Heavy Metal No Noise

Courtesy of Vance McCollough

Photo courtesy of www.steelshad.com


Gonna share a secret I’d rather keep.

I picked it up from my travels over the years. This one works from coast-to-coast and form border-to-border and well beyond our borders, Canada and even Japan being hotbeds for the lure style and while you’ve definitely heard of blade baits, it’s doubtful you’ve fished them this way, especially in the Deep South on grass laden waters, even more especially in Florida where nearly every major tournament trail begins their season in the early months of each new year.

Blade baits, such as the Silver Buddy and the Gay Blade developed a reputation in deep drains and standing timber of stingy reservoirs decades ago. They work well with modern electronics as a changeup to the dropshot and jigging spoons for those who like to play videogames with suspended fish. 

What a lot of people miss is just how well these thin slabs of metal work in skinny water when bass become fatigued by traditional shallow water techniques in late winter. 

After seeing a barrage of Rat L Traps and Red Eye Shads, bass from Rayburn to Harris Chain may hunker deeper in their grass bed rather than attack these otherwise effective lures. That’s when a blade can call them out and get them going again. With no internal rattles to remind fish of the lipless cranks that have sore-mouthed them since Thanksgiving, blades seem more natural. There is a trick, though, to getting the most form these lures in shallow waters where bass will soon begin to show up for periodic feeding sprees, particularly in the South. 

Most blades are designed to get deep fast. They are dense and small. This makes them difficult to use in shallow grass. The Steel Shad is special. It has an elongated body that helps it float over cover like no other. While the sinking lure can be fished at any depth – and get there quickly – it is more versatile than others. For instance, the rear tip of the blade can be bent to drive the lure to the right or left. It can be altered to incite more, or less, vibration or to change the running depth on a straight retrieve. Bend it into a banana shape and it will flutter up and around underwater objects like an injured baitfish. Experimentation is half the fun and as nice as I am, I will not share my best modification. You’ll have to figure that one out for yourself. It’s worth finding. I will say that it involves the weight, or lack thereof, of a given lure.  

The Steel Shad comes in various sizes to mimic whatever your fish are eating. There’s even a tiny one that will call panfish. Saltwater fish of all species are game. It just looks and acts like something a fish would eat. The standard size in a gold finish duplicates the wild shiners preferred by bass and anglers in Florida. 

Visual appeal aside, the real magic of the Steel Shad is its tight vibration, proven over the course of years to trigger cold water strikes from the biggest bass. Not many lures can draw bigger than average bites but still catch everything that swims in an area. The steel Shad does. 

No matter where you fish this winter, add the Steel Shad to your arsenal. And if you’re coming to visit the sunshine State, pack a few gold ones!