"Twitching Your Way to a Bass Bonanza"

By Justin Hoffman

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Cast. Twitch, twitch, twitch….pause. Fish on! Throwing twitchbaits to bass can lead to some exciting days on the water - and some big bass to boot. Twitchbaits mimic the natural look and action of a baitfish to a T, and therein lies the reason for their incredible fish-catching abilities. Try your hand at the following "twitch tactics," and reap the rewards that the bass gods will shine down on you.
What Is a Twitchbait?
A twitchbait can be defined as a long, thin minnow-shaped crankbait that possesses a short stubby lip. The majority of twitchbaits run at shallow depths (usually between 1 to5-feet below the surface) and will come in either a "floater" version or a "suspending" design. Suspending models will "freeze" at the depth you are working, allowing the angler to maintain the lure at a productive depth or strike zone. Floaters will do as the name suggests - float to the surface. Continuous twitches will enable the lure to run at a uniform depth, with longer pauses allowing the lure to float higher in the water coloumn.
Suspending models work best if you are attempting to target a certain depth and prefer the lure to run at that constant level. They also excel if the fish are in a negative mood and prefer an easy meal. Floaters, on the other hand, are ideal if the target area contains a lot of weed cover as you can work you lure over the top more productively. They are also ideal if the bass are in an active mood due to the added movement in the water coloumn.
Twitchbaits mimic the natural prey of bass perfectly. Whether they represent a dying baitfish struggling to survive or a frightened minnow separated from its school is up for debate, but whatever the case, they seem to work wonders on the bass population.
Which to Choose?
When selecting twitchbaits, a number of criteria should be followed for maximum results. Choose a crank between 4 and 6-inches long that comes adorned with high quality hooks. (Excallibur, Gamagatsu and Mustad are three makes of trebles that rate high for sharpness and hooking capabilities.) Choosing a variety of baits in both floating and suspending models will enable you to cover a wide range of depths and structure. A few of my personal favourites are Excallibur, Rebel and Bagley baits. Try to choose lures both with, and without, rattles. For active fish, rattles can be a key triggering mechanism. However, on the days where the fish are downright negative, a "silent" crank can be the best bait to choose.
Colour is quite a straightforward decision. "Match the hatch" comes into play with twitchbaits, with natural colours being your best bets. If the favoured prey of largemouth on your home lake is shad, then go with a shad-coloured bait. The same can be said if smallmouth feed heavily on crayfish - a crayfish pattern will be the best to throw. Where To Use
Twitchbaits can be used in a variety of locations on a lake, with the deciding factor being whether you are chasing bucketmouths or bronzebacks. For largemouth, top areas to target are weed flats and lines, docks and timber and shoreline structure. Humps can also be worthwhile if weeds are present.


For smallmouth the main area to search for would be rock shoals, islands, breaklines and underwater humps. Smallmouth are more prone to chase and rise for a twitchbait, so utilizing them in deeper water than their cousin can be rewarding. Most twitchbait applications call for water between 2 and 10-feet deep, however don't be afraid to toss one in water up to 20-feet deep to see what is lurking below.
Tips and Techniques
Twitchbaits can be used on both spinning and baitcasting equipment, with a nod going to a rod in the 6-foot range with a medium action. My personal preference is for a baitcasting outfit as it provides more leverage and backbone should a fish run into weeds or tangle me in wood. Line between 8 and 12-pound test is best, as anything heavier will affect the lifelike action of the lure.
The most important rule to remember when throwing a twitchbait is cadence. How you work the lure through the use of jerks, pulls and pauses will be the deciding factor in how the fish react to the bait. Inactive fish call for longer pauses and shorter twitches, while active fish are best tricked with hard twitches and jerks and shorter pauses. I've had great success on "hot" smallmouth by incorporating violent jerks to the lure to attract and convince them to strike. (Be careful as they can almost rip your arm off when they hand you a "freight-train" strike in this wound up state.)
How well you work the lure is dependent on wrist and forearm movements. By watching how fish react to the tempo and cadence of the bait, you will learn how to manipulate and work the lure to its optimum effectiveness. Short pauses, long pause, long twitches, short twitch - mixing up the presentation will put you on the path to braggin' size bass in no time flat.
Try these tips and techniques out on your favourite body of water, and prepare yourself to tempt bass one twitch at a time.


 

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