Largemouth bass are opportunistic feeders. Preferring to lie in wait under a canopy of cover for the next meal to swim by, these fish possess heightened senses that are fine-tuned for efficiency.
|Bass living in thick vegetation rely on their inner ear and lateral line to detect prey. Crank up the decibel level to entice more bites.|
It's All in the Ears....or Line
Unlike humans, bass have two sensors for detecting acoustical disturbances (sound) – the inner ear and lateral line. These two systems work independently of each other to hear and feel particle motion and pressure changes. These systems are able to correlate and send signals to various parts of the brain, which then initiate a reaction or function.
Vision is predominantly good for largemouth, but certain scenarios will cause a fish to rely on one sense over the other.
Sorting Out the Sounds
Many bass baits on the market are manufactured with built-in sound. These range from crankbaits with internal rattles, to flipping jigs with affixed noise chambers, or even high-frequency sound producing blades on spinnerbaits.
Additionally, sound can easily be added to a silent bait. Some anglers religiously use rattling worm weights when Texas-rigging soft plastics. For additional sound, a worm rattle can be inserted into the worm or craw itself. Flutter spoons, a staple on deep ledge lakes, can be configured to render sound by gluing a worm rattle to the underbelly of these typically silent baits.
Choosing tungsten worm or drop shot weights can also factor into the sound game. These dense compounds produce an elevated frequency when making contact with rock and rubble.
|Not all rattling baits are created equal. Pay close attention to water conditions and take note of the frequencies fish prefer.|
Tossing sound producing lures is productive under most fishing conditions. However, certain scenarios require a ramped up decibel level to really call in the fish.
Heavy cover, such as large expanses of thick vegetation, is a prime example. Vision dramatically decreases in this dark and weed-choked underworld, meaning bass will rely on their inner ear and lateral line to alert them to prey. Work your loudest flipping jigs and plastics in these scenarios, exaggerating the movement of your bait to make the most sound possible. It may take time, but fish will eventually hone in on your lure.
Stained or excessively muddy water is also worthy of cranked up sound. Similar to fishing heavy cover, lure cadence or color is often not a deciding factor on getting bit. Alerting a bass by sheer sound is.
Docks and undercut banks are another two structure areas where loud baits can make all the difference. Oftentimes, fish are found far under these man-made or natural structures, meaning bass need to 'hear' your bait before finding it. It also goes without saying that giving your bait extra time in the strike zone will lead to more fish.
When on the water, make a mental note of which baits bass prefer. Regardless of what lure you use, the sound they produce will vary from one to the next. For instance, there are many different brands of flat sided lipless crankbaits on the market. Although they may all look similar in appearance, the amount and type of internal BB's, how the sound chambers are manufactured, and even where line ties are positioned can make a dramatic difference in both the sound frequency and decibels they produce.
Watch and interpret which the fish prefer. Try to mimic that sound and accompanying action with other lures in your arsenal. Sounds aren’t all the same.
Is Silence Golden?
There are a few scenarios where sound producing lures should be avoided. Gin clear water is one of them. In this instance, sound can actually spook fish. Putting more thought into color, size, and action will result in more largemouth in the livewell.
Heavily-pressured fish are another example. Subtle baits trump sound in these situations. Think natural. Think quiet.
Remember that fish don’t always play by the rules, so experiment until you find what works and take note of what doesn’t. Put your pulse on sound this fishing season. You might call in the bass of your dreams—as long as it can hear you coming.
Still having trouble deciding when to use rattling crankbaits? Check out this video tip from Kevin VanDam.