Last month I talked about some of the myths in bass fishing surrounding water temperature and tides (https://hookpoint.co.uk/bass-fishing-myths-hearsay-part-1/). This month I’d like to tackle a couple more areas that I commonly hear people talk about as the kiss of death for any hope of catching bass: full moons and conspicuous end tackle.
Just bear in mind, I’m not pointing these things out to boost my ego or just to be controversial, these are beliefs that I’ve genuinely found don’t ring true in my own fishing. If I had just automatically believed these things so often passed off as cast iron facts, I’d have missed good fishing and caught less bass. So, let’s bust those myths!
How many times have you heard that you won’t catch bass under a full moon? Yet, we get excited about fishing a spring tide because we know that these can be great times to catch bass… even though every other set of spring tides coincide with a full moon. Along with this, you hear people telling you that you need dark lures for fishing under full moons and light coloured ones for fishing dark nights to give the lures the best silhouette. There may be a slight bit of truth to this but try holding a lure of each colour up to a full moon and see if any appear any different to each other.
If we are foolish enough to believe bass only stay on the bottom at night and that staring up at the surface layers is the only way they are hunting, then we are very naive. What about fishing in shallow water (i.e. 60cm or even less)? Do you honestly think the fish need to be under the lure to see the silhouette before going for it? At night, bass are mainly in the top third of the water column. You do get bass on the bottom but they’re mainly the bigger fish who like to scavenge around solo. Fortunately, these bigger fish will also rise up to take lures even though they are primarily focused on foraging.
Take a minute on a night luring session to listen out for splashing, then turn your light on and look in the vicinity of the sounds – I guarantee you’ll see bass on the surface cruising around looking for their next meal. At night, lure colour does not make any difference whatsoever, it’s the vibration, change in water pressure and initial splash down that ring the dinner bell. The bass detect these signals and come in to investigate – they don’t sit there looking up waiting for a silhouetted lure to pass them.
As far as bright full moons go, some of the best sessions I’ve had have been on flat calm nights with a fat moon so bright that you can read the writing on your rod.
I remember on one particular session, I was sight fishing with senko lures in a bay. You could hear the fish splashing and see their wakes on the surface (remember fish aren’t waiting around looking up). I would cast the lure to these visible signs and as soon as it hit the surface, you could see the direction of the wakes change as the fish homed in on the impact. On retrieving the lure, I could see multiple fish zeroing in on it, not underneath looking for silhouettes but following the vibration and change in water pressure. Needless to say, these were amazing sights to see and that session resulted in many fish.
‘If you use a swivel between your main line and leader you will lose all action in the lure.’ This has to be the second most stupid thing I’ve heard in bass fishing after the 10°C temperature theory I covered last month. If anything will alter the action of a lure, it’s the many types of quick clips we use to attach them to our line. This is especially true for surface lures, bibbed lures and lures with concave heads (like poppers). When lures are tested during manufacturing, they are done so after being tied directly to the mainline, not with any kind of clip. The clips attach to the front end of a lure – the part that has the first influence on what it’s supposed to do in the water when you retrieve. A swivel 30-40cm away is not going to cause any kind of significant resistance at all, unless you are using true suspending lures and using a massive swivel (which will tip the nose down, very much like the clips we use which add extra weight to this end of the lure).
Some people prefer not to use a leader but I always do, especially when fishing in rough water. It helps protect against the bass’ razor sharp gill plates, which can come into contact with the first few feet of line during the fight and on landing. So do you choose mono or flurocarbon? The answer is that any will work. Many people who swear by flurocarbon will say that it’s because the fish don’t see it and it increases their catch rate. But look at the lures we’re using – bright flashy colours, large treble hooks, split rings and inbuilt rattles bear little resemblance to the natural prey the bass feed on so why get so hung up on whether they can see your line? To put it another way, picture a bait angler using a pulley rig. Do the bass care if the food they are about to eat is attached to a rig adorned with two bright beads, a red impact shield, multicolored mono and a grip weight (or even a fluorescent continental weight)? These rigs catch bass even in clear water when all the components are in plain view, so the argument for flurocarbon being necessary is not a strong one.
One point I often make is about using swivels between the mainline and leader and the amount of criticism people get for this is comical. I don’t use a swivel because I cannot tie an FG knot or (any other kind of knot), I do it for speed. I attach my braid to the swivel with a double palomar knot (this is quick, easy and will never slip) and on the leader end, a simple four turn clinch knot (that also has never let me down). For my leaders, I use mono because it’s cheap and durable.
Yes, swivels do pick up weed and that’s another reason to use one – it stops the weed travelling down the line towards the lure. I’d rather have a piece of weed stuck on the swivel than have it slip over a small knot and onto the lure. The swivel is also handy if you want to use a teaser, as it’s easy to tie on and cut off when not needed, as opposed to having to cut it all off and retie a whole leader.
Another reason people dismiss swivels is that they claim they can damage the tip eye of your rod. Let me refer back to bait fishing again, how often have you seen people reeling up a rig so far that the swivel hits the eye? Not often, I’ll bet. So why should it be any different in lure fishing, even with a leader up to 50cm long? If your lure is that close to your tip eye when you go to cast or when you have a fish on, you run the risk of breaking the fragile lure rods we use – it’s just common sense. The USA striped bass fishermen use swivels all the time with no trouble, why should we fish any different to them when their methods are proven on fish multiple times bigger than ours?
People really need to step back and think about the kind of advice they give out and listen to from others. Everything we do works and there is no absolutely right or wrong way. The only wrong thing is saying you need to use this or not use that to catch fish. Who would have thought 20 years ago you could target bass at night on lures? The concept would have been laughed at but it works and that’s my point. Many of these things still commonly handed out as bass wisdom are based on outdated principles or things that may apply in some regions but not in others. Think for yourself, don’t be scared to try things and make your own mind up based on your own experiences. You’ll catch more bass for it.