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by Capt. Bert Deener

Bass Can’t Resist A Loud Buzzbait!

Buzzbaits, those nothing-looking masses of wire, lead and silicone rubber with a flat aluminum blade on top, have a special place in my arsenal of lures.

Twelve years ago, I duped my first bass weighing over 10 pounds with a buzzbait on the Altamaha River in Georgia. I have always caught bigger-than-average bass on the lure, but I finally topped the 10-pound pinnacle with that fish. Buzzbaits are known as big-fish lures.

Patrick Pierce, B.A.S.S. pro from Jacksonville, relies on buzzbaits when the water gets hot to draw strikes from quality fish that help him move up the leader board in tournaments. “I always have a buzzbait tied on, once the bass spawn winds down and the shad start spawning, typically when the water tops 75-degrees. During summer, it is a deadly lure early and late in the day,” Patrick stated.

His favorite buzzbait is a 3/8-oz. Hildebrandt HeadBanger for almost all conditions, and he always fishes it with a trailer hook (which the lure comes equipped with). This tin-head is tougher than lead, so when the blade taps it — making that irresistible click on each revolution — the head does not wear down like lead-headed, head-knocker-style buzzbaits. He also likes the unique tube-like skirt that does not foul in the blade like some other models.

“As far as I am concerned, there are only three colors of buzzbaits—white, chartreuse and black,” he declared. In clear to stained water and sunny conditions, he throws white. If fishing muddy water on a sunny day, chartreuse is his choice. On cloudy days, black gets the nod.

The only time his lure choice varies from the HeadBanger is when he is fishing extremely pressured waters, the bite is tough or the fish are short-striking the HeadBanger. Under those conditions, he will switch to one of his homemade “Lunker Lure” style buzzbaits that does not have a clacker and does not knock.

One trick he uses in rigging the lure is to upsize the blade on the 1/4-ounce bait to a blade more usually found on a 3/8-ounce size bait. He then adds a little extra weight to the hook by wrapping it with lead solder.

“If you don’t add extra weight to the hook shank, the bait will roll on its side. With that big blade, I can reel it very slowly and still keep it on the surface. This trick has added pounds to my creel on heavily-pressured waters,” Patrick shared. He fishes buzzbaits on a 7-foot, medium-heavy action, St. Croix Legend Tournament Sweeper Spinnerbait rod. This powerful rod can move a big fish away from cover, but still has a moderate/fast tip, which allows the bass to inhale the bait a little for better hookups. He pairs his rod with a 7:1 gear ratio baitcasting reel spooled with 20-pound test Sufix Tritanium monofilament. Vegetation is the cover type that Patrick keys on during summer. Hydrilla and coontail are his favorite weeds, and if they are on main lake point and drops, all the better.

There are days when you can reel a buzzbait really fast and still catch fish, but on most days, the key is to work it just fast enough to keep it on the surface. A good 7:1 gear ratio reel is great for getting the bait to the surface quickly, but you have to be careful not to reel it too fast. “With experience, you will learn to engage the reel and lift the rod just as the bait touches down, so it never has a chance to sink,” he stated.

The most common error beginning anglers make is to set the hook as soon as a fish swipes at the lure. “A little trick I’ve learned to slow down my hook-set is to always be looking ahead at my next cast and never directly at my bait as I retrieve it,” Patrick shared. Another mistake is that most folks set the hook too hard, as if they were fishing a plastic worm. Patrick has had much better success hooking up by reeling until he feels the weight of the fish and then sweeping a hookset instead of yanking hard.

Almost all buzzbaits track to one side or the other because the blade rotates in a single direction. If you use this to your advantage, you can get your bait to run right along the edge of a grassline or even up under low-hanging boat docks. Many tackle catalogs catering to “do-it-yourselfers” sell buzzbait blades that are counter-rotating.

Experiment with switching some of your blades for these counter-rotating blades, and you can have identical baits that run in opposite directions. Then, you can grab whichever lure will run right up to the cover you are fishing.

Finally, Pat suggests that when a buzzbait gets old and squeaky, do not throw it away. Cut it off and put it in your tournament box. “The very best buzzbaits are the squeaky ones that seem like they are going to give out on the next cast. I never start a tournament day with a “new” buzzbait. I always go to one that is very well broken in,” Patrick emphasized.

If you are content catching small bass, pitch small worms to shoreline cover this summer. If you want to catch the size fish that will challenge your fish-fighting ability, tie on a buzzbait and hang on!