Do Nothing, But Catch Bass!
By Mike Frisch

Several years ago the “do nothing” stick bait took the bass fishing world by storm. These simple looking, but highly effective, baits immediately began accounting for impressive catches and led to many tournament dollars being won by anglers across the country. 

Tournament anglers love stick baits and, as a multi-species fishing guide, I have grown to appreciate them as well, not only for their fish-catching attributes, but because they can be fished with simple methods that guided clients can master fairly quickly. 

Early in the season when bass are roaming the shallows, rigging a stick bait “wacky style”—that is putting the hook in the bait’s midsection—and making long casts to shallow water cover is often very productive. This hooking method allows for a slow, tantalizing fall that bass usually can’t resist.

Key to this fishing is using a medium heavy spinning rod-n-reel spooled with braided line and the right hook. A 3/0 Kahle-style “wacky hook” works good. I like to spool with 15-pound Bionic Bass Braid. This line allows me to make long casts to avoid spooking shallow bass and comes in a low visibility green color that blends in with shallow cover. Also, because it’s a braid and has virtually no stretch, the line accounts for solid hook sets at the end of long casts. 

Early season is great for casting weightless sticks in shallow water. Once the water warms and more fish are found deeper, stick baits fished in another fashion become the focus for guide clients and myself.

During this period, many anglers move to the deep weed lines on lots of lakes and begin jig-worming. Jig-worming involves threading a worm on a light jig-head and casting to the outside weed edges. Again, this is a fairly simple method utilizing spinning rod and reel combinations. Not only is it a simple fishing technique, but it often stays productive throughout summer and into fall.

The traditional jig-worming bait has been a ribbon tail worm in the four- to seven-inch size range. Several summers ago, however, a fellow “basshead” alerted me to the jig-worming success he was having fishing five-inch stick baits instead of the traditional ribbon worms. I gave the technique a try and quickly realized similar results. 

Since then, clients and I have had so much success with sticks when jig-worming that they are now my bait of choice. Not only do we get just as many bites as when fishing ribbon worms, but it seems bigger fish are caught with sticks.

Traditional finesse jig-worming specialists used light monofilament line, often six- or eight-pound test, for their deep weed line fishing. Last summer, I experimented using eight-pound Bionic Walleye Braid and was impressed with the results. Though the name says “walleye,” I found the line works great when jig-worming because it allows for long casts on spinning tackle, results in solid hook sets, and gives me the strength to pull a big bass from the weeds without worrying about breaking the line. 

Various jig-heads in the 3/32- and 1/8-ounce size work for fishing sticks. Last fall I had a chance to sample the new Gami UV Jig when jig-worming and was impressed. The jig features a strong, sharp Gamakatsu hook that also proved very durable.

As for particular stick bait, I have used a variety over the years and have settled on the Impulse Dip-Stick Worm released last year. The scent of the Impulse formula triggers fish to bite and gets them to hang on to the bait allowing for successful hook sets. Not only that, but the baits come in all the right colors. 

I often use the white shad pattern for early season fishing, especially when casting to fish that can be seen cruising in clear water. The light color of this bait gets bit, and it also can be seen allowing me to monitor a fish’s reaction to it and even see the bite!

Jig-worming success in the summer is often found fishing traditional bass colors like green pumpkin, June bug, and watermelon seed. Another color that I have really grown to like is the camo pattern. As with any fishing situation, the best way to determine the “color of the day” is to experiment. 

Finding the “color of the day” and a good bass bite can often be accomplished with a stick bait. Early in the year, weightless sticks work good, while summer and fall call for sticks fished jig-worm style. Regardless the season, a stick bait is a great tool for bass anglers to have in their fish-catching arsenal this coming season!

Mike Frisch is a western Minnesota fishing guide. Visit his website at www.fishinwithfrisch.com