Blade Baits for cold water bass

Blade Baits for cold water bass

Mar 17, 2012

Cut bass down to size with blade baits

by Mike Pehanich

Small waters, big waters…blade baits catch bass!

In mid-October of the 2010 season, I learned just how deadly blade baits can be.

I had hooked up with Great Lakes bass guru Joe Balog and Scott Dobson on Lake St. Clair. Days before, Dobson had set an unofficial Lake St. Clair tournament record at the Monsterquest event by weighing in five smallmouth bass totaling 29.68 pounds.

He had taken those fish on a blade bait, the old “Silver Buddy.”

Scott started our morning as if he were warming up to defend his Monsterquest title. He bagged several four-pound plus fish on the blade while Joe and I, in a neighboring boat, still were pulling gear from the rod locker.

Great Lakes bass expert Joe Balog shows off a big smallmouth taken on his handmade blade bait.

Now the Silver Buddy is a lure that seems to sit in everyone’s tackle box but, for most anglers, catches a lot more dust than it does fish. If you are not familiar with it, the lure is a thin, vaguely minnow-shaped piece of metal that is belly-weighted with lead.

Many call the Silver Buddy the pioneer in the blade bait category, but, by my recollection and research, the Heddon Sonar preceded it by well over a decade.

Most regard the blade as a niche bait that will take a nice mix of species but under a very narrow set of conditions – such as when fish are tightly schooled during the cold water periods of spring, fall or winter.

What a fallacy!

Dobson and Balog have demonstrated unequivocally that blade baits are deadlier and far more versatile than I had ever imagined. Just today, Dobson reported catching literally hundreds of bass in a three-day period on Lake St. Clair and lots of largemouth on small lakes near his home. Personally, I don’t believe I will be venturing on many waters between October and April without having one tied on at least one rod!

Learn how to fish blade baits from Scott Dobson. Watch this exclusive SWF video!

Déjà vu – only better!

In late October, I returned to fish with the two St. Clair sages. It had been almost exactly a year since our last meeting. In-Fisherman writer Cory Schmidt had joined me to capture some good underwater video footage for our Bass Live! project, and, along the way, to pick up some serious instruction in blade bait technique.

To make a long and action-packed story short, the blade bait fishing was phenomenal! We caught smallmouth in abundance with fish topping five pounds in the mix and many, many in the three- and four-pound class.

Most anglers miss the blade bait’s true potential by working the bait with big rips. Cast it out and work it in slower, short vibrating pulls.

Perhaps the biggest surprise, however, was that the venerable Silver Buddy wasn’t n the brightest blade in the sheath that day.

Don’t get me wrong. Dobson’s Silver Buddy was hugely productive, as was the Buckeye Jiggin’ Blade I started out with and Joe Balog’s handmade blade. But the lure that really jarred us with its performance was the Sebile Vibrato, a blade with even more vibration than others in the category and with a slightly different look and finish as well.

The Vibrato probably produced more fish per cast than any other blade we threw.

Coincidentally, Dobson and I started fishing it at about the same time from different boats, and each of us enjoyed almost immediate success. Scott, in fact, dialed in four smallmouth on his first four casts with the Vibrato — an impressive debut, indeed!

Dobson also has fared well with the Damiki Vault, which may be the most handsome member of the blade clan.

Now you may be wondering if blades are simply big water tools, effective only on the “big ponds,” those clear, deep waters like the Great Lakes.

Scott Dobson will cure you quickly of that notion. He finds it almost equally deadly on the largemouth bass in the small waters and natural lakes near his home in eastern Michigan. A text from Scott today informs me his six-year old son caught a 5.5- pound largemouth last week on a blade fished on a small water near their home.

Technique: Here’s the catch

Now there’s a catch to blade bait fishing. If you are simply ripping blades vertically, you aren’t experiencing them at their bass-catching best.

Cast your blade, and let it sink to the bottom. Then start working it slowly with short pulls rather than big rips. Make sure you feel the blade vibrate. Scott Dobson’s simple advice is: “Less is best!” (Here’s a hint. Try fishing your blade bait like a worm.)

Again, don’t work the blade too vigorously or too fast.  We caught a number of bass that picked up a blade right off the bottom during an extended pause!

Look for future features and video on blade bait fishing in Mike Pehanich’s Small Waters Fishing as well.

In the meantime, next time you venture out for bass when the water temperature is 55 degrees or below, be sure to have a blade tied to at least one rod!

As for me, I’ll be seeing whether my blade baits cut small waters bass down to size as well as they did those big bronze bass of Lake St. Clair this season!

For more detail on blade bait fishing, check out  the accompanying videos and my blade bait feature in the September 2011 issue of  Bass Times magazine. – MP

One comment

  1. Close to Chicago-Try Wolf Lake on the Illinois Indiana border. Good bass finihsg there.Don’t mind a 1 hr drive-Try Shabbona Lake in Shabbona IL. By far one of the best Bass fisheries in Northern IL.Good Luck.

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