Originally appearing on www.abt.org.au
by Tom Slater
The last few years has seen a resurgence in anglers looking for the next big thing in lures to target Australian bass. Peter Phelps and Mitchell Cone exposed the skirted jig to the wider tournament angling community when they dominated the ABT BASS Pro Grand Final at Lake Glenbawn in 2015. At the same time, a number of anglers’ further north were fixing to kick-start a resurgence for an old-school technique, refined by modern technology.
Metal spoons have exploded in the tight circle of bass fishing aficionados over the past year. Catching bass on metal lures isn’t a new concept – I’ve witnessed plenty of anglers throwing wonder wobblers or metal slugs as far as they can off the banks of our Brisbane impoundments to catch schooled bass. But like all techniques, there is a period of refinement from a few anglers experimenting with the technique to when it becomes widely accepted as a fish catching method. In addition to this, tackle manufacturers have begun producing some highly detailed and expertly designed lures specific to the technique, which kick-starts a rapid rise in anglers’ knowledge and confidence.
A number of ABT anglers have been at the forefront of the spoon fishing craze, namely Dean Thomson, a keen ABT BASS Electric angler, alongside veteran ABT BASS Pro competitor Dave Young.
Thompson first began to experiment with spoons after returning from a lengthy stint in Japan, where he was first introduced to the technique.
“I found some Nories Wasaby spoons in a few tackle stores in Japan, and it crossed my mind as something to try on Australian bass when I returned home,” said Thompson. Knowing that past anglers had previously had success on similar style lures, Thomson was eager to explore the differences that these new generation baits possessed.
It was on his return from Japan that Thomson introduced ABT BASS Pro legend Dave Young to the technique, and Young has been at the forefront of the technique with Thomson ever since.
“It was mid-way through 2015, when Dean introduced me to the spoon during a day on Somerset, then Jackall’s Harry Watson showed me a new bait they were releasing called the Jackall Lizinc spoon,” explained Young. The pair have now put over a year into developing the technique and are happy to share their technique to help others catch more fish.
“Like every new lure I pick up, I like to swim it beside the boat to see what action it has before using it,” Thompson said. “I was blown away by the erratic fluttering action the Nories Wasaby made when I dropped it into the water for the first time.” Instantly, Thomson knew this would be a successful technique to drive our bass crazy.
Both Thomson and Young prefer to reach for the spoon when bass are schooled up, with the thought that the more erratic darting action can trigger a reaction bite from timid fish grouped together.
“I prefer to fish spoons in deep water, anywhere from 15-40ft is ideal,” said Young. Dean will reach for a spoon whenever bass are schooled up, in any depth of water. He also relies on a spoon when covering vast amounts of area in deeper water to find active fish.
FINETUNING THE TECHNIQUE
Both Young and Thomson note there are numerous ways to work the versatile heavy metal lures to trigger bites.
“I fish the spoon differently depending on how the fish are positioned,” said Young. Using a retrieve similar to what he favours when fishing a tail-spinner, Young allows the spoon to sink to the bottom, slowly takes up the slack to regain contact with the spoon and then employs a long lift of the rod from roughly 3 o’clock to 12 o’clock. At the top of the lift, Young quickly drops his rod tip back down, to create enough slack line for the spoon to have the most erratic and enticing drop as possible.
“I prefer the random gliding action of the Lizinc spoon when it can fall on a completely slack line,” explained Young, noting you must pay close attention to your line when allowing slack like into your system. “It’s critical to pay close attention to the slack line for ticks or movement that could indicate a bite, if I detect a bite I quickly wind until the line begins to straighten and regain tension, before lifting my rod to strike.”
Thomson’s makes a long cast towards where he believes the fish are holding. Like Young, Thomson keeps a close eye on his line, as the lure completes the initial sink, as quite often the bait won’t even make it to the bottom if the fish are active. Once the lure has come to rest on the bottom, Thomson lifts the rod directly over his head to the 10 o’clock position. He does that once, drops his rod back down, and then repeats the process, so the spoon darts up once, before briefly fluttering before the second lift pulses the spoon upwards again, through the schooled fish. He then lets the lure free fall back to the bottom. If he manages to continue this retrieve without getting a bite and finds the lure close to the boat, he simply employs a slow roll, in case he has triggered fish to follow or be interested through the lift and drop retrieve. These fish may commit to biting once he begins a methodical slow retrieve. Thomson believes the key to use these types of baits is how they react when left to sink on a slack line.
“Most other techniques either sink directly down or down and towards the angler, I believe the spoon works so well because it slides and sinks so irregularly, sometimes even sinking backwards to where the fish would be following.”
While the two look to fish the lure in similar ways, their choice of preferred tackle differs. Young prefers spinning tackle, in the form of a 7-7’6” Dobyns spin rod, paired with a 2500 sized reel. Thomson favours baitcasting tackle, on the basis of it being easier and quicker to engage and disengage free spool to keep the perfect amount of slack in his line. One thing the both have in common with gear choice is rod length, favouring a longer rod of at least 7ft. A longer rod moves more line, if you think about the arc your rod tip makes when lifting from 9 o’clock (horizontal) to 12 o’clock (vertical), a 7ft rod would move an extra 50cm during that movement compared to a rod of 6ft. Using the length of the rod as the radius of a circle, you can calculate arc length by using 2πR, which calculates the circumference of the whole circle, which you can then divide by 4 to get the arc length from 9 o’clock to 12 o’clock. Moving more line not only enables you to lift the spoon higher off the bottom, potentially reaching suspended fish holding higher off the bottom. But it also allows you to move more line when you strike and minimise time spent winding to regain tension in your line.
The next key piece of equipment selection is on the same path, a high speed reel. Thomson favours baitcast reels with a ratio of at least 7:1 if not even higher.
“A faster speed reel lets me pick up the slack quicker, almost all of your bites will come on the drop, so you need to be quick to get on top of your line and set the hooks before the fish has a chance to spit or shake your lure.”
Young turned to the spoon initially for an edge in his tournament endeavours, noting that is was a technique that very few were using.
“Not many guys were using them and they provided me with a bait that the fish were not getting exposed to,” explained Young. He’s also found spoons at times can trigger bites on pressured schools that aren’t responding to other techniques. Both Young and Thomson agree that the spoons tendency to catch big fish is a draw card for them to pick up the lure.
“They’re one of the best imitations of bony bream that the bass in QLD impoundments feed on,” noted Thomson. Since turning to them more regularly, Young has caught numerous 50cm+ fish and has confidence to turn to the Lizinc to look for key upgrades.
JUMP ON BOARD
While the spoon isn’t the only answer to those tricky bass, both Thomson and Young believe it’s an integral part of their arsenal to target schooled fish.
“I wouldn’t say it’s replaced any of my standard techniques, but I would say that the spoon has earned a place on the deck of my boat on any given fishing trip or tournament,” said Young. Thomson goes as far as always having one or even two Nories Wasaby spoons rigged up when he’s faced with schooling bass.
You can find these baits and learn more about each by visiting these links: