HomeFeaturesPro Tip – Adding a Buzz to Bass Fishing – by Mark Menendez by Mark Menendez – Special to AdvancedAngler.com Mark Menendez Throws a Buzzbait in Fall – photo by Dan O’Sullivan That plop, plop, plop sound can be music to the ears of many fishermen. It can also be a risk vs. reward in angling for big bass. Certain topwater baits are notorious big bass lures, and a buzzbait is underutilized by most anglers. A quick examination of a buzzbait reveals that it is a cousin to a spinnerbait. The “safety pin” style of bait is extremely weedless. This allows this bait to be utilized in heavy cover and because large bass are frequent visitors to heavy cover, this may be the commonality to why this presentation is deadly on large bass. “It’s too cold for a Buzzbait” Fish are cold blooded creatures. Therefore, their body temperature is the same as their environment. Early spring and late fall have windows that can draw a buzzbait bite. A buzzbait can draw strikes in the low 50-degree range. A couple of days of warmer nights can stabilize water temperature. Overcast days and low light hours allow fish to hold loosely around heavy cover. This cover will also hold more heat warming the attitude of a lunker bass. A consistent slow retrieve of a black buzzbait results in a rhythmic turning blade. The strike may be nothing more than the bait submerging under the water. The resulting strike may be that of a quality size bass. Anglers will have to make multiple casts to a likely target. It may be a game of “Cat and Mouse” to position the bass in to a strike near heavy cover. Multiple casts will find the curious bass moving out of the center of the cover. The bass will ease to the edge of the cover and take the bait. Buzzbaits Trailer Options – Strike King Rage Lizard and Space Monkey – photo by Mark Menendez Three angling modifications may be needed to slow the presentation. A Strike King Rage Tail Space Monkey or a dark colored Rage Lizard body can be added to aid in a lifting quality to the bait. This helps provide for a slow retrieve. Anglers may want to bend the cup of the blade out to grab more water to slow the presentation. A Lew’s BB1 Cranking reel may be the best choice for slow buzzing. This reel has a slower gear ratio at 5.1:1, that will insure that the bait cannot be retrieved at a high rate of speed in the cold water. Speeding in the Strike Zone A buzzbait can be fantastic post spawn lure. It can agitate a fry guarding bass as well as represent a sweet meal for a finicky female. This technique is a true power fishing style, so covering water is essential to fishing around the spawn, and warmer water temperatures will call for a faster retrieve. A trailer hook is required gear for successful buzzing because a buzzbait strike may only be a slap at the lure. The bass may just be reacting to get the “intruder “away from fry or a lethargic post spawn female. The trailer hook just may sting a percentage of these fish that are striking from other means than hunger. An alternate presentation is always a good plan with a buzzbait. In the event of a missed strike, a secondary lure is offered near the missed strike. A lightly weighted Texas rig, weightless Strike King Ocho (stickworm), or a Caffeine Shad gives an aggressive bass the opportunity to get an offering in the area. A very high percentage of the time the bass will take this secondary lure. A Z-Too Buzzbait – photo by Mark Menendez Slim the Profile Summer and fall angling will be near large quantities of shad. Changing the profile of a buzzbait can really get the attention of the bass. Removal of the skirt is just the first step. This can make the difference of a near miss or a direct hit of the anglers lure. Anglers may need to make this change when in the vicinity of shad. The bulky skirt may not match the forage size of young of the year baitfish. These small shad will school tightly for protection. Many times the school will relate to and around shallow cover such as brushpiles, docks, and laydown trees, and bass will be targeting the small forage. Adding a Strike King Z-Too to a 3/8 oz. Tour Grade Buzzbait gives the bait a new dimension. The minnow shape of the Z-Too (though larger than small forage) provides a slim profile for the bass, and a quick retrieve does not allow the bass to get a good look at the lure. The linear Z-Too can present the bait with a unique look. A quick half turn of a Team Lew’s 7.1:1 Lite reel will actually make the Z-Too adorned buzzbait turn on its side. This mimics small feeding fish and larger shad as they wander in the shallows. A 7’6” medium-heavy Lew’s Custom Speed Stick rod has a quick tip and strong backbone for moving fish from heavy cover. This Custom Speed Stick is not a flipping rod. It is a 7’6” casting rod that doubles for swimbaits and swim jigs. The length of rod allows for long casts and stellar hook sets. 17 to 20-pound-test Seaguar Senshi monofilament is a good choice for buzz baiting. The Senshi is abrasion resistant for those heavy cover bass. Monofilament will provide a lag for the fish to engulf the bait. Buzzbait strikes can be fast and exciting, and this momentary lag from the stretch of the monofilament gives the angler time before feeling the strike. This will result in a higher catch percentage. Trailer Hook Pal Adding the Trailer Hook or Hooks Whether the bass is tempted by hunger or just aggravated by the buzzbait, a trailer hook is always standard apparel. There are a couple of ways to add the extra hook to the bait. A piece of rubber tubing can be cut and stretched over the eye of the trailer hook. The tube covered eye on the trailer hook is the slipped on to the terminal hook of the buzzbait. It can be placed point up or point down according to the amount of cover that is being fished. A large treble hook can also be used as well with the tubing. The tubing will keep the trailer hook immobile. The bass can push this hook out of the way when striking at the bait with tubing over the hook. This method will produce less time hanging up in the cover. A free moving trailer hook rewards the angler with a higher percentage of hook ups. It is also a less weedless method of fishing. Utilizing tubing or a piece of hard plastic, the angler will place the trailer hook on the terminal hook of the buzzbait. The plastic keeper is then pulled over the barb to hold the trailer hook in place. Additional trailer hooks may strung on to the first trailer hook to land short striking bass. Mark Menendez during a Day 1 Weigh-In at PAA Neely Henry The Perfect Trailer hook Applicator A handy little device to apply the circular keeper is called the Trailer-Hook-Pal. The Trailer-Hook-Pal has an open end to apply the perfectly sized circular discs that will hold the trailer hook in place. The newly made Trailer-Hook-Pal keeper will stay in place. In fact, to remove it, It will have to be cut from the main hook to remove the trailer hook! Fishing a buzzbait may be the most exciting technique for catching bass. It is visual, heart stopping, and can yield better than average bass! Mark Menendez is an Elite Series Angler. You may follow him at Facebook and Twitter.