Things are different in California. Or are they? Do you fish lakes with bigger forage? Trout? Perch? Herring? If so, tossing a big swimbait might be exactly what you need. Pro Staff Roslyn Villalpando and her partner Chris Huff did exactly that and came up with a 9 lb. 6 oz. spotted bass that fell just 6 oz. shy of the lake record.
They also nailed a 13 lb. largemouth on the same trip. Big swimbaits in a lake that either stocks trout or has a natural population can be a deadly lure. If you are looking to target large fish, in these situations you want to match the hatch. When they started, Roz and Chris were using more conventional lures on this particular Northern California Lake. After a couple of trips they noted that the largemouth they were catching were feeding on trout. On the third trip they started throwing an 8” Huddleston ROF (rate of fall) 12 and they immediately had results.
When you look at the trout baits on the market, the Huddleston Deluxe has to be considered one of the most
realistic imitations available today. Ken Huddleston is considered to be one of the top lure designers on the West Coast, and the Deluxe Trout certainly reflects his talents. The combination of the realistic appearance with its physiologically correct swimming “wobble”, gives the Huddleston Deluxe the ability to entice strikes from even the most wary big bass.
When selecting the right swimbait, knowing where you want it to be in the water column is critical. The Deluxe comes in four different rates of fall (ROFs)- 0, 5, 12, and 16 which represent the approximate depth (in feet) the bait will run on a slow, steady retrieve. All four models feature a wire harness that allows the angler to add a belly hook.
The ROF 12 and ROF 16 models come with a top hook molded into the bait. The ROF 0 and ROF 5 models do not come with this hook. Instead, Tackle Warehouse recommends using something like a split ring and 2/0 premium treble hook, or a 4/0 double frog hook secured by a piece of wire in the belly of the 0 or 5.
The Huddleston Deluxe ROF 0 is a floating bait that remains perfectly vertical, with no rolling over, and is killer as a deadstick lure. The ROF 5 excels as a shallow water swimbait or any time the forage is near the surface, especially in spring when the water is warmer on the surface. The ROF 12 and 16 are for working deeper structure or when a faster retrieve is needed in shallower water. All four ROF’s are 8 inches in length and feature a lifelike finish. You will want to have at least one of each to determine what the fish want under varying conditions and structures. The ROF 0 and 5 work well on a slow, lazy retrieve on the surface creating a wake that will call in fish from a long way off. Make no mistake about it, when you throw a bait like the Huddleston Deluxe,
you are throwing a big, heavy bait. Make sure you are using a 20-30 pound line and a long, heavy duty rod. Selecting the right swimbait rod is determined by one main factor- the weight of the swimbait your fishing. These 8 to 12 inch baits weigh in excess of 1 1/2 ounces up to 8 ounces, so there is no question you need a rod with a real backbone for both the casting and the hookset. A solid hookset is crucial with swimbaits, because when targeting bigger bass it is tougher to pierce the fish’s skin. The smallest swimbait rod you want to use should be no less than 7′-6″ and up to 8′ plus. The number of rods and the weight variation will really depend on your wallet and dedication to this type of bait. Some brands will off a wide range of weights such as 1- 5 ounces. Others will have step ups of narrower ranges. When you are starting out go with the widest variety that makes sense for the baits you will be throwing. Most rod brands offer swimbait models, so start with the brand with which you feel most comfortable. Ardent, Dobyns and G.Loomis are good places to start. Remember however, that as you refine your technique you may find that your normal brand does not have all the features you need. This is specialized fishing so you may need to move to a rod manufacturer that excels in swimbait fishing Big baits for big bass.
I think you instinctively know that it makes sense in places other than California. So if you find yourself in a situation where fish are feeding on larger forage, don’t hesitate to go big or go home, and don’t forget to Live The Passion!
iBass360 Pro Staff Roslyn Elaine Villalpando, from Yuba City CA, has a “reel” passion for fishing, a sport enjoyed by her entire family. She and her fiancée are both tournament anglers. Her love for children extends beyond her own to her business, Southern and Belle, which sells childrens clothing. We are please to have this her first contribution to the iBass360 blog