In the last few weeks I have found myself on a very HOT shallow squarebill bite. This style of fishing has become one of, if not my favorite techniques to take advantage of in the early spring months. Weeds are scarce, shallow shorelines are starting to warm up, and the bass are looking for food before they head to their spawning areas.
If you have a favorite pond that is shallow in the 2-8 feet of water range, you absolutely should have a squarebill on hand. They are not as trivial as you think….toss it out, reel it back. I see a lot of guys giving up on crankbaits really quickly like I used to, but the reward of learning to use these baits is worth the time put into it.
What to have on hand to fish these lures effectively…
7’ 0” MH Moderate to Moderate Fast action rod
12-15 lb fluorocarbon or monofilament
5.0-6.3 gear ratio reel
When you fish shallow areas you have to pay attention right away whether or not you are getting your lure fouled up with weeds or other debris on the bottom. If you are, I suggest trying a couple things…
1) Have your rod tip raised up during the retrieve…it will force the crankbait to run shallower in the water column.
2) Try switching to a shallower running crankbait
3) Switch to a reel with monofilament instead of fluorocarbon. Monofilament floats so your squarebill will run shallower.
A few great crankbaits to have on hand…
- Bass Pro EGG (dives 1-2 feet)
A few colors to have on hand…
- Shad patterns (Silver/Black back, Tennessee Shad, Gizzard Shad, etc.)
- Craw patterns (Bright reds, oranges, and even some dark greens)
- Bluegill pattern
- Bright Colors (Chartreuse/Black Back, Lime Green/Blue Back, Bone White, etc.)
How you should retrieve this lure….
The best way I have found with this lure is a slow steady retrieve while adding in slightly faster and slower turns of the handle. Doing this will change how fast or slow the crankbait rushes through the water which creates a deadly hunting action. I also try to add short pauses here and there to make the lure stop which kicks the back side of the crankbait forward making a really noticeable flash or jerk in the water. Usually once you start the retrieve again, the bass are all over it! Another retrieve that has done well for me in the past is pulling the crankbait along with the rod and reeling in the slack. The rod tip should be closer to parallel with the water and you should feel 5-10 wobbles of the crankbait as you pull it along. Once you stop moving the lure, reel in the slack and do it again. If you are casting to an adjacent shoreline, it seems like everytime I craaaawwwlll that crankbait away from the shore line the bass will kill it….so always start with a really slow retrieve if you are casting towards the shore.
How do you ensure a good hook set?
The hookset is a side sweeping hookset. The usually tip towards the sky does not work as well as it does with a treble hook lure. Side sweeping will increase your hook up percentage more than anything else. New treble hooks will also help increase your hook up. Most crankbaits come with cheap treble hooks that can bend or break easily. The last thing you need is to lose a monster spring bass only to find out he bent out one of your hooks….trust me, that happens more than I have liked it to happen! Last is to check your line for rough patches. Crankbaits bounce and crash into everything, so pay attention to your line fraying and re tie if you need to. It doesn’t hurt to second guess yourself and re-tie.
Last but not least, what does the bite feel like?
The only two things that come to mind are a freight train hitting your bait, or the subtle “bump, bump” of a bass slashing at it. If you feel a fish just plow the snot out of your lure, more than likely he choked it and I would be immediately swinging for the fences. If you feel a bump, take a quick 1 count and then set the hook. Usually just a bump means they haven’t got it all the way and giving them that extra second could make all the difference.
Now is prime time to take advantage of this action. Get to your local tackle shop and grab some shallow diving crankbaits. The big mommas are out and active now, so let’s hear some success stories in the near future! You’ll be glad you did!