medium baits will catch big fish but bigger swimbaits will catch more and thats why I throw them.  You haven't LIVED until you've caught a big fish on a swimbait!!  Topwater can't even come close to holding a candle to a good swimbait bite.    

T Mike

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