Top Baits for Bass in the Grass
One of the surefire ways to put yourself around bass is to fish around the grass. They love the stuff and there's always a percentage of the population living near the green stuff. While fishing around grass is smart, it takes specialized gear, so you spend less time fighting the vegetation and more time-fighting bass.
Many different lures work, but Seaguar pros and Bass Pro Tour anglers Gerald Spohrer and Mark Daniels, Jr. focus on efficiency. Both spent their fishing upbringings around grass, with Daniels learning bass fishing on the famed California Delta and Spohrer spending his time in the bayous of Louisiana, two regions known for expanses of aquatic vegetation.
Seaguar Pro Gerald Spohrer with a bass taken from the grass on TactX braid
Spohrer prefaced his talk on grass fishing with a simple outlook for baits, rods, and lines. "You need to have the right tool for the job and if it's not working, you need to try something that does the job better," he said. "Everything comes down to feel and you want to be able to fish effectively without getting stuck in the grass the whole time. You also want to make sure that you're never underpowered and can get the fish out of it."
To do this, Spohrer and Daniels each pick the right gear for the vegetation in front of them, varying it based on the vegetation type and thickness.
Punching Matted Vegetation
Sometimes, especially in the dead of summer, the grass is so thick that it's topped out and forms a mat. One of the only ways to fish efficiently in these situations is to crash right through the grass with the help of a heavy tungsten weight.
This is one of Daniels' favorite ways to fish and he'll punch a small crawfish imitating plastic paired with weights starting at ¾-ounce and up to over 2 ounces depending on the thickness of the grass. For line, he always begins with 50 lb Seaguar TactX, a 4-strand braided line with a rough textured finish to help cut through the grass.
"I start with 50 and always advocate that with punching because it's all about efficiency and how many times you can punch through the mat in a day," he said. "50 lb with a smaller diameter will penetrate the mats easier than 65 lb, but sometimes you have to use the heavier line if you use weights over 2 ounces and around huge fish. TactX is legit and tears right through the grass on the hookset and that makes a big difference in landing more fish."
Spohrer is also a big proponent of punching and uses a similar approach but differs in his line selection, opting for the 8-strand Seaguar Smackdown braid in a 65 lb test. "I love how smooth it is and how easily it comes off the reel," he said. "It's very quiet coming through the guides, and I like that. TactX is great, but a little louder, but it has its place for several techniques."
Frogs and Other Topwaters
Another great way to fish around thick grass is with a hollow body frog. It's fun and effective at fishing around matted grass, lily pads, and more.
Spohrer prefers to fish his frogs on 50 lb TactX. "I use it when throwing a frog around pads because it slices right through them when you make a strong hookset," he said. "Smackdown does cast a little bit better, in my opinion, but it doesn't cut through grass as easily as TactX does. It's my choice for more open areas or when fishing a frog around isolated cover like overhanging trees, docks, and scattered grass."
Seaguar Pro Mark Daniels Jr is big proponent of TactX braid for punching grass and throwing frogs
Daniels uses the same approach and starts with 50 lb TactX instead of the 65 lb that some prefer. "Your castability is going to be much better because of the smaller diameter," he said. "I know if I hook one and it buries me in the grass, it's not going anywhere, and I can get him out."
Both anglers will also mix in other topwaters such as buzzbaits, plopping baits, and prop baits and target holes in the grass and right along the grass lines.
Daniels fishes these baits on braided line, 40 lb Smackdown, and will add a short 8- to 12-inch leader of 20 lb Seaguar AbrazX fluorocarbon for the prop bait and plopper.
"I like the Smackdown for these topwaters because it casts so well," he said. "The fluorocarbon leader is necessary for baits with treble hooks and props because the limp braid tends to wrap up on them when you work the bait. That short leader of fluorocarbon is stiff enough to keep it in front of the bait and will eliminate a lot of those issues."
Targeting Grass Edges
Whether it's milfoil, hydrilla, or another type of vegetation, fishing along weed lines opens up the bait options tenfold. Just about anything can be fished effectively around scattered grass and along the edges. Some of Daniels and Spohrer's favorites are lipless crankbaits, vibrating jigs, and a finesse approach with a drop-shot rig.
The lipless crankbait is a unique option because anglers often purposely try to snag into the grass just to be able to rip it free and trigger a reaction. Both anglers love fishing them this way, especially early in the year.
"Anytime I'm fishing a Rat-L-Trap and ripping it from the grass, I start with 17 lb Seaguar AbrazX," said Daniels. "I'll drop down to 15 lb if I want the bait to run a little deeper or go up to 20 lb at times because the thicker diameter will keep the bait up more, but 17 lb is a staple for me."
Similarly, Spohrer fishes a vibrating jig around scattered vegetation and will rip it free to trigger bites anytime it hangs up. He prefers 15 to 20-lb Seaguar Tatsu fluorocarbon with this approach.
"Tatsu casts very well and it's user-friendly with great strength and abrasion resistance," he said. "I adjust my line size based on how thick the grass is, but 17 lb is a good starting point."
Another option for fishing around vegetation is a drop-shot. Spohrer pointed to a Bass Pro Tour event last year on New York's Cayuga Lake to show how effective it can be as he landed multiple four and five-pound largemouth this way.
"I was pitching it around holes in the grass with 15 lb Seaguar Smackdown braid with a leader of 12 lb Gold Label fluorocarbon leader. "That's the strongest fluorocarbon leader you can buy, and I'm very confident fishing it around grass and big fish because I know I can still land what bites."
Fishing around the grass can be extremely rewarding with the right gear. Daniels and Spohrer have learned to embrace vegetation and pick the right tools for the job to find success across the country and throughout the year.