Fishing with Kenny: The Right Size, and When
article by Kenny Covington
Once while listening to professional fisherman Dion Hibdon talk about jig fishing, he said something that I found interesting. “I rarely use a jig/trailer combination that is bigger than what fits in the palm of my hand,” he said. “Most of the time if you check a bass’ stomach contents when they are feeding on crawfish, you will find that rarely are the crawfish over three inches in length. That’s why my jigs are, 90% of the time, small and compact.” I also noticed he never said a word about the color of his lure.
The most common fishing question asked is, “What color were you using when you caught so and so……?” While this is important, it shouldn’t be the only question to consider. Choosing the right size lure can be just as important. Since most fishermen are oriented to visuals, lure color becomes the thing they consider most when contemplating success on the water. But what about the lure size? I have seen times where one size lure would out produce another size lure of the same color. But why? It opens up more questions as well as observations when choosing what size lures to use on a given day.
Here are some things to consider when choosing the size of your lure. Notice these are similar to the same things considered when selecting a particular color. Colors are usually chosen more by one’s confidence than for tactical purposes. That being said, remember, in bass fishing nothing is set in stone, these are simply guidelines to help take some of the guess work out of a day on the water.
What time of year is it?
Of all the scenarios, this is probably the most important. In winter time, larger baits tend to catch bigger bass, so I would probably choose bulkier lures that allow for a slow moving presentation. In the summer, lean towards larger soft plastics and moving lures, because the bass are recovering from the spawn and are usually quite hungry. In early fall, choose smaller crankbaits, spinnerbaits and topwaters, because the smaller shad are a more abundant food source.
The two seasons that are the most complex are spring and winter. In both situations there are times when the fish prefer smaller lures over larger ones and vice versa. Springtime has pre-spawn, spawn and post spawn, and all three stages make lure choices and presentations too numerous to name. In winter, we’re just as likely to have 70 degree days as we are to have extremely cold weather. This spectrum of temperatures can lead to heavily feeding fish one week to winter dormant fish the next. From a fast moving crankbait one week to a small slowly crawled jig the next, when it comes to a specific lure size, even the seasons don’t know for sure.
What is the water clarity and weather conditions?
As a rule, in clear water use smaller lures, in darker or stained water go with bigger bulkier baits. That isn’t to say you won’t be successful on a clear water lake like Caney throwing a ¾ ounce spinnerbait or using a small ¼ ounce jig on the Ouachita River, when the water is muddy.
Cloudy or rainy weather on any clear body of water, tend to make the fish more aggressive, making them more apt to strike a larger profiled lure. On bright calm days, a larger lure doesn’t look very natural, and because it stands out unnaturally, often gets ignored. Smaller profile lures are better choices, in this case.
In muddy water situations, big spinnerbaits, crankbaits and jigs are effective, because the fish can find them much easier. Once you pattern where the fish are then you can tweak your lure sizes to catch bigger fish.
What size fish does a particular lake produce?
Lakes with an abundance of big fish can be fished effectively with larger lures. Not to say big fish can’t be caught on smaller offerings because they can, but big bass become smarter and lazier as they become larger. Instead of choosing smaller offerings and eating several times a day, a big fish, by having patience and being picky, may eat only once a day to conserve their energy. They don’t get big without being smart.
What are the popular lures and colors for this particular lake?
If the tackle store owner tells you the hot lure of the week is a watermelon/red baby brush hog, don’t be afraid to throw the regular sized Brushhog in Watermelon/red instead. Or maybe you might throw a watermelon red Sweet Beaver or Senko. Experiment with lure sizes, before you start changing lure colors. You may catch fish other fishermen are overlooking, simply because they didn’t make a size adjustment. If you are told the only lure they would hit is a 200 Series Bandit, try a smaller 100 series or a larger 300 series version.
What are the characteristics of the lake itself?
If the lake doesn’t have an abundance of cover, smaller offerings tend to work best. Due to a lack of cover to help with the natural maturing process of the fry, most of the baitfish and other fish will not grow as large and the overall size of the fish will be smaller. If a lake has an overabundance of grass, trees, docks and other types of cover, the fish and the things they feed on, tend to grow larger, so using bigger lures is a good choice.
Lures are tools, and just as one type of screwdriver won’t fix every problem you encounter, the same can be said about fishing lures. There are certain colors that are tried and true in our area, but don’t be afraid to experiment with lure sizes. It can make all the difference in the world.
Please be careful in the outdoors and on the water. Catch one for me, and I will see you next month!