(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.)
While many top anglers run from gin-clear water, California pro Cody Meyer seeks it out. He joked that his boat has an auto-steer feature on it – when it senses stained or muddy conditions it turns around and heads back to the clear areas. The fondness for high-visibility environs is largely due to his upbringing in Northern California and the West in general, where they’re a fact of life. He recalled fishing water where “you can see a little sagebrush down there in 30 feet.”
Fishing clear water is part art, part science, and Meyer noted that you always need to remember two general rules: First, “You’ve got to be a lot more stealth.” Second, “shade is very important.” You need to be quiet on the trolling motor, maximize your boat positioning, and you’ll get more bites if you time your milk run to take advantage of the position of the sun.
In most of these scenarios, heavy braid or even 20-pound fluorocarbon won’t cut it. Meyer might use a braid main line, but he’ll attach to it a section of Daiwa J-Fluoro leader material. He makes the connection with the FG Knot. It was, he recalled “a nightmare at first, but it is truly the strongest knot.” It gets tighter as you pull it. The key is to make sure that it’s taut when you’re creating the wraps. The J-Fluoro comes in strengths as light as 2- and 4-pound test, but he tends not to go that low. “For me, 6-pound and 8-pound are my go-tos,” he said. He’ll go up to 10 if possible, but feels that he typically gets more bites as he goes lighter.
Of course, when using light line, your equipment needs to be suited to the task and of the highest quality. He designed a soft-tipped finesse rod for Daiwa’s Tatula Elite series, and pairs it with a matching reel with a butter-smooth drag, because you can’t just crank big fish into the boat on light line. Sometimes he’ll back-reel, too.
His key presentations include a Neko Rig, which is deadly because of the way that it spirals down. “Fish see that, they zoom in and eat it,” he said. He also uses a dropshot and likes a soft swimbait like a Rage Swimmer when fish suspend. The fourth critical technique is an old-school tube, but he rigs it with different heads – including ball-head jigs and darter heads – to effectuate different actions.
Sonar is critical for deeper presentations, but because an increasing number of anglers are getting competent with it, it’s getting harder every day to “video game” fish. Meyer said that the fish can sense the sonar pinging, and as a result “I’m not doing a whole lot of vertical fishing.” Fortunately, his Garmin LiveScope allows him to target bass that are away from the boat just as easily.
If you want to learn some of the other keys to Meyer's clear-water approach, along with his advice on what to expect when a 9-pound spotted bass “plays possum” at boatside, check out his full video, available only by subscribing to The Bass University TV.