3 min to read

Finessing Ledges with Mark Horton

Category : BACK DECK

Mark Horton of Nicholasville, Kentucky has spent his fair share of time on ledges. Through his experience, he has found that there are times where finessing the ledges is the best way to get bit, especially behind a pro. Check out the tips he gives in this week’s article!

Horton with a nice KY Lake ledge fish

A couple of weeks ago, I was on Kentucky Lake doing some fun-fishing. The ledge I pulled up to had a lot of boats on it, and was seeing a lot of pressure. I caught a few fish on your typical ledge baits (football jig, crankbait, etc.) but it was slow. I decided I would make the switch to a drop shot… This paid off big, and I caught around 100 fish throughout the rest of my trip. This trip showed me the damage a finesse bait on a ledge can do when it is getting pressure.

When I drop shot ledges, I use a 7 foot medium-light Duckett rod with 8 lb flourocarbon line, a 3/8 to 5/8 drop shot weigh, and a 6 inch roboworm, usually in morning dawn color ( depending on water clarity). I also use the Roboworm Rebarb hook; I have found this hook to be a very reliable hook for the drop shot. The main key that I have noticed is that you get more bites throwing upstream and bringing your bait with the current if there is current flow present. You may not always be able to present your bait that way from the back of the boat but I try to avoid dragging against the current when at all possible.

Shaky heads are similar but I try to fish them on heavier tackle (baitcast combo with 10-12 lb fluorocarbon). I usually use a trick worm or magnum finesse worm in redbug, junebug, or green pumpkin. A tip I learned from Larry Nixon is to avoid shaky heads with screw locks for better hook ups . On a long cast, like common with ledge fishing , the screw lock holds the worm too tightly not allowing it to slide down and penetrate the fishes mouth as well as some brands that have a less aggressive way of holding the worm up. He gave me a head that has a small wire keeper to use and it works great. You go through more worms but you don’t lose fish on them. I also fished with Robby Dodson last year and he solved the problem by not sticking the hook in the worm at all, only using screw lock. I don’t recommend that for hangy bottoms but it worked well on Chickamauga with the magnum trick worm.

The best tip for ledge fishing in general for all anglers is to get good electronics and learn to use them. They don’t lie, you can waist a lot of time fishing non-productive water if you don’t use them properly. Like everything else, nothing beats experience so go out anytime you get a chance and idle around with your depth finder and learn how to better understand what it is telling you.

Small swimbaits like swarming hornets or scroungers can be great alternatives when the fish are finicky. Give the fish something a little different than your pro is using and it will usually get you a few extra bites out of the back of the boat. Good old fashioned luck doesn’t hurt either. When it is your time, just enjoy it and stay humble. Remember to enjoy every experience on the water, don’t get too hung up on winning and losing. After all,we all got started fishing to have fun. Take time to thank people that have taught you what you know and share what you have learned with others.

I feel like fishing from the back of the boat is making me better, even bad days can be great learning experiences if you let them. Watching the wheels come off someone’s train can help you avoid that situation in the future. Likewise, watching a pro be forced to change his gameplan completely and still come up with a good bag of fish gives me confidence when I’m in the front of the boat and my plan isn’t working.

I apologize for getting side-tracked from the article’s topic, however these tips are very important for any co anglers who want to become better anglers. So next time you are making a trip to a ledge lake, don’t forget to take your little finesse gear!


Circuits fished: FLW Tour, local tournaments

Years co: 8 with FLW, 30 total

Favorite technique: Power fishing ledges and finesse fishing smallmouth

Hobbies aside from fishing: Making lures for himself and friends. His favorite lure he makes is a double A Rig.

Sponsors: Days Boat Sales, Rheem Heating and Cooling Products, Cabin Creek Baits, Backwater Outfitters

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