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Buzzbaits for River Smallies

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After reading another post, I thought I'd start a topic to talk about buzzing for river smallies.

Buzzbaits are quite possibly the easiest way to fish for bass outside of a bobber & livebait (who still uses live bait? wink.gif). It's a do nothing lure: just cast & retrieve the lure across the surface... it's that easy. That is why buzzbaits are so popular among bass fishermen. However some times are better than others when fishing buzzbaits. One of the times when a buzzbait is a must is anytime you find yourselves fishing for river smallies! Buzzbaits are possibly the best way to cover water, locate active fish, and reveal/catch the biggest bass in a hole or section of the river. Whenever I hit the river, a buzzbait is always tied to one of my rods! I believe FM's very own Kevin Turner wrote an article in a major fishing magazine about fishing buzzbaits exclusively on the river (great article KT!!!) and I'd love to get his input to this topic.

Here are some tips on fishing buzzbaits on the river (feel free to add to this guys). Although buzzbaits are a do nothing lure - there are some variations that one must keep in mind when fishing buzzers. The first is change up retreaval speed. Some days the bass will nail a buzzbait at a high speed, other days you'll get nothing but blowups and missed strikes until you start slowing down your retrieve. Buzzbaits are a search lure so don't be afraid to slow down your retrieve - you are still covering water faster than many other lures (although some will disagree with me on this). A rule of thumb for me - reel just fast enough to keep the buzzbait buzzing on top of the surface. A 3/8oz buzzer works great for this - especially if you can get a big blade on a 3/8oz bait. And against popular belief, I think the larger the bait (3/8, 1/2, 5/8oz) buzzbaits can actually be fished slower than the smaller weights because their blades are bigger.

Color can be a big difference too. On a recent outing, a white buzzbait was the ticket. I had tried a black one and nada, switched back and bam. I usually have a few colors readily available. If you don't seem to be getting the hits/blowups, switch to a contrasting color: ie if you have a light color on, switch to a dark color. I prefer whites, blacks, & reds (if you can find reds). A rule of thumb for color: low light = dark colors, sunny day = light colors. FYI - be prepared to deal with your occasional northern, but the benefits far outweigh the occasional hassle of a slimer!

Buzzbait modifications. Here are a few basics that I would suggest. Trailer hooks are a good thought if you still seem to be missing fish on blowups. For reference, I use a 3/0 trailer hook when I feel I need one. Also, add a plastic trailer. A plastic trailer can be a great addition to a buzzbait, plus it is a good disguise for the trailer hook. If you get into modifying the blades, try snipping the blades and angling them at different angles. Also drilling holes in the blades can produce a different sound & attraction. Holes will help produce a nice trail of bubbles & adds to the surface noise. A 1/8 drill bit should be perfect.

One last piece of advise. When fishing any type of topwater (especially buzzbaits) you are going to have missed strikes. Always take the 10 seconds it takes to throw a follow up lure - preferably a plastic. Tubes, senko/stick baits, worms, hellgramites, flukes, etc... are all great follow up baits. On a recent outing, BigLakeBa$$ proved this theory to work. I had missed several BIG blowups on a buzzer and BLB came in right behind me within seconds and immediately the same fish nailed his plastic. He pulled the day's biggest smallie using that method. And don't let the colder weather deter you from throwing them either, you'll be surprised!

So on your next outing, don't forget the buzzbaits. They are a great weapon when fishing for river smallies.

TJ Tackle Pro-Staff

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I love fishing with top-water lures, and the addition of the buzz-bait to my arsenal has been very productive this year.

Even though I had experimented with buzz baits in the past I hadn't had any luck until this summer. So I bought a package of 4" Gulp white minnow/grubs and attached one to the hook of a white buzz bait. It may have been pure coincidence, but I am definitely catching fish. Even caught a nice walleye on this set-up.

And about a month ago a friend I was fishing with was using a triple bladed buzz bait that was working very well (white again but without the Gulp). The mayfly hatch was still taking place and the water levels were low. It was just amazing to actually see the wake in the water behind the buzz bait that the smallies were creating as they followed it before hitting the lure. I could have thought we were top-water muskie fishing.


I plan to live far so good!

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