Fine-tuning cadence fishing a walking bait for bass

Fine-Tuning Cadence with a Walking Bait


Walking baits hold a special place in the hearts of many bass anglers, and for good reason. When fishing clear water or calm conditions these sneaky plugs can bring fish up from considerable depths to put on aerial displays that become the stuff of memories for years to come.

Far from a simple piece of plastic, lures like the MONSTERBASS Ragnar are meticulously detailed, so if you fine tune your presentation, the rewards can be huge.

An aspect critical to success with walking baits is dialing in cadence—the rate in which you turn the reel handle and manipulate slack in the line. Sometimes you can’t move the bait fast enough. Other times, you need to stop it dead in the water. What worked yesterday may not get the job done today. The best retrieve cadence can even change by the hour, so experiment constantly.

A shortcut to finding the right cadence is looking at wave action. Start by matching the speed of the lure to the mood of the water. Some anglers give up on walking baits when whitecaps churn the surface. Big mistake. A more active cadence that splashes more water and gets noticed more easily could be the trick to getting bit in these conditions.

No one can say why bass prefer one rhythm over another at any given moment, but just being aware of your cadence—and experimenting with different retrieve speeds—can make all the difference.

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Video Transcript:

Alex Rudd:
So I know it's really cold in a lot of the country right now and I want to give a big shout out to Sebring, Florida, for bringing us down to the bass fishing mecca down here in Florida.

Alex Rudd:
It's a great time of year to be down here. It's a great time of year catching fish. Do all kinds of stuff that all of us bass fishermen love doing, and so Sebring was nice enough to help us come down here to get us hooked up with guys, to get us hooked up with awesome places to go fishing. So if you're looking for a place to visit in Florida, if you're looking for somewhere to go and spend your time to catch a lot of fish, check out Sebring, Florida.

Alex Rudd:
What's up guys. Welcome back to the MONSTERBASS channel. It's Alex, with the Alex Rudd YouTube channel but today we're on the MONSTERBASS YouTube channel.

Alex Rudd:
Today, we're going to be talking about walking baits. And so you've learned how to walk a walking bait. You've taken the time to learn this technique, but today I want to kind of talk to you about fine tuning it, taking it to the next level, getting it to where you can really optimize your time on the water with this bait and to catch more fish on it.

Alex Rudd:
So, got a lot of docks down through here, we're fishing some of these docks, looking for some post-spawned fish that have spawned around these docks, trying to get them to eat this big Ragnar walking bait. The deal with a walking bait is you look at it, and you think it's really simple. I just walk it back and forth, that's all there is to it, but you can start adding some complexities to it, to just make it a little more efficient than just walking. One thing I want to start out with is actually putting a leader on your top-water rod. So normally most people will just go straight 40, 50 pound braid on the top-water. What I like to do is actually put a little bit of fluorocarbon or mono in front of it. And what that actually does is this braid, it's so supple. It has a lot of recoil, and so when you hit that top-water bait and it actually walks what'll happen is this braid instead of being pulled away from the bait it'll bunch up in front of the bait and that front hook will actually wrap around that braid.

Alex Rudd:
You'll spend a lot more time trying to get that braid unwrapped around those hooks than you will actually fishing the bait. So with a little bit of fluorocarbon or mono in the front, it has a lot more recoil. And so when you pull that fluorocarbon or that mono, it's actually going to straighten out and get out in front of that bait and give some distance between the line and the hooks so that you can keep walking that thing and just stay really efficient with it on the water.

Alex Rudd:
So when we come up to a piece of cover, structure, or whatever it is, whether it's manmade, whether it's natural, just like this dock here, this is really where I'm going to slow down. I'm going to start taking my time to break down this dock, really make sure that I'm fishing, both sides of the boat slips, the fronts, the backs, the post.

Alex Rudd:
It's also working with change my cadence. And I think that's the big thing where cadence comes into play is what you're fishing and what you're actually fishing around and what kind of fish that you're fishing for. So like in this scenario, obviously down here in Florida, dealing with some post-spawn fish, some fish that should be hanging out around these docks, chilling around these dock posts. What I'm going to do is I'm really going to take some time to work this bait slow, give them a chance to look at it, and that can be a variety of different things. And it's almost playing with the cadences to figure out what these fish want. Just like a jerk bait. A top-water can be exactly the same. And I think a lot of people, when they look at a walking bait like this, they think they just got to keep it going, keep it moving the entire time, which isn't entirely true.

Alex Rudd:
You can pause this thing, especially when you get it around the front of a boat dock post. Like I'm about to here slow that thing down, let it sit there, just twitching it, giving it time to sit there and hang out. Because a lot of the times, especially with these funky post-spawned fish, you'll have bass that are hanging around these boat dock posts that will sit there and look at that bait until it does something just different enough, whether that's the tail feather on this thing that we've got tied up on the back hook flares a certain way, or it twitches a certain way, or rolls a certain way, then they'll react to it. Really taking your time to break down things, vary cadences, play with cadences and kind of figure out exactly what these fish want, can be super important.

Alex Rudd:
Now, the total opposite to that is when you actually get around open water, when you're dealing with different kinds of fish, different kinds of fisheries. So we're in Florida. So Florida's going to be completely different than Smith lake, Alabama it's, which is going to be completely different than Minnesota. But the thing is when you start to think about the kind of fish that you're actually fishing around, and what they actually like, that's when you hear really start to dial in cadences. Around large mouth, for the most part, in my experience, slowing down a little bit more, giving those fish a little bit more of a chance to really see that bait and to let them hammer it, has been in my experience the best way to catch them. Now, when I get around spots and small mouths, especially spotted bass, you almost can't fish that bait fast enough.

Alex Rudd:
It's when you really get out there. That's when you're not slowing down, it's when you're not really worried about trying to let them see it and look at it more. You're trying to get them to react to it, and that's where you're talking about clear, deep water scenarios, bringing those fish out of deeper water. And that's when I'm just going to be working that thing as hard as I possibly can, making it dark, making it slap, throw water really, really hard. And the thing about that is, again, instead of trying to trick them into eating it more, you're trying to get them, just to come up to blast it, to react to it. And you know, and you can apply that here. I apply it back home in Tennessee. When I'm around any kind of cover, structure, I'm going to slow down. I'm going to pick that apart.

Alex Rudd:
Just like I would, if I slowed down and flipped a jig, you really want to break it apart, make multiple casts at it. Really give yourself a chance to draw a fish out of there. But when I'm on a big flat, or I'm trying to just move down a bank, I'm going to be working that thing a lot faster, a lot harder, trying to get those fish to react to it. And so I think the biggest thing with cadence and really what you can learn with fish in a walking [inaudible 00:05:47] and playing with your cadence, is learning exactly what the fish want, what they're going to react to, whether you're going to have to trick them or not, whether they're being funky or not. It's just like any other bait in any other experience, but playing with those cadences are so important to catching fish. So next time you're out on the water. Next time you got to walk a bait in your hand, and you're trying to figure out what the fish want, play with a little bit of everything. Don't just straight walk that thing, pause it, stop it, walk it hard, walk it slow, make it, throw a bunch of water, really play with your cadences, and figure out exactly what the fish want.

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