A Classic Big Bass Catcher
The Heddon Hellbender. Oh, the memories. My first 5-pound plus largemouth bass was taken on a Hellbender. My first five fish limit of big bass, weighing 27.5 pounds, was caught in part on Hellbenders. My first 27 inch bass was taken on a Hellbender.
The Hellbender has been catching big bass for more years than I have been fishing (let's just say it is a lot of years). It is a big bait designed to catch big bass and it does it better than many, if not all, of the newer designs.
For one thing, it has a unique heart shaped lip that allows it to bounce off objects very well. If the lip digs into a stump, the bait will usually "flip" over and come right through, lots of times with a big bass attached, as this "flipping over cover" is an awesome trigger. The lip also stands up to a lot of abuse. You can fish this bait in heavier cover than almost any other crankbait.
Another great aspect of the Hellbender is the fact that you lose very few of the big bass that will eat this bait. Especially when compared to how many big bass you lose on regular crankbaits. This is because a big bass almost always gets the bait crossways with both sets of trebles embedded in its mouth. I don't worry about a big fish jumping and throwing the bait when I’m fishing with a Hellbender. I just enjoy the acrobatics, because I am confident in the holding ability of this bait.
The Hellbender is relatively heavy at 7/8 of an ounce, so I generally go with a heavier rod than I normally fish a crankbait on. A Pflueger 6-6’ medium-heavy rod feels good, and I believe the heavier rod lets the bait do its job of bouncing and flipping over cover better. The Hellbender has big hooks, so you don't have to worry much about pulling the hooks out of the fish like you might with smaller trebles. And since I am fishing pretty hairy cover, I can use a heavy line (17 to 25-lb test XCalibur Silver Thread) and horse a big fish out if needed.
The Hellbender is the original "super deep" diving crankbait. You can easily get this bait to 20-feet on the cast when using 10 lb Silver Thread. Simply use a heavier line test if you don't need to fish that deep. I often use the bait with 25 lb. test and get it to touch bottom in 12 feet of water on a cast.
The Hellbender is awesome for trolling. It is one of the few types of lures that can be trolled effectively through standing timber. Though trolling for bass is almost a forgotten art it still catches big bass. I recall just a few years ago my partner and I located some big bass suspended in standing timber on the edge of a deep creek channel. We tried and tried to catch them. After almost giving up on them, we finally tried trolling a Hellbender through the timber. First trolling pass, and I get an 8-pounder! We found we could troll all day with a Hellbender in those trees and not lose a lure!
I can't tell you how deep a Hellbender will dive when trolled. All I can tell you is it will troll deeper than I ever need it to! Which is good, because it allows you to troll deep without letting so much line out. The closer you can keep the bait to your boat the more control you have over it.
The Hellbender has the widest wobble of any crankbait I have ever used. I believe this is one of the reasons it is so good at catching big bass. The look and action of this bait is something our pressured bass have not seen.
If you are serious about catching BIG bass, you really need to have some Hellbenders in your arsenal!
Mitch Looper lives in Hackett, Ark. Mitch is renowned in fishing circles as one of the world’s best trophy bass anglers.