An Expert Guide on Power Fishing with Reaction Baits

Published on 05/15/2023 · 8 min readConventional Fishing Expert Danny Palmquist explains the best types of lures to power fish with to help get you more success out on the water.
Danny Palmquist, Fishing Expert
By Fishing Expert Danny Palmquist

Photo by Anna Marie

There is room for everyone in the world of fishing. Some anglers are content casting out a float rig before sitting back and watching a bobber for a bite. Others prefer heading to tranquil streams and catching trout on a rooster tail spinner using ultralight gear. While those are both valid ways to catch fish, some fishermen need to cover water quickly in order to keep them engaged while out on the water. For many anglers, pulling big bass out of the slop or ripping a bladed jig out of the weeds will allow them to focus and keep their heads in the game. For those that need to keep moving and cover water quickly, I bring you: power fishing.

Generally speaking, power fishing can be broken up into two different categories: flipping and pitching in heavy cover, and fishing with reaction baits. For the purpose of this article, I will focus on using reaction baits. Those interested in learning about fishing in heavy cover might want to check out this article for more information on that topic.

Some types of lures are designed to imitate the forage on a body of water that bass are keyed in on. Soft plastic worms, for instance, mimic worms that are washed into the water from trees and the bank by the rain. Typically, these lures are fished slowly to encourage fish to investigate before deciding to bite. Reaction baits, on the other hand, are designed to trigger instinctive reactions from fish that might not be actively feeding.

In this guide, I am going to go over five essential power fishing tactics that every angler needs to have in their bass fishing repertoire.

Gear Overview

Since your goals will be to cover water quickly and use heavier lures, fishing with reaction baits will require the use of baitcasting gear. A baitcaster will handle heavy-diameter line better than spinning gear, and will generally have a higher gear ratio, which will allow you to use your time more efficiently.

A rod that is between 7’ and 7’3” will allow you to make accurate casts without sacrificing distance. A rod with a moderate-fast action will be the most universal, but some more technique-specific setups would do best when fished on a rod with a slower action. The Dobyn’s Sierra 734c is a great, all-purpose rod for power fishing, as is the Daiwa Rebellion Casting Rod.

As far as reels are concerned, those with a gear ratio between 6:1:1 and 7:1:1 are the sweet spot. These allow anglers to cover water quickly, but prevent them from speeding up so much that fish can’t quite get the bait in their mouths. The Daiwa Tatula 150 or Shimano SLX are excellent for power-fishing techniques.

Spinnerbaits

Spinnerbaits are highly effective bass fishing lures that have passed the test of time. They are relatively weedless and very versatile. A spinnerbait features a single hook attached to a jighead with thin metal blades suspended above it. As the lure is retrieved through the water, the blades spin, creating a lot of flash and thump that attract fish from a distance.

One of the great things about a spinnerbait is that they are effective on pretty much any setup anglers might use. You can get away with using a rod with a faster action than many other reaction-style techniques, but a rod with a moderate-fast action will allow anglers to make the most of their time on the water.

As soon as the temperature begins to warm up in the spring, a slowly retrieved spinnerbait will call to pre-spawn bass that are just waking up and starting to feed. Another great time to use these versatile lures is in the fall transition. During this time, it is imperative that anglers cover water quickly, and spinnerbaits are one of the most effective ways to catch fish during the season.

Bladed Jigs

Also known as a Chatterbait, the bladed jig is a relatively new style of lure that has taken the bass fishing industry by storm. A bladed jig is essentially a swim jig that uses a metal blade attached to the line tie, which causes it to vibrate back and forth—creating a lot of noise under the surface of the water. Like a spinnerbait, the blade on a Chatterbait creates some flash as it’s retrieved through the water. However, the action is more aggressive, which makes this lure perfect for muddy water with near-zero visibility.

Since the blade on a vibrating jig can act as a lever, attempting to set the hook too soon can pry open the lips of fish and lead to a low hook-up ratio. With a spinnerbait, you can get away with using a rod with a faster action, but a bladed jig really requires a rod with a more moderate action. The Temple Fork Outfitters Tactical Bass Glass Casting Rod is a great choice for bladed jigs, as is Cashion’s ICON Chatterbait Casting Rod.

One of the best times to fish a bladed jig is during the prespawn season. Casting them out deep and slowly retrieving them around underwater structures is one of the best ways to catch prespawn bass. In the summer, when fish are up shallow, it’s easy to get hung up in the weeds or in wood. Using a trailer with a flat bottom, like a beaver-style bait, allows your lure to stay upright when coming over hard structures. This will help prevent snags and ultimately save you some money.

Alabama Rigs

The Alabama rig is another technique that is relatively new to the realm of bass fishing. Also known as an umbrella rig, the Alabama rig is designed to imitate a school of baitfish. Using a wire form that resembles an umbrella, the Alabama rig employs multiple swimbaits attached to the ends of the wires. Different states have different regulations for how many hooks can be used on an umbrella rig, so check your local regulations before trying out this technique.

Since Alabama rigs are large and usually weigh around 2oz, they need to be fished on a more specialized rod. While a heavy-powered flipping rod will work to get you started, a rod with a more moderate action will be needed to make the most of this dynamic technique. The Daiwa DX Swimbait Rod paired with the 13 Fishing Concept A3 would make an excellent combo for fishing an Alabama rig.

Since A-rigs are so large, they are not ideal for fishing around a lot of weeds. They excel at fishing pre-spawn, during the fall transition, or in highland reservoirs where the vegetation will be more minimal. On a moderate rate of retrieval, fishing an Alabama rig deep and around structure will be one of the most productive ways to use this technique. Making long-distance casts will attract followers, and adding an occasional pop with your rod tip will trigger aggressive reaction strikes from unsuspecting fish.

Buzzbaits

In the summer, when fish are up shallow, buzzbaits are one of the most productive lures for catching aggressive bass. A buzzbait is built around a light wire form with a blade suspended above a jig head. On a fast retrieve, the blade of a buzzbait churns the surface of the water, creating a commotion that triggers reaction strikes from nearby fish.

Since buzzbaits don’t float, a reel with a high gear ratio will allow you to keep the lure in the top of the water column. Personally, I find that a reel with a gear ratio of 7:5:1 is perfect, but you can also use a reel that’s a little bit faster. Also, since buzzbaits aren’t very aerodynamic, they can be tricky to cast, especially for beginners. A reel with a finely tuned braking system will allow anglers to improve their casting distance and accuracy with these cumbersome lures.

In prefrontal conditions, a buzzbait is my go-to fishing lure. Fishing them parallel to the bank is a great place to start. Bass will tend to stage themselves under overhanging trees in anticipation of worms and other insects being washed down with the rainwater. So fishing a buzzbait in these areas is another productive method. I almost always use a toad-style trailer with this technique, but a swimbait or creature will also work in some situations.

Wake Baits

SPRO Rat Wakebait

Usually resembling a rat, a wake bait floats on the surface of the water and swims back and forth as it is retrieved in shallow water around lots of cover. A wakebait uses a plastic bill in the front which creates the movement of the lure, and the joint creates a knocking sound as the sections bump against each other and call out to bass.

Just like the A-rig, a wakebait will be the most effective when fished on a dedicated swimbait setup. A rod with a moderate action will keep fish pinned on the treble hooks that are standard on most wakes. A 200–300-size reel will have plenty of line capacity for making long casts with a large-diameter line.

Wake baits excel in the warmer months of the year when fish are up shallow. Flooded conditions are ideal for fishing with rat lures. Key areas to target are culverts, spillways, and other areas where terrestrial critters might end up in the water.

I find that I have the most success when fishing wakes in the early mornings and at dusk. Fishing them tight to the bank where rats would likely be entering the water is a highly productive way to catch bass on a wake.

Final Thoughts

When you need to cover a lot of water quickly, reaction baits are a must-use technique all anglers should have at the ready. While there is a time and place for slowly dragging a jig or a worm along the bottom, I prefer to put my time in with lures that displace a lot of water and trigger aggressive reaction strikes.

Looking for more fishing related content? Check out the Expert Journal here on Curated for more articles!

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