Bill Siemantel’s SPRO BBZ-1 Swimbait System

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by Bill Siemantel

Bill Siemantel with a Lake Lanier Spotted Bass on a BBZ 6-inch

Bill Siemantel with a Lake Lanier Spotted Bass on a BBZ 6-inch – photo by Dan O’Sullivan

I’ve been asked many times about the BBZ-1 swimbaits I’ve designed with SPRO.  Many anglers ask me which one of the baits I throw under certain conditions; when do I choose the eight-inch over the six-inch, and what time of the year does the four-inch BBZ have the best chance of getting bit.

These are all good questions, and my answer to every one of them is simple, whenever the baits will get me the biggest bites.

I’m not trying to be funny or give a smart response, but merely trying to point out that the whole set of BBZ-1 swimbaits is really designed to be a system that provides anglers with the tools needed to have the best results.

I really designed the system to give one person the best chance at having success, and that person is me.  My intent is to have the tools I need to catch the best and biggest bass in the lake, and then to help others by educating them about the methods I use to catch them.  By educating the public, I believe, and SPRO has given me their full support, that anglers will find in all of the SPRO products, the tools needed to get the job done.

I’ve been fishing for the last 30 years and my goal when I start every day is to keep an open mind to how the fish are responding to the conditions; the water clarity, the position of the sun, the topography of the lake, the micro-topography, or the “spot on the spot” that everyone searches for.  Along with all of these factors, I must identify the depth zone the bass are using, and the forage they are feeding on then make the necessary decisions to make them strike.

Choosing a Size of BBZ-1
A component of identifying all of the pieces of the puzzle is deciding which bait to use, and to do that, I must first identify whether the fish are in one of the three zones of the water column; the top, middle or bottom.  If the fish are at the surface, then I need a floating lure, in the middle, a suspending or slow sinking lure may be the ticket, and at the bottom, I’ll need a fast sink model.

The BBZ-1 swimbaits are designed to give me all of the fall rates I need to attack every inch of the water column, whatever the size of the baitfish the bass are keying on.  If the bass are dialed in to trout, then an eight-inch BBZ is the ticket, but we also made a six-inch trout if the prevalent size of the forage is smaller.  For a four-inch model, we created a shad shaped BBZ-1 designed to match the size of a healthy Threadfin or Gizzard Shad.

The final decision of which BBZ-1 swimbait to use depends upon the mood of the bass.  In Southern California, I’ve noticed a trend over the past year or so away from trout as a primary forage.  The state stocking programs have slowed and instead of the fish hanging out on bluff walls or steep creek channel bends where trout normally swim, they’ve migrated back to shad or other baitfish as their main meal. What this means is that I’ve had to make an adjustment myself.

Imagine that you live in a neighborhood with several fast food restaurants and your primary meal consists of burgers and fries; when suddenly, the supply of cheeseburgers dries up and the drive-thrus close.  You may wait for a while for something to come back to your area, but when survival is the focus, you’ll soon venture out to find your food; bass are no different.

For an angler to operate within the BBZ System, he would first locate which restaurant the bass are hanging near, and then present the bait in front of them.  The best way to do that is to match the meal that they are most likely to eat first.  In my area lately, that has been the shad, so I would present them with a four-inch BBZ-1, or if they are focused on smaller baitfish, like a smelt, then our

SPRO BBZ1-2.5-inch Colors

The 2.5 inch BBZ Swimbaits Give Anglers a Tool for when Bass are Eating Small Baitfish – photo courtesy SPRO

forthcoming two and a half inch BBZ-1 Shad would be my first choice.

Locating the Micro-topography
We spoke earlier of finding the “spot on the spot,” that piece of cover element on a specific feature of the lake that makes for the perfect holding area for a giant bass.  That lakebed feature may be a long tapering main lake point in the late winter, or a steep drop-off in a turn on creek channel bordering a spawning flat in the spring.

Each of these topographical features are known to be holding areas for bass, and there may be lots of them there.  But the biggest bass in the area is usually on a secondary cover element along that feature.  It could be a stump, a large boulder, and isolated bush or simply where gravel transitions to larger chunk rock; these are big bass hangouts.

When those areas intersect with the area of the water column the bass are using, it’s time to present a lure; and since I’m thinking about it, I’ll paint a picture of a successful presentation in the Big Bass Zone.

Entering the BBZ
Let’s say it is early spring, and the bass are feeding up for the spawn.  They have migrated from their deep water haunts towards the spawning areas, and you locate a creek channel that swings to the right on the edge of a spawning flat on the left side of a cove.  As you probe the area you notice that the top of the break rests in six feet of water, and the drop breaks sharply into 17 feet.  The flat is mainly sand with patches of gravel with a few isolated stick ups dotting the landscape.

On the turn of the channel bend you locate a rockpile that must have been the result of a flash flood of the creek before the lake was flooded.  The rocks are the size of watermelons and pumpkins, and they create a natural transition of the gravel and mud bottom to the harder cover of the boulders at 12 to 17 feet; that is the micro-topography we are looking for.

For the sake of painting the picture, let’s assume that we have already identified that the bass are feeding on three to four inch shad because one of the keepers we caught earlier spit up some samples while you were fighting it.  My choice in this case is to pick up a four-inch BBZ-1 Shad.  I pick up my Lamiglas XC 704J and Shimano Chronarch 100 with 15-pound-test Maxima Ultragreen line

There are two ways to approach this piece of cover.  One is to sit back and cast a fast sink model past the cover and allow the lure to work into the strike zone, or “funnel” as I prefer to call it.  Once it is there, I will begin a medium retrieve that allows the lure to pass the funnel; which is simply the area that the bass would use as the most likely ambush point.  Then I give my rod a couple of sharp pops, creating a directional change of the lure, and get ready for the rod to be jerked out of my hands.

The other scenario, and perhaps my favorite, is to work the cover in a reverse or uphill fashion.  The reason I like this presentation is because it allows me to present the bait in a fashion that makes the pendulum effect of the lure intersect with the micro-topography in a much more natural fashion, creating more opportunity for the reaction of a big bass; game on.

Bill Siemantel with BBZ-1 2.5-inch catch

Bill Siemantel with a BBZ-1 2.5-inch catch – photo courtesy Bill Siemantel

In this case, because I am allowing the lakebed topography to work for me, I can use the slow sink BBZ-1.  I would make my cast past the target, allowing it to sink in to the zone. After reaching the depth zone I want, I slowly turn the reel handles allowing a bow in my line to present the lure in the direction of the funnel.  Once again, as the BBZ-1 Shad approaches the micro-topography, I initiate a directional change with my rod tip causing the lure to dart; and the strike occurs.  If all of my planning was correct, the strike would have been from a larger than average sized bass, and I get to have my picture taken.

SPRO Excellence
One of the reasons why I have been able to develop the BBZ-1 system is because of the good folks at SPRO, and their commitment to allowing their pro staffers to make baits we are proud to put our names on.  I worked for a long time trying to get each one of my signature BBZ-1 product to as close to perfection as I could before releasing them.

Each one of the products we’ve sent to market are works of art, and they bear the stamp of quality that SPRO has come to be known for.  Every bait is constructed exactly as I envisioned, and they have the best components available, from the hardware, the world class finishes and the ultra sharp and strong Gamakatsu hooks; these lures mean business.

Throughout my career, I’ve tried to keep an open mind on the water, and it has resulted in hundreds of giant bass.  Open up your mind to the possibilities, and give one of my SPRO BBZ-1 swimbaits a try, and I’ll see you in the Big Bass Zone too; game on baby, game on.