When it comes to bass fishing, having the right lure is of the utmost importance. What you throw is often dictated by the time of year. Let me make one thing clear…there are no magical lures like the Banjo Minnow or the Helicopter lure that will catch bigger and better fish all the time. Since the late 1960’s, anglers have created what I call “TV lures,” baits that are promoted by companies like RONCO guaranteeing that “this” new bait is the greatest fishing lure of all time. Don’t be fooled, there are no guarantees when it comes to bass fishing. But today we’ll look at a few lures that have made a name for themselves by catching not only a lot of bass, but quality as well.
Let’s first look at one of the legendary lures of all time….the spinnerbait. The safety pin or overhead arm spinnerbait was invented in 1951 and manufactured in St. Louis, Missouri. It was designed to catch all species of fish like bass, northern pike, and red fish to name a few. It’s one of those lures we call “chunk and wind” baits which means all you have to do is cast the bait out and start reeling it in. it comes in an array of colors, sizes, and styles with several blade combinations for different water conditions from muddy to clear. It’s one of the most versatile baits you can fish with. You can completely cover the entire water column with a spinnerbait and it’s a great bait for a beginning angler to learn how to throw a bait caster reel.
Next let’s look at the famous, but very reliable, Rat-L-Trap bait. Built and designed in Alexandria, Louisiana, by Bill Lewis in 1971, this bait is known worldwide and has an unbelievable reputation for catching bass. Another one of those “chunk and wind” baits in which the bait does the work for you with its tight vibrating action mimicking bait fish. Bait fish are one of the top forages for bass and the Rat-L-Trap is simply the best lure ever made to imitate bait fish. The Rat-L-Trap series of baits just might be one of the most popular fishing lures of all time. This bait will catch fish in all conditions on any body of water you want to fish.
Now I’ll reveal a bait that has come to the forefront over the last decade and is now one of the most popular baits ever……the Chatter Bait! I got the opportunity to experience the introduction of this bait at Lake Okeechobee Florida in the early 2000’s. I was fishing the FLW Tour as a co-angler in 2004 when this bait made its first appearance. Anglers that had this bait for this event had a distinct advantage and most finished at the top of the standings. Anglers were literally putting their wives up for auction in order to get their hands on a few of these baits. The concept of this bait is simple…a lead head jig with a silicone skirt and a unique designed blade attached to the head creating a high intensity vibration like no other bait can do. Fish will hit this bait when other baits will not work. There’s something unique about its appearance and ability to not only catch bass, but BIG BASS! Beware, it’s also a bait that can be difficult to keep fish hooked up on. It will break your heart when you lose a big one from time to time, but it’s always better to at least had a chance at a big fish than to never hook one at all. Another problem with this bait is that it does not come through heavy cover very well. The Chatter Bait can’t pass a brush top or stick up without hanging up. Sometimes I feel like it has a mind of its own and will hang up on purpose just to show you who’s boss.
I really enjoy talking about the history of bass fishing. I’ve learned so many things over the years talking with some of the greatest of the bass fishing world and some older local guys that I have come to respect. I want to encourage you to take the time to talk with the older generation of anglers in their 70’s and 80’s and hear what they have to say. You’ll be amazed at their stories, their experiences, and what they have learned over their years of angling. These guys have seen bass fishing grow from the days of fun fishing to major multi-million dollar events. Till next time, good luck good fishing and don’t forget to set the hook!
Steve Graf Ranger/Daiwa Pro Staffer