Now that we’ve started getting more rain in areas where we had drought last summer, lakes are coming up again and bass are moving back to the banks – or at least toward the shorelines. They’re scattered out and looking for shad, which makes this a great time of year to fish soft-plastic buzzbaits and cover some water. My choice is a Gambler Flapping Shad, which resembles a Fluke-type swimbait with a paddle tail. I rig it with a screw-in 1/32-ounce Florida weight and an Owner 6/0 wide-gap hook, and fish it on 20-pound-test Yo-Zuri H20 fluorocarbon line and a Pflueger President baitcaster with a 6.4:1 gear ratio. If I’m fishing outside of cover, I’ll use a 6-foot, 10-inch All-Start medium-heavy rod to fish it. If I’m right in the cover – say, pads or hydrilla – I’ll use a 7-foot, 6-inch flipping rod.
There’s nothing special about the retrieve; you just throw it out as far as you can and buzz it back at the surface. One trick I use sometimes is to slice the bottom of the paddle tail up from about 5 o’clock midway through the tail toward 10 o’clock. Instead of the tail thump-thump-thumping along, this makes it more of a faster, more frantic buzz. I like dark colors on overcast days, and white or lighter colors on bright days. Just to hedge my bets, I also have a follow-up rod rigged with a weightless Gambler Ace. If a fish misses the Flapping Shad, I’ll throw the Ace of the same color right back to the spot. Either way, if a fish grabs the bait, I’ll drop the rod and snap-set the hook. The Flapping Shad is a great search bait. And when bass are hunting shad, they’ll eat it up.
---- Castrol pro Mike Surman, Boca Raton, Fla.