For prespawn bass, angler Donnie Stuart of Pelahatchie favors 17-pound braided line with a fluorocarbon leader as long as the rod he is using when not using a slip-cork. For the rod with the slip cork he uses a 10- to 12-pound monofilament. 

He prefers a medium-heavy action rod, at the very least, to horse bass out of structure.

A quality fish finder becomes an important tool for the modern angler. A side-imaging mode is all the better. Learning to identify a deep-water shad ball is the important first step in finding nearby bass.

“The first step may sound too simple,” bass pro Shannon Denson of Fannin said. “Look in those places where you have found fish before. If you are new to a lake, then look off points, underwater humps and structure adjacent to deeper water. A dense school of shad will show up as a large, suspended spot on most depth finders. Better models will add more separation to the shad. 

“Let me say this; not every bass will be near a shad ball. Drop-offs where there is structure are also going to hold bass in winter. Look at every location where there is a change in depth, such as creek channels. And, shad are not the only food source. Bass will also target bream and crappie. The point is, bass don’t hibernate in winter, they just slow down.”