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Hot and Cold Aggressive Baits

By Russ Bassdozer

Color is easiest to talk about because we can use the example of the matador and the bull. As the story goes, the color of the red cape is used to stimulate an aggressive reaction from the bull! Who knows why? I surely don't, but supposedly the bull knows something and I suppose that's all that matters to the matador.

Now onto fish. Like red for bulls, I believe chartreuse is an example of an aggressive color for bass. You can use 4" and 5" Yamamoto single tail grubs in natural smokes, pumpkins, greens, blacks, whites. Just swim them along in a natural presentation... then slip on a chartreuse grub and I think you've just upgraded to an aggressive-colored bait even though you continue to reel in slowly the same as before. Red is another color called which I consider to be another aggressive color. Other things being equal, you can quietly flip a red pepper spider grub into a laydown log, and it will be more aggressive than if you put a drab-colored brown or green spider grub in there.

Same thing with spinnerbaits or buzzbaits. You can slowly roll them along wearing skirts like white, black, pumpkins, watermelons...but slip on a fire tiger skirt, and you've just upgraded a spinnerbait or buzzbait to a more aggressive color even though you may continue to retrieve them so slowly.

Water Temperature. I like to use color best (i.e., chartreuse, red, fire tiger, bubblegum) as an aggressive bait in cool water during spring and fall.

I use speed, more of it, as an aggressive tactic in hot water. With jigs at high noon on hot summer days, a faster drop (due to a heavier leadhead, for example) can evoke more instinctive hits whereas a slower fall with a lighter leadhead may go painfully untouched in the heat of summer.

Quick snaps can trigger aggressive reactions. Have you ever noticed that you retrieve a lure very slowly over a nice-looking spot, only to reel in rapidly at the end to make another cast...and BANG! get nailed as you're reeling in rapidly after you "finished" your slow and thoughtful presentation? Ever pick up some weeds during the retrieve and you snap the rod tip violently a few times to shed them...and BANG! Clues the fish are giving you to become more aggressive with your bait.

Unaggressive fish? I've casted to schools of fish laying in shallow water...I've worked a tubebait slowly and enticingly only inches in front of their noses without any reaction. Cast out again and start that tubebait streaking across the surface...and WHAM! that were disinterested before are suddenly fighting each other for the bait!

This tubebait example happens every so often to me. It is good to show that these fish were not acting aggressively at all. In fact, they were laying listlessly just doing nothing. Not feeding, not swimming, just suspended and apparently in a semi-stupor. Hardly aggressive behavior for a fish! A slow "natural" presentation went unbothered, but that streaking bait triggered their instincts to pursue and pounce on it. In such cases, it is purely the speed that causes these semi-dormant fish to react to it.

Splash. Regardless of what lure I use, I make a splash on the first cast, and it doesn't usually scare them on the very first cast. In fact it is a great way to stimulate their sensory systems and make them receptive to the lure before they even see it. A bass doesn't differentiate (like you and I do) whether he saw or heard or felt something. He just gets interested in whatever happens around him...a natural noise...a bump or splash...and he gets commited to investigating it - out of curiosity or out of hunger - without ever seeing it. So, you are starting off with your foot in the door when you stimulate the senses in a positive way with a splash. On a silent entry, the bass has to see the lure to get truly stimulated...not so on the splashy entry.

People ask me: "I fish water that is quite clear. Would this make a difference?" Clear water doesn't matter...things still splash and thrash around just as loudly in clear water as in murky! People always say bass use more sight in clear water and use more hearing in murky water...that's what you & I would do, not bass. Bass do not distinguish or even know they have eyes and ears. A stimulation is the same to them...sight, sound,'s all good, clear or murky.

Are there times when too much splash is over doing it? Only on the second or subsequent casts when I mute down to a silent, splashless entry.

In summary, to me it can be color (like the matador's cape) or speed (like running from a bear instead of "playing dead") or that first splash (that won't go unnoticed) that evokes instinctive reactions from animals, including bass that may otherwise not be as interested.

Color in cool water and haste in hot. Plus the splashy intro. Just three examples of what I do to make baits aggressive.

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