Cigar-shaped soft-plastic lures, with their slow, tantalizing spiral fall are deadly for smoking out spawning and post-spawn bass on North Carolina’s Tuckertown Lake in May.
Gary Yamamoto’s Senko started the craze; numerous manufacturers now offer their own versions, including the Zoom Fluke Stik, the Strike King KVD Ocho, the Netbait Salt Lick, and the Yum Dinger.
Veteran angler Chris Brown of Lexington, who uses the Zoom version, always carries an ample supply of these plastics with him to Tuckertown in the spring.
“These baits are effective for enticing strikes from bedding bass through late April and for catching lethargic post-spawn bass through most of May,” Brown said. “The bite with these plastics doesn’t stop until the water warms and the fish move to deep structure.”
Brown fishes the bait on a medium-heavy 7-foot All Star rod paired with a high-speed Shimano reel spooled with 20-pound Sunshine fluorescent line.
“The high-speed reel helps me catch up with the fish for a good hookset when the runs off with the bait,” he said. “Fluorescent line sinks, so it enables me to fish the bait in windy conditions. I fish the bait weightless to maintain its slow fall.”
Brown rigs the bait Texas-style with a 4/0 Owner worm hook; occasionally, he wacky rigs the plastic, using a 4/0 Owner straight-shank hook.
He said long casts are necessary for success because post-spawn bass are skittish in shallow water. After casting, he lets the bait fall, then slowly pulls it, repeating the procedure until the bait reaches the boat or a fish starts running with it. He likes in green pumpkin/flake, black, blue and purple.
“Black and blue are effective in cloudy water, and blue and purple resemble bream, which the bass feed on,” Brown said.
These baits work best in clear water, but only a few areas remain clear at Tuckertown after spring rains, such as Ellis, Flat, and Riles creeks and creeks in the NC 49 area.
Once fish finish spawning, Brown targets cover in 4 feet of water or less, including tree laps, bushes, rocks, grass clumps and stumps.
“Post-spawn bass with fry mostly hang around stumps,” said Brown. “I focus on stumps and use polarized glasses to spot them.”
Cigar-shaped baits are one of the few baits that can be fished in black-mat algae — which cloaks Tuckertown’s shoreline — with a minimum of aggravation. The algae clings to most baits but less so to cigar baits. A jerk of the rod when the plastic nears the boat will remove most of the algae.