It’s hard to say for every species of fish that when a particular pattern is really working, that it’s the way those fish have to be fished for.
Take for instance, you decide you want to fish for striped bass — or their hybrid cousins — this month. Unless your favorite lake has some sort of cold-water discharge area, you’re going to have to fish in deep water.
To target stripers in deep water, you’re going to have to fish deep, and aside from a handful of heavy metal trolling or jigging tactics, you’re going to have to master the use of the down rod. Down-rod fishing for striped bass involves simple tools that have to be used together in a precise order to be consistently successful.
A down rod is basically a medium to medium-heavy action rod spooled with 15- to 20-pound monofilament. On the business end is a basic Carolina rig: of a heavy weight, a barrel swivel and a 2- to 3-foot length of leader — mono or fluorocarbon — tied to a live-bait hook.
Chip Hamilton, who guides on South Carolina’s Lake Hartwell, seconds the idea that unless you’re fishing some type of cooler, river system, down rods are about the only way to catch mid-summer stripers. To break that down even further, Hamilton has two basic patterns that he follows to put his clients on fish.
“Most of the year, you’ll find hybrids and stripers schooling together, but the exception is in July when they tend to separate for a time,” he said. “Most of the striped bass are going to head for the main-lake basin to find that deeper water, but