Bass Fishing, Bass Lures, Bass Boats, Russ Bassdozer

Shop @ Bassdozer Store | Lures, Rods, Reels | Boats, Motors, Electronics | Expert Articles | Reports | States | News | Forums | Tournaments | Clubs | Federations | Guides | Links | Books | Magazines | Surf Fishing | About Us  | Terms of Use

It Starts with Ultra Finesse

By Russ Bassdozer

Practical applications for bass begin wherever the water is clear whenever the bass are acting spooky or simply lethargic and you just cannot get bit with your usual lures. In these cases, you can successfully use ultra finesse tactics with the 2 1/2" Mini Jig skirt, which is a thin, unobtrusive Gitzit. Other ultra finesse lures include Kalin's 3" Salty Reaper, Charlie Brewer's 2 1/2" Bass/Crappie Grub, and Lunker City's 2 1/2" Fin-S-Fish, 3" Slug-Go, or 3" Hellgie. All the lures we just mentioned are diminutive, thin-bodied baits.

There are other lures, Garland's 2 1/2" Fat Gitzit, Kalin's 3" Salty Lunker Grub, Charlie Brewer's 3" Bass Grub - but these are slightly bigger, bulkier finesse lures - not ultra finesse baits. What's the difference? Quite simply, there are hard times and places that a 2 1/2" Garland Mini Jig will get 'em good but a 2 1/2" Fat Gitzit will not...when a 2 1/2" Brewer Grub will slay them but the same 3" size will go unmolested.

This article is about those hard times...ultra finesse situations exist in waters all across the country. It's not a matter of if you will encounter them...but when and whether or not you will be prepared to deal with it.

Ultra Finesse is not always Ultra Light. When you hear a term like ultra finesse, you may automatically think of ultra light rods, reels, and lines from 6 to 8 lb. test. Use of such ultra light tackle is true for small bass in open water, but big bass are often just as lethargic, just as spooky and just as close-mouthed in clear water cover...and they can be caught just as effectively on ultra finesse lures. Therefore, ultra finesse tactics also apply on 12 lb. test in cover wherever there is a chance to be broken off by abrasive rocks, wood, or reeds.

Splitshot Rig. The simplest ultra finesse rigging method is to tie a size #2 offset eye hook to the end of your line, rig a 2 1/2" Mini Jig skirt on the hook, and pinch a single splitshot about 18" ahead of it. This Splitshot rig works well to cast up into the quiet, still backwater shallows for largemouth or to cast up across stream flows, allow the water to sweep your splitshot rig down to waiting smallmouth.

Light Carolina Rig. Where you need something to cast farther or sink deeper than a splitshot, simply thread a 1/8 to 1/4 oz. bullet weight onto your line first, then jam a toothpick into the butt of the weight, break it off, and lock it in place on your line with a small shot of superglue.

Minnow Head Jig. In medium to fast running water, use Garry Garland's Original Minnow Head Jigs in 1/8 to 1/4 oz. These are silvery minnow-shaped heads painted with black eyes. Each head is clear coated for additional gloss and to retain the underlying metal's shiny luster. Garry's got a gold wire #2/0 hook in both the 1/8 and 1/4 oz. sizes. These hooks are thin Aberdeens. When honed, most fish will hook themselves as you drift your line in the current.

The Minnow Head jig is different from most other jig heads in that the Garland Minnow Head has a large barb that acts like a keel to shift weight/balance back behind the hook eye as you allow your lure to float downstream in a current on a semi-tight line. This allows the Gitzit to develop an erratic, unpredictable darting action that reacts as if alive to every shift or surge in the current.

Just cast far enough upcurrent to let your hit bottom while it is still about 45 to 60 degrees upstream from you. You must watch yourt line carefully for the exact instant your jig hits bottom - the length of your line will slacken and belly for only a second, and you must be ready to immediately crank in a turn of two with the reel, just enough to raise your lure barely above bottom. If you do it porperly, your lure will begin to sweep downstream without fouling bottom . Expect to get hit as it passes 12 o'clock - the lure will do an about face in the current. If you know what you are feeling for, you will feel a tick in the line as the lure does a 180 and starts to stem against the flow. It begins to rise off bottom and sway in the bottom-swirling current - it acts kind of like a cranky kite that doesn't really want to get airborne, but does a lot of side-to-side shearing and waffling before it gets up there. Just hold it there for a while motionless in the current. At times, you will be surprised how long you can just wait for a bite. After that, if you can keep it down near the bottom, then retrieve it against the flow all the way back to you.  If it's too difficult to keep it near bottom, just reel in, make another cast, and let it swing down, do an about face and rise up again. Expect most hits between eleven and one o'clock, mostly just a tick past twelve.

Use the correct weight jig head to float properly in the flow at hand. We're talking about using the 1/8 and 1/4 oz. Garland Minnow Heads because of the unique action these heads impart to the 2 1/2" Mini Jig skirts. However, as you know, there are numerous sizes and shapes of jig heads on the market. Yes, you can use whatever other heads you feel have the correct weight for the flows you fish in, then micro-tune your presentation by trying different head shapes until you find one that let's the lure rise, fall, swirl, and veer off erratically as it swings down and is buffeted by the bottom-bouncing currents. Just let the lure drift like this, and the current will impart all the most natural life-like action you need - just like a minnow being swept downstream. As mentioned above, a thin gold wire hook and a semi-tight line is really all you need to let fish hook themselves. Bigger, heavier hooks will require more hooksetting efforts on your part. Just remember that part of the 2 1/2" Mini Jig's appeal lies in its thin profile, so do not overmatch it with a jig head or hook that's too big.

Texas Jig.  In many bass fishing situations, open hook jigs can get snagged on rough bottom or fouled in thick green weeds, especially if you are inexperienced. You will lose some of the jig's action, but can get snagged less and get less weeds by using a streamlined jig head that has the hook eye at the tip of a pointy streamlined lead nose rather than on the top of the lead head. Charlie Brewer's original Spider Slider Head (Model #SPH) is ideal for the 2 1/2" Mini Jig skirt in these situations. It has a size #2/0 thin bronze hook that is needle sharp.

Glue 'em On. In all cases, I superglue ultra finesse baits to the hook - either the jig hook or the plain offset hook - because these lures are all so thin, they easily pull down off the hook whenever a fish hits and misses or upon contact with the bottom or cover.

Gear to Use. In open water I do not hesitate to use light gear and light lines. Last year, I picked up a B.A.S.S. Outdoor America model KS6-335 rod at an X-Mart for under $20. It's six foot, two-piece IM6 graphite. It works just fine for ultra finesse with all the baits, weights, thin wire jigs and hooks mentioned in this article. I use a Shimano 2000 spinning reel on this rod with thin 8 lb. test (MagnaThin, Ultra-Thin, SensiThin). The rod bends and buffers the strain of fighting decent-sized bass on light tackle.

For getting ultra finesse baits into cover...and especially for getting big bass back out...I use 12 lb. test Berkley Big Game line on a Shimano 4000 on a Shakespeare Ugly Stick Lite model #SP1166-1MH. It's a six foot six inch one piece powerhouse for this style of fishing! It's also inexpensive. The first eight inches are a clear glass Ugly Stik tip section with lots of give for casting and feeling light lures, whereas the rest of the blank is essentially graphite backbone. With this rod, you still can use the light wire gold and bronze hooks if you play the bigger fish carefully. You can also use thin but stronger, higher quality steel from Gamakatsu, VMC or Owner in the jig hooks and the offset hooks you use for ultra finesse in cover.

How Big? Yes, what we are talking about here is a reliable small water and small bass bait, but I have caught plenty of big spooky bass from clear water on big impoundments...big, cautious fish that I would have just scared off and never caught otherwise.

How about a state record? The Arizona state record for largemouth bass was established in 1953 with a 13 lb. 3 oz. bass. In 1988, that 35 year old record was shattered by a 14 lb. 8 oz. bass caught on a 2 1/2" Garland Mini Jig skirt on a thin wire Garland Minnow Head jig!

I hope this article will get you started in learning ultra finesse tactics and tools. The situation exists often on clear waters. By adding Garland Mini Jigs and ultra finesse tactics to your bass fishing skill set, you can save many slow days from being "bummer flops" and turn them into "bumper crops" of bass!

Shop at Bassdozer's Store
Bassdozer Store
Men's Clothing at
Bass Pro Shops

May I ask you for a favor please? Please start here first whenever you shop online. Click on any store logo above or book below. Bassdozer gets a small sales commission if you begin shopping at these stores from here. You always get the same low price you would pay anyway. Thank you kindly for shopping at Bassdozer.

Kevin Vandam's Bass Strategies
Kevin Vandam

Secrets of a Champion
Kevin VanDam

Fishing on the Edge
Mike Iaconelli

Big Bass Zone
Bill Siemantel

Denny Brauer's Jig Fishing Secrets

Denny Brauer

Denny Brauer's Winning Tournament Tactics

Denny Bauer

Monte Burke

Thank you for visiting. Please enjoy!
Bass fishing lures, bass boats
Worldwide Bass Fishing, Bass Lures, Bass Boats