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Whenever I visit fisheries dominated by grass, I tend to get a bit overwhelmed. There are seemingly hundreds of miles of thick grass mats, and they all look awesome for bass fishing. So where in the world do you start? I was recently introduced to a neat alternative technique that produces giant bass when the mats just aren’t cutting it—pitching deep grass with bass jigs.

I had a chance to hop in the boat with Lake Guntersville guide Jim Leary and he opened my eyes to the benefits of this technique. It took me about an hour to get the hang of it, but we were both jacking 4 and 5-pounders out of 15 feet of water in no time.

Based on my experience, there are 5 things to understand before you start wrenching big bass from the salad:

  • Pattern bass according to their late-summer behavior
  • Recognize important bottom compositions
  • Vertical drops are better than long casts
  • Understand what a bite feels like
  • Huge hooksets aren’t necessary

You’ve gotta be where the bass are

Sure, it sounds obvious—but those miles of grass can distract you from your game plan if you’re not careful. In the late-summer, Leary concentrates on what he calls ‘bass highways’.

“In most areas of the country, bass have already begun following shad to the backs of creeks,” Leary said. “These creek and river channels are bass highways and I like to focus on stopping points. Just like how we might get hungry on the interstate and pull off for a bite to eat, bass are doing the same thing right now.”

When you’re looking for a good area, look for any areas close to main river or creek channels. Once you find the right areas, follow the contour lines on your electronics as bass relate heavily to depth changes this time of year. Look for points in the grass, small channel cuts and any other irregularities for great starting points.

Remember—you’re not going to be able to see the fish on your graph. It all comes down to covering water efficiently.

A hard bottom is a good bottom

Bass aren’t too fond of muddy, cruddy bottom compositions. You’ll catch a few in these areas, but a quick way to narrow your search is by finding a hard bottom composition. It may seem like all of the grass would make this difficult, but it’s actually pretty easy to recognize.

jim leary holding bass jig

A 1-ounce or 1 1/2-ounce jig will help you detect hard bottom compositions, which are essential when pitching deep grass.

“I mainly use a 1-ounce or 1 1/2-ounce Strike King Hack Attack Jig or Buckeye Lures Mop Jig tipped with a Missile Baits D Bomb, NetBait Paca Craw or Big Bite Baits YoDaddy with this technique,” Leary said. “A heavy weight is imperative because it lets you feel what’s down there so you can concentrate on productive areas. It’s important, however, to use a rod that can handle such a large weight, so I use a 7-foot, 10-inch extra-heavy Duckett Micro Magic Casting Rod.”

He’s right. With the heavy jig, I was able to feel exactly what was below the grass. If you can’t really feel your weight ‘clack’ on the bottom, there’s a good possibility you’re fishing around the muck. Whenever we got into the juice, it actually felt like I was pitching my jig onto a sidewalk—it’s hard to mistake. Every time I felt the ‘clack’, hooksets were never far behind.

Avoid the urge to make bomb casts

When we first started fishing, I noticed Leary making pitches only 4 to 6 feet from the boat. While I was making long casts and wrestling clumps of grass, he just smirked at me. As it turns out, a vertical drop is key for this technique.

“I try to avoid dragging a jig in deep grass for several reasons,” Leary said. “This time of year, bass are very likely to eat your jig on the fall and it’s hard for them to do that when you’re dragging it. You can also make a lot more flips and pitches compared to long casts. Grass lakes are hard to dissect at times, so it’s important to cover water efficiently.”

pitching a jig into deep grass for bass

It’s all about making quick, short pitches to cover water.

Throughout our day, we got a lot of bites after pitching to a specific area multiple times. This was largely because of Leary’s thorough, yet efficient flipping and pitching technique. On average, we pitched our jigs a foot apart, which allowed us to make multiple presentations to the same fish. When the bass are in this deep grass, sometimes it takes a few presentations to draw their attention.

Bites aren’t always easy to detect

Before getting the hang of what a bite really felt like, I feel like I missed about 10 fish. That’s normal, however, if you don’t fish submerged vegetation very often. Once you realize what it feels like, it’s a load of fun.

More times than not, these big, deep grass bass aren’t going to break your arm when they bite. Most of my bites came while I was hung up in a big wad of grass. As I would lift my rod tip, I’d feel my braided line “grind” across a stalk of grass or I’d feel something just barely pull back. If you feel anything similar to this, it definitely won’t hurt to set the hook.

You don’t have to break your rod on the hookset

In my opinion, there’s nothing better than connecting with a big jig fish on a hookset. After a few swing-and-misses, I quickly learned to dial it back a few notches. Leary has a great way of getting more of the bass in the boat.

“When you’re using 50-pound Sunline FX2 Braided Line and setting the hook right beside the boat, you can definitely pull the hook out of a fish if you go crazy on the hookset,” Leary said. “I usually pull once for the initial hookset and do another quick pull after I feel the bass break free from the grass.”

deep grass for bass fishing

This may look like shallow grass, but we were catching bass 14 feet below the surface in this area.

It’s also important to get these fish into the boat as soon as possible. Think about it—you’re yanking these bass directly from their homes and they are absolutely livid when you set the hook. They have a lot of stored energy, so it’s okay to wrench on them. Anything that keeps them from burying back into the grass will help your chances.

I’ll tell you right now—this is a really fun way to catch big bass. If you’ve been spending most of your time around the grass mats, try to back off and fish the deeper grass. It’s a 4-hour drive for me to get back to Guntersville, and I can’t wait to do it again.

What lakes near you would be conducive to this technique? Would you do anything differently? Let us know by commenting below.

15 thoughts on “How to Fish Deep Grass with Bass Jigs

  1. I’ve been doing something fairly similar on grass lakes here in North Dakota. If the shallower grass mats become unproductive or if the mats are thinning out and disappearing, I’ll move out a bit deeper and flip the islolated clumps of grass. I’ll target the clumps that I can visually see but do not come up to the surface. This has been a great technique on the lakes that don’t have much of a stain to them. While I haven’t used a jig, I have found that the same weight that I would use to punch through the mats has been equally effective for this technique.

    • That’s pretty cool, Steve. We got a few bites on creature baits, but man– they were killing the jig. Try that jig next time you’re out there, especially if you can get out around a full moon. Might get your arm broken! ;)

  2. How would you approach this same situation in Florida where on our larger lakes such as Toho, Lake Kissimmee, and Lake Okeechobee, that don’t have these creeks, and average 7′-10′ deep. Places like Lake Toho become hugely overgrown with Hydrilla. Some are able to pull out 20 lb bags without issue but sometimes it’s so hard just to locate a steady bite. Any tips?

    • I’m no pro by any means but I’d like to ofer my two cents if I could. Our lakes in ND are similar to the lakes you mentioned in that many are not creek/river fed. In those situations, I first try to find the grass edges (whether that’s just a big wall of grass or grass points) that are the most exposed to wind. Just like on chunk rock banks, that wind really gets things going in that grass.

      If I can’t find that, I’ll try the grass points that are in or close to deeper water, keeping in mind that depth in always a relative term. Lately, I look for those slightly deeper clumps of grass that don’t quite come up to the surface. These would be the clumps that everyone has their boat over while flipping the more visual grass. I’m willing to bet that this particular technique would work well on your lakes simply due to the pressure that the shallower fish recieve.

    • Hey Mike,

      This time of year, it seems to work best for me when I focus on deeper (which is a relative term, especially in those FL lakes) grass near channels. If those bass are hanging out in the channels throughout the summer, they’re going to move to the closest grass when the water temperature begins to drop.

      If you can target these types of areas, it will allow you to intercept them when they first move up. If there’s an average depth of 10 feet, maybe try looking for 12 foot ditches and focus on adjacent submerged vegetation.

      Let me know if it works and good luck!

  3. New Johnsonville on Kentucky lake, right now it is loaded with grass , both scattered and thin to Thick and matted. Was catching them on frogs this weekend and wish i had read this before i went. I would for sure gave it a try because no one was doing this at all…everybody was backed off throwing the Frogs.

    • That’s exactly what spurred me to write this article. I was at the SPRO Frog Tournament on Guntersville the day before and the weights were pretty bad by Guntersville standards. High pressure moved in and made the bass think twice before eating a frog.

      The next day, Jim and I went out and flipped these big jigs and caught ‘em really well. After learning all about it from Jim, I think I’ve found a new alternative to froggin’ when I fish these big grass lakes.

      Try it out there on KY Lake, I’ve seen Hackney whack ‘em there with this technique!

    • I fish Seminole a lot, John and I am right there with ya. Those fish can get so finicky sometimes it can make you want to pull your hair out.

      Try flipping those mats near the channel markers next time you hit Seminole. Adjacent deep water + cooling water temps + a big ol’ jig = slugfest!

      Let me know how you do – I’d be curious to know!

      • I’d like to know too. I’ve never felt so humbled after a week of fishing as I did after leaving that lake. Great fishery when it’s on but when it’s not… very depressing.

  4. I use this method on Patoka lake in Indiana. It is amazing how shallow these grass bass can be. I catch them sometimes in 18 inches of water flipping just a few feet from the boat. Usually the water needs a little color for this close action but sometimes I am amazed how a 4 pound largemouth can be that shallow and not be visible even when the water is clear. You just see the bass materialize from the grass. COOL!

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