Water temperatures slowly ease downward as the days get shorter and the nights get cooler. Here in Southeast Georgia, the bass are heading to the shallows to feed for winter. This is a great time to do some fall finesse bass fishing.
It’s generally called fall finesse fishing for bass, wacky rigging. However, that term can broadly be applied to fishing anywhere from a foot to 50 feet deep. Finesse fishing at its best is done in 1 to 5 feet of water. Where soft plastics can be fished on short-shank 1/0 to 2/0 hooks with no weight at all.
The big plus of fishing weightless is that the bait slowly wafts and flutters toward the bottom. This usually often draws a strike long before it even gets there.
Once these near-weightless rigs make bottom contact, they can be flipped upward with pressure on the rod. The enticing flutter again towards the bottom in a series of slow-motion actions makes the bass strike.
Worms that work best for this are “salted” or high-density plastics that sink naturally. Combined with a light hook, the denser worms have the correct sink rate to work in the shallows. Six-inch “stick” type worms are favorites of many.
Two Rigs to Use
There are two popular riggings for fall finesse bass fishing. Widely used is known as the wacky rig. This rigging looks like a mistake by a beginner fisherman until you see it in the water. As the rig sinks, both ends flutter. Bass can’t stand it.
The other rig is more similar to the standard Texas worm. Rather than turning it over to bury it in the plastic, leave it out. While this makes the lure more likely to snag, it also makes it very difficult for a bass to pick up the worm.
The standard Texas rig with a larger dog-leg type long-shank hook also works if you’re fishing in an area where lots of grass, rock, or timber.
Choosing the Right Line
Because of the minimal weight, most anglers will want to fish finesse worms on spinning tackle. Ten-pound-test braid, with a couple of feet of 10-pound K9 Fluorocarbon leader, works best. The fluorocarbon leader is less visible and adds a “stiffener” that prevents the line from folding over.
The only negative in fishing the unweighted rigs is that they seem so lifelike bass frequently swallow them deeply. For that reason, it’s best to be a line watcher and to set the hook the instant the line jumps.
As Bill Dance famously said, “Fella’s, they ain’t got any hands.” When the line moves, the fish has the lure in its mouth, and it’s time to set the hook.
Finesse fishing in the shallows typically continues as the water temperature drops out of the 80s. It shows bass something they haven’t seen much of, and that can be a good thing for anglers.