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Multiple Retrieves for Worms & Jigs

Article: June, 2010
 Lake Fork Pro Guide Tom RedingtonJigs and soft plastics like worms and creatures probably catch more bass in the summertime than all other lures combined. When probing offshore structure, a casting jig, a football jig, a Carolina rig, a shaky head, a drop shot, or a Texas rig will work almost every day if fished correctly. Like so many other baits, just casting and mindlessly retrieving your bait in the standard way will produce mediocre results. Depending on the mood of the bass and position of the fish relative to the structure, certain retrieves will trigger more bites than others. Following are some retrieves to I use regularly, starting with slowest and moving to the most aggressive:

Dead-stick: How many times have you spent a couple minutes picking out a backlash, only to discover that a bass ate your bait while it was just sitting on the bottom? When the bite is tough, less action is more. Dead-sticking means simply letting the bait sit still on a slack line for extended periods. Sometimes 5 seconds is enough, while other days I’ll let it sit in one place for a minute or more before getting bit. While dead-sticking occasionally works on the initial cast, normally I combine one or more of the other retrieves with it, such as a couple active hops followed by dead-sticking it in place for a while before moving it again. Fish will pick up the bait while it is sitting there and you’ll either feel a tap, or your line will jump or just start swimming off to the side. Straight tailed worms like Lake Fork Trophy Lure’s Hyper Sticks, Twitch Worms and Hyper Finesse Worms normally work best in these presentations. Since bass are studying your lure for a long time, I recommend using a low visibility line like FluoroHybrid Pro.

Drag: Dragging is very popular with football jigs and Carolina rigs, but it also works with TX rigs too. Last year in the FLW Tour event at KY Lake, my co-angler was slamming big fish behind me while I couldn’t get bit. Once I figured out that he was dragging his worm instead of hopping it, I started catching big ones. I switched to a 10” Fork Worm with a ¾ oz Mega Weight tungsten sinker and just drug the bait along by keeping my rod low to the water. If I would pick the worm off the bottom, they wouldn’t eat it. When bass are focusing on prey on the bottom, dragging is the way to go.

Shake: This is my favorite way to trigger bass to bite. By leaving just a slight bit of slack in my line, I’ll rapidly shake my rod tip, making it move about 3” up and down. This movement is just enough to make the line barely tighten, but I snap the rod back down before the bait moves forward. You can practice this technique in a swimming pool, bathtub, or in shallow water. When done right, your bait will just squirm and wiggle but won’t move forward. This retrieve was made famous on drop shots and shaky heads, but it also works very well on all worm rigs except a Carolina rig. Again, straight tailed worms like Hyper Finesse Worms Hyper Sticks work best here. Making trailers like Fork Craws and Pig Claws on MPack jigs and football jigs shake also triggers strikes. Apparently, a cowering, defenseless bait is too much for big bass to pass up. A tip heavy rod will kill your shoulder after a while with this technique so I’ve found the Dobyns Champion 736C to be my favorite for shaking jigs and worms, with its combination of balance and sensitivity.

Slow Roll: This is simply dragging without the stops. With heavy baits like football jigs and Carolina rigs, slowly reeling them along the bottom with action trailers like Fork Creatures, Hyper Worms, and Hyper Lizards triggers strikes just like crankbaits, yet you can send these baits to the bottom much deeper than the deepest diving crank.

Lift/Drop: The classic worm and jig retrieve. Many days, a 6” to 2’ lift and resulting fall back to the bottom is what the fish want. I normally start with this retrieve and adjust from here, mixing in some dead-sticking between hops. This excels with action tail plastics, like ribbon tailed Fork Worms and paddle tailed Hyper Worms.

Stroke: Stroking is the energy drink guzzling cousin of the lift/drop. Instead of slowly pulling your lure off the bottom, leave a bit of slack in the line and explode it up 2’ to 8’ off the bottom with a violent hook-setting motion. This rapid motion triggers bites from inactive fish. Furthermore, it excels for bass that are suspended off the bottom or sitting off the edge of drops. Stroking is a physically demanding technique, so using the right gear makes it a lot easier. Start with a low stretch line like FluoroHybrid Pro so you’re moving the bait instead of stretching your line. Secondly, a long yet light and well balanced rod moves the lure a long ways without wearing you out. The Dobyns 7’8” Champion Extreme 784ML moves a ton of line, yet feels like a 7’ rod in your hands. Moreover, it takes up a ton of slack to get a good hook in deep water fish.

Basically, this is a process of trial and error. Experiment with a variety of retrieves until the fish tell you what they want by biting your lure.
Good Fishing,
Tom


Fishing Tip by  Lake Fork Pro Tom Redington

 

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