Gear Up for Fall – a Tackle Primer

Power Pole

by Dan O’Sullivan

Bryan Head of Jewel Bait Company with a nice Lake of the Ozarks Largemouth

Bryan Head of Jewel Bait Company with a nice Lake of the Ozarks Largemouth – photo by Dan O’Sullivan

Okay, summer is over, and those of us not in the throes of deer fever are beginning to start thinking about fishing again.  Gone are the hot summer days that make us want to strip down to nothing at all and the overnight temperatures that are so muggy that you can barely sleep.

By now, most of us are heading out for our fishing mornings with shorts and a t-shirt layered underneath a pair of sweatpants and a hoodie to protect us from the cool morning temperatures.  By the afternoon we’ve shed those outer layers and are wearing sunscreen.   The leaves are turning colors signifying that the earth is beginning its turn into hibernation for the coming winter.

The fishing has changed too, the surface temperatures have started to cool and shad have started to migrate.  for the majority of bass, attention has started to shift from bluegills and crawdads to shad, so their attitude is more aggressive and movements are more animated.

As a result, we tend to move towards faster moving lures that cover water and are more typically have shad-like colors.   That is fishing in the fall.

For many of us having a rod for every technique is not something that we are able to do.  Whether the considerations are budget, storage or fishing from boat or shore are involved, not everyone can have 30 rods and reels at their disposal to fine tune each presentation.

What we wanted to do is take a minute to identify the basic fall fishing needs as far as lure go and give you the basic gear combinations that would enable you to get the most out of your fishing this fall; even if you are on a budget.

Baits for Fall

A Fall Arsenal

A Fall Arsenal – photo by Jason Duran

Because the bass can be anywhere and doing everything this time of the year, it can be really beneficial to have a little of everything at your disposal.  When bass are on shad primarily, they can often move quickly throughout the day, so adaptation is critical.

With that in mind, selecting lures that allow you to cover water quickly and efficiently.  You also need to consider that you may need to cover different water depths this time of the year.  everything from the surface to the bottom can be in play, so have lures that cover all of those levels.

Our selections we might include could be the following:
1. Topwater – A walking bait, a popper and a buzzbait
2. Jerkbaits
3. Spinnerbaits
4. Crankbaits – Shallow and mid depth
5 Jigs – Swim jigs, structure jigs and Flippin’
6. Finesse Rigs – Dropshot and Shaky Heads
7. Vertical Spoons
8. Soft Stickbaits
9. Swimbaits and Castable Umbrella Rigs
10. Hollow Bodied Frogs

7-0 Medium Action Rod for Crankbaits - Topwater

A 7-0 Medium Action Rod for Crankbaits – Topwater – photo by Jason Duran

You’ll need rods to cover all of these presentations, and since we are trying to keep things at a minimum for this piece, we’ll define rod reel and line combinations that will allow an angler to easily use these lures effectively with multipurpose use being a priority for several of them.

Combo One
Ideally, an angler should have a combo that is a medium action casting rod for throwing crankbaits, jerkbaits and topwaters.  The medium action rod will have enough give in the rod to allow for the fish to turn with these faster moving lures without pulling them from the mouth of an hard striking fish.

This combo can be anywhere from 6’6″ to 7’3″ in length to suit angler preference, but a good 7′ medium action rod will provide the best of the range.  Match this with a 6.2:1 to 6.4:1 retrieve speed reel, which is a good medium speed retrieve reel.

In a perfect world, we would have the ability to change to 30-pound-test braided line for the topwater and fluorocarbon for the

7-0 Medium-Heavy Multipurpose Rod

7-0 Medium-Heavy Multipurpose Rod – photo by Jason Duran

crankbait and jerkbaits, but because we are searching for multiuse, we recommend using 12 to 15-pound-test premium monofilament line because it floats for the topwater, but will work with the crankbait and jerkbaits as well.

Combo Two
Here we are going to try an accommodate a couple of our  presentations like jigging spoons, jigs, soft stickbaits and spinnerbaits.  For this we would choose a 7′ to 7’3″ medium-heavy casting rod with a fast action.  Again, we would select the medium speed of the 6.2:1 to 6.4:1 retrieve reel, and we would fill that reel with high quality 15-pound-test fluorocarbon line.

This rod allows us to use our swim jigs, structure jigs, soft stickbaits and spinnerbaits at any level.  It also allows us to throw some of our smaller swimbaits as well.

7-6 Heavy Action Flippin and Swimbait

7-6 Heavy Action Flippin’ and Swimbait – photo by Jason Duran

Combo Three

This is going to be our heavier action combo.  Basically, we would select the same type of combo as the second rod, but change the line.  We would opt for the 7′ to 7’3″ medium heavy casting rod and the medium speed reel, but would spool it with 50-pound-test braided line instead.

This combo will allow us to effectively throw the buzzbait, the frog, the swimbaits and swim jig around aquatic vegetation.  it can also be used with larger topwaters, but the stronger rod may prove to be problematic when fighting fish close to the boat.  The stiffer rod could cause lost fish with bigger treble hooked lures, but in a pinch it could work out.

Combo Four
This will be a our magnum combo.  a 7’6 to 8′ heavy action rod for throwing Swimbaits, Castable Umbrella Rigs, Flippin’ and Frogs around heavy cover.  Ideally this rod will be matched with a high speed 7.0:1 to 7.2:1 retrieve speed casting reel and would most likely be spooled with 65-pound-test braided line.

This combo can handle the heavier open water presentations and can allow you to Flip heavier handed lures like jigs and creature

7-1 Finesse Setup for Dropshot and Shaky Heads

7-1 Finesse Setup for Dropshot and Shaky Heads – photo by Dan O’Sullivan

baits into grass or other cover.

Combo Five
This is our finesse setup.  Here we would opt for a 6’6″ to 7’3″ medium action spinning rod and reel.  This rod should have a light tip and be of a moderate fast action to allow for use with light line.  The reel is especially important in this setup too.  it needs to have a smooth drag so that the angler can fight hard charging fish on light line.  For the multipurpose setup, we would spool this reel with eight-pound-test fluorocarbon, or, if we wanted to be able to switch line sizes for the conditions, we would spool with 15 to 20-pound-test super line and tie six to ten-pound-test leaders with an Albright Special or Blood Knot.

This would be the rod for use with dropshot rigs, Shaky Heads and even wacky rigged soft plastic stickbaits.

These five combos will allow any angler to go out and fish effectively at just about any body of water this fall.