Slight Changes Produce Success

by Dan Galusha

Every angler has had days when a certain lure and pattern are producing very well. Then in an instant things start slowing down, often to a stop. At this time many anglers think the fish have moved, or completely stopped biting. Perhaps it will take nothing more than a slight change to produce further action.

There are many reasons why fish slow down from biting. Most frequent is a change in the weather or water levels, as with a river or tidal areas. However, there are days or areas in which neither has caused this problem. In these instances we must look at the possibility that the only thing needed is a slight change in lure presentation, color, style or depth. The addition of a scent could also be the change needed.

There are a lot of variables that can be discussed in making changes, but it may be best to describe the idea by relating the story of a “text book” fishing trip I had with John Francisco a few years ago, where slight changes were the key to success.


It was a cloudy and cool, early spring day, much like is also found in the fall, with a bit of wind blowing into the dam area of the lake. John got the first three bass on small spinnerbaits, but the fish were smaller. As usual, I was switching from one lure to another, experimenting and trying to come up with a pattern to catch bigger fish.

My first hit came on a Texas-rigged tube injected with Kodiak Crawfish Paste, and fished with a slow drag-and-pause retrieve near brush. This was a bigger fish. However, there were no more hits fishing directly into the brush. After two more fish were caught on the outer edge of the brush near the edge of the dam, I realized they were coming from the deeper, wind-blown water along the dam, but still wanting the slow retrieve.

John and I started fishing the deeper water of 8 to 14 feet by dragging the tubes on the bottom. We caught 20-plus bass, until there was a dramatic slowdown. Nothing had changed but the strikes.

While John switched to another lure, I stayed with the black/blue tube. After making a slight adjustment to my retrieve by giving it three slow hops and a pause, the biting was back on. John switched back, using my new retrieve, and the results were the same as mine.

Again, after a few fish, there was another slowdown. This time I discovered that the fish were still in the deeper water, but didn’t want the lure moved. After casting, I would allow the tube to slowly drift downward. As the lure would arrive at or near the bottom, there would be a slight twitch, and then tightening of the line. Bingo, the fish was on.

In all we caught 32 bass on this day. Slight changes in retrieve were the key. Drastic changes in everything else proved unsuccessful.

If you find yourself in this same sort of situation for any species of fish, and there are no obvious changes in other factors, such as surface feeding, shad busts, water level, storms, wind and current, then try the following order of “slight changes:”

  • Change speed and/or motion of retrieve.

  • Add or remove scent.

  • Keep style of lure, but use gradual color changes, such as black to black/blue, or chartreuse to white/chartreuse. In other words, don’t jump from solid black to solid neon chartreuse. While this may be the end results, don’t start that way.

  • Change depth.

  • Change lure style. Again, do this gradually. For example, if a tube is the main producer, then insert a finesse worm or switch to a plastic worm. And in the same manner, if a spinnerbait is the main producer, add or remove a trailer before next changing blade style and size.

It has always been said that it takes patience to be successful at fishing. While it doesn’t always take that long to find the day’s best fish-producing method, it does take a little self-control to progress through the chain of “slight changes” needed to get back to a successful fishing pattern.

If you have any questions about this or another fishing subject, drop me a line through the Dan’s Fish ‘N’ Tales® website at This site also provides links to the Dan’s Fish ‘N’ Tales® YouTube channel and the Fishing Facts website.

Until next time, get out the water and enjoy a great day of fishing.