What is a limit bait? The answer varies depending on which pro you ask. Virginia Bassmaster Elite Series veteran John Crews relies on the shaky head worm, a drop-shot rig and a squarebill crankbait.
Limit Bait Situations
A key time for limit baits is immediately after the bass spawn, Crews claims. The bass are beat up and exhausted then and not willing to take on big lures and aggressive retrieves. Limit baits also come through after cold fronts, and when the bass receive heavy fishing pressure.
Shaky Head Worm
A 4- to 6-inch straight worm rigged Texas style on a ball head jig is the standard shaky head rig.
"A straight worm falls fast, and the whole worm undulates because there's no resistance in the tail," he says. "Those are distinct advantages."
Many fishermen take the name shaky head too literally and overwork their baits," Crews believes. He suggests that you keep the jig in contact with the bottom and shake the rod gently against a slack line.
As president of Missile Baits, he favors his 4.4-inch Fuse straight worm, which has lively pincers on the tail. He rigs the worm on a 1/8-, 3/16- or 1/4-ounce Warlock jig, which skips well and comes through cover much better than a ball head jig. A 6-foot, 6-inch, spinning outfit and 8-pound fluorocarbon allow him to skip the jig under docks and cast it accurately to cover.
"I've caught lots of 4- and 5-pound bass from brush piles and docks with 8-pound line," he explains. "The secret is to apply light pressure and lead them into open water. The harder you pull, the harder they pull back."
Using the right baits when the bite is tough could mean the difference between a 'skunk' or a full livewell. Crews keeps this small selection readily avaliable when the fish won't cooperate.
A drop-shot rig is more of an, "open water bait," he continues. He typically targets flat points and bare banks in clear water and has caught bass from 2 to more than 20 feet deep with it.
The plastic lure suspends 8-inches above a 3/16-ounce drop-shot weight. He drops to 6-pound fluorocarbon so the bait responds freely to the slightest water currents.
"I catch a whole lot more bass on a drop shot when I'm not purposely moving the bait at all," he says.
For nose hooking, which allows the most action, he prefers a No. 2 Gamakatsu Octopus hook. If snags are present, he Texas rigs the bait with a No. 1 Gamakatsu EWG hook.
"That hook is small, but I've caught bass over 7 pounds on it."
A slender 3-inch Drop Craw from Missile Baits comes through for Crews when bass are super finicky.
When bass are three to five feet deep but scattered where cover is sparse, he combs the water with a Spro Little John squarebill crankbait. Although it weighs 1/2-ounce, the flat-side Little John shows bass a small profile. It also swims with a tight, subtle wiggle that doesn't put the fish off.
"I cast it with a 7-foot parabolic action baitcasting rod and 12-pound Vicious Ultimate, copolymer," he says. "I use it as a search bait to find cover and hard spots in mud bottoms that you can't see."