Assuming there is fish in the area, and you are fishing the right areas (we will get to that), there are some tricks you can try to attempt to hook up.
1/ Downsize the blade size and skirt/smaller bait. - Sometimes, particularly in clear water, smaller blades are preferable. The large blades can often scare off following fish, or confuse them, causing them to hit blades not skirts.
2/ Don't be in a hurry to get your lure back. A slow retrieve is preferred by most ambush predators, be they bass or trout. They have anaerobic muscle which means they get a limited amount of energy, but that energy can be expended in powerful bursts. The longer you can keep the lure in the strike zone, the more likely you are to get a strike as, even if the fish is not hungry, you can trigger aggression strikes. The fish has a chance to watch the lure, track it and attack accurately.
3/ Don't strike early - When people say that a fish INHALED the lure, they are not being hyperbolic. The ambush predators often hunt small fish and shrimp school by simply dropping their mouth open suddenly and pushing their stomach out simultaneously. This allows a large volume of water to rush into the gut , taking with it any small edibles. This is especially important with spinnerbaits and other bladed lures. A spinnerbait looks like a school of minnows so this is the attack most likely, as opposed to a large worm or crankbait which will probably be a suck grab or just out right jaw grab. Again, the pause is almost mandatory when fishing top water baits such as crawlers, poppers and frogs. The fish is likely to inhale to create a downdraft in the water to suck the prey in, turn and dive. Wait until it is head down and tightening before striking or you run the risk of just jerking the bait and hook right back out again, or it never going back far enough to actually be engulfed. Allowing a slight amount of slack when you get the tap allows the bait to be drawn back, and then strike as the fish turns and draws the slight slack out. Practice make this a lot easier, but you start right, you get the goods. Soft hands.
4/ Fish the cover and bottom - The typical ambush predator we target is relying on prey getting close enough to them that they can get a feed without expending too much energy. That means we have to get the bait into their zone. It also means their zone is typically where they can hide best. This could be a log, branches of a sunken tree, weeds, rock and sand bars, or the bottom contours themselves. For this reason, we need to get in hard and tight on cover. Throw INTO the cover where possible, lily beds, grass beds, sticks. The spinner bait is designed to be relatively unproblematic in these environments, as are many soft plastic baits and jigs. Pick your approach to cast to keep your bait in the strike zone as long as possible (eg retrieve along a log or angle to it it, rather than 90 degrees away from it). If you aren't getting snagged occasionally, you are fishing the wrong places. In areas of little cover, allow the bait to sink to the bottom as this is the cover!
5/ Vary your retrieve. Don't just cast and wind. Try lifting and dropping the rod tip in small amounts to tighten/speed up/lift or slacken/slow down/drop, try moving it in circular motions, let the bait drop to the bottom, sit for half a minute, then jerk the tip of the rod up to lift the bait, drop the tip and allow it to settle, repeat. And work the retrieve ALL the way back to the rod tip, as long as the bait is in water, you are in the running. I have caught some of my best fish in the last few meters of retrieve.
There are many ways to work a bait and it is worth experimenting and practicing in a nice clean river or pool to watch and learn what your various rod actions do and how they affect the bait. Here endeth the lesson. Hope you get something from it, tight lines are the best lines!
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See more tips on Bait fishing here: