Buzzin' for Bass
by G. Wayne Byrd

If you are anything like me, you live for the action packed, heavy hitting, bone jarring topwater explosion produced when you throw a topwater bait. As far as I am concerned, it is incredibly exiting to watch the water splash upwards and the opportunity to see that lunker bass flash and slam into your bait! Getting a bass to take surface baits requires you to get their attention. Out of all the topwater baits on the market, few, if any, come close to creating as much surface disturbance as does the buzzbait. To a prowling hungry bass, this unique sputtering, splashing and gurgling noise that is created by a buzzbait is extremely hard to resist. I would like to educate and provide you with an understanding of the buzzbait so you can also enjoy the success of this awesome and versatile lure.

The buzzbait is designed specifically for surface fishing and lacks some of the versatility that it’s cousin, the spinnerbait possesses. Nevertheless I have found that many times a buzzbait is often more effective than a spinnerbait when fishing over grassy, weedy areas, or visible timber. Why? First of all it is less likely to become fouled in the grass or weeds. Second, in stained water or thick vegetation, the sound created by a buzzbait not only alerts bass to its presence but it allows them to locate, track, and acquire the bait much faster. Third, there is something special about the way a buzzbait will ignite the predatory instincts of a bass. A buzzbait will work best in calmer waters, however I often use one when there is a slight surface chop on the water. Although, too much wave action will erase the disturbance action caused by the buzzbait, so let your common sense take over in this situation.

When the surface temperature of the water is in the 60-degree range and the aforementioned water conditions are in alignment, I will throw a buzzbait just about anytime. Buzzbaits are typically thrown when the sky is overcast or when you are in a low light condition. Most people use the bait early in the morning or late in the evening. Keep in mind, this is simply a theory and you can throw a buzzbait anytime of the day. Buzzbaits are very effective when thrown into thick or heavy grass cover during warm or hot weather. You just might be surprised by how effective a buzzbait is at drawing bass out of the densest grass or surface matting. This versatile lure is great for locating bass. They will cast far and can be retrieved faster than most topwater baits. This will allow you to cover a lot more water in a shorter period of time. Considering that a buzzbait has a single hook that is usually offset, this will allow the bait to be fished in all types of cover no matter how dense it might be. This really adds to the locator ability of the bait as well.

I think that the biggest disadvantage of the buzzbait is the fact that bass will often completely miss the bait or strike it short. Some newer buzzbait manufacturers have helped to greatly increase the hook-up ratio by off-setting the weighted head and hook from the wire which runs the head and hook a bit deeper in the water than conventional buzzbaits. You can also buy single trailer hooks that will ad percentages to your hook-up rate. For this addition, I would recommend the Gamakatsu trailer hook. One other issue with the buzzbait occurs when you fish the bait in very dense cover. Bass sometimes have problems catching the bait. You might have to slow your retrieve a bit when fishing in these conditions. There is almost nothing as disturbing as when you see that water part and you get that huge powerful hit on your bait only to discover there is not a fish on the hook! With that being said, you must also be extremely careful not to set the hook to soon. This action will basically pull the bait right out of the mouth of the fish.

I view the procedure for an effective hookset with the buzzbait almost the same as a hookset with a Senko style worm. As with all topwater baits, you need to try and delay or hold back on the hookset a bit. I wait until I actually feel the fish take to bait. A good rule of thumb is to always set the hook by feel, not by sight or sound. The faster the fish hits the bait, the longer I wait. Many times a bass will hit the bait when they are cruising along at a high rate of speed and miss the hook entirely. They will often come back around and take another swipe at the bait if you keep your retrieve steady and slow the speed down a bit to make them think they possibly injured the bait. You can really up your odds if you have the buzzbait coated with a great scent as well. If the bass gets a taste of the scent, they are much more likely to come back for seconds.

Buzzbaits come in several sizes, but the most popular are the 1/4oz and the 1/2oz. Some buzzbaits have a clacker built in to make them louder. Blades come in all different sizes as well as shapes. One trick I learned several years ago is to take a 1/8” drill bit and drill about 4 or 5 holes on all sides of the blades. This will force water through the blade holes and cause the water to bubble up. This will make the fish, which is looking at the bait from an underwater perspective, think that there is really something big going on near the surface. Buzzbaits are also available in one, two, three and even four blade models. The more blades a bait possesses, the louder they are.

When it comes to retrieving the bait, I like to retrieve just fast enough to keep the bait up on the water surface. If I do not get a reaction using this presentation, I then increase the speed until I get a reaction. There are times when I am “burning” the bait at full reel speed to get a bite. You might also try an erratic type of retrieve such as a fast-slow-fast or a slow-fast-slow system. You will always be a successful fisherman if you will just think your presentations out and give the fish what they want. Go ahead and experiment a little, as there really is not a “right” way to retrieve this lure. As far as colors go, you must experiment. If you have experienced success on a certain color of spinnerbait, I would try a duplicate that same color on a buzzbait. My favorite color of buzzbait is junebug or white/chartreuse with light blue.

I prefer using a baitcasting outfit when bass fishing, but when presenting a buzzbait, a spinning outfit is easier to use. I use a 7’ spinning rod with a medium heavy action and a fast tip. If I use a casting rod, I use a 7’ fast tip rod as well. My favorite rods for buzzin’ are the St. Croix Avid and the Kistler Helium. If you prefer a heavy rod, you might consider the G.Loomis MBR844C GLX. The reason it is easier to use a spinning outfit is because when you cast the buzzbait out, you must engage the reel just before the bait hits the water. This will help to pull out any slack in the line and prepare you to begin your retrieve immediately. This action is much quicker if you have a bail on a spinning reel to shut quickly. Be sure to keep your rod tip up, as this will help you to keep the bait running on the surface. Be sure not to lift the rod up too high, as this could cause you to miss a strike as the bait could lift from the surface. Go out and try a little buzzin’ and I am sure you will fall in love, when that “lunker” violently strikes your buzzbait!
G. Wayne Byrd is a professional bass tournament fisherman, who loves to teach others how to catch more and bigger fish. He is an active contributor to Fishin' Secrets with Eric Allee and Friends.

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