Casting a Shadow..

Courtesy of Vance McCullough

I saw the shadow before I saw the squirrel.

The moving shadow.

Shadows and movement always give the game away.

When I taught my kids to sightfish, I taught them to look for shadows first. The fish may materialize after that, but even if not, you know where they are and may be able to sneak a lure into their path before they see you.

Bass do the same thing. Eyes positioned atop their head; they see what’s above very well. Our shadows and movement could end the game for us if we’re unaware of the fish’s’ position. Nothing spooks fish faster.

But we can use shadows to catch fish as well. One of the biggest revelations of the swimbait game is that the slow, wounded, vulnerable lures work brilliantly when the sun shines brightly. It’s hard to top the drawing power of a large opaque swimbait struggling overhead, casting a shadow through all columns of the water until it reaches the lake floor or dissolves into the depths, it’s cone of influence attracting attention from fish below.

While such lures are often associated with cloud cover and wind – those conditions can create memorable days – don’t overlook the value of a shadow and the ways you can use it to draw bass from big distances on calm, sunny days.

Take advantage of that.

Long rods and braided line increase casting distance, critical when fish are following a bait and need time to decide to attack, as happens constantly with swimbaits. Fluorocarbon lights up like a laser. It is not ‘invisible’ when the sun is beaming on it. Braid. Long, stiff rods will also let you reach out and touch someone when they eat the bait far from the boat.


Moving shadows always betray the prey. And the hunter.

Sometimes the game just comes down to ‘who casts the better shadow?’.