Detecting Strikes, Reel Gear Ratios, Bank Fishing Tips, and More

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Glenn: There we go. Good fish. Here we go. Stay down. Come here. Here we go, baby. Come on aboard. Look at that. How do you like that, guys? Wow. Again, just right in the roof of the mouth. That's where you want him. That's a good fish right there. All right. Nice four-pounder right here. All right. Ready?

Hey, folks, Glenn May here at And today I'm going to answer a bunch of questions that we received over the past couple of months via our Facebook page and also via email and I hope that it answers your questions as well. And we got a lot of really good ones. So listen up. This is going to be an education dump today. Starting with this first question.


Question: "Hey Glenn, when I'm fishing heavy cover, what rod and reel is best suited for making a long cast with light lures?"

Answer: All right, so this is a tricky one because typically when you're fishing heavy cover, you want to use a stout rod and reel to wrench those fish out of the cover. But here you're asking, "How do I get longer casts with light lure? How do I do that and still fish heavy cover?"

So for the rod, I would fish a seven-foot, medium-heavy rod with a moderate action tip. Okay? Medium-heavy power rod, moderate action. That moderate piece is really what you want. You can go with fast action as well but not extra fast. What that does is the tip of the rod is a lot more flexible, so it's going to allow you to use that tip of the rod to throw that light lure longer. But the rest of the rod is, you know, medium-heavy has got that stout action that you're going to need for wrenching fish out of that heavy cover and being able to control them. So you've got kind of a balance of both.

The reel would be a baitcasting reel but really what's important on that is a couple of things. First of all, you have the ability to control the brakes on it, so at least that has both the mechanical and magnetic brakes on it. I prefer to have reels that have mechanical, magnetic and pin breaks, all three of them. That really helps me fine-tune the action on it and the castability on it. Especially when fishing light lures, you need to have those little fine-tune adjustments to be able to avoid getting lots of backlashes.

The other component is to use braided line but lighter braided line. So in heavy cover, typically you're fishing 40-50 pound braid or more even 65-pound braid. But that's going to limit your casting distance due to its heavyweight and it doesn't peel off the reel as fast as easily. So I would go down to about a 20-pound test braided line, that comes off the spool a lot easier, a lot smoother, and it's gonna allow you to make those longer casts. I hope that helps.

So this question is about jig fishing.


Question: Other than using a heavier jig, what suggestions do you have to help me detect strikes while jig fishing?

Answer: Well, honestly, I wouldn't use a heavier jig, to begin with, because the lighter the jig you can get away with the more strikes you're going to get. Because most of the bites occur on the fall. So the slower it's falling, the more it's in that strike zone, the more apt it is to get bit. So to detect those strikes there's really two main things that I do.

One of them is as it's falling I pay super close attention to the line, whether I'm using braid or fluorocarbon, I really focus on where that line is entering the water and pay close attention. If it jumps, twitches, moves to one side or maybe even it accelerates faster as it's falling, that's usually something on the other end of the line messing with it, usually a bass. So just visually seeing that change can help you detect strikes.

I also do a countdown method, by the way. If I'm, you know, throwing a jig and I count one, two, three, okay, hit the bottom. And I can make another cast, one, two, three, almost four and it hits the bottom. So I've got an idea between three and four-count hits the bottom and I make a cast one, two. Okay. Well sometimes bass come up and grab it and they just hold onto it. And so when it just suddenly stops for no reason, set the hook, that might be a bass. So again, really paying close attention to that jig while it's falling.

The other thing I do is once that jig is on the bottom, I like to hold the rod tip up at an angle above the nine o'clock position. So I have a better connection between the rod and the line and the jig that's down there. That helps me feel any kind of movement, a slight subtle pick up, a light strike. With a line being tight like that, it'll transmit that down the line onto the rod and down into my hands. And I have a better feel so I can feel those bites that I may not see on a tight line. So with those two things combined, I think I'm going to catch a lot more fish. Hope that helps.

There you go. Nice. They're in here.

Keri: Come here you. Glenn is getting a net. Come here, baby. Come here. Come here. Oh, come on, Glenn. Come on, Glenn. There we go. There we go. He's got a sore on his tongue. Yeah, he does.

Glenn: He's all right. There you go. He's very resilient.


Question: All right. Here's a good question about budget and baitcasting reels. "If I can afford to buy only one quality baitcasting reel, what gear ratio would you recommend?"

Answer: All right, so you need a baitcasting reel that's going to do a variety of things. So that kind of wipes out the bookends of the big casting world. So like a 4.7:1 gear ratio that's really low or maybe even a 3 something that's a real low gear ratio. It has a lot of power, great for fishing, you know, heavy cover but that's not going to help you when you're fishing say buzzbaits, spinnerbaits and crankbaits.

On the other end of the spectrum you have you know, 8:1, 9:1, even I think there's some reels over 10. Those are high-speed reels, great for fishing those faster moving lures but they don't have a lot of power for when you're fishing, say, flipping and pitching into heavy cover. So you need something in the middle.

For me, I like reels... Most of my reels are between 6.8:1 and to 7.5:1. That's the majority of my reels because those are pretty much all-purpose, multi-purpose. You can use them for a variety of applications and you're not really sacrificing anything. So that's the main thing I would look for from a gear ratio.

But if, again, I had a tight budget and I'm looking for a reel, I don't think gear ratio would be the primary thing I'm looking for primarily because there's a lot of great reels out there that come in those gear ratios. So I would look at other things.

For example, the drag. How powerful is the drag? I don't like any reels that are less than 14-pound drag. I like something that's got a real good strong stout drag. Typically that also means a smoother drag because it's a better drag system. Also the ability to control your casting. So different casts control, the more it has, the better. Yeah, great if it has a mechanical cast control but if it has that paired with magnetic, that helps me fine-tune, say, in windy conditions. And if it also comes with pin cast control on it, that helps me fine-tune it even further for the different types of lures, weights and different styles and types of fishing that I'm doing. So those are the type of things I'd really focus on first before I look at gear ratio. I hope that helps and I hope you get yourself a great reel.


Question: Here's a question about crankbait fishing. "What would you say are the two most important elements in crankbait fishing?"

Answer: Well, it's funny, all of us bass anglers we tend to focus on color. But the reality is, you know, color, size of the lure, those types of things actually are very important. But what I look at first is how deep that lure is going to run and how fast or slow can I retrieve it? Because that's about the presentation.

First of all, getting it down to the right depth. You need to get the lure where the fish is, otherwise, it doesn't matter. All the other elements mean nothing because you're not going to get bit. So that's like the primary one.

How deep does it run? If the fish are shallow, fishing a deep diving crankbait isn't going to get bit and vice versa. So number one, how deep does this crankbait go for where the fish are that day?

The other thing I really look for is how fast of a retrieve or slow of a retrieve does it need? Some days fish want to attack fast-moving lures, so I want to lure that can get down to that depth and I can retrieve it at a fast speed. Other times they want something that's barely moving, so that requires a deeper diving crankbait, for example, that can stay down and still move slow. So those are the two primary things that are really important for me and crankbaits. Then, you know, not to say there's other elements that aren't important because after those two pieces, then I look at things, for example, like the size of the bait or the color. I hope that helps. Hope you catch a lot more crankbait fish.


Question: Here's a great question for bank fishermen. "Glenn, what are the most important things you look for when you're fishing from the shoreline?"

Answer: Well, there's really two main things that I look for when I'm fishing a shoreline. One, I want to find deeper cuts and deeper water near the shoreline. Those types of things. Like, for example, a creek channel and a little bend comes in close to the water or maybe there's a small little flat but right near it there's a drop. Those depth changes are the things that really attract bass. It doesn't have to be super deep, it just has to be a change in bottom contour to attract bass. So that's number one. And the other thing is cover. Bass need some kind of cover to relate to. It might be weeds, it might be rocks, it could be laydowns or maybe a log is on the water or stumps but you have a contour change that is combined with some sort of cover and those are the things I'm going to target when I'm shoreline fishing.


Question: Here's a great question that all of us can relate to. "Hey, besides telling me you're as frustrated with the wind as I am, really are there any advantages to fishing in the wind or should you just stay at home?"

Answer: That's really a good question because, man, I could fish in rain, I could fish in cold, I could fish in heat. But man, when it is windy out, that wears you out sometimes for a lot of reasons. It's hard to control the boat. It's hard to cast. It's hard to control your presentation. Really other than having an extreme windy condition where it's not safe out, there is adage to, a saying, "The wind is a fisherman's friend." It actually can be a good thing for several reasons and I'm just going to hit a few of them.

One of them is that it breaks up the light penetration and when that happens bass tend to roam more freely. They tend to be more aggressive and it conceals and kind of camouflages your lure a little bit more. So, for example, if you're fishing the spinnerbait, it makes it look a little more lively, more realistic and the bass are more apt to hit it. So that's number one.

And another reason is, the water can be oxygenated more with wind. Especially if you're fishing, say, in the summertime when the water temperatures are really high and the water has less of capability of holding dissolved oxygen, you get a lot of wind and it'll churn up that surface and it'll get some oxygen going and that will get the whole food chain going. Bass will move up shallower and they'll feed on those baitfish that are moving up shallow feeding upon all the plankton in all the algae that's been worked free from the waves and the wind.

Wind also, if it's been blowing a consistent direction for quite a while, at least several hours, it can produce some amount of current, not a ton but a little bit of current is better than none and bass will set up on those breakpoints. If you've got, say, for example, bridge pilings or you've got a point and the winds going across the point or those chokepoints where there's narrow areas that the water can get through with the winds blowing right down through it, bass will set up on those areas and will ambush whatever lure you bring by.

Also, wind can turn on areas where typically they're not productive. I have a spot on a lake that I fish, it's a stretch of rip rap. The water's really clear and typically when you go through there with crankbaits, jigs or drop shots, what have you, you pick up a couple of fish here and there but it's not all that productive.

However, I've learned when the wind picks up and it's anything over say 12,13 miles an hour, the stronger the better and is blowing right up against that rip rap, man, I run to that spot because I've had days where I'm catching literally every cast, every single cast with crankbaits. It's a bonanza. I'll catch 25, 30 fish in a matter of 45 minutes. So wind can really turn on an area that way.

Wind also can create mud lines. If it's hitting the shoreline, you've probably noticed this with a lot of wind in areas that have this loose topsoil, you'll find this mud that comes out five, six feet, maybe more off the shoreline. Well, the fish will use that mud line just like it would a weed line. They'll conceal themselves right inside that muddy water and then they'll jump out and hit any baitfish that happen by. So if you fish that mud line, you can get really productive results.

So wind can be really productive. It can really help you fish areas that otherwise are not productive or can turn a non-productive day into a fishing bonanza. Just be safe out there. If you don't feel comfortable out there, you feel like you're in danger, get off that water. Fishing is supposed to be fun guys, so don't risk your life just to catch a few fish.

All right. That's it for today's questions. If I didn't get to yours, don't worry, we're going to do a lot more in the weeks to come. And if you have any questions that you've thought about while watching this, hey, feel free to hit me up at this email down below or come to our Facebook page and leave us a message and hopefully, we'll get to your question soon. For more tips and tricks like this, visit