There is a time and place for fishing fast and a time and place for fishing slow.
Fishing slow can mean several things, it can mean slow rolling a spinnerbait, maybe working your jig back to the boat in a painstakingly slow fashion, or dead sticking or soaking your bait.
Soaking a bait or dead sticking is a presentation that shines when the water is very clear, when the bass have been heavily pressured or simply when the bass are inactive and feeling tight-lipped.
When bass are inactive (or just waiting for that prime opportunity to pull up on a point and feed), they’ll sit behind that point or on either side of it, where the water is deeper. By sitting in these deeper holes a bass will maintain the element of surprise as its prey swims higher in the water column.
The first of three presentations that I use to dead sticking baits is a Carolina-rig. I can cast this rig out and just slowly drag it along the bottom. I never want to pick my weight off the bottom. I only drag it as this will create the maximum amount of silt disturbance, mimicking a crawfish scooting along the bottom.
Dead Sticking with a C-Rig
The key elements to my C-Rig for this scenario, is using a larger weight (½- or ¾-ounce brass C-Rig or tungsten barrel weight) and a big, soft plastic stickbait. The big weight will keep my bait down in the water column where the inactive bass are positioned. Since I’m letting my bait soak in the water, I want a finesse plastic that will still have some action when not moving. I use the Zoom Fluke Stick or Fluke Stick Jr, as the forked-tail has good action when not moving.
Shakey Head for Inactive Bass
A common presentation that anglers can soak in front of an inactive bass is a shaky head.
Depending on the water depth and current (if present), I’ll use anywhere from a 1/8- to ½-ounce jig with either a Zoom Finesse Worm or Z-Hog Jr. as the trailer. Both provide a compact presentation that will tantalize a bass when sitting still. The finesse worm is good when the bite is very tough. The small creature bait also excels when the bite is tough, but is better when the bass want a bigger lure profile in the water.
Soakin’ a Senko
More than likely, if you’ve fished a tough tournament or had a co-angler in the back of your boat, you’ve heard the phrase, “soaking" a Yamamoto Senko.
The technique is probably one of the most used dead sticking approaches to targeting inactive bass. It entails Texas-rigging a soft, plastic stickbait, usually weightless; although a small (1/32- to 1/8-ounce tungsten weight) can be used.
It is a simple retrieve. You cast out to your target, let it sink, then let it sit - “soaking” it. After the sit/pause, you reel up some slack a bit and then repeat. This is a great technique to use around lilypads, along a weedline or a barebones transition bank that bass are staging on. A wide variety of sizes can be used for soaking. The standard five-inch Senko works great, but if needed a smaller four-inch size, or bigger six-inch, can be used. Regardless of the bait, I’ll use a Lazer TroKar Magworm hook (3/0 – 5/0) as I can set the hook with ease and get a solid hook up every time.
Being that I’m focusing on key sections of cover or structure, I want to fish as methodically as possible. What allows me to do this is not having to focus on running my trolling motor constantly. So as I ease up to the area I want to fish, I’ll deploy my dual 12’ Minn Kota Talons. The shallow water anchors keep me locked into the bottom and focused on soaking the bait in front of the bass. Or, if I’m fishing offshore, in deeper water then my Talons will anchor to, I’ll engage the Spot-Lock feature on the Minn Kota Ultrex trolling motor and precise boat control is delivered!
If the bite gets tough for you this fishing season, don’t get discouraged and leave the area without taking a stab at dead sticking some baits. Many times, slowing down and fishing those key areas will put some bass in your boat and turn your day around quickly.