(Editor's note: The following is the latest installment in a series of fishing tips presented by The Bass University. Check back each Friday for a new tip.)
Spybaits are no longer a secret lure hoarded by a few secretive smallmouth experts. Now they’re known to bass anglers far and wide as big fish producers. Arizona pro Josh Bertrand may not hail from bronzeback country, but he’s done exceptionally well up north and has developed a system to using these subtle producers.
While there are times when you can burn a spybait, Bertrand believes that most of the time this is not a presentation for covering vast amounts of water.
“A lot of times it’s a bait that you fish pretty slow,” the Bass Pro Tour competitor said. “You read the spybait manual and a lot of times they’re going to tell you to reel it slow and a lot of times that does work.” When fish are aggressive on a lake like St. Clair, that’s when you can tick the top of the grass with a crankbait, but when they become “problematic” or “troublesome,” yet you know they’re there, that’s when the spybait is at its best – tempting bass that you wouldn’t have otherwise caught.
“It’ll catch fish that’ll put a smile on your face,” he explained. That typically depends on clear water, at least 2 feet of visibility but preferably 3. It’s typically not his primary lure, but rather a mop-up bait. “I never go with just a spybait on the deck, but it’s a rod that you have to keep on the deck among other things.”
It’s not just a smallmouth tool, either. Any time he’s fishing for suspended or educated bass, it can be an effective tool. That includes largemouths feeding on shad and bluegills, as well as blueback herring.
Berkley has developed two different 70-millimeter spybaits to cover their bases. The first sinks about a foot a second, like most others, and “it has a beautiful shimmy as it sinks.” It is Bertrand’s primary tool when, for example, he’s fishing for bass suspended at 20 feet deep in 40 feet of water. His real trick is the second model, the slow-sink version.
“The 70 slow sink is designed for that shallow application,” Bertrand explained. “I like it in less than 7 or 8 feet.”
He fishes both on a relatively long spinning rod, usually a 7’2” Abu Garcia medium-light composite Winch with a soft action. He pairs it with a matching Winch spinning reel that enables him to slow down his retrieve speed. Unlike many other pros who employ straight fluorocarbon, Bertrand still likes a braid main line.
“I set my drag loose and I let them run with it,” he explained, noting that he doesn’t fear the lack of line stretch on little treble hooks.
As for colors, his go-to is stealth shad, but Berkley has developed several others, including perch patterns and chrome, which excels on the blueback herring lakes. He also likes straight black (as he does in other lures, like Berkley’s uber-popular Flat Worm). If smallmouth can see a lure, they’re usually curious enough to come and eat it. “Nothing casts a silhouette better than a black bait swimming through the middle of the water column.”
If you want to learn some of the other secrets of how Bertrand fishes a spybait, including some of the reasons he likes Berkley Nanofil, check out his full video filmed at the 2021 Bassmaster Classic, available only by subscribing to The Bass University TV.
By Miles Burghoff Special to BassFan
(Editor's note: BassFan will suspend feature publication during the holidays as it does each year, although important
By John Johnson BassFan Senior Editor
If you watched much of the live-streamed coverage of the MLF Bass Pro Tour this year, you saw quite a bit of Alton
By B.A.S.S. Communications Staff
Shane Powell saw the Bassmaster Team Championship and the ensuing Classic Fish-Off as his chance to settle unfinished