Bass Fishing
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yumphibian bass
Outdoor writer Jeff Samsel used a swimming technique to catch this chunky bass on the new YUM YUMphibian creature bait.

Bass Fishing Tips For Active and Non-Active Fish

Having heard that the bass were super shallow and apt to eat swimming lizard baits, I eyed a package of YUMphibians that I had just gotten my hands on and had not yet tried. A brand new creature bait with twin curled tails, the YUMphibian has a definite lizardishness about it, and it seemed like it would swim enticingly.

I pulled one from the package, rigged it weightless on a worm hook, dropped it beside the boat and dragged it just beneath the surface. The appendages came to life, just as I had hoped, so I immediately whipped a sidearm cast to the bank. It only took two cranks to confirm that at least one bass was likewise impressed. And that bass wasn’t just an eager beaver. The YUMphibian proved absolutely perfect for a weightless swimming presentation – and an ideal complement to a YUM Dinger rigged exactly same way but normally fished in slow-motion instead of constantly moving.

Ambush Mode

When bass move into shallow water and use cover as ambush points, two of the most effective ways to catch those fish are both similar and opposite (hear me out on this one). Each involves a soft-plastic lure rigged weedless and weightless and cast around shallow cover.

The differences lie in presentation. One retrieve begins as soon as the lure hits the water, with the reel handle turning and the bait swimming steadily just beneath the surface to prompt reaction strikes. The other is essentially a non-presentation, with the bait simply sinking through the water column.

Each approach has its strengths and appropriate situations, so it pays to stay rigged for both. The swimming bait pulls bass from a broader area and allows you to effectively work shallow flats and to parallel weed lines or downed trees. Dead-sticking shines when there’s an obvious key spot where bass should be lurking and you can let the lure fall right in front of their noses.

For either approach, the bite heats up during the spring, when the bulk of the bass stray shallow to spawn and to feed. However, opportunities don’t end when spring gives way to summer.

Many fish remain shallow throughout the warm months in most lakes. Key summer areas include the upper ends of tributary arms and shallow main-lake pockets that are close to a major channel. As summer progresses, main lake pockets tend to be especially productive early and late in the day.

In any shallow area look for cuts in the bank, weedlines, holes in stands of vegetation, deadfalls, flooded timber and other places where bass can lurk and watch for food. Ambush points can take on a lot of different forms, but they are critical to the equation.


In addition to the YUMPhibian, good baits for a swimming approach include a YUM Zellamander and Salleemander. The Zellamander has twin curled tails that wave like grub tails when the bait is in motion. The Salleemander has as swimming paddle at the tip of its tail. All three are somewhat sleek and can be swam easily through cover when rigged weedless with a weightless Texas rig.

The approach is elementary. Cast just past where you expect the fish to be and start reeling. Use a medium-paced, steady retrieve, keeping the rod roughly parallel to the water’s surface or slightly raised unless you’re trying to guide the bait over a specific piece of cover and need to raise it more. You typically want your bait to swim about 6 inches beneath the surface.

Resist any temptation to stop or even slow your retrieve when you see a fish following the bait. When a predator is in pursuit, real prey species don’t tarry, so that tends to spook a bass. Even if a fish swipes and misses, keep reeling steadily if you can resist jerking, and remain ready.

When fish strike swimming lizards, you typically don’t need to give them extra time. Set the hook when you feel a fish and you should be in business. If for some reason fish are not getting hooked and the cover is sufficiently sparse to allow for an open hook point, an alternative rigging approach is to use a circle hook and nose hook the bait. In that case, don’t set the hook. Just reel into the fish once you feel it.


Various offerings will sometimes produce fish with a dead-stick approach, but nothing lends itself better to this technique than a YUM Dinger, which glides irresistibly from side to side as it falls through the water column. The biggest question is the best size of Dinger for the job. The original 5-incher is the mainstay and fits best more often than not, but big-bass waters sometimes call for a 6- or 7-inch Dinger, and on occasion when the water is clear or the fish are fussy, you might have downsize to 4-inch Dingers.

If swimming is simple, dead-sticking is downright brainless. Cast directly to the spot where you expect a bass to be lurking and let the bait fall on a slack line to the bottom. If a hungry fish is nearby, the Dinger probably won’t make it to the bottom. Watch the line closely. While some fish will take the bait and run, others will grab it and barely go anywhere. If you see any unusual jump of the line or even if it stops sinking sooner than you think it should, set the hook hard. You’ll swing and miss sometimes, but you’ll also hook fish you never would have caught if you’d waited for a decisive strike.

If no fish bites during the initial fall, you sometimes can draw a strike by lifting the bait a few feet and letting it fall one or two times. Beyond that, you’ll spend more time with your bait in a fish-attracting mode by reeling back and making another targeted cast than by continuing to work it.

As with swimming rigs, the most common rigging for a dead-stick Dinger is Texas style, with a big wide-gap hook and no weight. However, nose hooking with a circle hook tends to keep fish from being hooked deep and makes it easier to release them in good condition. For a slower fall with an extra shimmer, wacky rig the Dinger by impaling a circle hook right through the center of the bait.

Double Trouble

While some spots scream for a dead-sticking or swimming approach, in many cases you have to let the bass decide. These two styles of bait and presentation appeal to fish that are in different moods but might using the same types of areas, so the best strategy is to rig at least one of each and continue to trade rods, letting the bass decide.

Lurenet Team


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