Its Buzzbait TimeBy Craig Ritchie - June 15, 2022
There's a lot to like about fishing with buzzbaits - they're super easy to cast, they're super easy to fish, and the hits are usually nothing short of explosive. Early summer is prime time for throwing buzzbaits, with the fish spread out in shallow water and the weed growth still low enough that you're not constantly getting caught up.
I like to approach weed flats slowly and quietly, killing the main motor when I'm still a good distance off and fishing my way toward the weeds, fan-casting ahead of the boat as I slowly putt along with the electric motor. Smallmouth bass tend to sit off the weeds rather than in them, and I don't want to blow my chances on these fish by roaring right up to the edge of the vegetation.
Pike and muskie also tend to hang out off the weeds rather than in them, so there's even more reason to take your time and fish your way into the shallows.
Once you arrive at the weed flats per se, you just continue fan casting and shifting along with the electric motor on low speed. In the shallow water and sparser weed growth largemouth are liable to be anywhere, so cover water and keep your bait wet.
Buzzbait fishing is casting rod territory, and I prefer longer, moderately fast-action rods of around 7 feet 6 inches in length. I find the extra length helps keep the buzzbait up on top at even slow retrieve speeds, while the lighter tip of moderate-action rods makes it easier to throw lighter baits.
For reels I prefer low profile baitcasters with high-speed retrieves, which again make it easier to keep the bait up off the weed tips. Line choice is really up to you, I tend to go with lighter braid as I find it easier to cast with lighter lures. But it really doesn't matter. Much more important is your choice of buzzbait.
Buzzbaits come in a spectacular range of styles, in single or double-blade types with two, three or four leaves per blade, in metal or plastic, with clickers or without. Standard double-paddle baits like the Lunker Lure 4238 work great for all-round use, and particularly in clear water situations where you want to excite the fish but not risk spooking them. In off-colored conditions, I'll sometimes switch to a clacker-style bait like the Booyah Buzz, which has a little metal flap that clicks off the whirling blade for extra sound.
If you really want to slow down while making plenty of fuss, side-by-side double-bladed baits like the Strike King Premier Plus are the only way to go. They're not the easiest things to cast any distance, especially into a wind, but when you want to absolutely crawl along while calling fish out of colored water or heavy cover, nothing works better.
Tune Up Before You Fish
While buzzbaits will catch plenty of fish right out of the package, I've learned that taking a few minutes to fine tune the bait goes a long way and means a lot more fish over the course of a season.
Canadian tournament pro and Real Fishing Show host Bob Izumi put me onto a great trick for tuning buzzbaits many years ago as we headed out for a morning's bass fishing. Bob had a handful of new buzzbaits with him, and as we drove along the highway on our way to the lake, he held each one out the truck window for a few minutes, the blade spinning wildly in the slipstream. When I asked, he explained that breaking in the new baits this way polished the wire shaft so the blade could spin more freely, making it more effective out on the water.
June is a gorgeous time of year - the weather's perfect, the bugs aren't too bad, and big fish in shallow water make fishing a breeze. Enjoying plenty of action and heart-stopping surface hits is just the icing on the cake. If there's ever a time to break out the buzzbaits, this is it. Give it a try and see for yourself what the buzz is all about.