Swimbait Tips and Tactics for Big Spots with "Triton Mike" Bucca
other tidbit of info is to know where spotted bass like to hold on a lay down.
Nine times out of ten, the big spots will be holding at the very end of a lay
down. Most of your largemouth are usually within the lay down. But spots like
the deepest part at the end of the lay down. This is why it is important to make
long accurate casts with big swimbaits. Accurate so that you don't hang up in
the lay down and long so that when your bait clears the lay down that you,
number one, give the spot time to get from the deeper water to your bait, number
two, time to play with it, and number three, time to finally commit without
seeing you standing in your boat. So as you can see you have to be anal about
boat position. It's too dang easy to get too close to your target so that you
can pick it apart with short casts. But those big spots are a different breed of
fish and require a different approach with the key being longer, more accurate
A 8 inch Triple Trout with a Lunker City
Finesse Tail as a trailer, along with a prototype 6 and 8
inch Hampton Shad
Cal: What are some
of your favorite swimbaits for targeting spots? Do you perform customize any of
your baits and if so, in what way?
I knew you were going to ask this! My favorite three baits for spots are by far
the Triple Trout, Huddleston Deluxe Trout, and the Hampton Shad. One thing that
I have noticed in the swimbait industry is there arenít very many swimbaits that
cater to the Eastern anglers. We have gizzard shad, threadfin and blue backs as
our primary forage. But with most of the swimbait manufacturers being out West
it's understandable most swimbaits are patterned after trout..
Triple Trouts I use the most are eight and ten inch versions. I don't use the
bait stock at all. I swap out the stock VMC hooks for 2X Owners and I replace
the tail with a Lunker City Finesse fish which has a forked tail to mimic the
gizzard and threadfin tail. I actually feel that the Triple Trout action is
BETTER and more wicked with that Lunker City Tail. When you add the Lunker City
Tail you actually add about 3 inches to the bait. So technically the eight
incher becomes eleven inches and the ten incher becomes thirteen inches in
for the Huddleston type baits, I heavily stinger and modify my baits depending
on how I am fishing them. If I am bottom bouncing a ROF 12, I stinger a #1 2X
Owner hook a few inches behind the stock hook with wire and crimps. If I am
fishing for suspended fish, where the fish is going to be coming up at the bait,
I evenly spread out two, #1 2X owner hooks on the belly of the bait using 80
pound fluorocarbon and crimps. That way when they do come up and hit the bait
they hit the hooks first.
of people ask me why donít I use wire instead of fluorocarbon? Well when fishing
clear water I want my bait to appear as natural as possible. Fluorocarbon blends
in better with a white belly than leader wire. I also have gotten in the habit
of painting my hooks and paper clip securements WHITE as well, again to blend
into the belly of the bait. Does it help? Who knows, I would like to think that
it doesnít hurt. We are talking big fish so I donít want to take the chances of
having a once in a lifetime fish following and not commit due to something I
could have done differently with concealment.
Here is Triton Mike's basic stinger box. Full of various sizes
of 2X VMC Owner hooks, heavy duty hyper wire split rings are
mandatory! 80lb Triple Fish fluorocarbon leader material, Paper
clips to secure the leader material and keep it flush with the
bait. Split ring pliers, crimp pliers and crimps. Sharpie marker
to color the leader material along the back of the bait so that
it blends in.
The one thing I
have learned about spots is they have a small mouth. Actually a six
pound spot has a mouth about the size as a two to three pound largemouth
so they can't totally engulf a big bait like a largemouth can, so having
stinger hooks on the bigger baits is very important. One key thing here
is I always keep a 100 yd leader wheel of 80lb Fluorocarbon and a spool
of wire in my boat. This makes it easy to install or change stinger
hooks while on the water and the fluorocarbon leader wheels are cheaper
than buying bigger spools and it fit easily into your swimbait bag. I
have a Plano box full of stinger equipment that I have with me at all
times to perform on the water changes as necessary.
the Hampton Shad has been a long term project that my partner and I have been
working on for almost a year and a half. Like I said earlier, there really
arenít many baits that mimic threadfin and gizzard shad so we thought this would
fill a niche. We are still in the prototype stages of this bait with hopes of
coming to the market if everything lines up like I am hoping. I wanted something
with a shad profile and a shad action. The key here is to match the hatch of
what the big spots are feeding on. Electro fishing studies with our local DNR
tell us that the #1 forage for the big spots is big GIZZARDS! We have a six and
a eight inch sized baits in a medium fall rate and are working on production
solutions as we speak. I have a few prototypes out in the field as we speak and
I will say that even Gary Dobyns was impressed.
Cal: Well, you know
our audience is all about the tackle, so what rod, reel, and line are you using?
My all time favorite swimbait setup is a Dobyns Rod 795ML with a Shimano
Calcutta 300 or 400 TE. I use 25lb Triple Fish X-Rated line on all of my setups.
The rod was designed by Legendary Trophy Bass Hunter Mike Long and is one of the
most versatile rods on the market. It can throw everything from a 6 inch Hampton
Shad all the way to a ROF 16 Hudd and everything in between. I also have two
806ML's that I use for slinging Hudds in open water where accuracy is not nearly
as important. That extra few inches in rod lenght helps get me a few more yards
in casting distances to help expand the strike zone for those pocket picking
A nice 6.3lb spot caught on
the 8 inch Hampton Shad last year
Cal: What's the best time of year in your area, for targeting trophy spots?
While we catch spots here all year around, my favorite time of the year is by
far Spring and Fall. Once our water temps reach close to 60 degrees the bottom
falls out and the swimbait bite is full bore. My absolute favorite way to catch
big spots is by waking a big swimbait about 2 feet under the surface and
watching a big spot annihilate the bait. You just havenít lived until you have
seen a big spot or largemouth hit a swimbait in plain view. Topwater has nothing
on swimbait fishing!
Cal: Do you pay
attention to weather conditions and moon phase in your trophy hunting pursuits
and if so, what are the ideal confluence of events that have brought you maximum
The main thing I pay attention to weather wise is the wind. Where most folks
like to throw spinnerbaits on windy points, windblown pockets and over humps I
like to throw a swimbait in those types of conditions. Wind pushes around micro
organisms and the baitfish follow these micro organisms to feed which in turn
draws the bass. So those areas are what I key in on during windy days. It
actually congregates the fish making it easier to find their location to pick
them off. Also mud lines or drainages after a hard rain are other good patterns
to run. All sorts of critters come into the lake on those run off areas and help
concentrate the fish a lot as well. Other than that I fish when I can regardless
of the weather condition.
Cal: Mike, thanks
so much for taking the time out with us and sharing with our readers, the
exciting pursuit of trophy sized spotted bass. In closing, is there anything
you'd like to share with our readers?
Cal it's always good to talk fishing with a friend. I've been a avid reader of
the Tackle Tour and your forum for quite some time and the information provided
is invaluable to all anglers.
for last words of advice, after reading a lot of the swimbait forums on the
Internet and through my various seminars the biggest apprehension I hear from
anglers is their thinking of a bait being too big for their local pond or lake.
I remember thinking at one time that a Lucky Craft Real California was HUGE and
it's only a 5 inch bait! It didn't take me long to move up to the eight inch
range as the fish quickly told me that eight inches can be like a small dessert!
Now I am often throwing baits in the ten to thirteen inch range fairly
three pound largemouth or spot won't even think twice about hitting a bait of
that size. Overcoming the fear of a bait being too big is one key part of
becoming successful with swimbaits. So my best advice to anyone wanting to start
throwing swimbaits is to start small to gain some confidence but be sure and
move up gradually in size as you gain success.
TackleTour would like to thank Mike Bucca for taking the
time to share his rigging and fishing strategies in pursuit of trophy spotted
bass. To learn more about Mike or even book a trip with him, please visit his