By Joe Haubenreich, president, Secret Weapon Lures

On Tennessee’s J. Percy Priest Lake, as on many reservoirs across the
mid-south, huge schools of shad can be found in sun-warmed water close the
banks. Actively feeding bass are moving shallow after them, so now is a good
time to try a bait that looks like a shad being chased across the surface –
a buzzbait, for example.

Fall is a wonderful time of year for bank fishermen, because they can reach
fish that spend much of the year off-shore. Wear muted colors, stealthily
approach the shoreline, and begin by casting parallel to the shore in both
directions. If you have no takers, fan your casts, gradually retrieving the
lure over deeper water.

If at first you don’t succeed, don’t be too quick to move on. Sometimes it
takes a dozen or more casts in the same area to induce a bass to strike. A
buzzbait’s sound, flash, and vibration pull fish in from a long distance.
And while I don’t think bass really get mad, it seems that repeated exposure
irritates them enough so they finally will smash a buzzbait just out of

When fishing from a boat, drift in toward the bank and cast parallel to the
shore. Throw past every dock, jetty, point, log or rock pile and guide your
retrieve so your bait bounces off obstructions. The erratic flash, sound, or
interrupted retrieve often triggers a strike.

On Priest, most of my buzzbait fish in October were Kentucky bass and
largemouth. I was throwing my lure right up on the bank or in less than six
inches of water. Over the years I developed the knack of thumbing my line
and lifting the rod tip as I switch the reel from my right to my left hand.
I immediately turn the crank to engage the spool as the rod tip is moving up
in order to start my retrieve before the bait’s had a chance to sink below
the surface. With fish as shallow as they are right now, be prepared for a
hit within one or two turns of the handle.

Although ripping a buzzbait sometimes pays off, usually I reel just fast
enough to keep the bait on the surface. Here are a couple things you can do
to slow down your retrieve.

1. Select a buzzbait with bigger blades. Our 5/16-oz size has the same delta
blade (buzz-prop) as our half-ounce bait. Having less weight and tendency to
sink, it can be retrieved slower.

2. Create some drag. Secret Weapon buzzbaits come with a spinner blade
clipped behind the buzz prop. That helps slow down the retrieve, too, but
more importantly that spinning blade creates flash right above the hook.
Adding that spinner blade behind the buzz prop just about doubles the
effectiveness of a buzzbait.

You can add a plastic trailer or pork chunk to create some drag in the
water, too. I like to fish buzzbaits with a trailer hook. I impale two
small, rubber discs that I punch out of rubber bands, one above and one
below the trailer hook. This keeps the hook positioned for a good hook-up
and allows it to swing freely side to side. I would say a third of the
buzzbait fish I catch are on that trailer hook.

Sometimes , though, if I feel that I need more flash, I’ll clip a spinner
blade to the hook. This creates a tail-spinner. With one spinning, flashing
blade above the hook and another right behind it, any bass that tries to
bust up that little clump of shad is in for a surprise.

Later, as bass move off the bank, switch to a spinnerbait or fish the
buzzbait/spinnerbait combo down below the surface. In fact, that’s produced
several good fish for me since someone suggested the idea to me a few years

Do you sometimes want to slow down your bait but still produce lots of flash
and vibration? Attach a spinner blade or two on the buzzbait, cast it to
open water, and count it down five or ten feet. Retrieve it at the same
speed you would if the bait were on top.

For more tips and a list of the top ten mistakes that buzzbait anglers make,
go to the Tips and Tactics section of the Secret Weapon Website –