It’s the heat of the day. You’ve been flipping a jig since the sun crested the trees. Sweat and sunscreen sting your eyes, and your sweaty hands struggle to grip the rod. To make matters worse, you’re having a hard time catching a keeper. Every angler has been in this position. Before you crank the outboard and head for home, you may want to consider some interesting finesse techniques that can quickly fill the livewell with some “big ol’ pigs.”
Strike King pro Shaw Grigsby is one of the best in the world when it comes to finesse fishing for finicky summertime bass. He recently shared his insight into his favorite finesse techniques and equipment.
When the water temperatures begin to rise, a bass’s metabolism slows down dramatically. As a result, they are less apt to chase prey. When faced with sluggish, suspended bass, he swears by his trusted drop shot rig.
“The drop shot is just a phenomenal open water finesse lure that is absolutely perfect in clear water situations,” Grigsby said. “When you get it down to the fish with 8-pound line, it has such a beautiful, natural presentation. It really takes the fish off their game. They are complete suckers for it!”
While many anglers believe the drop shot to be a technique meant strictly for bottom contact, it can be quite effective on suspended bass as well. To target these fish, Grigsby locates them on his Lowrance and puts the drop shot right on their nose.
“If I see fish suspended 30 feet down over a 40-foot bottom, I’ll drop the bait down to them and just hold it in the strike zone,” he said. “Several guys do a lot of wiggling and jiggling, but I just hold it still and let the bait work naturally. This drives the bass nuts.”
In summertime situations when target fishing is necessary, a shaky head is hard to beat. Whether you’re targeting largemouth, smallies or spots, a shaky head will probably catch it.
“I love to fish shaky heads when I’m in a lake with good largemouth,” Grigsby said. “I’ll typically run up the reservoir where the river starts and fish the shaky head around rocks and trees. It is an awesome target finesse bait. When they’re really eating, I’ll use a 6.5-inch KVD Perfect Plastic Finesse Worm. If the fishing is tough, I love throwing the little 5-inch version. “
The importance of weight selection should never be overlooked. For extreme depths exceeding 20-feet, a 3/8-ounce shaky head is ideal. For shallow to mid-depth water, most professionals prefer a 3/16-ounce or a 1/4-ounce weight.
“In deeper water, I like to drag the shaky head a lot,” said Grigsby. “If I’m fishing a lake with a lot of spots and smallies, hopping the bait can really trigger some vicious strikes. Something about that erratic movement drives them crazy.”
Fishing a tube can be a hugely effective finesse tactic in dirty or stained water. The versatility of the tube is unmatched, giving it a function for virtually every situation. Whether you prefer flipping in thick cover or open-water casting with an exposed hook — the possibilities are endless.
“The TK190 Tournament Tube hooks from Lazer Trokar are the best tube hooks I’ve ever used,” Grigsby said. “It makes a really awesome presentation and fits in the tube perfectly. The tube sits straight on the hook every time.”
Presentation is essential when fishing a tube for summertime bass. These baits were developed to emulate dying shad, which is why an erratic, slow fall is so imperative. A slow drag on the bottom can be effective but a lift and drop is often more effective with suspended fish or fish riding high off the bottom in more clear water. Letting the tube drop really shows off it’s natural ability to fool bass as an injured prey.
While many tournament fishermen are adamant against using spinning gear, it cannot and should not be avoided when targeting deep-water summer bass. A parabolic bend and good backbone are the two most important aspects to consider when choosing the proper rod. The parabolic bend allows the entire rod to load up, while a great backbone aids in landing big fish.
“When finesse fishing, I’ll almost always use spinning gear,” said Grigsby. “I designed a perfect finesse rod for Quantum called the Tour Shaw Grigsby. It’s a 6-foot, 10-inch spinning rod with a parabolic bend that has a ton of different applications.”
While casting gear has its place when it comes to football jigs and various finesse jigs, spinning tackle is impossible to beat for light line applications. The free flow of line, easy casting, and advanced line-management systems are perfect for subtle bait presentations.
Summertime finesse fishing is heavily dependent on your ability to effectively operate your electronics. When the fish go deep, it is important to have the ability to see them and study their movements.
“Every tournament I fish this time of year, I fish with my eyes glued to my Lowrance HDS-10 Gen2,” said Grigsby. “When you’re idling away from the boat ramp, study your graph and find out what depth the bait fish are relating to. I really like to find areas where the depth of the bait coincides with the depth of the bottom. This makes it much easier to locate and target feeding bass.”
To get the most out of your graph when targeting deep summertime bass, scroll speed and ping speed are critical. When fishing vertically, increase your ping speed to its maximum setting and adjust the scroll speed to 2x or 3x. In most situations, you can watch the fish eat your bait.
“I fished a PAA event on Table Rock two years ago, and I threw the tournament away because I literally couldn’t stop fishing on my Lowrance,” Grigsby said. “I was having too much fun! It’s addicting to watch the fish eat your bait. It’s just like a video game!”
Hot weather fishing can be arduous, but a positive attitude and patience can make a world of difference. It is important to realize that you may not be ripping lips all day long. Begin the day looking for just four or five good schools of fish. When you find these schools and target them with finesse baits, hot and heavy action is very likely to follow, so stay positive.
“I love adverse conditions because it takes half of the field out from the start,” said Grigsby. “For instance, Oneida this August is going to be smokin’ hot and guys will struggle. It breaks their concentration. If you go into a tough summer tournament with a great attitude, you will be light years ahead of the competition.”
Summertime finesse fishing is not for the weak-hearted. Between the sweat, pleasure boaters and oftentimes sluggish bass, it can take a great deal of trial and error to master. With the right baits, proper equipment and a good attitude, you may be surprised at the number of big bass you can put in the boat this summer.