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Fishing Ideas That Work Almost Anywhere

Over the past several months I’ve had the opportunity to speak with some of North America’s most successful anglers. Some were tournament anglers; some were fishing guides. Others were people who just enjoyed fishing and did so whenever they could. Some of these anglers are well-known, others aren’t. But when we talked about techniques, it was surprising how many anglers employed the same or similar techniques. There are some techniques and some fishing concepts that are universal. Following are some of those techniques or concepts.

When I got into fishing over 50 years ago, my first artificial presentation after graduating from a hook and bobber was a jighead tipped with a plastic tail. I fished mostly in rivers and caught a lot of fish on this jig/plastic combination. Today, I still do, and it was surprising to me how many of the most successful anglers do also. Tie on a 3/16-ounce jighead and thread a Rage Grub onto it. This plastic trailer has a lot of action in the tail. I like a grub that’s either pearl or chartreuse, but use a color that you’re confident in. Work it like you would a crankbait, only slower. I usually use a steady retrieve, but sometimes a lift/drop retrieve works better. I’ve done my best with this technique in water under 10 feet in depth, but it the fish are deeper, reel slower. This bait appeals to bass, walleye, northern pike, the occasional musky, and also the occasional catfish. If you’re after crappies, a smaller tail such as a Mr. Crappie Grub on an 1/8-ounce or sometimes a 1/16-ounce jighead will be the way to go. Day in and day out, almost everywhere, this simple jig/plastic combination will catch fish.

Many anglers use crankbaits to find active fish. Crankbaits enable an angler to cover a large area of water in a short amount of time. They can be cast or trolled. Many times it works well to go through an area with a crankbait, and if some fish are caught, go back through the area with a slower moving bait to catch the less active fish. This is a good plan almost anywhere.

In the past, we let the species of fish that we were after determine the style of crankbait that we used, and for the most part we still do. Longer, thinner fish like walleyes were best pursued with a longer, thinner crankbait, something like a Lucky Shad. Longer, thinner predator fish typically eat longer, thinner baitfish. Largemouth bass are shorter, fatter predators and eat shorter, fatter baitfish. Therefore, when after largemouth bass, we use shorter, fatter crankbaits. Pro Model and Pro Model XD crankbaits are outstanding when largemouth are the target. However, in a lot of places, largemouth, when given the opportunity, will eat long, thin crankbaits and walleye will eat short, fat crankbaits that come close by.

Lure color is an important consideration. Cole Floyd is a bass tournament angler from Ohio. He fishes in dozens of waters throughout the year. He has learned that in some areas, with plastics and crankbaits, specific colors or color combinations are more productive. Maybe on a particular lake in Ohio a purple worm with a chartreuse tail will be the best color. But he has also learned that some colors will produce almost anywhere. Experience has taught him that in many places, if the water is stained, plastic in black/blue or a KVD Squarebill in Fire Craw are good colors to start with. He has learned that shades of watermelon or pumpkin are good in most clear water situations, and Moon Juice has also become another favorite of his. Cole starts with this color philosophy and fine-tunes from there.

So, although there are techniques, colors, and other concepts that produce best locally and regionally, there are some techniques, colors, and concepts that produce universally. When you visit a body of water that’s new to you, consider starting with a color or technique that you’re comfortable with and expand from there. I think that you’ll discover that’s a good way to put fish in the boat.

– Bob Jensen of

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