What is a Front Runner and Why Should You Use One?

I spend all Winter dreaming about topwater explosions. As the cold months tick by and the warm weather draws near, the dreams get more explosive, the fish in my head get bigger, and the excitement builds! The fantasies start getting so far out there that I begin dreaming of catching those bass two at a time!

Here at Tactical Bassin we're all about learning so I (Matt) will be the first to admit that Tim taught me something new last fall. I'd seen front runners but I really didn't understand their effectiveness until I saw Tim put one to use. Forget dreams, these little baits make double hookups a reality!

If you fish schooling bass and you aren't using a front runner in conjunction with your walking topwater (Spook, Rover, Vixen, etc...) you're missing the boat!

For those that aren't familiar, a Front Runner (Click here to see what they look like) is a small topwater bait armed with a single treble hook that is designed to be tied inline, ahead of your main topwater. When your spook goes left, the front runner goes right, and vise versa. The effect is that your spook is chasing a smaller baitfish across the surface and the bass go crazy for it! In addition to being a unique look the bass rarely see, it gives you an extra hook attached to a small bait that is free swinging when you're fighting your fish to the boat. If you fish schooling bass you already know what that means... Double Hook Ups!

Do yourself a favor and pick up some Front Runners. These little guys are DEADLY and will make a big difference as you step up your topwater game this year!

Topwater Poppers: How to fish them effectively

Every kid that grew up bass fishing knows what a Hula Popper is. We all fished them and agree that they were deadly on those old pond bass. So why now, as we grow older, do we turn our backs on poppers?

Far too often the popper falls by the wayside in favor of newer, louder, and flashier topwater offerings. Its great to be well versed with a variety of baits so you can adapt to changing conditions but don't fall into the trap and forget your first love all together.

When conditions get tough, especially those cool early summer mornings, the popper is a deadly way to catch GIANT bass that are unwilling to run down a faster moving bait. The quick tips outlined in this week's video should help you get your mind in the game to slow back down, pull out your favorite popper, and lure one of the dormant giants to the surface!

While poppers can be thrown on very light tackle, Matt prefers (to the surprise of no one) to step up his tackle when targeting big fish with these finesse baits. He prefers to use the following:

For the Yellow Magic, Rico, and other small poppers he uses a 7' light to medium light baitcaster spooled with 15-20 lb braided line.

For the larger poppers like the Bubble Walker he will step up to a 7'-7'2" Medium baitcaster but still prefers a moderate action, and spools it with 30 lb braided line.

Matt insists that braid is key with these baits as you can get maximum responsiveness from the bait with minimal rod movement.

Swim Jig Modifications

As a follow up to our recent post Swim Jig Season, we decided to revisit how to modify a swim jig. While many jigs are effective right out of the package there are some simple changes you can make to the skirt and weedguard that will immediately increase your success rate.

Some swim jig/swimbait combinations (The California Swim Jig coupled with a Roboworm EZ Shad for example) have excellent action out of the package but other need the skirt to be thinned or shortened to gain the proper action. Follow the simple steps outlined in this video to get increased action out of any swim jig, especially when combining it with a swimbait trailer that has either wide action or low vibration.

The post spawn is the perfect time to lure bass out of the grass beds with the swim jig so put these tips to work right away and catch some of your biggest bass of the year!

Post Spawn Fluke Fishing for Big Bass

This week Tim breaks down the tricks behind fishing the super fluke. This deadly bait is often overlooked during the post spawn but is a DEADLY way to fool big bass that are still recovering. Most anglers that fish soft jerkbaits use a fairly slow presentation to lull bass into biting but during the late spring and early summer months we use a very aggressive presentation to draw vicious reaction strikes.

A simple change in cadence can be the difference between catching a few fish a day and loading the boat with giant bass that don't want to eat anything else. For this faster style of fishing, equipment is key. Tim uses two baits for this speedy presentation...

Zoom Super Fluke: The super fluke works best on a 4/0 Gamakatsu EWG Superline Hook. The heavier superline hook acts as a keel and keeps the bait from jumping out of the water too often. Tim prefers to couple it with a 7'3" medium heavy rod like the Dobyns Champion 734C.

Zoom Magnum Fluke: The Magnum fluke works best on the 6/0 Gamakatsu EWG Superline Hook. Because of the size of the hook this bait is best fished on a 7' 3" extra heavy rod like the Dobyns Champion 736C.

Sight Fishing: Beyond the Basics

This week Tim breaks down some of the keys behind being a consistent sight fisherman. This isn't what color jig to throw, or how to make a fish mad. Its the fine details of boat positioning, fish behavior, clothing, even which lenses see deeper in which water colors (These Eye Surrenders are what we wear and it will save you some $$$, you don't need overpriced optics).

This is a video you need to watch and understand if you do any sight fishing throughout the year. Sight fishing, especially for spawning bass, is an art form. Many anglers, both tournament and trophy, complain about guys who sight fish but most of this comes from their own insecurities or lack of understanding (Yes, there are a few purists in the mix but they're the rare ones). You don't have to have the best eye sight or the most time on the water to be the best sight fisherman. Sure it helps, but understanding bass behavior is much more important.

If you can learn how the bass moves both on and off the bed, what sort of predators its dealing with, and most importantly, when its really interested and when its just darting around, you'll be so much more successful! Again, sight fishing is an art. If you want to be great at it, its going to take some practice. There is a short window during the year to hone your skills so don't waste time. Learn the skills and apply them right away. Good luck out there!


Swim Jig Season

The swim jig is a great bait throughout the year but it really shines in the spring! As the bass are moving off the beds  and beginning to feed again the swim jig stands alone as a bait that can be thrown into virtually any cover. Aside from the way it comes through vegetation, the secondary action is what sets the bait apart.

We've been on an awesome swim jig bite the last few weeks using a two-pronged approach. First, we're using the California Swim Jig around spawning beds. The defensive fish can't resist a bluegill color! The second pattern is to target the post-spawn fish that have begun shifting into their summer patterns. As the fish pull out into the grass beds to recover from the spawn We've been able to draw the fish up out of the grass with shad colored offerings.

Instead of filming a whole new video about throwing the swim jig we decided to replay this video on the California Swim Jig. This bait revolutionized swim jig fishing, catching giant bass from coast to coast after this video hit youtube. Understanding why the bait works works, how it works, and when to throw it, will have a huge impact on how you target bass during the post-spawn season. Good luck out there!