The doldrums of the fall transition are finally over. The shad are schooling up and taking refuge in what’s left of the quickly dying milfoil and hydrilla. And where the shad go, the bass will surely follow. It’s time for them to start feeding up for the coming winter. It’s also one of the best times for you to break your personal best (PB). Unfortunately, it can also be when the bass can be very finicky.
We’ve all had days when the bass are busting on shad schools everywhere, so you would think the topwater bite is on, but you can’t buy a bite with a spook or a frog. So, you try a squarebill and get nothing but a pound of milfoil piled on the deck of your boat.
This is when you need to tie on a wakebait. You don’t hear the pros talking about them, but you can guarantee they’re throwing them. They’re burning them over and around submerged vegetation and the edges of grass mats.
Most wakebaits have the lip at a 75- to 90-degree angle to the line tie, which pushes the bait to the surface creating the “V”-shaped wake behind the bait that drives bass crazy. All brands run differently, and you can vary their running depths by altering line weights. Wakebaits or subsurface crankbaits have been around since the ‘70s, with baits like the Bill Norman Wake and the Mann’s Baby 1-Minus being some of the first. These baits worked then and still do, but there are many more options to choose from today.
I prefer a very erratic retrieve. I do a burn (1-3 cranks), micro pause (a hard stop for a fraction of a second), burn. Don’t be afraid to throw in a twitch/pop in the mix. If you hit grass or structure, pause. That tenth-of-a-second pause is what trips their trigger.
I replace the belly hook on almost every wakebait I have with Mustad KVD Short-shank elite trebles to reduce line fowling (line getting hung on the belly hook). This also makes the bait more compact, meaning it’s less likely to snag on grass and wood.
I’m totally obsessed with wakebaits, so to help you narrow it down a bit, here are some of my fall favorites.
Deps Buzzjet Jr. – $28
It’s a bit pricey, but is worth every penny! They have a very erratic action, without having to work the bait. It also has a rear prop to create a greater disturbance on the surface.
Megabass Griffon Zero – $20
It’s small but still casts a mile. When size really matters, you can’t beat it.
Megabass O.R.C. Over Rev Crank – $22-25
I finally got my grubby hands on one and it may be my new favorite.
Jackall Bros. Cherry 0 Footer – $16 (if you can find them)
They have a wide lip that produces a wide wobble.
SPRO Rat Wakebait 25 – $22-25
My secret weapon and it’s an absolute killer! Upsize the hooks, Mustad KVD Short-shank elite trebles and the added weight will make it run right below the surface.
Ima Rumba – $18 (available in rattling or silent)
Baby got back! This bait’s bulbous butt may look funny but produces a big wake.
Bagley Balsa Wake 1 – $10
I add a little bling by replacing the belly hook with a VMC blade short-shank treble hook.
Strike Pro Hunchback – $10-15
It’s a bizarre-looking bait, but it gets bit!
Strike King HC KVD Wakebait – $6.99
Great budget-friendly option.
Lucky Craft GDS Mini SSR Gerald Swindle signature series – $20-50
Sadly they’ve been discontinued. If you have some and you don’t use them, I’ll be happy to take them off your hands.