Patience with the Prop Yields Fall Giants!
Fall is topwater time! The bait and bass move up and feed up. This situation often lends itself to outstanding surface action.
But let’s be honest. There are many hours, and even entire days when buzzbaits, poppers, spooks and even the Whopper Plopper won’t raise a strike. This doesn’t mean your topwater fun has to end. It probably means you just need to slow down, and maybe fish tighter to cover.
Enter the prop bait. This IS your granddaddy’s surface plug. And it still catches granddaddy-sized bass for those in the know. The old standby in Florida, where the surface bite lasts throughout the fall and winter into next spring, is the Devil’s Horse.
With a prop on the nose and a matching prop on the tail, this cigar-shaped plug is best fished with a gentle twitch and a long pause. Longer. Wait until you’re sure you’ve waited long enough. Then wait a second more.
Boring? Not if you put the lure in the right place. Even though they sport multiple treble hooks, prop baits should be cast beside likely cover, even far back into holes and pockets in grass or pads, back under docks, snug up against the bark of a laydown, right through the heart of an exposed brushpile. This is where the biggest bass are increasingly drawn as the days continue to shorten and water temps continue to cool. This is where they’ll wake you up about the time you start to nod off if you’re doing it right.
“No doubt about it, you have to have patience with the prop,” mused Bassmaster Elite Series Veteran Bernie Schultz as we fished the famous Bienville Plantation along the Florida/Georgia border. Yes, the lakes at Bienville offer world class bassing, but fishing always offers the option for failure. We had exercised that option for a while so Bernie introduced me to a lure that he believes is, to date, the greatest refinement of the prop bait – Rapala’s X-Rap Prop.
“What we’re doing here is, instead of triggering a straight reaction bite, we’re letting the lure’s profile fool the fish. It’s just sitting there and eventually their curiosity gets the best of them. You can often see them just pull up and park right under the lure. Then the next time you twitch it the slightest bit, they just explode on it.”
Schultz had a good example to point to after a 6-pounder crushed his X-Rap Prop right at the edge of a reed patch. “That bass attacked like a German Sheppard!” chuckled Schultz.
“But that’s the reason we designed the X-Rap Prop this way. I mean, look at the cosmetics! It looks like a real fish sitting there. We had a lot of fun testing it, I’ll tell you that.” Schultz had a lot of input as he helped his friend Mark Fisher design, yet another, outstanding lure for Rapala, among the most innovative lure companies in the world.
With ultra-realistic details – bright eyes, brilliant finish that looks as if the scales will actually flake off in your hand – this modern take on a proven classic will give you the confidence needed to let your plug sit motionless as long as it takes to tempt bass.
Now, don’t misunderstand, the prop bait will produce fast action when the fish are playing fast and loose, such as when the barometer starts to drop. It will even catch doubles when they fight over it.
But when the action slows, there’s hardly a better lure to tempt them than a well-placed, well-paced prop bait.
Use heavy braided line so you won’t be afraid to put it where you need to and, as the weather cools, your topwater bite doesn’t have to.
Until then, don’t be surprised if you hook multiple fish on the same lure while targeting schoolers and shallow wolf packs. It happens. Check the pics!