(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.)
South Carolina pro Brian Latimer grew up fishing a jigging spoon during the colder months, thanks to his father’s fishing prowess and preferences, but he recognizes that some modern anglers might never have used one. “Some of you don’t even know that this is,” he said, pointing to a War Eagle spoon.
Then the punchline: “This is a 1-ounce hunk of lead painted white.”
That’s it. Nothing fancy. In fact, “it’s plain Jane.” The War Eagle model has a swivel to reduce line twist, but other than that it’s pretty basic. He puts on a No. 4 round bend treble hook, but for the most part when fishing deep he believes color doesn’t matter a whole lot, as long as it’s visible. The bass he’s targeting are actively feeding on shad, so the point is to get it in front of them.
He goes against the grain somewhat in choosing tackle, though. He likes fairly heavy line. “Bigger line fouls up less in your bait,” he said. It also doesn’t twist as much. He also likes a shorter-than-average rod, utilizing a 6 1/2-foot Favorite Defender baitcaster. It’s a medium-action, moderate graphite rod with a soft taper to ensure that the treble hook gets firmly planted in the fish’s mouth.
Tackle is important, but the critical item is his underwater set of eyes.
“The most important part of this while deal is going to be understanding your electronics, your maps and how to decipher where to actually fish.” That starts with visual clues like feeding birds and bass busting the surface, but it’s supplemented substantially by his Garmin sonar units – side-looking, two-dimensional and down-imaging. He likes to use the latter two together because sometimes one reveals subtle details that the other does not.
It can be intimidating to try to find fish in 30 feet of water or more on a big lake, but he makes the learning curve easier by focusing on high-percentage areas, the same types of changes he’d look for up shallow in the back of a cove. “When you do that, the lake gets small really fast,” he explained.
He said that in the colder months you typically won’t find those massive TVA ledge-caliber schools of fish, so you’re looking for anything that might hold them. “Sometimes it’s as simple as just a little bit of bait,” he said. It could also be some isolated brush, or even a couple of hooks representing the bass themselves. In the cold weather, hard cover or structure is usually better for this technique than its softer counterparts. He said that the best scenario is to find the bass holding tight to the bottom, because then when you catch the first one, “you can actually get these fish stirred up with the jigging spoon.”
If you want to learn some of the other secrets to the Latimer's jigging spoon system, including why it’s so critical to keep your presentation as vertical as possible, check out his full video, filmed on the water, available only by subscribing to The Bass University TV.