Once the heat of summer finally breaks, bass populations begin to spread out in pursuit of foraging opportunities, which means bass often avoid making a singular location home for any great length of time. As an angler, this is when the power fishing tactics of chunkin’ and windin’ become key to keep up with the bass, and if you’re MLF Pro Cliff Crochet, it’s time to break out three main “power” lures: a frog, a spinnerbait,and a squarebill crankbait.
When asked the optimal time for throwing a frog, Crochet laughed and said, “Froggin’ is always the deal for me, with the exception of the winter months. Once the water temps start to dip below 60 degrees in the late fall to early winter, then I’ll put the frog away. Also, when we start getting those harsher cold fronts in late fall, the day immediately after the front passage can limit the bites on a frog. Other than that, the frog is in play for me”.
“No matter the time of year”, he adds, “the frog is about targeting isolated bass around isolated cover. In other words, it’s not a technique that’s going to put 100 bass in the boat, but the ones you catch will be better quality fish”. The Louisiana native looks specifically for outlying wood cover offering just enough shade to conceal a quality bass throughout the year. The fall is no exception to that rule. Additionally, he tends to avoid the big vast areas of dense cover, such as a huge field of lily pads, as these areas are often too inefficient to consistently find the bass.
Crochet’s choice of frog is a Snag Proof Phat Frog, tossed on his signature series 7’3” KastKing Spirale Rod (heavy action), a KastKing Speed Demon Deadbolt Reel spooled with 65-80# KastKing Hammer Braid line. The Spirale series has spiral line guides progressing under the blank toward the rod tip, which keeps the line off of the blank throughout the cast, as well as the hookset. Crochet says the reduced friction on the line assists in skipping the frog further and easier.
The Speed Demon Deadbolt reel is all about power, as the entire drag system is eliminated with this reel model. “I always crank the star drag down as tight as possible when using heavy braid, so with the KastKing Deadbolt reel, we eliminated the star drag completely–it’s one less thing to worry about”, said Crochet.
The arrival of the fall months brings strong winds driving the cooler air, which means the aggressive flash and thump of a spinnerbait rise to the top of Crochet’s lure choices. “Wind combined with dropping water temps put the bass on the move looking for forage, so I’m really focused on windy banks with a spinnerbait. These windblown areas can be anywhere from main lake points and shorelines to windy pockets and banks inside the creek arms”. Crochet adds an important detail when looking at cover on these windy banks, noting, “Fish will get on the backside of any cover that has wind blowing on it, as they use the cover as a windbreak and allow the current from the wind to bring forage to them; therefore, make sure you direct your casts to the backside of the cover when you can.”
Choices for spinnerbaits is a matter of water clarity. In clearer water, the MLF pro likes the speedier retrieve of a double willow leaf combo, typically bulged just under the water’s surface. For dirtier water, he adapts the blades to a double Colorado or a Colorado/Indiana combo, offering more thump in the water from the wider blades.
When discussing water clarity, Crochet points out, “In stained water, casting accuracy is much more important than in clear water. In clear water, the bass can see the lure better and will attack it from further away, while in dirtier water, they don’t seem as likely to chase down a lure from very far away. You need to get the spinnerbait as close to the cover as possible when the water’s dirty”.
When fishing a “blade,” Crochet relies on his signature line of spinnerbaits from Crusher lures. He’ll fish the spinnerbait on 15-20# fluorocarbon or the new TriPolymer from KastKing. TriPolymer is a three-layered nylon line with many of the same attributes of fluorocarbon. Crochet points out that he’s not worried about line visibility when fishing a moving lure, even in clear water, making the heavier line his choice for a spinnerbait.
His rod choice is a KastKing 7’4” Spirale Medium/Heavy Rod, which is a composite material offering reduced sensitivity and more flex in the rod tip. The slower reaction from the composite material allows the bass to take the lure before the angler has time to react, improving landing percentages with a moving bait.
He’ll pair the setup with the same KastKing Speed Demon Deadbolt for the same reasons as the froggin’ setup – no need for a drag when using heavier test weight lines.
Lastly, Crochet chooses another classic “cover water” type lure in the fall months, the squarebill crankbait. He will fish the squarebill in many of the same places he chooses to fish a spinnerbait: windy banks and points. As he notes, “The wind is your friend for throwing these moving baits, so use the wind to your advantage. If there’s a key for fishing a squarebill, or really any moving lure, it’s to cast the lure well beyond the cover. If you land the lure right on top of the cover where a fish is likely to be located, as soon as you start the retrieve, you’re pulling the lure away from the fish. I want the lure working as it approaches the fish so it has time to react to the bait”.
His rod setup for crankin’ is the same as the spinnerbait, a 7’4” KastKing Spirale composite rod for the slower reaction time needed for a fast-moving lure. For the reel, Crochet likes the KastKing MegaJaws Elite spooled with either fluorocarbon or KastKing TriPolymer. “I want the biggest line I can get away with, yet still keep the lure crashing to the bottom. If I’m in 2-3’ of water, I’ll fish 20# line, and if I’m in that 4-5’ zone, I’ll drop down to 15# to allow the lure to go deeper. When in doubt, go with 15# test, as it’s just a good all-purpose line for shallow cranking,” he added.
Crochet chooses his specific squarebill based on forage size, reaching for the high deflection qualities of the new Bill Lewis ATV Squarebill series. He explains, “The ATV is rugged and bounces off of everything, and it comes in three sizes: 1.0, 1.5, and the larger 2.5. If I see smaller minnows up on the flat, I’m going with the smaller 1.0 or 1.5, but if I notice larger bluegill, I’m reaching for the bigger 2.5 to imitate that bigger forage”.
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By: Shane Beilue