October 10, 2012 by Mike Surman
Now that we've started getting more rain in areas where we had drought last summer, lakes are coming up again and bass are moving back to the banks - or at least toward the shorelines. They're scattered out and looking for shad, which makes this a great time of year to fish soft-plastic buzzbaits and cover some water. My choice is a Gambler Flapping Shad, which resembles a Fluke-type swimbait with a paddle tail. I rig it with a screw-in 1/32-ounce Florida weight and an Owner 6/0 wide-gap hook, and fish it on 20-pound-test Yo-Zuri H20 fluorocarbon line and a Pflueger President baitcaster with a 6.4:1 gear ratio. If I'm fishing outside of cover, I'll use a 6-foot, 10-inch All-Start medium-heavy rod to fish it. If I'm right in the cover - say, pads or hydrilla - I'll use a 7-foot, 6-inch flipping rod.
There's nothing special about the retrieve; you just throw it out as far as you can and buzz it back at the surface. One trick I use sometimes is to slice the bottom of the paddle tail up from about 5 o'clock midway through the tail toward 10 o'clock. Instead of the tail thump-thump-thumping along, this makes it more of a faster, more frantic buzz. I like dark colors on overcast days, and white or lighter colors on bright days. Just to hedge my bets, I also have a follow-up rod rigged with a weightless Gambler Ace. If a fish misses the Flapping Shad, I'll throw the Ace of the same color right back to the spot. Either way, if a fish grabs the bait, I'll drop the rod and snap-set the hook. The Flapping Shad is a great search bait. And when bass are hunting shad, they'll eat it up.
---- Castrol pro Mike Surman, Boca Raton, Fla.