Fishing live bait rigs is no guarantee you'll catch bass. As we all know, nothing is when it comes to actually "catching" bass. Bass are sometimes finicky beyond belief.
The oldest, smartest and biggest bass will often fall victim only to live bait. They didn't grow to be the baddest bass on the block by being dumb. They learned, or should I say, became conditioned, to avoid artificial baits. But even the biggest and smartest know real live prey when they see it. If everything looks and smells right, so to speak, they'll strike!
So it's important when you're fishing live baits to rig and present your bait correctly. What are some of the important considerations when rigging live bait?What are some of the important considerations when rigging live bait?
Hook Placement For Baitfish
As live bait rigs go a split-shot rig is easy to assemble and present to bass. It's good for both still and moving water. Furthermore, should you hang up and have a break off it is quick and easy to retie.
Presentation should be slow whether fishing baitfish, crawfish or lizards. With shiners, as well as other live bait, use a "lob cast" and slowly work your bait back to the boat or shore. With baitfish like shiners you can either "freeline" or lightly lift and drop then reel three or four turns and repeat when working your bait back to the boat. With lizards and craws slowly pull the bait across the bottom to be most effective.
When fishing with shiners I always use a Gamakatsu "shiner hook" which is what is shown in the photo above right. Depending on the size baitfish being fished I'll use size 4, 2 or 1 shiner hook.
As for split-shot, I'll use a size 5 or 7, placed 12"-18" above the hook, depending on the size of the baitfish. If freelining you may not use a split-shot at all.
I know, you're thinking, "What, me fish for bass with a bobber. You gotta be kidding!". Listen, there are times when this live bait rig presentation works well.
Smallmouth often suspend in open water and about the only way to keep your bait in their faces is with a slip-float rig. When it's cold bass become sluggish and won't chase a bait. Dangling it constantly in front of them at the end of a slip-float rig can often entice a bite.
Make sure you add an appropriate amount of weight that will keep the bobber floating properly. Add too much and the float will ride too low in the water. Wave action will cause the float to dip under giving the impression you have a bite when you don't. Add too little and the float will ride too high giving too much resistance when a bite occurs possibly causing the bass to drop the bait.
When you do get a bite set the hook right away when the float goes under. If you wait the bass may feel resistance and release the bait. Also, don't set the hook till you quickly reel up slack and "feel" the fish. Because of the acute angle that exists between you and your bait setting with slack in your line will make getting a good hook set difficult.
This rig allows for a bass to pick up your bait and move off without necessarily feeling resistance. You can slowly troll such a rig or cast and retrieve it. In the first instance you can keep your bail open and release the line when you feel a strike. In the second, you must quickly drop your rod tip and open your bail when detecting a strike.
In the photo I've used a "Mojo" style slip sinker. You can also
use bullet sinkers, egg sinkers or Lindy "NO-SNAGG" banana shaped
As you can see live bait rigging is more than just using worms for bait. Live bait is the best bait for bass - bar none! Take time to set up your live bait rig "correctly' and your day on the water will be very rewarding.