Fishing bass with wakebaits with Shaye Baker

Wakebait 101 with Shaye Baker

Fishing wakebaits is one of the best ways to create memorable fish catches while bass fishing. These baits are reeled right along or just below the surface, which leads to some explosive strikes and situations where you can often even see the fish coming. And because these baits are fished just below the surface, they are sometimes more effective than traditional topwaters. With a topwater, a fish may turn off of it at the last second when it realizes it needs to completely break the water’s surface to eat the bait.

Today, we’re going to offer up an intro to wakebait fishing crash course for any of you who are interested in trying this style of fishing out for yourself.

Gear for fishing wakebaits


One of the most important keys to fishing a wakebait well is to choose the right gear. For starters, you’ll want to use braided line or monofilament, since these two lines float. If you use fluorocarbon line, you’ll be fighting to keep the bait on the surface as the heavy line tries to sink down into the water. This will often cause a bow in your line, especially on long casts, which can lead to slow and poor hooksets.

In most situations where the water is clear, monofilament makes more sense since the fish would be able to see the braid. But if you’re fishing in stained water or around vegetation, you can get away with the braid and it’s even necessary at times to wrestle the fish out of the cover. Braided line is also a must when fishing with big wakebaits, like wooden rats.

Like the line, the rod and reel you’ll use for wakebait fishing varies depending on the cover and size of the bait you’re fishing with as well. A 7-foot to 7- foot, 3- inch rod in a medium heavy action works well for most wakebaits. You can fish anything from a 2- inch long little crankbait with a shallow running lip to a 5- inch wakebait with one of these two rods.

But when you move up into that 6- inch and larger wakebait range, you’ll need to step up to something like a 7-foot heavy action rod with a parabolic bend. This size rod can handle the weight of a heavy bait like that but also has a soft action for good hooksets and fighting the fish in. A 6:1 gear ratio reel is a pretty good place to land, as you’ll want to fish these baits really slow. Many anglers have a tendency to over fish them with faster reels.

Setting the hook with a wakebait

Setting the hook

The hookset is one of the most crucial parts of this technique. There’s not a lot of action that you’ll need to impart to the bait by working your rod. You simply reel it in, so that’s easy enough. But there are several ways to mess up when it comes to setting the hook. For starters, you’ll often see the fish coming from several feet away before they strike a wakebait. You’ll either be able to see the actual fish or you’ll see a wake headed in the direction of your bait. Be patient here and resist the excitement of the moment. It’s easy to get antsy and snatch before the bass gets the bait good.

Instead of snatching at the initial contact or just prior to the bass getting the bait, it’s best to wait for the fish to load up. This means keep reeling the bait until you feel the fish start to pull, then simply and slowly lean into the bite by pulling back on your rod. That is all it takes to set the hook since the wakebait has treble hooks. While mentioning the hooks, it’s important to point out that they should be round bend trebles, as this style of treble gives you the best chance to hook a swiping bass if it takes a swing at the bait on the surface.

The type of line you’re using is another important thing to keep in mind when developing a good hookset. If you’re using braid, you want to set the hook easier and maybe even use a lighter action rod than you would with monofilament. Braid has very little stretch. Mono has a lot of stretch. So with monofilament on the other hand, you’ll need to set the hook a little harder and reel up some of the stretch on the hookset.

A slightly stiffer or longer rod can also help here. And as the bass nears the boat, you’ll need to keep the difference in the lines’ stretches in mind as well, fighting the fish more carefully with braid so they don’t pull off. It’s even a good idea to back off the drag a bit in that situation if you get a big one on so that it doesn’t tear off or straighten out your hooks.

Bass fishing with wakebaits

In conclusion

Again, wakebaits are one of the most fun baits out there to fish with. It’s often an interactive technique as you’ll see the fish coming for your bait before the bite and may even spot a fish shallow before you cast your bait to it when fishing like this.

Having the right gear and being aware of the gear you are fishing with are both important. There are a variety of combinations you can go with, so keeping in mind the exact setup you’re fishing with at any given time is critical. But if you take these simple tips and put them into practice, you’ll find that wakebait fishing is a ton of fun and you’ll be getting bit and putting bass in the boat in no time.

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