For the larger prop baits, I like 40-pound Sufix 832 Braid and a fairly large rod with a high-speed reel. I personally use a 7-foot, 6- or 8-inch medium heavy rod. It allows for some real bomb casts and also makes for an easy boat flip when the fish nears the boat. Add to that a high-speed Lew’s Super Duty Speed Spool and you have a great combination capable of making long casts, burning the bait back between casts and planing big ones off and horsing them in when you do get a bite.
I’ve found with this style of fishing and this exact setup, as long as the fish isn’t hair-lipped which you can typically visually see, it’s best just to plane them off and haul them in versus “playing” a fish like you might with lighter line and a different bait.
Take a popper, for instance. Also a great bait for this style of fishing but one I employ more when I know exactly where a bream bed is and I’m not in search mode with a big prop bait.
For a popper like this, I’ll use a 7-foot medium heavy rod with a 7:1 Lew’s LFS Speed Spool and 30-pound braid. The fight is totally different with this setup. If I were to crank down on the drag and rush the fish in with a popper, I run the risk of the braided line bending the small treble hooks. Instead, I’ll back off the drag a bit and play the fish a little more as I ease them to the boat.
It’s hot out there… I get it. But it’s this time of summer that you’ll experience some of the most memorable fish catches of the entire year if you stick it out. I will even lay off of fishing a bit just prior to this time of year myself to kind of prevent burnout before the best bite can get here. I’ll take a few weeks off in preparation for what’s to come and then hit the water fired up with full expectation of whacking a shallow sack of big ones.
Put a bait in your hand with which you can bomb cast, put the trolling motor on high and hug the bank. Cover water and don’t let your guard down. Make accurate and consistent casts so when the opportunity does arise and you cross paths with a wolfpack of bass, you’ll never skip a beat and lay the bait right where it needs to be. Then… simply, enjoy.
There’s nothing like watching a wad of big ones fight over a topwater.