One of the current buzz words in bass fishing is “reaction strike.” You read about it in just about any article on moving baits, and it happens whenever you cause a bass to strike when it’s not actively feeding. Reaction strikes on square bills are instinctual, and are often caused by a bait suddenly flashing into a bass’ view without warning.
One of the hottest baits on the pro tours is the square billed crankbait – and that’s because they excel at generating said reaction strikes. Square bills do this through deflection, or erratically bouncing off cover into a bass’ face – causing them to inhale it.
As hot as they are, many anglers throwing square bills don’t maximize their potential and instead fish them like traditional crankbaits, up in the water column instead of in the thickest cover. Doing this removes the deflection factor, and dramatically reduces the number of bass you catch.
Here are three places you need to be throwing square bills – to maximize deflection and the number of bass you catch.
Many anglers think treble hooks and wood don’t mix… Many anglers are wrong. Unlike a round billed crank, square bills like the River2Sea Biggie are actually designed to deflect over wood and can be uncannily snag-free, even when fished in the thickest of laydowns. The key to not getting hung is to keep your rod tip high, and almost “feather” the crank through the laydown as if you were fishing a worm. If you get snagged, pause and pop your line – it will usually cause the bait to pop free and trigger any nearby bass into striking. Cranking laydowns with a square bill is a great way to quickly cover woody banks, and it triggers strikes from bass that wouldn’t hit a traditional jig or plastic.
2. Rip Rap
Deflection is pretty obvious when it comes to rocks, and it’s almost as if square bills like the LIVETARGET Threadfin Shad Baitball Magnum Squarebill and rip rap were designed for each other. Bass will hang out in the nooks and crannies of a rip rap bank when they’re not feeding. They may not be enticed to bite by a worm or jig, but when a square bill careens off the rock they’re sitting behind – they have no choice but to strike. When bumping cover fishing, cranking rip rap with a square bill, keep your rod tip down and concentrate on grinding through the rocks. Pay attention to your hooks though, a few hours cranking rip rap can quickly dull them – a good pair of split ring pliers will definitely up your landing percentage.
3. Shallow Weed Lines
When bass are holding on weed lines in 4-8 feet of water, most anglers would turn to a swimbait, spinnerbait, or chatterbait to draw strikes. Not so fast, as a square bill like the Xcite XB-1 Crankbait can be absolutely deadly in grass as well. Square bills are a great alternative to finesse fishing in the grass. Their shallow dive profile makes them adept at “ticking” the tops of the weeds, and any time they get hung, just give it a rip. The deflection that occurs when a square bill rips free of the grass is enough to trigger even the most lethargic of bass.