Jeff Samsel

Use Wake Baits to Catch More Fish

Crickhopper sunfish

Waking the surface with crankbaits and minnow lures is a highly effective tactic for everything from bluegills to saltwater predators like redfish and striped bass. Here’s what you need to know about this fun fishing technique.

You wouldn’t think a 1 ½-inch Rebel Crickhopper and a 7-inch Cotton Cordell Red Fin would have anything in common. One is grasshopper shaped, weighs only 3/32 ounce and is best fished on ultralight tackle. The other is shaped like a big baitfish, weighs a full ounce and is best suited for fairly heavy spinning or baitcasting tackle.

However, these two baits (along with many others that fall in-between in size) lend themselves to fishing the same way. Both work wonderfully as wake baits, and while the scale of everything, the setting and the fish species targeted differ substantially, the actual technique and the explosiveness of the results are the same.

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Stream Trout Lures You Should Not Overlook

Brown Trout catch

Hard baits, including minnow imitators and specialized crankbaits like Rebel Crawfish and Crickhoppers provide major advantages for stream trout and produce great results.

“This is all they’ve been hitting,” the guy behind the fly shop counter advised my son, Nathaniel, showing him a midge so tiny it was barely visible on the tip of his finger. “With it being all catch-and-release, those fish get very fussy.”

Nathaniel wasn’t planning to fly-fish, so the suggested pattern didn’t matter, but he listened politely and nodded, maybe wondering slightly if a small jig might work best when we got to the stream the next morning. Shortened version: The trout were highly aggressive, and Nathaniel caught most of his fish on Rebel Wee-Crawfish and his best fish on a 3 ½-inch jerkbait that he had equipped with a 1/O single hook. Other young anglers we saw that day were having minimal success.

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Catch More Crappie from the Bank

Bank fishing for crappie

The spring “crappie run” pushes large numbers of fish within easy casting distance of shore, creating outstanding opportunities to catch plenty of crappie without launching a boat.

No fishing report was ever needed. Multiple cars parked roadside near the bridge during spring told me everything I needed to know. The next day I’d pack an ultralight and box of crappie jigs and floats when I left for work, and on the way home, I’d add my car to those parked roadside. And for the next couple of months, as often as my afternoon schedule would allow, I’d stop, walk down the riprap by the bridge, and catch some crappie.

I no longer have a daily commute that takes me across a spring crappie spot, but there are plenty of places nearby where I can (and do) go find spring action when the time is right. Bank fishing for spring crappie provides fun, simple and dependable action that is convenient to millions of anglers across the nation.

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Learn Why Crappie Jigheads Matter

crappie on Bobby Garland Jig

Don’t think for a moment that all jigheads are created equal or that the only real decision regarding these critical crappie catching components is the weight of head to choose.

With so much that is commonly discussed about crappie baits, the ways those baits move in the water and the significance of bait colors, important distinctions related to the heads that complement those baits get very little attention. Folks sometimes give passing mention of a jighead’s weight and occasionally color (both critical), but the conversation usually ends there.

We want to correct that because crappie jigheads matter, and many differ substantially from one another. Jigheads vary in weight, shape, eye positioning and angle, color, decoration, hook design and hook used, to name some of the most common variables. We’ll look at important variables one a time to help you make the best decisions.

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Strategies for Finding Spring Crappie

Spring Crappie

Learn how to methodically search for and find spring crappie that are on the move and then effectively pattern their behavior.

“I haven’t been to Wylie for two months, so we will be figuring it out as we go,” Jordan Newsome told me while confirming the following day’s plans. Flooding on other waters had limited options for our planned photo outing, but he was confident that he and his father, Craig (who is his current tournament partner) would be able to find plenty of crappie for a productive day.

A tournament crappie angler from Iron Station, North Carolina, Newsome specializes in long-line trolling with jigs. Trolling, by nature, is a searching strategy. However, simply casting back baits at the first opportunity and hoping to cross the fish’s path can be highly hit-or-miss.

Newsome does the opposite. He is systematic in his crappie trolling approach, from starting areas to the way he sets up his trolling spread. Several elements of his approach accelerate the process of finding spring crappie and figuring out their preferences that day. That equates to more dialed-in fishing time, which ultimately results in catching more fish (and often better fish).

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How to Find and Catch Bass on Beds

angler looking for bedding bass

Learn how a Florida sight-fishing expert finds big bass on beds and coaxes those fish into biting.

Northern Florida tournament regulars know.

If bass have begun moving onto beds and Tim Mann is fishing a tournament, he will be someone to watch, come weigh-in time. A veteran tournament angler who considers the St Johns River home waters, Mann is a master at sight fishing. He and tournament partners have notched countless tournament wins over the years and have brought some monstrous bags to the scales.

Mann has an uncanny knack for finding the right caliber of bedding fish and figuring out how to catch those fish. We talked with Mann about his approach and how it helps set him apart in so many spring tournaments.

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Choose the Right Crawfish Lure for Every Situation

Crawfish Soft Plastic Lures

Do you ever wonder which crawfish-imitating soft plastic lure would work best for the way you want to fish? We’ll look at distinguishing features to help you make the best decision.

Bass love crawfish. This much we know. Crawfish provide important forage to all black bass species, and the craws’ locations and behavior dictate much about the bass’ locations and behavior.

Because crawfish offer such an important food source and because they use a broad range of habitats, countless lures are designed to match crawfish in their profile, action and/or color patterns. Interestingly, not all crawfish-imitating lures look alike. In fact, even if you take a single category, such as soft plastic crawfish-imitating lures, they take on a broad range of shapes. That’s because different crawfish lures are designed with different fishing situations in mind.

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Six Top Baits for Spring Crappie Fishing

Baby Shad Swim'R Crappie

Learn how a crappie lure’s profile affects it action and appearance in the water and how to choose the best bait for every situation.

Do you ever look at soft-plastic lures designed for crappie fishing and wonder why they come in such a broad range of shapes? If so, the next question might be which specific bait to choose for a given situation. Here, we will lessen the mystery by comparing the profiles and features of a handful of popular Bobby Garland Crappie Baits, looking at how those distinctions affect each bait’s movements and appearance in the water.

Considering a specific bait’s design and how it swims or falls through the water can make it much easier to select the best bait for conditions and for the technique you intend to use.

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Rebel Lures Revives Classic Pop-R Design

Rebel P71 Pop-R

The new Rebel Pop-R P71 delivers the attributes of the iconic P70 Pop-R in response to demand from anglers across the country.

“It does everything the P70 did,” Arkansas bass pro Stetson Blaylock said about the new Rebel P71 Pop-R. “It’s heavy, so you can roll cast it under docks and other cover and lay it in there quietly.  It rests tail down, and you can make it move back and forth the while keeping it in the same place.”

Matching the characteristics of the long-discontinued and hard-to-find P70 is a big deal to Blaylock, because the P70 has been a big-money bait for him that has called up many critical bass in major tournaments, including first- and second-place finishes in consecutive Bassmaster Elite Series events on Winyah Bay and Lake Hartwell in spring 2019.

At Lake Hartwell, a P70 produced a key catch with a “slow motion strike” that was caught on film and has become legendary among tournament bass fishing fans.

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5 PROVEN Lures for Early Season Bass Fishing

5 Early Spring Bass Lures

With so many excellent lure options, picking the best lure can be challenging. These five lures will handle a host of commons early season bass fishing situations.

Spring is a great time to be on the water fishing for bass, but in ways it almost seems too good. Every spot seems like it should hold fish, and many lures seem like they ought to produce. While just casting your favorite lure close to whatever looks good sometimes produces bass, the truth is that bass follow predictable patterns during early spring, and intentional consideration of those patterns can help you catch far more fish.

We talked with veteran bass angler and lure designer Frank Scalish about early spring strategies and the key lures that keep him catching bass from the time the fish start moving from winter holding areas until they are on their beds.

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