I Like Big Baits and I Cannot Lie!
Submitted by Full Limit Outdoor Media
Bass fishing is a breeding ground for trends. I bet all of you can think of about as many as I can. Some of these trends turned into staples. Others went by the wayside.
Think about the first time you saw a “creature bait”. Then the first time you saw a section of them at a tackle store. Swimbaits. Finesse worms. A-Rigs. All of these have transitioned past “fad” and into a legit technique that has found a place in the arsenals of serious bass anglers everywhere.
Another trend that has turned into a mainstay for both recreational anglers and tournament anglers alike is the big bait phenomenon. By now, you’ve all either seen them or thrown them. If you follow bass tournaments, you can’t ignore the presence that they’ve had in media coverage in the last few years. The results that have come from big baits can’t be ignored, and have proven that they’re here to stay.
But what is a big bait? What qualifies a bait as big? What started the trend? Let’s look at the what, where, when and why of this category of lures. Then, let’s figure out how we can apply them to our fishing to help us catch more big bass.
I’m not going full-on research paper here, so bear with me. I am going to give you my perspective as a lifetime tackle junkie and someone who has been in the fishing most of their life.
The big bait genre would almost certainly have to be attributed to the west coast monster hunters. They were employing giant trout-imitating hard swimbaits and topwater rats decades ago. They came to understand that by offering a big meal, they were appealing to the biggest bass in their home waters. These fish not only desired big meals, but they could easily spot and capture these grande offerings.
Next comes the big plastic baits. Western companies produced giant tubes to target spawning giants. Southern companies built 10” plus worms to appeal to big bass in the south. Meanwhile, anglers from coast to coast began finding how these super-sized lures fit into their game plans.
Soft swimbaits were probably next with the hollow-body craze as well as the popularity of hard/soft hybrid type baits that were once again western based, but became popular throughout the rest of the country.
Big spoons were also gaining popularity during this time and that has led up to the Magnum offerings available today.
The most recent big bait application, and arguably the most widespread, is in the hard bait market. Strike King’s very own Phil Marks turned the fishing world on its ear when he won an FLW event on Sam Rayburn Reservoir by smoking the competition with an unreleased crankbait called the “10XD”.
I remember when we came out with the 6XD, and in comparison to other deep diving baits, it was big. There were some existing big, deep cranks already out there, but none were as efficient as the 6XD. People would pick it up a 6XD at shows or off the peg in a store and tell me how it was too big. Now with the 8XD and the 10Xd, it doesn’t seem so big after all.
A question I’m often asked is “why do you need a bait that big?”. I have my own beliefs and reasons why I believe a big bait is superior in a given situation. But, as far as you know, I’m just a key punching a keyboard. Let’s get some advice from some sources you know and trust….
Mark Rose – “Throughout my 18-year pro career and many years prior, I have seen many a big bluegill, shad, crappie and even snake in the mouths of bass, as well as in my livewell after a day of fishing. I am convinced that big bass eat big baits. There are with a doubt times when a small bait will catch big fish, but when I’m targeting bigger than average bass, I just about always do so with a bigger than average bait such as a 10XD or 10” Bull Worm.”
Andy Montgomery – “The reason we’re seeing the 10XD’s and other big baits work so well and gain popularity is because I believe we’re just starting to tap into just how much bass really eat big gizzard shad. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve caught bass on Lake Wylie and many other lakes that had the tail of a giant gizzard shad sticking out of their throat. I am convinced that big bass key on big gizzards as their preferred forage.”
Todd Faircloth – “I have a theory as to why big baits are often more effective at catching big bass. Usually smaller fish are more aggressive. They seem to get to a bait before a big fish when casting on a school. A bigger bait seems to be less desirable to a smaller fish and therefore the bigger bass have a better opportunity to eat it. I have found on lakes like Toledo Bend and Kentucky, where the bass really school, that once I get a school going on a regular-sized bait, like a 6XD, I can throw a bigger bait, like a 10Xd in there and almost immediately catch a better grade of fish.”
Kevin VanDam – “I believe that the biggest factor in what makes a big bait oftentimes more productive is the water displacement. Obviously, a bigger bait displaces more water and therefore comes closer to matching the water displacement of the bigger, preferred meal of a mature gizzard shad. The 10XD comes as close as any bait to matching that I think. The sonic signature of a big bait is more easily detected by a bass’ lateral line.”
In closing, here are a few things to consider which should encourage you’re your confidence in big baits such as a Bull Worm, 10XD or KVD 8.0:
Bigger means no only greater water displacement as KVD noted, it also means more visible. I “believe” that the more fish see your bait, the more fish have an opportunity to bite your bait, the more bites you get, the more fish you catch. The more fish you catch, the odds of catching more big fish increase. (That’s TN deductive reasoning applied to lure selection)
Also, of particular note from personal experience as well as from conversing with others, I tend to catch considerably more doubles on a 10Xd than any other crankbait I’ve ever thrown. The size of it allows other fish, who are in the competitive feeding environment of a school, to still bite it when it is protruding from a fish’s mouth. Kind of a cool bonus feature.
Bottom line, big baits are a valuable tool in the arsenal of both tournament and recreational anglers alike. When paired with the correct equipment, they are easy to employ and offer a unique advantage when targeting big bites.