I get asked all the time for my recommendation on old school baits that still work today. There are a lot of them around, and I own several of almost every one ever made. Still, I have favorites. In no particular order, here are my top three…
The Rapala Original Floating Minnow
I don’t really know how old these things are but I can say they’ve been around forever. I had one as one of the first bass fishing lures I ever owned. It caught fish back then, and it’ll catch them now.
They come in a lot of sizes. I usually fish the size 9 and the size 11 but any size they make will get the job done. They’re made of balsa so they float high in the water and that gives them a different look than many of the newer baits that are similar in design but are made out of plastic. They don’t have rattles, either. The combination of balsa and no rattles make this bait super subtle and super finesse.
I often fish mine as a topwater lure. I twitch it. It dives under the water with a slight wiggle. I stop it. It floats right back up to the surface. After the ripples disappear, I do the same thing all over again.
I’m going to share a pro secret that a lot of the guys don’t want you to know about. But hey, this is Mike. I share. This is a really, really, really good bait for bass that are on the beds. Throw it right over their head and twitch it slowly. They can’t take something like that over their bed. They just can’t.
I usually add a snap or split ring to the line tie. It gives the bait something extra. If I want mine to float higher or I want to give it a little more flash, I’ll add a feathered hook to the back. If I want it to sit a little lower in the water, I upsize the hooks. And when I’m fishing it like a jerkbait I’ll add a VMC Bladed Hybrid Treble to the belly or to the front.
All of the colors are good. My favorites are gold and silver, not necessarily in that order.
The Berkley Powerbait Power Lizard
My favorite of all time is the 6-inch model. You don’t hear about them very much anymore but they’re as good now as ever. And that’s true even if you don’t have lizards in your neighborhood. The fish will think it looks like something to eat. That’s all that matters.
The basic way to fish them is with an old-fashioned Texas rig armed with a 3/0 Ike Approved Worm Hook and a VMC Tungsten Worm Weight. Another way to fish one is on a Carolina Rig. Use the same hook and the same weight. Break the weight from the bait with a VMC Ball Bearing Swivel. They also make great trailers for standard jigs and vibrating jigs.
Use any color you want. If you think it looks pretty, so will the bass.
I know you’re shocked when you see this, but it’s true. There’s no bait that has ever been made that’ll catch anything that swims that’s any better. There’s always a handful of them in my boat, always. And yes, that’s even at the highest level professional tournaments.
They are at their best in heavily fished water where the fish have seen most, if not all, of the lures ever made.
The biggest difference in them is the blade. If you want more flash, go with a willow leaf style. Worden’s Rooster Tail is a good one. If you want more thump, go with a Colorado style. Panther Martin is probably the leader here. If you want a combination of the two, go with an Indiana style. That would be a Blue Fox Spinner.
One thing to keep in mind is that they will twist your line in just a few casts. Always put a VMC Ball Bearing swivel on the line tie and then attach your line to it.
Just because something is old doesn’t mean it’s useless. You don’t need every new lure on the planet to catch bass. Don’t believe me? Fish with these lures for a while.
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