Spring is upon us. Temperatures are rising. It’s perfect for grabbing some spring ultra-light lures and heading to the water. Here, in Northern California, small ponds are beginning to come alive. Panfish are active. Small bass are aggressive along shorelines with voracious appetites. In response, I’ve been using a spring lure rotation for shallow water bank fishing and I’ve got at least two rods with two baits tied on and ready to go, and depending on the conditions and landscape features, I’ll do a quick lure change to adapt.
1.) The Heddon Zara Spook Puppy
To start, The Heddon Zara Spook Puppy is a great little walking bait for open water along shorelines. At a 1/4 oz, it casts pretty well on a 6’6″ medium-heavy spinning rod and 10 lb braided main line to a 6 lb fluorocarbon leader. The walking action is easy to achieve. The profile is perfect for smaller fish including smallmouth, bluegill, and smaller spotted bass.
A great tactic is to walk it as close to cover as possible like weed lines and walk it slowly. Let it sit and give it a few pops to really displace water. This little guy presents something new and fresh apart from the hollow body frogs and larger walking baits.
2.) Spring Ultralight Lures: Rapala Minnow
The Rapala original floating minnow is unrivaled as a moving bait in clear water. Especially when you’re fishing for smaller species. I’ll follow up my top water presentation with a Rapala F03 – F09 on light tackle, 6-8 lb mono. A good rod length is anything from 5′ – 6’6.” A shorter rod is great for that tight-spaced creek or backwater we’ve all been on. Overhang, tight vegetation all around – these obstacles are easier to maneuver with a shorter rod.
A Rapala minnow is a perfect follow-up to a topwater. Once I know where those fish are, I’ll put their forage right in front of them. I like to keep the color schemes natural including rainbow trout and smoky gray all the way to silver.
3.) Spring Ultralight Lures: 3″ Worms
Most bass anglers know the power of a Senko; they work year-round in virtually any scenario. So why not downsize? Yamamoto 3″ worms are great for ponds with smaller fish. You can fish it several ways including on a drop shot or wacky rig. For hooks, I go with the smallest circle hook I can get away with for the purpose of holding that famous action. A Senko is also a great follow-up to a topwater. After I see a blow-up, I’ll cast to that same spot with a small worm presentation.
4) Ned Rig
The Ned Rig is a fantastic follow-up bait when the fish are finicky. A little on the heavier side, the ned rig can still be thrown on light tackle and fished around sparse cover. It’s an effective finesse bait for those sensitive fish that are glued to the bottom and sensitive to eating. I’ll throw a ned rig to pick off those small bass sitting motionlessly who require something finesse directly in front of them.
Some great ned rig brands I like to use:
- Yamamoto Fat Senko
- Roboworm Ned Worm
Alternative Ned Rig
Other great alternatives to a worm ned rig can easily be a craw presentation as well. The Zman TRD Crawz is an awesome finesse creature bait you can throw when the fish are keyed in on crawdad.
5.) Rebel Wee Craw
The Rebel Wee Craw is the champion of small water fishing. As a craw imitation, it shoots backward in a fleeing position. It moves with a tight wobble with its back end pointed down. This gives you the advantage of fishing it like a crankbait. For me, the best environments are creeks and ponds, anywhere the water is still. I’ve tested the wee craw in mud, along rocks, and straight through open water and it all works. This is an all-around, fish-catching lure.
Its minuscule size provides fish of all species a meal, like bluegills, trout, bass, crappie, and catfish; all of these species will hit the rebel wee craw.
These ultralight lures represent a small number of awesome baits out there, give them a try. Don’t hesitate to downsize your presentation, line weight, and rod size for maximum action when targeting smaller species.