Matching the Hatch

Matching the Hatch

Quite often in the fishing world you’ll hear the terminology match the hatch used when discussing how to select the best lure for a particular set of conditions. Most of the time, there’s a particular forage bass are keying in on, whether that’s shad, bream, crawfish or some other type of live bait in the area. So when picking out your lure, you typically want to do the best you can to mimic the bait that’s prevalent. Today, we’ll discuss a few of the ways you can do that.

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There are a whole lot of lure options out there when trying to match the hatch of shad. Typically, you’ll want to lean towards the brighter colors when shad are the main forage. Something that’s primarily white or silver is a good place to start. Shad do tend to have a darker back at times, so baits with a black or green back work well. And adding a little splash of chartreuse helps a lot in muddy or stained water. 

As far as the type of lure goes, you can mimic shad with spinnerbaits, swim jigs, buzzbaits, lipless crankbaits, squarebills, deep diving crankbaits, topwaters and a whole lot more. With so many options available, you often need to take into account the type of cover present and other conditions to narrow down your selection. If you’re fishing around a bunch of grass and it’s a little cooler for instance, a swimjig and spinnerbait work great. If it’s a little warmer and you’re around grass, you might try a buzzbait. 

match the shad for bass fishing


The same kind of logic applies when trying to mimic bream or bluegill. You want to find a bait that matches the color of the baitfish well, and it’s often important to pick a size that’s close to what the bass are feeding on as well. With a school of shad, they’re often pretty uniform in size. But with bluegill, shell cracker and other bream, some may be bigger than your hand while others are only an inch or two long. 

Most of the bass will be feeding on the smaller bream, so it’s a good idea to use small poppers, spinnerbaits, buzzbaits and squarebills. Soft plastics and jigs are good choices too when trying to imitate bream. It’s a good idea to use a flipping jig or a soft plastic creature bait rigged on a Texas rig when fishing around isolated cover. If the bream are popping on the surface, poppers, buzzbaits and hollow body frogs work great. 

how to match the bait shad


Whether you refer to them as crawfish, crayfish or crawdads, the color of these little crustaceans can vary widely throughout the country depending on the region and the time of year. Typically, when crawfish are the main forage in an area, you’ll want to go with a crankbait, jig or Texas rigged soft plastic in a color that resembles the real thing. But as for what color that is, the best bet is to do a little research on what the crawfish look like in your neck of the woods at that given time. 

One of the overarching themes in bass fishing is to use red to mimic crawfish in the early spring. This seems to be quite effective at times, but with hundreds of species of crawfish in North America, there isn’t really a one size fits all approach to color selection. If you believe crawfish are one of the primary forages for bass at the time when you’re fishing, here are some good color choices to try: black and brown, black and blue, green pumpkin and red. The tips of the claws of crawfish are typically where you’ll see the brightest colors too, so using a bright orange, blue or red dye to dip the tips of your bait will further help you match the hatch.

spring shad - what bait to use

In conclusion 

Matching the hatch is key to getting bit at times. Depending on the more prevalent bait in the area you’re fishing, it may be best to select lures that closely mimic bream, shad or crawfish. But there are other bait categories out there as well, like goby for instance in the northern part of the U.S. And then there are lakes where herring are the main food source for bass. It’s best to do a little research to find out what the bait looks like in your area and then do the best you can to find a lure that resembles it well, in size, profile and color. 

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