When the water turns colder, bass go deep, often suspending in deeper water. There are several vertical presentations that prove effective for suspended bass such as drop shot and vertical jigging spoons. If you’re noticing fish suspended in 10 to 20 feet of water over a deeper (30-foot or more) bottom, underspin jigs are a perfect choice. Underspins are particularly effective if the fish are wary of boat noise and pronounced shadows. This technique gives you the ability to keep a safe distance and avoid any spooking, all while being able to cover water more efficiently.
Suspended fish often frustrate anglers. Whether suspended due to weather or time of year,
They are difficult to trick into biting. But if you can effectively fish underspins, you’ll be able to catch more and bigger fish when other anglers fall short. Fishing underspins isn’t rocket science, but it can be tricky. Whether bass are relating to the bottom, middle or top of the water column, their natural instinct is to look upward. This instinct serves two purposes- protecting them from airborne predators and increasing their feeding opportunities. When you’re targeting suspended bass with an underspin, it’s essential to keep it above the bass to maximize your chances of getting bit. When looking for suitable underspin conditions, keep a close eye on your electronics. If you’re noticing a lot of fish activity close to the bottom, you may be better off using a more bottom-oriented presentation. When you notice suspended arches—or bass—underneath schools of shad—usually represented by big “balls” or “clouds” on your electronics—you’re in prime underspin territory.
Although there are times when underspins can catch bass in stained water such as in schooling situations, this technique is most effective in clear water. As a general rule of thumb, the clearer the water, the better chance you have at a solid underspin bite. Because stained and muddy water impairs bass’ vision, they’re often left to rely heavily upon their lateral line when feeding. This line acts as their ears and allows them to sense nearby vibrations, making it easier for them to track down an easy meal. Fishing underspins is a very sight-oriented technique as they don’t emit much vibration for stained water bass to hone in on. They need to see an underspin in order to bite, which makes clear water conditions much more desirable.
You will want to experiment with head sizes and trailer selection when fishing underspins. If you’ve looked into purchasing underspins, you may have noticed the choices are pretty overwhelming- different head shapes and weights as well as blade shapes and sizes are enough to make your own head spin.
Have a few different sizes in your arsenal. This will allow you to select an underspin size based on the level of aggression the bass are displaying. When they’re biting fast and furious, a heavier weight will get you to the action faster. The heavier underspin you use, the faster you need to wind it. If the fish are actively chasing bait, as represented by long, diagonal lines streaking into bait clouds on your electronics- you’ll be better off with a heavier, 3/8-ounce or 1/2-ounce head. When the bite is slower, a smaller more finesse presentation is in order. Retrieve speed matches. Fast for aggressive fish, but when the action is slow, a subtle, more deliberate presentation will produce more bites. The lighter head you use with an underspin, the slower you’re able to reel it and the longer you can keep it in the strike zone.
Remember to stay above the fish and be careful not to get too deep. Underspins will be troublesome when you get them around cover, so be sure to keep it above standing timber or trees to minimize hang-ups. Clearwater bass can see a long way, so they’ll swim a long way to eat it. Your trailer selection will also vary based on the same two factors—depth and speed of retrieve. A paddle tail swimbait is going to sink a bit slower due to its increased bulk and water displacement, allowing for a slower retrieve speed, which can be especially effective in shallower depths and around inactive bass. A more streamline trailer, such as a soft, fork-tail soft plastic jerkbait will sink faster and allow for faster retrieve speeds, making it most effective around deeper or aggressive bass.
To get more bites with an underspin, be sure to implement periodic pauses and small jerks throughout your retrieve. Clearwater bass can be extremely finicky and you’ll notice a lot of them stalking your underspin—they want to eat it, but something doesn’t seem quite right. If the bass aren’t committing, these jerks and pauses can appeal to their innate predatory instincts and cause them to override any suspicions they may have. If you’ve ever seen big balls of shallow shad surrounding your boat or the bank, you’ll notice they don’t necessarily swim in straight lines. Every second or two, one will kick to the side, causing the rest of the school to flare and show their sides. Incorporating these small jerks and pauses, causes the blade or blades of your underspin to also flare, imitating a nervous or fleeing shad.
Some final tips for underspin fishing. First, bass have a tendency to miss an underspin initially. Just keep reeling steadily and you’ll feel a few subsequent thumps and your rod will slowly begin to load. Maintain your retrieve and when you notice a nice, solid bend in your rod, simply lean into the fish while reeling and keep good tension. No jerking, pulling, jumping or pumping required—a slow and steady hookset will drastically increase your catch ratio. Second, I have mentioned the relationship between clear water and underspin effectiveness. Bass can see very well, resulting in frequent short strikes. Not only are these short strikes disheartening, but they also cost money, believe it or not. Every time a bass nips at or short strikes your underspin, the trailer takes the brunt of the shock. Before you know it, the bottom of your boat is littered with chewed-up soft plastics. When threading a trailer, place a few drops of super glue onto the front of the trailer where it meets the head of the lure. This increases the rig’s structural integrity, allowing you to fish longer with one soft plastic trailer. Now you are ready for underspinning. Get out their and Live the Passion of cold water bassin!
Pro Staff Eric S. Evans is also the Brand Manager and Editor- in- Chief for the iBass360 Blog and social media. His "home waters" are both Southeastern Pennsylvania & Southeastern Michigan. Eric fishes St. Croix Rods, Shimano Reels, Rapala crank baits, Terminator spinnerbaits, and Keitech soft plastics