Yamaha Pro Bobby Lane Alternates Jigs and Crankbaits in the Same Water
By most standards, Florida-based pro Bobby Lane would be among the last to say he enjoys fishing cold winter water, but just the opposite is true. The veteran Yamaha Pro has developed a two-lure approach that has nearly taken him to victory in the last two Bassmaster Classics,® both conducted in extremely cold weather.
“The two lures I use are a tight wobbling shad-imitation crankbait and a jig,” explains Lane, who used this combination to finish second in the 2015 Classic® on South Carolina’s Lake Hartwell, and 11th last year on Grand Lake in Oklahoma. “The crankbait allows me to cover water, and when I do catch a fish with it, I switch to the jig and work the immediate area more carefully.
“In cold water a lot of bass suspend, but at the same time they still move up in the water column routinely to feed. This is when they become more accessible, and these are the fish I’m looking for first with the crankbait. For the most part, I concentrate in water only about 10 feet deep, and traditionally it seems I have my best success early in the morning, even when it’s brutally cold.”
Lane’s crankbait is a suspending model he fishes on either spinning or baitcasting rods, normally using a slow but steady retrieve.
If he does stop reeling, which he does occasionally just to make the bait look more natural, the lure remains at that depth instead of rising to the surface. He targets deeper points, creek channel bends, bluff walls, and even boat docks when he can find the right water depth. He often visits the very same spots several times each day.
“The crankbait stays in the potential strike zone anywhere between five and 10 feet deep, and since I can fish it slowly and stay at that depth, bass will hit it because it looks so natural,” continues the Yamaha Pro. “I’m not crawling the lure through rocks like I might do in summer, or digging along the bottom the way I do in the fall months. I’m just casting and slowly reeling back, and not really trying to make contact with anything. I may not get very many strikes during the day, but I am covering water where I’m always expecting a strike.”
When Lane does catch a bass this way, he changes to his jig to work slightly deeper water. He knows winter bass gather in schools but not all of them move up to feed at the same time.
“I’m really going after the same fish,” he says, “because the jig will appeal to those bass that just aren’t as active at that moment. Not only can I fish it slower, I can also work bottom cover more effectively with it. I’m fishing it only a little deeper, maybe down to 15 feet or so, and in the same places I fished the crankbait.”
Lane’s favorite jig is a compact 5/16-ounce model, and he adds a small plastic trailer for added action and a more lifelike appearance. As well as having a completely different appearance than the crankbait, the jig also has a different presentation, two factors Lane believes take on added importance in winter fishing for either largemouths or smallmouths.
“While the crankbait looks and moves like a shad, it’s not going to attract every bass that sees it,” emphasizes the Yamaha Pro. “I do know that when I catch one fish with it there are almost certainly others nearby, which is why changing to another lure that looks and acts differently may be what triggers one or two of them to strike. It looks good and they don’t have to spend any energy chasing it, so they bite it.”
For the past five years, Lane has used this two-lure combination in competition on lakes all over the country, and one look at his record certainly proves that it works. Even though he loves the warm water in his home state of Florida, the crankbait and jig have made him just as comfortable in cold water, too. Y