(Editor's note: The following is the latest installment in a series of fishing tips presented by The Bass University. Check back each Friday for a new tip.)
The Ohio River made Bill Lowen the limit-catching machine that he is today, because a limit was a luxury during his formative fishing years. Elite Series pros who grew up in Alabama or Texas might freak out when bites are tough to come by, but for Lowen, that’s just business as usual.
He said that the experience “taught me how to take the same baits that basically everyone else is using and fish them in a little bit different way.” That means he can go behind other anglers and remain confident that he’ll get bites.
He characterizes himself as a shallow-water specialist and doesn’t deviate from that preference unless there are no other options. In fact, during his rookie season on tour he fished “Ohio River-style” and ended up 25th verall. The next year he listened to dock talk, changed his approach and ended up in the 50.
His style involves grinding out individual bites with a “finesse-power presentation.” He compares it to deer hunting, his other passion, and focuses on pinch points, funnels and other high percentage spots. If, for example, you can find “a stump by a ditch on a flat,” that’s the type of place you can expect to find Lowen.
During practice, his goal is to “make a lot out of nothing.” He practices very fast and uses baits that trigger reaction bites. Ninety percent of a lake’s bass are usually in a negative mood, so he wants to be as efficient as possible. He’ll use the first two days to figure out where he’s likely to fish, and then spend the third day of practice finding different ways to catch them. That way, if and when the bite seems to dry up, he knows other ways to get critical strikes. The bass typically don’t leave the area, he said, but sometimes they need to be convinced to eat. The change could be something as simple as adjusting his rate of fall, or it could involve a color change or a totally different lure.
When it comes to moving baits, one of his favorites is a 1/4-ounce Timmy Poe spinnerbait, a limit-getter with a twisted-wire line tie and a smaller profile than most standard spinnerbaits. “I use this spinnerbait because a lot of guys don’t use this spinnerbait,” he explained. He’s also a huge fan of balsa crankbaits, both the fat-bodied PH Custom Lures Little Hunter and the flat-sided PH Custom Lures Dollar Bill, both of which hunt. He’s also a fan of the Ima Square Bill, a plastic flat-side, and reminds anglers that flat-sides aren’t just for cold weather. He uses them effectively throughout the year.
He’ll also have a variety of jigs and plastics at the ready no matter where he goes. One of his favorites is a Lure Parts Online 5/16-ounce jig. It has the profile of a finesse jig but a stout hook that won’t flex under the stress of a hard hookset with a flipping stick and 20-pound line. It also has a fast rate of fall, which is critical because he wants that jig to sit in the fish’s face as long as possible. His other key jig choice is a Lure Parts Online Backstroke Swim Jig, which is subtle and gets “a lot of bites anywhere in the country.”
For plastics, he likes a 4-inch creature bait and a 4-inch Tightlines UV Flipping Tube, usually with a 1/4- or 3/8-ounce Reins Tungsten weight. He rarely pegs his weight, believing that you get “10 times more action” with an unpegged weight than you do with one that’s locked in place. On a hop, his tube will fall to the left or right rather than following a sinker, and that’s what triggers bites. It’s one way that he differs from his good friend Denny Brauer, who almost always pegs his weights, but Lowen has proven that fishing your confidence rigs is the best way to end up in the money.
If you want to learn some of Lowen’s strategies for ensuring that he always catches a limit, including his specialized methods for rigging a flipping tube to minimize missed strikes, check out his full video, available only by subscribing to The Bass University TV.