“Waking Red-Fins” is a commonly used term around most lakes that regularly produce big striped bass. That's because most veteran striper anglers know it is an extremely good way to bring big stripers crashing to the surface. Less widely known (and seldom discussed by folks who do know it) is that waking a big Cotton Cordell Red-Fin also can produce some seriously big largemouths, especially during early spring.

The first part of spring invariably bring strings of sunny days that warm shallow flats and draw baitfish and bass alike out of the depths. The bass don’t want to chase anything fast, but they are looking to feed, and big shad swimming slowly near the surface are ideal targets for heavyweight bass. A C9 (5 inch) or C10 (7 inch) Red-Fins waked across a broad flat is ideal for imitating large shad that are just cruising about cluelessly.

Waking a Red-Fin is simple. Make a long cast, hold the rod at a 45-degree angle to the water, and reel steadily, just fast enough to keep the lure moving toward you and wobbling. If you reel too fast it will dive completely. The idea is to keep the lure at the surface or partway below so it creates a bulge. As it moves along with a big wide wobble, it will push a fish-calling wake across the surface.

In truth, the hardest things about fishing a Red-Fin this way for bass are sticking with it and remaining ready. It looks gaudy, so it’s tempting to give up and switch to something smaller. It also won’t normally produce fast action, but the fish that attack it will be the kind you really want. Strikes also tend to come without warning. One second, you’re lure looks absolutely carefree. The next second, it has been devoured.

When a fish does attack, no matter how big the explosion is, keep reeling until you feel the fish. Sometimes they miss, and they’ll often hit again if you just keep it coming. When you do feel the fish, respond with a solid hookset. A Red-Fin has large hooks that you want to drive home. For the same reason, use heavy line and fairly stout rod.

The best areas to wake for largemouths during early spring are broad flats that are close to deeper wintering areas. Within any given flat, look for areas with stumps, lily pad stems, rocks or other cover. Also be sure to work the outer edge of a flat, close to where it drops into deeper water.

Finally, although we’re talking about bass fishing, if you happen to be fishing waters that are home to stripers or big hybrids, you might just get a big stripe-sided bonus.