Instead Of Brrr This Fall Say BUZZ
Written by Dave Mercer on November 21, 2011
It’s easy to understand why Kelly Jordon considers topwater buzz baits some of the best lures to use for late-autumn largemouths. After all, the Yamaha Pro has never forgotten how close he came to winning the second professional tournament he ever fished back in 1996, after catching more than 50 pounds of bass on a buzz bait in two days.
“They’re amazing lures because you can fish them practically anywhere in shallow water this time of year, and they’ll bring strikes from big bass,” notes Jordon, a former Lake Fork guide and now a fulltime Bassmaster® Elite Series contender. “Buzz baits are easier to use than most topwater lures, too, because basically all you do is cast and wind them back.”
Normally considered cover-oriented lures, buzz baits differ from other topwater lures in that most designs feature a single rotating blade and one large hook that rides up to make the lure nearly weedless. Jordon’s favorite autumn targets include boat docks, rocks, stumps and standing timber, and any type of vegetation, including cattails, hydrilla, lily pads, and eel grass. During the late autumn and winter months, many lakes and reservoirs are drawn down, so more cover like this is often exposed; Jordon rarely fishes buzz baits over water deeper than five feet.
“I like to actually bump the lure into the cover I’m fishing,” continues the Yamaha Pro, “because buzz baits bring reaction strikes just like crankbaits do. Normally, the slower you can retrieve a buzz bait and still keep it moving across the surface is the most effective, but sometimes bass want the lure moving faster. All you have to do is cast and start winding and try different speeds.
“Buzz baits are available in several different weights, but I prefer the 1/2-ounce size because I can cast it farther and cover more water. You can fish a 3/8-ounce model a little slower and still keep it on the surface if bass want a slow retrieve, and if conditions are tough, an even smaller 1/4-ounce size may work better.”
Jordon believes the noise a buzz bait produces is one of the most important features in the lure, and he may adjust a bait to create an even louder sound. The noise is created as the rotating blade clicks against the main hook wire, and if the blade doesn’t do this, the blade wire can be bent slightly until it does. Some buzz baits are constructed with a small flapping clacker that creates even more noise.
“As you retrieve a buzz bait over the surface, the blade churns up a lot of water so that immediately gets the attention of a bass,” explains Jordon, “and the noise is just another element. Buzz baits are intrusive lures that bass may hit just to get rid of them. I think all the commotion literally calls bass from five or 10 feet away to come and investigate.”
Jordon fishes buzz baits with 20-pound monofilament line because he likes the fact mono will stretch slightly when a big bass hits at the end of a long cast. Other pros prefer braided line, especially when fishing in thick vegetation. In either case, notes the Yamaha Pro, line visibility to bass is not an issue since the line is not actually in the water.
One problem fishermen may experience with buzz baits is missing strikes when the fish hit, but Jordon feels using a longer rod with a lighter tip action will solve most of these issues. In his opinion, a limber crankbait rod often makes the best buzz bait rod.
“Adding a trailer hook may also improve your hook- ups,” he adds, “but really, the best way to catch bass with a buzz bait is to train yourself not to set the hook until you actually feel the weight of bass as it pulls the lure down. It’s hard to wait that extra fraction of a second, but the thing to remember with a buzz bait is that you’re always going to get more chances, especially now at this time of year.”