Stick Time

By Dave Duwe - May 1, 2009
Late spring and Early Summer is the best time to try Stick baits for Largemouth Bass. How can something that has no action catch fish? These round plastic baits are tapered like a straight banana. I'm talking about Senkos, Yum Dingers, or All- Terrain Sticks. There's just not a lot to them but, to fish, they seem to hold some appeal.

Everything about fishing the bait is simple. What could be easier than spinner baits; cast the bait out and reel it in. The stick bait is even easier; cast it out and do basically nothing, let it sink, work it in a foot or so, let it sink and so on. Lesser amounts of action equal greater numbers of strikes. For me, the initial fall of the lure is the best time for the strike. The key to the presentation is SLOW; if you retrieve too fast you won't get as many hits.

The strike is a critical stage of the game. Unlike a plastic worm, where the hook set is immediate, the stick bait hook set is a pause for a short period of time to let the fish eat it. The fish will not let go! Largemouth bass will pick up the lure and run with it and start to eat it; you must wait and watch your line. By waiting you are assured that the fish has the bait well, by waiting that short period of time your hook ups will increase by 80-90%.

Location is important when fishing sticks, I prefer the Largemouth bass pre-spawn haunts; shallow weedy bays in close proximity to the hard sand bottom where they will spawn. I work a depth range of 1-5 ft of water. I always prefer to fish the sticks weightless. Without any extra weight, the bait fishes with ease in the heaviest weed choked parts of the lake. I prefer rigging the bait Texas rigged that makes the lure completely weedless. There is some success fishing it Wacky style, however with the weed problems, I don't see any need to fish that way. For the Wacky style, you hook the stick in the middle of the body straight through. The hook and the bait will look like an upside down Y.

Texas rigging the stick is exactly like a plastic worm, you take the tip of the bait and penetrate the hook ½ inch down, twist the hook underneath and poke the hook back into the body to make it weedless.

The most critical part of fishing a stick is the rod/reel and line. The only effective way to fish a stick is on Fireline or Spiderwire. I will use 20 lb or 30 lb test. The superlines create the ultimate feel and sensitivity. The no stretch aspect also aids in a solid hook set. The hook I tie on with a Palomar knot is a # 3 wide gap worm hook. I prefer to use Owner or Gamakatsu hooks, both are ultra sharp and provide a great hook-up percentages. By using a Palomar knot, the line never slips, like other knots sometimes do. I use only spinning tackle when fishing a stick but it has to be heavy action, with the reel having a large capacity. On the reel it is important to "back" your superline with monofilament. As a rule, I will fill ¼ of the spool with monofilament then fill the rest with my 20lb or 30lb Fireline or Spiderwire. If you don't back the superlines they will spin around the reel making it impossible to set the hook.

The sticks come in a myriad of colors and it does matter which one you choose. Some days, the green pumpkin is the only choice but other days the baby bass will only work. You need to experiment and determine the favorite color on the lake you are fishing.

The only part of stick fishing that can be difficult, is out of the fisherman's control. That is the wind. With a lot of wind the lure will get blown around not letting it sink properly. The slow lure fall is what tempts the Largemouth bass into biting. Excessive wind will also take the "feel" out of the anglers' hands. With that in mind, I will almost always fish the stick in the early morning or late afternoon when the winds tend to be lessened.

This method of fishing has yielded some of my best largemouth bass catches. This spring give a "do nothing" bait a try. You will be hooked on the ease and effectiveness of the presentation.

Author Dave Duwe
Dave Duwe
Full-time guide Dave Duwe owns and operates Dave Duwe's Guide Service, featuring the lakes of Walworth County, WI. Dave has been guiding for over 20 years and is one of Southeastern Wisconsin's best multi-species anglers. Dave is an accomplished outdoor writer and seminar speaker. He is a member of the Great Lakes Outdoor Writers Association and Walworth County Visitor Bureau. Sponsors include: Lund Boats(Jerry's Sport Service Inc.), Mercury Marine, Arkie Jigs, and Vexilar Marine Electronics, a pro-staff member of Minn-Kota trolling motors,Hummingbird graphs, Cannon downriggers, Lindy, Pure Fishing and All Terrain Tackle. For more information, please check out Dave's website www.fishlakegeneva.com .