By Bill Dance
Bill Dance is widely recognized as America’s all-time favorite TV bass angler-and he’s an expert at finesse fishing in summer. I love to wade creeks and fish small ponds and lakes. Fishing knee deep and casting for bass brings back memories of when I was a kid, and it is still one of my very favorite ways to spend a summer day.
Light “finesse” tackle is perfect for this kind of fishing. It resembles ultra-light gear, but the length and the action of the rods are different. The traditional ultra-light tends to come with soft action in a 4 1/2- to 5-foot length. A finesse rod averages 6 to 6-1/2 feet with some in the 7-foot range. It is a little stiffer and more sensitive, and it allows you to handle a good fish more effectively and to deliver a better hookset.
Like ultra-light, finesse tackle employs a small spinning reel and light line. Select a reel that balances with your rod. If it’s too heavy it overpowers the rig. Generally, I like a size 10 reel with a high retrieve speed and an aluminum long-cast spool. My Quantum Accurist spinning reel is so small that you can palm it, and it weights less than 6 ounces, yet it holds 140 yards of 6-lb line, which is perfect for the casting distance and strength I need.
Finesse tackle opens the doors to a wide variety of lures, not just the small jig or feather-weight lures required by true ultralight gear. Here are some of my absolute favorites.
- <h2>Rebel Teeny Pop R</h2>Just like its bigger brothers, this miniature Pop-R creates lots of surface disturbance and catches some surprisingly large fish. Bass fishing is often a shoreline affair. We find pleasure and solitude near the bank as we watch raccoons and snakes and deer. And, with topwater lures, we fish with excitement and anticipation as we watch for a bass to blow up on our bait. You'll find more than 30 popping/chugging lures on the market. Some are better than others, but one of the most endearing is the Rebel Pop-R. The Pop-R has a baitfish profile and a concave "popping " mouth. Its profile as it lies in the water looks natural, and it is engineered with the whole mouth out of the water, enabling it to walk and pop better. The feathered rear hook looks like a shad tail. The Pop-R family comes in several sizes, all of common baitfish dimensions. At a mere 2-inch length, the Rebel Teeny Pop R is the smallest. The key to fishing any Pop-R is to establish a pattern and rhythm. The retrieve I use most frequently is three pops and a pause - pop, pop, pop, pause...pop, pop, pop, pause. A faster, more erratic retrieve is best in late spring when bass are bunched up. At other times of the year, I am inclined to mix my retrieve up, switching off from fast to slow, and varying the frequency and length of the pause. It pays to experiment.