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If the Fish Aren't Biting, Change Your Presentation

Lure presentation is by far one of the most important aspects of successful Bass Fishing If we are not confident we are fishing in productive waters, we go elsewhere. It makes no sense to fish waters we do not have confidence in. But if we are confident that we are fishing quality water and we are not getting bites; then, we do this: We change the presentation. Then, we change it again and again until we find what the fish want. Lots of days this takes two or three hours, but it pays off at the weigh in. This is a routine approach to fishing for pro fishermen. Presentation is the sum total of everything we put in front of fish.
A presentation includes
 (1) the lure,
 (2) the lure's color
 (3) its running depth,
 (4) its retrieve speed, and
 (5) whether any special action is being imparted to the lure.

When we start systematically changing our presentation, we keep these five variables in mind, and often we change them in the order listed. The first thing we change is the color of the lure. When this doesn't work we change lure size or lure style.
If spinner baits arenít working we might switch to crankbaits, or vice versa. Also, by changing line size we change the depth at which a crankbait runs.
Similarly, it frequently pays to change the speed at which we retrieve the lure. If a steady retrieve is ineffective we add herk-and-jerk to the retrieve. We keep changing the presentation until we find something that works. It takes patience.

Bass biologists tell us that bass have very small brains, but we are certain of this: they have sufficient brains to learn not to bite lures they see regularly. We don't know how they learn, but they do. Therefore, we keep mixing up our presentations until we find something that they are not accustomed to seeing. If the fish should be hitting regular crankbaits but are not, then a flat-sided crankbait or a lipless crankbait are obvious alternatives. A standard crankbait has a wide wobble, while a flat-sided crankbait has a tight wiggle. This can make all the difference in the world if the fish have been seeing too many wobbling crankbaits. The lure's retrieve can also be changed slightly or drastically. Storm, Rebel and Bomber make standard crankbaits that suspend or countdown (sinker). A suspending crankbait can be retrieved with a jerkbait retrieve, and a countdown crankbait can be fished at any depth. You count it down, then you begin the retrieve. A countdown crankbait can also be fished with a pumping motion similar to how we fish grubs.

Believe it or not, changing presentation direction can also make a difference. If we fish down a shore we have confidence in, when we get to the end, we turn around and fish it in the opposite direction. The second pass we see different casting lanes, we come by cover on a different side and in a different direction.(giving the fish a totally different presentation) Frequently, we change lures and directions at the same time. This makes a lot more sense than starting the big motor and going to waters we do not have confidence in. If you are in productive waters, why crank the big motor? Change the presentation.

A major part of lure presentation is bouncing lures off of cover. A crankbait or spinner bait running near a stump may get a bite if there is a bass holding at that stump. But a crankbait or a spinner bait that hits that stump will increase the odds of a bite a least three-fold. Since an out-of-tune crankbaits does not run true, we frequently detune our crankbaits slightly to make them bounce into and off of cover.

Each time we feel our lure hit something we pause, then continue the retrieve.
This often generates a strike. Sometimes the delay is more than a pause. Particularly with spinner baits, we may let them drop all the way to the bottom. Then, we pick them up, shake them, pause, and renew the retrieve. Our rule of thumb is this: we bounce lures off of cover as much as possible and we make the lure do something erratic immediately after it hits the cover.

Soft Plastics Get Bites on the Drop With tube baits, worms, and jigs more often than not the bite occurs while the bait is dropping. And by dropping we mean falling on a limp line, not swinging at an angle due to the line being taut. Therefore, when fishing these types of lures our presentations are designed so that the bait falls freely into the strike zone. If we can make a soft entry into the water, we will cast directly to the spot. But if the entry will be a splash, we cast beyond the strike zone, retrieve until the bait is in the strike zone,then kill the retrieve and put slack in the line. Always we watch the line carefully as the bait sinks toward the bottom. If we are fishing productive waters (as opposed to fishing isolated pieces of cover), we keep our worms, tube baits or jigs hopping as we retrieve back to the boat. Each hop is designed to present a falling bait to any fish that might be in the area. We do not expect the bite while the bait is rising; instead, we expect the bite as the bait is falling after a hop. The purpose of continuously hopping a worm or a jig is to keep in a continually falling motion. For this reason a hop is a precision movement. It begins with a jerk. Then the jerk is followed by a bait falling on slack line while we watch the line. The bite will most often be detected by a twitch in the line that we see but do not feel. Sometimes we feel the bite also, but more often than not it is line movement that betrays the fish, not a feel. This is a direct result of letting the bait fall with slack in the line. The slack eliminates the feel.

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