Depending on where in the country you live, in May the bass can be in any one of a number of transitional phases. In the deep south, they’re probably already moving out to the ledges and their full fledged summertime patterns. In the north, where ice-out is in recent memory, they may not even be bedding yet. In the in-between ranges that most of us call home, they could be getting ready to bed, spawning, or finishing up the job — or all three. But no matter what they’re doing in your neck of the woods, IMA has a hard bait that’ll get the job done.

In addition to being one of the top young sticks on the FLW Tour, IMA pro Michael Murphy also has a Bachelors of Science in Fisheries and Aquatic Science from Purdue University. Not only can he figure out what the fish are doing on any given day, but he can also explain why things are happening. He’s developed a pretty neat system that explains how to link water temperature directly to your choice of IMA hard baits.

He calls it “The Rule of Five.”

In short, any water temperature that ends in the number 5 dictates the need for a particular lure category, while temperatures that end in zero indicate that the fish are likely in transition between two categories.

“At 45 degrees, they’re suspended off the ends of bluffs and sides of points,” he explained. “And they’ll be eating a jerkbait, like the IMA Flit. At 50, they begin their move to secondary points and into pockets. That’s when I’ll start to transition to the Rock N Vibe and the IMA Shaker. At 55, you’re looking at 12 hour days, and the crawfish are usually starting to move. That’s when the shallow crankbait bite really starts to pick up. At 60, they’re getting ready to spawn and at 65 they’re in the full-blown spawn. That’s when they start to transition to the post-spawn topwater bite with the Skimmer and the Roumba. At 75, they’re in their summer patterns, transitioning back out toward the ends of the points. There’s also usually a shad spawn in there somewhere.”

The trend “mirrors itself” in the Fall, he added.

“They’re doing the same thing at the same temperatures, but for slightly different reasons. At 65 they’re back up shallow and they’ll eat the topwater. At 55, the Rock N Vibe and the Shaker come back into play. And at 45, they suspend again and I fish the Flit.”

One corollary to this rule is that mini-fronts and heat waves also determine bait choice, so if Murphy experiences a cold front in the summer, he’ll bring the Shaker and the Flit back out. If it’s just shy of 60 and there’s a warming trend, the Roumba can be deadly. “Sometimes you need to kick back a gear or kick forward a gear,” he said.