I know the topic of catching fish off of a spawning bed is cause of much debate. That said, this is my absolute favorite time of year. Sure, it can lead to much frustration, but it can also be a hug learning experience; watching how bass react in their environment as well as the excitement of winning a one-on-one battle. Over the years, I have honed my approach to “lookin’ at ‘em”, simplified my bait selection, and learned a few variables to look for to increase the odds of emerging victorious.
Of course, there are a few instances where you will find yourself scratching your head amongst an array of rods and baits, but if I could choose ONE bait to start with it would be a Strike King Rage Craw rigged on two rods—a natural color and white.
My first reason for choosing a Rage Craw is simply the action of the claws. One thing I have noticed while watching fish react to certain baits over the past few years is that active pincers mean more than overall bait shape or profile and they have a way of ticking the fish off to no end. I have pitched to beds with a Rage Craw tipped jig and a bare T-Rigged Rage Craw, both with similar results. IT’S ALL IN THE ACTION OF THE CLAWS!
Now, why do I say that I would have two ready to go? As much as I don’t think bass key in too much on color while defending a bed, I do believe that if you pitch at it enough and they grow accustomed to one color—or lose their steam—a simple color switch can trigger them to change their mood. Many times, I have worked a bed over and over with a white Rage Craw, watch the bass grow angry, and as their anger dies down, I’d pitch in the more natural toned bait just to trigger an instant reaction and catch that fish. I also keep in mind that the white bait is easier to see when trying to gauge where in the bed is the “hot spot” while natural tones seem to be a little more approachable to more leery fish.
In the majority of situations, I am rigging my Rage Craw on a 3/0 EWG hook paired with a ¼ oz tungsten flipping weight. My ideal set-up in a Dobyns Champion XP 744c rod and a Bruin ELS reel geared in 8.1:1 spooled with 20 lb Sunline Sniper fluorocarbon.