UPCOMING EVENT: T-H Marine BFL - 2019 - Lake Okeechobee


How Bryan Thrift Catches Winter Bass

Bryan Thrift

You might not always catch bass as well as Bryan Thrift, but in early December you sure can fish like him by throwing the same three baits he usually has tied on when he’s out fishing in the winter.

By the way, Thrift doesn’t divide his time between fishing and deer hunting in fall and winter. There are too many bass to be caught.

“I fish all winter,” says the North Carolina pro. “That’s the best time to fish as far as catching big fish. But I actually catch numbers too because they’ll really group up in the wintertime, and they don’t roam as much. If you find them, they’ll be there for a number of days or even a week, and you can really have some fun.”

Here’s what he’s using:


Umbrella Rig

“Shane’s Baits Blades of Glory umbrella rig is probably my No. 1 go-to bait if I’m fun-fishing or in a tournament that allows it. I’m going to have 1/8-ounce jigheads on it with 4-inch Damiki Anchovy Shads,” Thrift reveals. “That’s the ‘funnest’ wintertime fishing you can do.”

Thrift likes his Anchovy Shad swimbaits in white with silver flake for fishing slightly stained water and either pro blue or pro purple for fishing clear water. 

The Blades of Glory rig resembles two “standard” umbrella rigs connected in tandem for a total of nine wire arms. Obviously, it needs to be rigged in such a manner that is legally allowed on the waters being fished. It also requires a stout rod. Thrift’s choice is the Okeechobee Rod, which is a 7-foot, 6-inch, heavy-action model in Fitzgerald Rods’ Original Series. He spools up with 20-pound-test P-Line Tactical Fluorocarbon.

“When I first started out throwing the umbrella rig, I threw it on braid a lot,” Thrift says. “I found out you get a lot more bites on fluoro. I think the biggest reason is that the diameter of the braid is so small, and when you throw it on braid, you have to wind it fast to keep it off bottom. But the key to fishing an umbrella rig is to wind it as slowly as possible. With fluoro [which is thicker] you don’t have to fish it as fast, and it’ll stay in the depth of water you’re trying to target.”

Depth varies according to the area, but the most important factor is the bait.

“That time of year I’m looking for baitfish that are schooled up and bass that are actively eating the bait,” Thrift adds. “That’s when you catch those giant, fat bass that are gorging on shad. I’ll fish a main-lake point, creek channel or river channel, but you can catch them anywhere the bait is stacked up.”


Damiki AXE Blade


“If fish aren’t really reacting to the umbrella rig or they’re closer to the bottom, that’s when I pull out a Damiki Axe Blade,” Thrift says. “It’s a 3/4-ounce tail-spinner with a willow-leaf blade on the back.”

Handling a 7-foot, medium-heavy Fitzgerald Rods Stunner HD, Thrift bombs casts as far as possible. Using thin 12-pound-test P-Line fluorocarbon helps with casting distance and presentation.

“That seems like light line, but it lets the bait get down to do what it’s supposed to do,” Thrift explains. “After I throw it as far as I can, I let it pendulum down to the bottom. Then I kind of yo-yo it off the bottom and let it swing back down each time. Don’t rip it like you’d rip a spoon. Lift it up with the rod straight up, wind two or three times, and let it fall back down on a tight line. It’s not falling vertically; it’s falling toward you.”

Thrift fishes the tail-spinner in the same areas as he fishes the umbrella rig. He says he’s not as concerned about structure as he is locating balls of bait that are on the bottom and being actively pursued by bass.



The umbrella rig and tail-spinner are Thrift’s preferred wintertime lures, but he’ll usually have a jig rigged up and ready too. Being a Damiki guy, Thrift likes the 1/2-ounce Mamba Jig with a Damiki Knock Out as a trailer.

“Fishing the jig is more structure- and cover-related,” Thrift explains. “I throw it where there’s not really a lot of schooling fish, but more around docks, rocks or brush where I’m looking for one big kicker fish. I fish more isolated targets, and it doesn’t really matter if bait is there or not. I’m just targeting a place where a big fish might be in the wintertime.”


Tags: bryan-thrift  -pro-tips-weekly  curtis-niedermier  article 


Pro Tip: How Wes Logan Ties a Jig

Wes Logan is particular about his jigs. So particular that he pours his own heads and ties his own skirts. Logan’s tying method keeps the skirt from slipping down or spinning around – a pet peeve of his. Some folks do the same with wire, but Logan prefers using light braided line. READ MORE »


Beight Rings in Marshal Program in Big Way

Timmy Beight won the FLW Tour Sam Rayburn Marshal prize after marshaling for Jordan Osborne and Terry Bolton. READ MORE »


Top 10 Patterns from Sam Rayburn

Fishing crankbaits, Carolina rigs and drop-shots around flooded hydrilla for Sam Rayburn Reservoir largemouths dominated the top 10 at the FLW Tour opener. Check out the top 10 patterns feature to learn more about effective patterns for working grass. READ MORE »


Day 4 on Sam Rayburn Postponed

FLW officials have postponed the final day of the FLW Tour opener presented by Polaris on Sam Rayburn. The top 10 anglers slated to finish the event Sunday will instead fish Monday to close out the tournament. READ MORE »


Evinrude Extends FLW Sponsorship

FLW announced today a sponsorship renewal with Evinrude for the 2019 season, marking the 18th year the brands have aligned. The agreement ensures that Evinrude and its premier lineup of outboard engines will be showcased across all FLW tournament circuits and through exclusive digital content as well as remaining the official outboard sponsor of FLW. READ MORE »


FLW Welcomes New Live Show Hosts

FLW has made three additions to the FLW Live coverage team for the 2019 FLW Tour season. Veteran FLW Tour pros Peter Thliveros and Todd Hollowell, as well as internet talk show personality Matt Pangrac are joining the team. READ MORE »


Top 10 Baits from Lake Amistad

Wintertime bass fishing tactics dominated at Lake Amistad in January, as the top finishers relied on jerkbaits, crankbaits, drop-shots, swimbaits and umbrella rigs to get the job done. READ MORE »


OSU Bass Team Alumni Battling Cancer

Former YETI FLW College Fishing competitor Max Kitzmiller was recently diagnosed with stage II Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. Kitzmiller attended Oregon State University where he was a member of the bass fishing team. READ MORE »


Perfect Weather Now on Tap in Texas

Amistad is one of south Texas’ most famous reservoirs – the other being Falcon. Though it’s not the juggernaut that it was in the not too distant past, Amistad is still an incredible tournament fishery, with room to spread out and plenty of grass and rocky structure to target for big giant wintertime bass. READ MORE »


Day 1 Canceled at Amistad

Unsafe weather conditions forced Costa FLW Series tournament officials to cancel day one of the Lake Amistad tournament in Del Rio, Texas READ MORE »


2019 Rookie Rundown

No matter how you get to the FLW Tour, you’re only a rookie once. This year, 34 pros are taking their talents on Tour for the first time. READ MORE »


Sam Rayburn on YouTube



Looking Back at 2018

Before everyone fully transitions into the 2019 season, we wanted to take a quick walk back through some of the highlights of 2018. It was a long, exciting and eventful year that included record-breaking performances, tragedy, career-making wins and a lot of change that will impact our industry for the foreseeable future. READ MORE »


Big Bass Expected at Opener on Amistad

Lake Amistad might not kick out quite as many massive stringers of largemouth bass as it used to, but the legendary south Texas border reservoir is still a factory for big fish. According to local guide and always tournament favorite Ray “Hanselmania” Hanselman, there are some real giants to be caught at Amistad, but they’ll be at a premium when the Costa FLW Series Southwestern Division rolls into Del Rio to kick off the 2019 season on Jan. 3 READ MORE »


Marshal Field Full for Opener at Rayburn

The FLW Tour Marshal field is full for the first bass-fishing tournament of 2019 on Sam Rayburn Reservoir in Texas. READ MORE »


2019 FLW Tour Predictions

There are a lot of unknowns at the beginning of every FLW Tour season, but this year is special. With 34 rookies and an absolutely killer slate of big-fish lakes, a lot could happen. We gathered together some FLW staff and Tour pros to crank out a few predictions for the season. Some of them are pretty straightforward. Others are a little more out there… READ MORE »


Time is Running Out to Star in YouTube Series

Each episode will document life as an angler that is just starting out in the sport of tournament bass fishing. It will allow fans to experience firsthand what life as a student angler is really like and feel both the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat as it happens to the young anglers competing in the YETI FLW College Fishing and Bass Pro Shops FLW High School Fishing Open circuits. A new angler or team will be featured in each episode. READ MORE »


How to Catch Winter Spotted Bass

Some of the best fishing of the year in the South occurs on the reservoirs with spotted bass in Georgia and the Carolinas. As a guide on Lake Lanier, FLW Tour pro Rob Jordan is adept at staying on the spots all winter. He knows when to fish deep or go shallow, and how to apply a jigging spoon, jig, underspin and crankbait to take full advantage of the opportunities. READ MORE »


Rookie Profile: Ron Nelson  

While plenty of the Tour’s new pros have impressive resumes, few boast records as well-rounded and superlative as Ron Nelson’s. After years of success at the Costa FLW Series level, it’s finally time to see what the Michigan angler can do against the best in the nation.   READ MORE »


Young Healed, Ready for Another Shot

You could say Young has the right attitude to survive the ups and downs of the pro fishing circuit, and if the 2019 season turns out to be his best so far, like it’s shaping up to be, a positive state of mind might be the biggest reason why. READ MORE »