Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Square Bills - A Useful Tool

As you may have guessed from reading my blog, I'm a Jig Fisherman first and foremost.  I fish jigs all year in a lot of different conditions and methods and I've become what I think is very successful. However as good as I might be at fishing jigs, I do have many other tools available in my tackle box for those times when I can't pay a bass to hit jig.  One of those tools in my box are Square Bill crank baits.  The Square Bill is a very useful tool that every bass fisherman should have in their tackle box.  Not only are they very effective at catching bass, but they are also a very useful tool in locating bass willing to bite. In fact Square Bills are able to locate bass that not even the fanciest fish finder will locate. Sometimes, and this is especially true in the bayous, it can be very tricky locating bass.  The bayous, as well as other bodies of water, have lots of spots and structure that look really promising, but not all of them will be holding fish, or fish that are willing to bite. A good Square Bill can be used to cover a lot of water and help you find those hidden bass that are willing to bite.

Locating Bass - On the bayous or even on lakes I'll pick out a likely spot that looks "Fishy" and then attack it with a Square Bill. On the bayou this may be a stretch bank that may be up to half a mile in length.  Using a Square Bill I can move down that part of the bayou pretty quickly and cover a lot of water in a short amount of time.  If there are bass there willing to bite I'm very confident that one will eat my Square Bill.  Sometimes there will be bass in a location that are not very active or they just aren't actively feeding.  This is when a Square Bill really shines as they tend to trigger strikes even from bass that are not actively feeding.  Once you catch one or two of these bass then you can go back and fish that area slower with a jig or worm and catch even more and sometimes the bigger bass.  Then there are days that once your Square Bill triggers that first bass to strike the whole group of bass will fire up and you will get many more bass that are willing to eat your Square Bill. I will generally fish an area with the Square Bill as long as there are bass willing to eat it.  Once they stop then I go back with the worm or jig to see if I can tease a few more into the boat.

How to Fish – You want to throw your Square Bill where it will be hitting some type of structure. Be it lay down timber, rocks or around old pilings you want it to be making contact with some type of cover. Square Bills are designed to bounce or deflect off of cover without getting snagged. Sure you are going to get one snagged from time to time, but that happens with even the most weedless baits. The point I’m trying to make is a Square Bill is most effective when it is bouncing off of some type of structure. That bounce or deflection is what triggers a lot of your strikes, even in bass that aren’t actively feeding. So throw it in there and bounce it off of that cover. As far as the retrieve goes I vary it a lot depending on how deep the structure is I’m fishing and also the clarity of the water. I generally crank the bait fast enough so it is hitting the structure to cause the deflection action. Every time it hits something and deflects I tend to pause the bait for a second before continuing my retrieve. That pause will get you more strikes than you could ever imagine. When the water is clear I will start out really burning the bait in the cover, making it deflect off of the structure very radically. If I’m not getting any strikes then I’ll slow it down some until I find what is triggering the bass into striking. Now when the water is cloudy or even muddy I’ll do just the opposite. I start out just fast enough for the bait to be hitting the structure and I don't want the bait to deflect as much.  The bass will be very tight to the cover and won't chase something very far.  The deflection and pause are still important but you want it to happen as close to the cover as possible.  If moving the bait really slow isn't working then I will speed up until I find what the bass want.

Picking your Color – I’m of the old school and always try to “Match the Hatch” when it comes to picking colors. What this means is I want my color to match the baitfish as close as possible in the body of water I'm fishing.  Sure all bodies of water have multiple types of baitfish, but generally speaking there is one that bass will be predominately feeding on during different times of the year. In the late Fall and Winter my first choice would be a Crawfish pattern. In the Spring or Summer I’m likely to fish some kind of Shad pattern. Now if the Bluegill are spawning I’ll go to a Bluegill, Sunfish or Perch pattern. I will be the first to admit matching the hatch doesn’t always work.  That is the reason for all those colors and patterns of Square Bills that don’t come
close to matching anything in nature. Some of these wild off the wall color patterns for some reason trigger something in the bass that make them strike. Also when the water is cloudy or muddy you will need to pick a color pattern the bass can see better. If they can’t see your bait then they likely aren’t going to eat it.

To Rattle or not to Rattle - Personally I prefer to have Square Bills with rattle chambers. I’m also picky on how those rattles sound. I believe a bait with rattles will get you many more strikes than a bait without rattles. Bass can hear the rattles and feel the vibrations coming from your bait long before they can see your bait. If they can hear and feel something coming then they will be waiting on it, and when it deflects off that branch they are under or the rock they are beside, Boom they eat it without even thinking. Now when the water is off colored or muddy those rattles are even that much more important.  The bass' vision is affected by the condition of the water so they use the sound of the rattling to locate your bait. For me having rattles in my Square Bills is a must!!

The Best Brand - The question of which is the best brand of Square Bill on the market will cause all kinds of heated discussions.  All fishermen have their opinions on which is the best and that is what they use. I am not trying to say mine are better than yours.  I'm just going to tell you what and why I like my preferred brand. My brand of choice is Bandit Lures and has been since the early 80s.  Yes I'm currently on the Bandit Pro Staff, but that only happened in the last year, I've been using their baits for 30 years.  I believe that Bandits have the best Wobble and Rattle chambers of any crankbaits I've fished in my 50 plus years.  As far as Square Bills go Bandit gives you three different models to choose from, the Foot Loose that dives to 1.5 feet, the 100 Series that dives to 5 feet and also their Flat Maxx Shallow that gives you a different profile in a bait that dives to 5 feet.  Then Bandit Lures has a unbelievable selection of colors and patterns to choose from.  Now I'm sure, there are other companies out there with good baits, but once I find something that works I stick with it, and Bandits have been working for me for a very long time.

In closing I'd like to say I hope this article has provided you with some helpful information.  Square Bills are a great tool to have in your tackle box and I hope you will use them and they will locate those hidden bass for you as well as they do for me.  

Until next time, Tight Lines and Take a Kid Fishing.

You can follow me on:
Twitter - @BHOAdventures

Also check out the great folks that help make my fishing adventures possible and the tackle I use and trust.
Stealth Rod Holders