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Speed those Buzz Baits for Big Summer Bites

Volume 5, No. 17 of the Yamaha Fishing Series

During the hot summer months when Cliff Crochet fishes buzz baits, his favorite color is black and the only retrieve speeds he uses are fast and faster. He may be the only angler on the water using this unusual combination with the loud, surface-splashing lures, but the Yamaha Pro has been doing it successfully for years and isn’t going to change now.

“It’s all about confidence,” laughs Crochet, “especially the black color, but to me buzz baits are strictly reaction-strike baits that bass hit by impulse. Speed generates those reaction strikes, and when a bass hits, it isn’t looking at lure color at all.

“The first buzz baits I used when I was young had black skirts and black blades, which are normally colors you fish at night, but they were all I had, so I fished them during the day, too. When I caught bass with them, I just kept using them.”

Crochet doesn’t believe buzz baits attract feeding strikes, primarily because they’re large lures that create a lot of water disturbance. With their long profile, flaring skirt, and single rotating blade, they certainly don’t look like anything bass feed on regularly, either.

“That’s why I retrieve them fast,” continues the Yamaha Pro. “The rotating blade sends out enough noise that bass immediately hear it coming, and because the lure is speeding across the surface, bass just go after it. All I can tell you is that when I’m looking for a larger fish to help fill out a tournament day’s catch, I don’t hesitate to start racing a
buzz bait across the surface.”

Although buzz baits are manufactured in several sizes, Crochet nearly always fishes ½-ounce lures because they tend to attract heavier bass. He likes making long casts and retrieving over submerged vegetation as well as around stumps, rocks, and boat docks. Rarely does he fish water deeper than about five feet, and if he has a choice, he wants a
light breeze barely rippling the surface.

“I don’t fish smaller buzz baits because I’m after larger bass,” he explains, “and I can really make longer casts with the ½-ounce size. Certainly, one of the advantages of using a buzz bait is the amount of water you can cover just by making a long cast. I can actually hit two or possibly three different targets on the same retrieve.”

Interestingly, on Crochet’s initial cast and retrieve to visible targets like stumps, logs, or pilings, he does not try to actually hit the cover with his lure. Instead, he reels the buzz bait a foot or two away from the target, in hopes he might get an “easy” fish to bite. If it’s a big bass, it will be easier to play since it’s already away from the cover.

“If I don’t get a strike on that first cast, I will run the buzz bait straight into the target,” he adds, “the very same way we run crankbaits into the cover. It changes the lure’s appearance instantly, and just like using a fast retrieve, sometimes that change in sound and speed will trigger a reflex strike.”

Crochet emphasizes that one of the most common mistakes he sees other buzz bait fishermen make is improper rod position while retrieving. Pointing the rod tip down and at the lure, as many do, almost guarantees losing a bass when it strikes, since the rod can’t flex. Instead, the Yamaha Pro suggests holding the rod tip slightly up at about the two
o’clock position.

“At this angle, you still have excellent lure control, and when a bass does hit, your rod will flex to allow the fish time to really take the bait,” Crochet explains. “If you’re using braided line, which I always recommend, all you need to do is make a short, quick jerk upward, and you’ll hook the fish.

“And believe me,” laughs the Yamaha Pro, “this time of year, you’re going to get those strikes, even if your buzz bait is black.”