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Appealing to the 5 Senses
By Chad  Brauer

Getting as many bites as possible is the goal of every fisherman every time they hit the water. When fishing for enjoyment, getting more bites equals having more fun, and at fishing tournaments, more bites equals more dollars. One way that I believe you can maximize the number of bites you get each day is to appeal to all five senses of the bass with your baits. This requires some understanding of how each sense works and how the bass uses it.

Sight: Bass are primarily sight feeders, this means that the main way that they locate prey is by sight. This tells you how the bass see your bait is most often the key in getting them to strike. This does not mean that the bass have to be able to sit and look at your bait for an extended period of time before they will bite, it merely means that they will not eat something they have not first seen. Bass can see very well in low light conditions, and they can see colors. The studies I have seen have indicated that bass can detect light about five times better than we can and can see the yellow, green, and orange color spectrum the best.

Hearing and Feel: These two senses are easiest to talk about when put together because they act similar in the water. Both are transmitted through the water by pressure waves. To distinguish between the two, you can think sound as being any noise your bait will make and feel is the water that your bait moves. Sound does travel much faster in water than through air, in fact about five times faster, so it does not take long for the noise your bait makes to travel to the fish. Both of these senses become more important as the bass's ability to see decreases, i.e. dirty water or heavy cover.

Smell and Taste: These again act very much the same for bass. These senses are mainly close range for bass and are mainly used to compliment feeding behavior. Not much detail is needed in this area for fishermen. Again,

 

 
 









 

 

 

  both of these senses become more important as the bass’ ability to see decreases.

A lot of bytes of computer space could be taken up by talking about bass senses, that was just a quick and undetailed description of the five senses, but it will give you some idea of how the bass use them to feed. Now how do you use this to your advantage and maximize the amount of bites you get every day.

First analyze what your conditions are. What is the water clarity? What type of cover am I fishing? What are the light conditions? You can go on and on from there, but try to establish what you are going to need out of your bait to make the bass bite it. This process is no different than a golfer trying to decide what club to hit to get his ball on the green.

Here is the process I try to follow.

1. Pick a color for the conditions. A rule of thumb to follow is for clear water pick natural looking colors, in dirty water go with bright colors like chartreuse. In clear water you want your bait to look as much like the real thing as possible, while in dirtier water it is more important for your bait to stick out so the bass can see it under conditions of reduced visibility. Dirty water is very much like driving in fog for us, it is harder to see, so we use our headlights so other drivers can see us.

2. Determine what sound and feel you need. If you are fishing under conditions where a bass’ vision is impaired in some way, whether it be dirty water, heavy cover, or even night fishing, these two senses become more important to the bass. Under such conditions the bass will use these two senses to help them locate their prey. When faced with these conditions I tend to choose baits that are noisier and that displace more water. You can make a bait displace more water in a couple of different ways. One is to make it bigger, two is to give it exaggerated motion (ex. wider wobble). When not faced with these sort of conditions I try to give my baits a more natural motion and profile.

3. Add a quality scent to whatever bait you are throwing. No matter what the onditions, this is something that I feel will never hurt your chances of getting a fish to bite. There are plenty of times where a bass may have followed a bait to the boat, when if that bait would have been covered with scent that fish may have come up behind the bait and smelled it. That smell may have enticed him into striking the bait. It will also make the bass hold onto the bait longer, giving you more of a chance to set the hook.

Let me go through some examples of baits I would choose under certain conditions.

1. Conditions: fishing grassline with crankbait, 7 feet of water, stained water (1 foot visibility) Bait of choice: Strike King Series 4 Crankbait, chartreuse/blue back; Reason for choice: bright color, dives to the correct depth, large profile and wide wobble for water displacement, rattles for noise

2. Conditions: flipping flooded bushes with jig, 2 feet of water, clear water (3 feet visibility) Bait of choice: Strike King Pro Model Jig, 3/8 oz., Chameleon Craw color, brown Jr. size Bo-Hawg pork trailer; Reasons for choice: natural color, rattle for heavy cover, 3/8 oz. for shallow water

3. Conditions: spinnerbaiting isolated wood, 3 feet of water, stained water (1 foot visibility) Bait of choice: Strike King Elite Spinnerbait, 3/8 oz, chartreuse/white, size 2 Colorado/ size 4 1/2 willowleaf blade combo; Reasons for choice: bright color, bigger blades for more water displacement.

If you choose a bait that will appeal to all five senses of the bass everyday you are on the water, you are going to maximize the number of bites you will get on any given day. You will get a certain number of strikes from fish that have merely seen your bait. You will get a few more strikes from fish that have felt and heard your bait then saw it and ate it. You will also get a few strikes from fish that have smelled or tasted your bait. So if you can cover all senses, you will get as many strikes as possible.
 
 
 

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