Wouldn’t you kill to know Al Lindner’s best fishing secrets? We’ll spare you the effort. We recruited Al to spill the beans and share his top five baits for big bass. The legend explains what, where, when and why.
1. Terminator Pro’s Top Secret Jig & Berkley PowerBait Chigger Craw (All Season)
Bass love a crayfish imitation all year long, and nothing imitates a scooting crayfish like a jig & softbait combo. The flexible rubber legs wave seductively even at rest, creating the illusion of life. Berkley’s PowerBait Chigger Craw has two large craws to imitate the defensive posture of a crawfish at rest. And when you swim the jig, or quickly hop it a few times, the high-action claws flap just like an escaping crayfish to trigger aggressive strikes.
I like the ¼-ounce version up shallow in spring, switching to the heavier jig to penetrate weeds as they bloom in summer. Darker, subtler patterns tend to predominate. I fish them on a 7-foot Shimano Crucial CRC70MH casting rod, teamed with a Shimano Calais CL200DC and 14- to 20-pound Test Trilene XT or 100% Fluorocarbon.
2. 10-inch Berkley PowerBait Power Worm, Texas-Rigged (Summer)
Big bass often bury in heavy cover during summer, ranging from lily pads to wild rice and milfoil to coontail. In the tough stuff, lures need to be big and bulky to draw attention. A big lure is not only easier to see; fish also feel and hear it coming through the jungle.
I like a 10-inch Power Worm, Texas-Rigged with a ½- to 1-ounce bullet sinker and 5/0 Mega-Bite worm hook. I’ll pitch it into pockets and holes in weeds, slither it across the top of algae mats, and flip it into shoreline laydowns. It’s weedless and snagless enough to fish just about every cover condition.
The 10-inch Power Worm is a great throwback bait, meaning that when I get a boil or a miss on a faster-moving bait like a spoon or a frog, I switch rods and immediately fire the big worm right back into the same spot. Many times, a big bass nails it before it even hits bottom.
Because this is a bulky lure, and you need to drive a large hook through the worm body on the hookset, you need relatively heavy gear. I like a 7’ 2” Shimano Cumara CUC72MH, medium-heavy power, teamed with a Shimano Calais CL200A low-profile baitcasting reel, and at least 20-pound-test Trilene XT, 100% Fluorocarbon, or SpiderWire Stealth Camo. It lets me jerk a big bass up and out before it can bury in its surroundings.
The 10-inch Power Worm is a big bait with big-fish appeal, yet relatively few anglers throw it. Frankly, it intimidates folks who think it’s too large for the fish in their lake. You still catch plenty of midsize fish on it, and when it comes to triggering big bass into biting, it’s tough to beat.
3. Terminator Buzzbait (Summer & Fall)
Surface baits are big-fish baits, plain and simple. There’s just something about them that brings out the beast in the biggest bass.
When I need to cover water quickly to locate bass and trigger strikes, it’s hard to beat a buzzbait that spits and gurgles and dashes across the surface. Buzzbaits like the Terminator 3/8-ounce T-1 Series and ½-ounce Tandem Buzz are easy to fish. Heave them out on a long cast, hold your rod tip at about 2:00, and reel at just the right speed to keep the blade or blades gurgling. Occasionally, you can momentarily stop the lure before jerking it back into action and resuming the fast pace, just as long as it doesn’t sink below the surface. It needs to ride high to be effective.
I use a 7-foot Crucial CRC70MH casting rod for long casts, good hooksets and fish-fighting performance with about 14- to 17-pound Test Trilene XT. It teams nicely with a 7.0-to-1 retrieve ratio Shimano Calais CL200DC for fast line pickup.
Explosive strikes are the norm, but don’t jump the gun. Try not to set the hook until you actually feel the fish, or you risk jerking it away from them. If swirls, misses and short strikes are still a problem, slip a trailer hook over the main hook, point up, to nail nippers. A great search tool with big fish written all over it.
4. Rapala DT-16 Deep-Diving Crankbait (Summer)
In summer and early fall, I like to run a deep-diving crankbait across the tops of rocky points, and parallel to deep outside weedlines. In both cases, I make a long cast, crank the bait down until it begins scratching bottom, and then back off, barely crawling it. I like to tick the tops of the highest rocks, but don’t need to plow bottom. Along weededges, I occasionally brush the fringe without getting too deeply into the growth and snagging.
Rapala’s DT 16 is a great bait for these approaches, quickly diving to the 16-foot target range and staying there throughout the retrieve. I try a range of color patterns from crayfish to baitfish imitators, and use whatever works best.
The vibrating lure pushes water, scrapes and crawls over its surroundings, and announces its arrival even before it comes within range. Give it the occasional pump-and-pause to help trigger strikes.
When fishing cranks in fairly open water, the typical strategy is to use a fairly soft rod to help absorb headshakes and to prevent leaping fish from throwing the lure. A 7-foot, medium-power Shimano Crucial CRCX70M is a good example. Yet when fishing weeds,
I need a stiffer rod like the stiffer medium-heavy power to help rip the lure across the weedtops. I spool 10- to 14-pound Trilene 100% Fluorocarbon on a 5.0-to-1 retrieve ratio Shimano Calcutta TE. Heavier line decreases lure depth.
5. Football Jig & Trailer (All Season)
Big bass love crayfish imitations, and nothing matches the scrambling, scratching, scooting action of a crayfish better than a football head jig dressed with a trailer. Especially around rocks, where a slow dragging retrieve grabs, releases, deflects and bounces the jig with lifelike realism.
The secret to this motion lies in the combination of a heavy, wide-profile jighead coupled with a crayfish-imitating softbait. I like Terminator’s ½- and ¾-ounce Football Jigs, dressed with a PowerBait 3” Chunky Trailer that’s not too bulky to fish down deep.
I can fish this combo anywhere from the shallows, down to 20-foot rocky points, using a slow dragging, pausing, crawling retrieve. A 7’ 0” Shimano CRC70MH casting rod, low-profile Curado reel and 12- to 17-pound-test Trilene 100% Fluorocarbon is ideal. The dense fluorocarbon line helps sink my lure and retain good feel in deep water.