fishing a squarebill for summer bass

Crash and Burn | Ripping a Squarebill Through Heavy Cover


Speed kills in the target oriented, precision casting game of summer squarebill fishing. The square shape of the bill causes violent deflections and direction changes as the bait glances off hard underwater objects.

The key is to hit something. Laydown trees are high on the list for squarebill aficionados. Rocks work well, as do brush piles and even hard grasses such as hydrilla.

Pay attention to how your line feels. If in contact with a limb, dock piling or similar, it will tell you when you’re about to hit that piece of cover. Accelerate the retrieve and knock on wood – literally. Then, pause and let the bait float up for a second. If the crash didn’t trigger a strike, the stunned appearance of the helpless, confused lure probably will. If not, then try a different tact. Burn the bait through the obstacles as fast as you can and hold on to your rod.

Often times, success just comes down to stubbornness. Repeated casts are often needed no matter the magic combination of retrieve and speed. Outlast the fish and the rewards can be great.

There’s no bad place to throw a squarebill crankbait. Banging it off of cover in less than six feet of water is among the best-ever summertime tactics.

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Video transcript:

Mikey Balzz:
What is going on guys? Mikey Balzz right here. And there's a strong misconception when it comes to fishing these guys, squarebills. And it gets hot out. It's summer, and everybody puts away their box of squarebills. Well, I'm going to tell you that's a no-no, and I'm going to tell you exactly why and exactly what you can do with this thing during the hot summer months to catch some bass.

Mikey Balzz:
So in spring, the running MO for fishing a squarebill is slowly bump it off the cover. You got lower water temps, so the fish metabolism is a lot slower. They're a little more lethargic. Well, it's the exact opposite in summer. Basically what you do is you take that squarebill and you burn it, crash it, fry it through those shallow water flats. And what's nice in summer is you have a lot of this vegetation that's growing up. You got trees, you have all this cover and crashing it and ripping it into that cover really creates a reaction. And in my opinion, for big bass, especially during summer up in the shallows, it's all about creating that reaction situation.

Mikey Balzz:
So what you can do is basically you take this squarebill and you actually use the bill to impact that cover. We're surrounded by a bunch of [inaudible 00:01:12] right here. So what I'll do is actually slang it out, make as long of a cast as possible. Maybe keep my rod tip up a little bit higher, because basically that grass has come up just below the surface. And I'll run that bait down into the grass, and when I feel that grass, it's almost like when you're trap fishing in early spring, I'll rip my rod and this bait will actually erratically go all over the place, hunt to the left, hunt to the right, and then it'll recorrect itself, because that's what crainkbaits do. They have that straight forward trajectory. It'll recorrect itself, and oftentimes that's exactly when you're going to get your bite.

Mikey Balzz:
So one really important aspect of this technique is equipment. We always talk about gear playing a huge role in how the bait operates. Well, it's the same in this case. During the spring when you're fishing a squarebill, oftentimes fish bite light. You'll notice a lot of the fish that you catch, your rod just kind of loads up. So you use more of a medium action, maybe even a fiberglass rod at times. It's summer. These fish are scooching, moving. Plus, you're fishing this lure around pretty heavy cover. So you've got to stouten up the way you're presenting this bait. I like putting this thing on a medium, heavy, little bit longer rod, 7'2", 7'3", a little bit over 7', because I'm not so much fishing specific, shallow targets like I would in spring, maybe docks or specific stumps. I'm really casting out to flats and covering those new grass flats, where the grass is topped off and spread out. So a long cast is really important.

Mikey Balzz:
The other thing is it gives me a little more leverage on the fish. Medium, heavy, stout, or backbone. If those fish dive into the grass, I can go ahead and tug them out. Also, I'll run this on 15-pound fluorocarbon. Usually I'll run my squarebills in spring on 12, because I want to get it down a little bit deeper. I want something stronger, dude. These fish smoke the bait. Plus I'm putting a lot of tension on the line when I'm ripping that bait out.

Mikey Balzz:
The other thing, too, is I actually run a 7-2-1 reel. I know that sounds like you're overwinding for a crankbait, but I really want to be able to move that bait quickly through the grass and pick up line very quickly. So that combination allows me to get fish out and fish this thing exactly how I need to, burning it through the grass and through that heavy cover.

Mikey Balzz:
So what are you looking for when you're doing this burning technique? You can say we're in the back of a pocket, giant flat, right? A lot of space. That's why it's great to fish this thing as fast as we do. But you can see there's tons of grass coming up. Also, you can see there's nobody back here because they're all fishing deep. That's another cool part about this is you can target some areas that guys aren't fishing. But all you're going to do is make a super long cast. I'm actually going to go towards the tip of that tree, because I see a clump of grass right there, and then I'm going to go ahead and I'm going to reel and get that bait down. And then here's where the magic happens.

Mikey Balzz:
So you're burning it, and I hang on some grass. It's almost just like a trap. You're just going to rip up. And what that does is it causes that bait to rip off the grass. It clears the bait of any grass or anything that's clinging to it, and that's usually when you're going to get a bite, because as fish see it, it flutters up and then it slowly floats up and they go ... That's exactly what we want to happen.

Mikey Balzz:
But big deal is long cast and then that ripping motion. That's really what's going to draw your reaction when you're using this technique. This entire technique lies on two things: reeling it fast and hanging up on stuff like that. If you're bait ain't hitting cover, if it's not getting stuck on stuff and you're not ripping it off, you're not catching fish.

Mikey Balzz:
Two quick tips when you're doing this crankbait deal. One, it's something that I do with all my crankbaits. I put that beautiful little clip on there, and I get tons of questions about it all the time. It's basically just a little clip so I can quickly change to different colors, different lures, different depths. It makes you super efficient instead of tying knots all the time.

Mikey Balzz:
The other thing is, too, since we're fishing around a lot of the shallow cover in the shallow grass, you can really control the depth of your crankbait by where your rod tip is at. So let me show you real quick. So I'm going to make a cast. So the deepest your bait's going to run is obviously when your rod tip is down, but if you're dealing with a lot of grass flats where it's coming pretty high up, you can put your rod tip up at about 11:00 and keep it above the grass.

Mikey Balzz:
And you need to play with that depending on what your cover looks like, how deep it is, and what situation you're in, but it gives you a lot more versatility with one crankbait, because you can make a six-foot runner run three foot. You can make a six-foot runner run one foot, all depending on where you have that rod tip pointed.

Mikey Balzz:
It might be summer. Those bass might be deep, but grab your spring squarebill box and get yourself shallow. Start ripping that thing off of grass. You'll be amazed how many fish you find up in the skinnies, causing them to react and burning the squarebill.

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