A buzz on the surface
  |  First Published: April 2008

No doubt there are a lot of frustrated anglers out there trying to get as much fishing in as they can before the weather gets much cooler and other pursuits take their interest.

I love fishing at this time of year. The weather is much more comfortable and the fishing is often superb. Hopefully the weather will allow us to get out there and enjoy our fishing.

The latest craze to overcome me has led to some of the most fantastic bass surface action I have had in many years.

On a recent trip my brother-in-law, Rod Cumming, triggered my interest when he pulled out a buzzbait he bought when he was in the US. Despite our joking about his selection, he tied it on and on the first cast caught a bass. A little while later he caught a 395mm fork-length bass and then we weren’t laughing any more.

Buzzbaits feature a roughly U-shaped wire frame with a propeller blade on one shaft and a hook and skirt at the end of the other.

I find they work best with a spinning reel with a gear ratio of 6:1 or better and a rod around 7’ to give long casts and allow you to work the buzzbait pretty fast.

If you think a bass wouldn’t be bothered chasing them, think again. Fish will cover some amazing ground to smash a buzzbait and when they hit it, they do it much harder than any other surface lure I have tried.

Buzzers are a lot more snagproof than anything else I’ve fished with. You can work them through heavy weed and snags and bump them into timber and rarely snag up.

Cast them along weed beds and them through the heaviest cover and you’re bound to attract attention.

As well as weed and timber, cast into eddies and at any floating surface froth and associated rubbish. Fish will often be found under these areas because small baitfish and prawns often feed on the small food items that take up sanctuary under the debris.

Colour doesn’t seem to make a great deal of difference, it’s the commotion and surface splash that attracts the bass.

In clear water, keep the speed of the retrieve up but in dirty water use larger blades and slow the retrieve down a touch. Just as with spinnerbaits, I’ve added a stinger hook to most of my buzzbaits.

For the most part, bass smack a buzzbait with much force but there are times when a straight retrieve is not always successful. When the fish are a little timid and not hitting with careless abandon, sometimes pausing the buzzbait slightly as the bass approaches will turn a timid bass into hook-up.

Another technique is to stop the retrieve altogether and let the lure fall.

Which ever way you use a buzzbait, it’s an exciting way to fish for bass.


April and spinnerbaits seem to go hand in hand as bass feed up to prepare for breeding.

In clear water, smaller spinnerbaits with smaller blades and natural colours are the preferred choice. To stop the fish getting a good look at the spinnerbait, I use a quicker presentation.

Coloured water calls for spinnerbaits that will draw the bass in with larger, preferably Colorado, blades with brighter or darker skirts. Slow down the presentation and allow the skirt and the pulse of the blades to help the bass locate the lure. Work them through weed and reeds, and don’t be afraid to bounce off timber and rocks.

This time of year, I find greatest success fishing spinnerbaits deeper than in summer. My best all-round colour is a black and red skirt with silver and gold blades.


‘Walking the dog’ is a top technique to use with thin surface lures around weed beds and foamy eddies.

These lures require a specific working of the rod tip and reel cranking technique. I prefer a threadline reel and with each upward working of the rod tip, I allow slack line between the rod tip and the lure. When you get the timing right, your lure will walk nicely.

The clearer water, the more briskly you should work the lure although with clear lures it doesn’t matter so much. In dirtier water, give the fish a better chance of locating a slowly-worked lure.

I use nylon mono leaders because they float, unlike fluorocarbon, which will adversely affect the action of your lure.


A lot of overseas lures, especially from the US, come with thick-gauge hooks and oversized split rings. For lure meant for largemouth bass, the hooks are built for those fish and not for Australian bass.

Thicker hooks can adversely affect your hook-up rate so it might be worthwhile changing these hooks for lighter-gauge ones.

If you’ve found a lure you think will be ideal for your fishing, don’t settle for the hooks and split rings that come with it.

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