By Jeff Samsel

“Be ready at the end of the pump. That’s when you’ll get hit,” Mississippi bass pro Pete Ponds said as he handed me a rod rigged with a Bandit Footloose crankbait.

Ponds had been catching bass at a pretty steady clip with a Footloose, so I figured I’d better try my hand at the same approach. A few casts later, I was battling a Footloose bass of my own, and just as Ponds had expected, it hit at the end of the pump.

“That’s pretty common with the Footloose.” Ponds said. “Fish follow it, and when it hesitates or moves a little differently, they hit it.”

The Bandit Footloose is a super shallow runner that is often fished as a wake bait. Reeling slowly with the rod high makes it wobble right at the surface and push out a bulging wake and can elicit crushing strikes.

Ponds normally fishes it just beneath the surface, though. His default presentation is to repeatedly pump the rod. He’ll move the lure with a steady sideways sweep of the rod, reel quickly to regain line while returning the rod to its starting position, and then pump it again. Either the rod or the reel handle is always in motion, but he mostly moves the lure mostly with the rod.

Although there is no true pause between pumps to make lure pop back to the surface, it naturally hesitates and comes up just a bit when Ponds brings the rod forward. That tends to be a strike-triggering mechanism.

Ponds fishes a Bandit Footloose a lot, beginning in mid-spring. It is his go-to when bass seem aggressive and are looking up but don’t seem quite committed to a topwater lure. It works well over flats, over the tops of grassbeds that don’t quite reach the surface and cast close to shallow cover.

Ponds will experiment a bit with presentations and is always open to letting the fish show him if they want a Footloose swimming a certain way. Usually, though, the steady pumping presentation is tough to top.

“I actually use that with a lot of my crankbait fishing,” Ponds said. Whether he’s pumping a Footloose 10 inches beneath the surface or a 300 Series 10 feet down, the slight hesitation has the same strike triggering effect.