Featured Grass

8 min to read

4 Reaction Baits Every Angler Needs For Submerged Grass

Category : BACK DECK

As Co Anglers, we are often faced with fishing situations that we wouldn’t necessarily prefer. Sometimes your boater can cover a lot of water in a hurry, and trying to finesse up a bite can be difficult. That is when you need to pick up a bait that you can keep moving and make hundreds of casts with per day. The type of cover or structure that your boater is fishing should dictate what type of bait you may choose. When you fish submerged vegetation with moving baits, there are some that perform better than others. We put together a list of baits that we feel perform the best.

1. Lipless Crankbaits

The Bill Lewis Rat-L-Trap is a lure name that almost every bass angler knows. And for good reason; when baits like this came out, it gave crankbait anglers a way to throw their fast moving, trebled reaction baits through the grassy haunts that big bass like to lurk in. Since the Rat-L-Trap, many more lipless crankbaits have came about in the fishing world. Some popular choices include the Strike King Red Eye Shad, the Ima Rock N’ Vibe, and the XCalibur Xr series.

Bone's baits of choice- the Xr25, Xr50, and Xr75 in his 3 go-to colors.
Bone’s baits of choice- the Xr25, Xr50, and Xr75 in his 3 go-to colors.

Patrick Bone (“Like Patrick Bone’s Facebook page!), 2014 Bassmaster Classic qualifier, loves to throw lipless crankbaits year round, but especially in the prespawn. “The 2014 Classic was a perfect example of when to throw a lipless crankbait. Guntersville has a lot of offshore grass, and with the Classic taking place in February, this style of bait excelled. I caught a lot of my fish that week on an Xcalibur Xr50.”

Anytime there is grass growing beneath the surface, Bone likes to throw a lipless crankbait over the top of them. “There is always talk about ripping a lipless crankbait through grass. I don’t like to do that quite as much as others. When you have to “rip” a bait free from vegetation, that means it is bogging down too much and is likely over-sized. I have been throwing the Xcalibur Xr series ever since they came out because they offer sizes for all depths and situations. If I am fishing shallow water from 0-3 feet deep, I will throw the Xr25. From 3-6, I will bump it up to the Xr50, and anything deeper than 6 feet, I will throw an Xr75. Instead of ripping my bait when it hits grass, I will pull it and try to keep it ticking the top section. That seems to generate a lot of bites for me.”

Bone likes to change his hooks out to EWG trebles when fishing around grass.
Bone likes to change his hooks out to EWG trebles when fishing around grass.

Lipless crankbaits are offered by many companies and in many color patterns. Bone says that there are 4 mainstay colors in his box, and there isn’t much else he needs. “My most successful color choices are Foxy Shad, Rayburn Red, Royal Shad, and Gold Black. If the water is crystal clear, I really like the Pearl Melon color too, but for the most part, those 4 will cover all situations. For clear water, I will go with the Foxy Shad and Royal Shad patterns. In murkier water, I will pick up my Rayburn Red, and anything in between, I throw my Gold Black.”

One more important note that Bone offered was that he likes to change to a One Knocker version of the XCalibur series when the fish are pressured, as it gives them a new look that they don’t see very often. “Everybody is throwing rattlebaits in the early spring, and making that small change can pay off huge.”

2. Bladed Swim Jig

The Chatterbait, or bladed swim jig as some call it, is a relatively new technique to the fishing world, but when it came about, it came on strong. Many pros have used it to win tournaments over the last couple years on both the BASS and FLW circuits. We caught up with FLW Co-Angler Bryan New, who placed 3rd in the Co-Angler of the Year standings this season, to find out more on how he uses it on tour. (“Like” Bryan New’s fishing page!)

chatterbaitNew stated “The Chatterbait is an awesome bait any time of the year. I especially like to throw it when my boater is fishing fast around grass, and I can’t drag or flip a bait as effectively. Other times I throw it is when there is a lot of wind or cloud cover, or if I am seeing a lot of bait activity.”

When throwing a bladed swim jig, there are 4 main color options that New chooses, depending on local baitfish and water color. When bass are feeding on bluegill, a green pumpkin or a black and blue color can be very effective. When they are on shad, obviously your shad patterns will work a bit better. New opts for a translucent shad type color when the water is clear, and a white or white/chartreuse when the water has more stain to it.

One big dilemma when fishing a chatterbait is what trailer to choose. Because these baits can mimic almost any forage species, almost any plastic on the market can work as a trailer. Popular choices include grubs, flapping craw baits, swimbaits, and creature baits. New has a simpler decision process, “When I am trying to fish my bait faster, or get it down deeper, I like to throw the Charlie’s Worms Swimming Juke. When I am fishing slower, or in shallower water, I opt for the Charlie’s Worms Big Dipper. I match my color to the chatterbait color that I am throwing.”

This bait can really catch them all year around. Pick up a few and rip them through grass at a high speed, and you should have luck!

3. Swim Jig

Another technique that has become a staple for every bass fisherman who fishes around submerged grass is the swim jig. Jason Johnson, 2nd place finisher in the COY points on the FLW Tour this year, loves to swim a jig from the back of the boat. (“Like” him on Facebook!) “When I’m at a lake that has submerged vegetation, a must on the deck is a 5/16 oz Gambler Southern Swim Jig with a craw-type trailer.” Like the chatterbait, you can throw a wide array of trailers on swim jigs, depending on what species of forage you are trying to imitate.

The Gambler Southern Swim Jig that Johnson uses.
The Gambler Southern Swim Jig that Johnson uses.

Color choices for a swim jig are pretty similar to a bladed swim jig. Popular choices among most anglers consist of green pumpkin, black and blue, and shad patterns. Johnson has three color combinations that he likes for most situations-green pumpkin with a green chartreuse trailer, black and blue with a green pumpkin trailer, and on dark days or with dirty water, Johnson opts for a black and blue jig with matching trailer. “One more quick tip for colors is to throw a shad pattern with a swimbait trailer when the fish are keying on shad.”

“I throw this bait a lot when my boater is throwing a chatterbait or another more aggressive bait. I like to swim the bait down in the grass with aggressive jerks of the rod to create reaction bites. I basically reel the swim jig until I feel it start to load up in the underwater vegetation. When I feel that, I jerk my rod up to rip it free of the grass. If there is still pressure on your jig, rip it again and it will begin to track straight.” says Johnson. Other times, Jason will reel the jig quickly near the top of the water column to try to make the fish react. You can vary your retrieve to see what the fish prefer that day.

4. Swimbait

Smith caught these fish at the Triton Boat Owners Tournament fishing a Shadalicious around grass.
Smith (pictured right) caught these fish at the Triton Boat Owners Tournament fishing a Shadalicious around grass.

When you are looking to upgrade your bag with a big bite, or if the bass are aggressively feeding, a swimbait can be another superb choice around submerged vegetation. Grayson Smith, also an FLW Tour Co-Angler, placed 4th this year in the Co-Angler of the Year standings. (Like his fishing page here.) He loves throwing a swimbait when the grass is around a foot tall and the fish are scattered in it. “I’m able to make long casts and cover a lot of water. Making long casts allows you to reach fish your boater might not be getting to.”

A nice bass Smith caught with his Shadalicious swimbait.
A nice bass Smith caught with his Shadalicious swimbait.

Depending on your swimbait of choice, they can be worked from super slow speeds all the way up to as fast as you can reel. Grayson’s favorite retrieve is to let it hit the bottom before reeling it quickly out of the grass, and then proceeding to slow down to keep contact with the top of the vegetation. Like most other baits, you can get swimbaits in nearly any color, and matching the local forage is suggested. Smith usually chooses the Sexy Shad and Chartreuse Sexy Shad patterns of the Strike King 5.5″ Shadalicious series of hollow belly swimbaits. He likes to rig it on a 3/4oz exposed jig head.

In conclusion, no matter what your boater is fishing with around the grass, there is always another great option to cover water and catch more fish. Try one of these four baits next time you are faced with a similar situation!

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