“There’s something about the way a Houdini Shad moves that attracts the largest bass in the area,” said YUM ambassador Scott Larsen. “Its erratic swimming action…the way it falls…it’s just a great big-bass bait.”

While most of the country is currently locked in winter’s frosty grip, Larsen, a small-water specialist from New Port Richey, Florida, has been catching largemouths with regularity on the lakes and ponds near his home. And though the average bass runs under 2 pounds in those waters, he reported that the YUM Houdini Shad has accounted for more than its share of 5 and 6 pounders.

“Right now water temps are in the range of 68 to70 degrees,” he said, “and bass are shallow; I’ve even seen bedding activity on some waters.”

The key, he added, has been a finesse approach. “I rig the bait weightless on a 4/0 wide-gap worm hook and gently twitch it so it darts side-to-side just a couple of inches below the surface. Then, if the depth is, say, 2 to 5 feet, I stop and let the Houdini fall 4 or 5 inches before twitching it again.”

In water that’s deeper, or cooler, Larsen allows the bait to drop farther down the water column, and sometimes swaps out the worm hook for a 1/8-ounce jig head to help facilitate the descent. “Even on the jig, the bait falls slowly,” he said, “and that, I believe, is what gets the bigger fish to react.”

The Houdini’s unique tail is designed so that anglers can easily modify it into an open paddle, or even a fork tail, to speed its rate-of-drop. But with this approach, Larsen wants a slow, subtle fall, so leaves it in full-paddle mode.

“You can catch fish throwing it over grassbeds,” he said, “but I really like fishing it near cover—brush or trees. Around here we also have some really thick, nasty hydrilla mats, and letting the lure sink along the edges produces awesome results. I think it works even better than a Senko-style stickbait.”

In Florida’s sub-tropic climate, fish stay active nearly all year long. On the other hand, it may be weeks, or even months, before the bass where you live begin drifting toward the shallows. When they do, give Larsen’s method a try and see if the Houdini Shad’s big-bass magic can work for you, too.