You can find tons of guides all over the internet rehashing the same tried-and-true methods for catching big bass with relative consistency, but sometimes, you just can’t get any of them to work.
So, you have to start thinking outside of the box. Sometimes, you have to get unconventional if you want to get a picture with a great bass.
To help you add a bit of versatility to your repertoire of techniques, here are six unconventional bass fishing techniques you can try the next time your go-to staples just aren’t working.
1: Slack-Line Jigging
Jigs for bass are extremely popular, and this tip isn’t anything revolutionary. It’s all about how you present the jig.
First, you’re going to want a ½-ounce to ¾-ounce jig, some 10 to 12-pound line, and a medium-action rod with plenty of length to it. This is crucial. You need that heavier jig on the end of a lighter rig to get the type of action we’ll try to create with this technique. We’ll explain that in a short bit.
Now, cast your jig toward a deep part of the water with plenty of structures, and wait long enough for the jig to sink entirely to the bottom.
After your jig has sat for a short bit and slack has built up in the line, give your rod a light twitch.
This is why using the setup we described is so important. Because you’re using lighter equipment with a jig that is technically too heavy for it, those light twitches will only move the jig a couple of inches. Most jigging techniques make the jig jump three or four feet at a time, and that’s just not subtle enough when the bass are less active.
This works because, as you’re lightly bobbing around structures, you cover every inch of the area. Eventually, you’ll smack a bass right in the face, and it will have no choice but to attack. When you make big leaps, there’s a better chance of the lure jumping clean over a bass, and the bass is more likely just to ignore it.
Of course, you should also pause for a few seconds between each hop. If the bass are lazy, bouncing it around like crazy will just turn the bass off.
When to Use this Technique:
This technique works best if you use it in deep water with lots of structures on the bottom, and it’s especially useful on those hot days when the bass do not want to bite.
It’s slow, and it’s not effective if the bass are actively out hunting, but when you’re fighting tooth and nail just to get the bass to pay attention, there’s no better way than plopping a jig directly on top of them, and that’s what this trick does.
Just make sure you have your drag set to let out the line fairly easily. Using lighter equipment, it’ll be easier to snap the line if a bigger bass bites on. You can always tighten it up mid-fight if you need to.
2: Jig Dragging
This is the same concept as slack-line jigging, but it’s even more extreme in terms of touching every inch of the bottom. However, it is a bit faster to do.
First, you can use your normal jig equipment. You don’t need to use an odd setup like you did for the previous method. This is all done via your retrieval method.
To start, cast to a good-looking area, and let the lure sink again. After a few moments, lower your rod tip as much as possible, and slowly reel it in steadily. You do not want to stop reeling or twitch the tip at all.
This will cause the lure to drag across the bottom of the water. The small hops we mentioned earlier are great, but this method never allows the lure to leave the bottom. So, there is no chance that you’ll miss the fish unless it’s simply not near your casting point or the area you’ll be dragging over.
This is easy and works, but there’s a problem.
Since you’re dragging your jig, it will touch every little thing on the bottom, and it can get snagged easily. If the bottom is known for snagging lures or is covered in sticks and garbage, we recommend using another method. You’ll burn through jigs using this method on such low-quality bottoms.
When is this Technique Good?
This is good in the same situations as the slack-line method. However, You have to account for low-quality, snag-friendly conditions. Of course, a football jig can help with that. It’s designed to roll over rocks and get itself out of snags. So, that can help you use this method a bit more effectively.
3: Go Small
Usually, when you’re talking about bass fishing, everyone wants to use bigger bass lures. After all, bigger fish want more food, right? Well, that’s not always true. In some conditions, you just need a little lure with the right action to draw their attention.
This is super simple, but it works.
Instead of tying on big worms for Texas rigs, using hefty cranks and jigs, or anything like that, try some panfish lures. The tubes (the tiny octopus-looking soft plastics) and mini U-Tail grubs have been extremely productive for us.
You’ll want to use medium-light, light, or even ultra-light gear for this approach, or you won’t get a lot of casting distance, but it can be well worth it.
The main issue with this approach is you’ll likely start nabbing bluegill, sunfish, rock bass, and other little guys that the average purist bass angler isn’t interested in. However, when a bass does blow up on this downsized equipment, you’ll get one of the best fights out there.
When to Use this Technique:
We usually see this technique work the best under two conditions.
First, if bigger baits aren’t working and the weather is fairly extreme, the bass might not feel like going after something so substantial. Think of this as giving them a light “snack”.
Second, in water where all the bait fish are small, these lures work wonders. They blend in with the primary food source that the bass are used to in such waterways. So, it’s a lot more effective than throwing out big lures that look out of place.
4: Jigging with a Crank
Traditionally, crankbaits are meant to be popped and cranked. Hence, their name. However, this technique takes a lipless crankbait and essentially turns it into a jig. This is a little more complicated, and you need to prepare the lure properly before you head out. So, it’s probably best to keep a lure with the modifications we’ll be discussing in your tackle box at all times. This isn’t something you can really do on the fly.
First, get a 1-ounce lipless crankbait. The preferred lure for this is a Cordell Super Spot. It’s massive in comparison to other lipless cranks, and it will sink fast thanks to how heavy it is.
Now, immediately take the stock hooks off. This will be bouncing around on the bottom, and those stock treble hooks are extremely tough. If you stick with those, you’ll lose tons of Super Spots, and they are not cheap. Instead, attach some wire hooks that are rigid enough to catch a big bass reliably, but you can also bend them out by tugging on your line if they get stuck.
Finally, make sure you’re using a heavy or super-heavy rod and put on 40-pound mono. Again, this lure likes to get stuck a lot. So, you’ll have to yank it free. The 40-pound mono will ensure you don’t snap your line when you yank on it.
To fish it, simply cast it out, wait a few seconds for it to sink to the bottom, and fish it just like you would a jig.
This is a more colorful, louder, and overall, less-common way to jig. So, you’ll have good luck catching stubborn bass on the bottom with it when jigs aren’t working.
When to Use this Technique:
This technique is best used when you’re fishing the bottom of deep water during the spawn. The bass won’t want to leave their beds unless they have to. This method allows you to get down to their beds and stay there like a jig, but the Super Spot will make so much noise the bass can’t help but go after it.
During the spawn when bass are being exceptionally stubborn, this is the way to go.
5: Floating Worm
Usually, soft plastic worms are sunk to the bottom with Texas rigs, and you hop them along the bottom. That, or they’re used as trailers on spinnerbaits.
This method does the exact opposite, but you need to buy a "floating worm" otherwise named "weightless worm”. These are soft plastic worms designed to float.
To rig it up, just tie on a worm hook and thread the floating worm onto it just like you would a Texas rig. However, you don’t add the bullet weight. The whole rig is just the lure and an appropriately sized worm hook.
When you cast, the worm will only submerge itself slightly due to the weight of the hook. It’ll float around, and you can lightly twitch it to create a presentation that keeps the lure in the water indefinitely.
Like other topwater lures, this setup tends to make bass blow up. You might even get to see the majestic breach of a largemouth bass with its gills flared because of how angry these lures make them.
Pro-tip: Switch over to your light to medium-light spinning gear for this method. It’s extremely light, and you want to be able to cast it far.
When to Use this Technique:
This technique is great when there are a lot of underwater structures for bass to hide in, and you’ll be casting around tons of cover. Since you use a modified Texas rig, it’s weedless. So, you don’t have to worry about snags. The lure also draws the bass out of their hiding spots in the structures beneath the surface.
6: Tipping with Natural Bait
Bass anglers are notorious for only using lures. There’s a reason for that. It takes a lot of skill and practice to trick fish into thinking a random piece of plastic is part of their normal diet, and bass anglers love the sport involved in doing so.
However, we sometimes get in our own way with that dedication. Sometimes, the bass want a real snack.
So, why not give it to them while still enjoying the art of presenting a lure?
The key to doing this is to get some minnows, worms, or preserved bait fish (like the ones you find in plastic bags with scented juice all over them), and use them the same way you would a soft plastic trailer.
Take your natural bait, slip it on a jig, jighead, spinner bait, or any similar option, and use it like you would the equivalent soft plastic lure.
This will add a scent that attracts bass to your presentation, it looks more natural than any artificial setup for obvious reasons, and as a bonus, the bass gets a little reward after you snap your photo and release it.
When to Use this Technique:
This technique can really be used whenever you want. It’ll work in practically every type of condition. However, we like to bust it out when our artificial lures just aren’t working on their own. The benefits of natural baits being combined with different artificial lures really give you that edge you need on hard days.
Use BassForecast to Get Through Hard Times
All these unconventional bass fishing techniques are extremely helpful on days when the fish just don’t want to bite. Whether it’s weather-related or you’re just not picking the right lure option, these techniques can save your fishing trip.
However, there’s another tool you need. You need up-to-date, real-time data that shows you exactly what the water is like. Then, you can pick your techniques more effectively.
Check out the BassForecast fishing app for real-time data on every fishery in the United States.