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How and Where to Fish the Berkley Cull Shad

Wired2fish teamed up with Josh Bertrand for a lesson on when and how to fish big paddle tail swimbaits for bass. His tool of choice was the 6-inch Berkley Cull Shad, an ideal tool for pulling bass from the trees in the clear water. Bertrand discusses how these bigger-than-average harness-style paddle tail swimbaits fit into a regular arsenal.

TACKLE USED (retail links)

* Boat-related links at the bottom.

WHY USE BIGGER SWIMBAITS LIKE THE BERKLEY CULL SHAD?

Choosing the right bait is crucial, and the Berkley Cull Shad stands out for several reasons. First, it’s a bigger than average size bait so it tends to generate bigger bites, yet can be fished on a regular-sized rod and reel. Bertrand stresses that these baits work best in moderate to clear water, where bass can see the bait, which draws them from the cover. The key is to use strategic casting angles to target ambush predators effectively. Areas with shade, corners, and bushes are prime spots to target bass.

ADJUSTING WEIGHTS AND RETRIEVE SPEEDS

Bertrand uses a moderate retrieve speed most often with this lure style. Swimbaits like this are all about drawing power, and steady speeds work best at pulling bass from the cover. Bertrand adjusts the weight of his swimbaits by inserting or removing nail weights based on his preferred retrieve speed. He adds weights to achieve a greater running depth or when fishing the bait faster. Conversely, he removes all weights when trying to achieve the slowest possible retrieve speed, with a single 1/16-ounce nail weight being his go-to for most situations.

ROD SETUP FOR 6-INCH SWIMBAITS

Bertrand’s setup includes a 7’6″ medium-heavy action rod and a moderate speed reel (6.7:1 gear ratio). He pairs this with 17-pound fluorocarbon line for optimal performance. The Berkley Cull Shad is versatile enough to catch both large and numerous fish, so a setup like this is ideal for handling a good-sized bait without wearing you out.

SEASONAL OPPORTUNITIES

Harness-style swimbaits aren’t limited to a single season. Bertrand has this lure style at the ready in his boat from February through May, taking advantage of various fishing opportunities throughout the year. Whether fishing along a bluff, a flat, a pocket, or a point, this versatile swimbait is a reliable choice.

BOAT SETUP