Although we seldom encounter issues putting food in our mouth, in the underwater world, fish will often miss or short strike baits with regularity. It's a fact of life in fishing. But having a throw back bait close at hand will often turn those missed opportunities into hooked fish.
What The Heck is a Throw Back?
The term "throw back" describes the practice of tossing a different style of bait back to a missed fish. In most cases, a throw back bait is smaller in size and will often be a lure that can be worked vertically, as opposed to horizontally. Hence, it is capable of staying in the strike zone — in the exact spot the "hot" fish last hit.
Why They Work
There are many reasons why fish strike short or miss a lure completely. A bait could be moving too quickly, a fish may not have a visual (think a topwater frog on surface slop), or they are trying to stun or kill it first before fully mouthing it.
When a fish misses a bait it is generally interested in eating. It's timing was just off. By quickly casting out a throw back lure to the exact position of the strike, this new slower, smaller and easy "prey" will often get gobbled up immediately.
Timing is Everything
A "hot" fish will often stick around for a very short time after missing a lure. For this reason, getting a throw back bait to it quickly and accurately is extremely important.
Ensure you have a rigged rod ready to go and close at hand. When a short strike occurs, reel in quickly, grab your other rod, and fire out a cast to the same spot. Often, the secondary strike will be immediate, so be prepared to set the hook.
What to Throw Back
As already mentioned, downsized vertical baits often get the nod as throw backs. For largemouth, I will often stick with a Texas-rigged creature bait or flipping jig. Smallmouth will eagerly eat up tubes, grubs or soft plastic stick baits.
It is often best to have two rods rigged with throw backs — a baitcast combo if working heavy cover and a spinning option for more open water situations. This will ensure you have all the bases covered.