Pro tips for dragging bass out of vegetation
Springtime bass fishing gets so much play because it’s when bass set up on beds and spawn — and become accessible to anglers who want to look at the fish before catching them.
But Bassmaster Elite Series Pro and Sportsman TV host Greg Hackney said he much prefers when they move off the spawning grounds and become more predictable.
And that happens this month.
So how would Hackney approach fishing this month?
“By that time of year, the (submerged) grass is already up matted over,” he said. “You’re either mat fishing or throwing a frog.”
While punching heavily weighted plastics through the mats can be very productive, dragging a frog over that same vegetation can provoke violent, visible strikes.
And it’s not just a low-light affair.
“Buzz baits can be productive, but they’re pretty much an early morning or late afternoon bait,” Hackney said. “You can catch fish on frogs all day.”
Here are some thoughts on how this touring pro, who had won more than $1.5 million on the B.A.S.S. circuit alone as of mid-April, uses frogs to drag in limits of bass.
Hackney said these are fantastic choices when working the thicker salad.
“Earlier in the morning, the fish have a tendency to stay out on the edge and feed,” he explained. “But later in the day they get back under that grass.”
And hollow-bodied frogs like Strike King’s KVD Sexy Frog come over that tangle of vegetation without digging in.
While a bass can ambush these lures anywhere, there are sweet spots in any mat.
“I look for those algae mats,” he said. “Typically, it’s wide open under that algae.”
And that means the fish can see the lure better and — most importantly — get to it easily.
So when he approaches these algae-covered spots, Hackney will often slow down so fish can really hone in on the lure and crash it.
These lures are pretty much subtle buzzbaits, and the basic technique mimics the bladed lures.
“You’re pretty much throwing it out and reeling it back in,” Hackney said. “It sounds like baitfish.”
The nature of lures like the Strike King Rage Tail Toad makes it a great choice when the mats are scattered and you can put your trolling motor down and keep moving.
“You can cover more water with one of these frogs,” Hackney said.
Sometimes bass will just wake a Toad, and when that happens the pro will pull out a Caffeine Shad.
“When they’re less aggressive, I can slow (that Caffeine Shad) down and run it under the water and they’ll take it,” Hackney said.
Fishing frogs isn’t a finesse deal: You have to rig up for battle with fish that quickly bury in line-breaking grass.
So Greg Hackney rigs up just like he is punching the mats, tying each of his frogs to 50- to 60-pound braid.
And then he tips the lures with a pegged, 1/16-ounce tungsten weight.
“You can throw it a lot farther with that weight on it,” Hackney said. “And the weight doesn’t affect how it works.”
He uses the stock double hooks on the Sexy Frogs, but when it comes to Rage Tail Toads he turns to his signature Hack Attack single hook.
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