Pitching the “Change-Up” to catch more bass


MOtW – Pitching the “Change-Up” to catch more bass.

September 2023

The other day I got into a nice school of bass at one of my favorite spots. I was working a flipping jig tipped with a craw trailer and the bass were all over it. The hot bite was good for over a dozen bass in about 45 minutes. Then the bite went cold. Ice cold. Like someone had flipped a switch. For an additional 20 minutes, I continued to throw my jig with no takers.

Then, somewhat by accident, I learned a valuable lesson. I found a snag, and in my attempt to free the lure I broke off my jig. Time to move to another spot. But before I moved on, I decided to pick up my Drop Shot rod that was rigged and ready and make a couple more casts. Mostly to test a new bait I had in the boat. I wanted to see what it looked like in the water.

First cast with a Drop Shot I get a bite. A good bite. I feel the bass take the bait and move away, slow and heavy. It was one of the better bass I caught in the spot. Right where the jig bite had dried up 20 minutes ago. My Drop Shot rig produced another 6 bass, in quick succession over the next half hour. And they were all good size. I was stunned. I had almost left that spot. These last group of bass had ignored my jig but were all over my Drop Shot presentation.

Finally, the Drop Shot bite faded. I fished the spot for another 15 minutes and couldn’t get any more bites. Time to move. I had some more spots to check. I was preparing to leave when I saw my Crappie rod rigged with a small hair jig. Why not? So I picked up my crappie rod and made a couple of casts into my hole that had already yielded close to 20 nice bass. Second cast my rod loaded up with the biggest bass of the day. I had trouble boating it with my light crappie tackle, but with a lot of patience I got her in the boat.


That was the last bite in that spot, but it left me a changed fisherman. The experience taught me a valuable lesson. In fact, it taught me several valuable lessons.

SLOW DOWN – I’m reminded of the Simon & Garfunkel lyrics “Slow down, you move too fast. You’ve got to make the morning last…” (Feelin’ Groovy). Most anglers move way too fast. All too often I see guys with the trolling motor on “High”, flying along making the occasional cast. As if they are in a race to get to the other end of the lake. When you move fast, you miss fish. When you miss fish, you miss schools of fish. When you miss schools of fish, you miss out on big opportunities for enjoyment. At least for me, the reason I am out there is for the enjoyment. I like finding fish and I like catching fish in bunches.

Recently I was motoring over to one of my favorite stretches of docks, and as I approached, I saw another boat moving through the area I wanted to fish. As I cut the motor, I noticed the guy in the boat hook up and boat a nice bass, right where I was planning to fish. He was moving along at a good clip, and to my surprise, didn’t even slow down. He was pitching a jig and covering water. He did not make a second cast into the spot he hooked the fish. He just kept moving. I watched as he cruised down the shoreline, hitting the docks with one cast, sometimes two, like he was late for an appointment. Soon he was out of sight, around the point. I moved in and put the trolling motor down, glided quietly into position. As I had hoped, there were a lot more bass to be had. Two hours later, I was still working the same 150 yards of shoreline and still boating bass. There was no need to move. My other spots could wait for another day.

DON’T BE ONE-DIMENSIONAL – Too many anglers settle into lure and rigging routines that cost them fish. One good afternoon with a particular lure, and now that is the got-to lure going forward. Experience has shown that bass are triggered by different lures. If you find a spot where fish are biting, why not boat as many as you can? Try several different baits and techniques to make sure you aren’t leaving any active fish behind. Changing the texture, action, speed, depth, shape, size and cadence of your presentations will trigger different fish in the group. There are a lot of different approaches you can try. You’ll surprise yourself with the added success that throwing a “change-up” could bring.

FISH EAT WHAT THEY WANT TO EAT – Let the fish tell you what they want. Sure, there are guidelines of what you should throw under certain conditions, but many times, something unexpected is what gets a fish to bite. If bass aren’t hitting a jig when they should be, don’t be afraid to try a different approach. Just because yesterday’s jig bite was hot, doesn’t mean today it will be. Be prepared to change things up and try new techniques. Bass can be picky eaters at times. One lure gets them to bite while another lure is ignored.

BE PATIENT – Don’t give up on a productive spot too quickly. Make sure you have exhausted all your options before you move on. If the area has shown it holds fish, hit the area comprehensively with a variety of presentations. Be patient and be persistent. Chances are there are more bites to be had. Sometimes the quality fish are the last to bite.

BE PREPARED – Have your rods and rigs tied up and ready for action. You will be much more likely to throw a different rig if you have it tied up and ready to go. Have a strategy of how you are going to cover each spot and hit your more productive spots with at least three distinct techniques. You won’t know that the bass are keying on finesse baits until you throw one.

I have lost count of the times that I have started out my morning with a wacky worm and finished the day throwing a drop shot rig. Not to mention the bladed jig, spinnerbait, hair jig, frog and Texas rig all thrown at some point in between. Next time you are out on the water, be prepared to pitch a change-up. You will likely put more fish in the boat!

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