The look a little different — not like a run-of-the-mill crankbait with a round, diving bill. The slab of plastic sticking out of their mouths can be squared off at the end or shaped like a coffin.
Strange as it might seem, the little diving plugs known as square-bills have a sacred spot in the tackle boxes of a lot of anglers, but a many of those spots will be empty this time of year.
Fall, you see, is square-bill time, when any bass fisherman worth his salt has got at least one or two of the little plugs tied on the rods on his casting deck.
According to two of the Carolinas’ top bass pros, the lures have several things going for them.
“They are really good in the fall,” two-time B.A.S.S. Angler of the Year and 1999 Bassmaster Classic champ Davy Hite said. “No. 1, you can cover so much water with them, and most of them will run 5 feet deep and shallower.
“That’s where a lot of the bass are in the October and November.”
Second, Hite said square-bills will catch suspended bass better than just about any other crankbait.
“With a normal diving bait, you’re targeting fish that are on the bottom, but with a square-bill, because it runs so shallow, you’re catching some fish that aren’t on the bottom,” he explained. “You can catch a lot of suspended fish, and there are a lot of fish suspended this time of year. They’ll come to the vibration of a square-bill.”
The vibration, according to North Carolina Bassmaster pro Tracy Adams, who has qualified for two Bassmaster Classics and seven FLW Tour Championships, makes it a great bait to fish in cover.
“Fishing a square-bill in the fall is one of my favorite things to do,” said Adams, who favors a Lucky Craft 1.5. “I’m looking for any kind of wood. You can bounce it off wood and catch some pretty good fish.
“It just comes through wood so well, especially if you put that KVD Elite treble hook on it. It just doesn’t get hung up very much.”
Adams, who finished eighth in the FLW Tour’s 2015 Angler of the Year standings, loves to fish the upper sections of reservoirs, the river sections and the backs of creeks with this lure.
“It’s especially good on a lake that’s got a little stain,” said Adams, who fishes a bait with a shad color-pattern unless the water is downright dirty, at which time he’ll fish a chartreuse/black combo. “Sometimes, you’ve got to make repeated casts to a piece of cover before he’ll bite.
“If you see something that you think a fish should be holding on, make a lot of casts to it. I’ve caught fish after making 15 or 20 casts to the same log.”
Adams loves to fish laydowns with a square-bill, especially ones that are basically pole timber.
“I love a bare log or a log with just one or two big limbs sticking out,” he said. “I love to find a laydown where the top is out over about 5 feet of water; that’s perfect.
“Sometimes they’ll be suspended under the log, and a square-bill will catch them.”