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Late fall and early winter can be a great time to get out on the water. The pleasure boaters have packed it up for the year, and many other anglers shift their focus onto the hunting season. These past few weekends I have taken my Big Rig FD out on a traditionally very busy lake in the middle of the day and enjoyed very little boat traffic as I began targeting fish in deeper water. This time of year, I do the bulk of my damage using heavy metal lures, and my top three lures in this category are blade baits, jigging raps, and jigging spoons.

Blade baits are my favorite heavy metal lure to throw. I love feeling the vibration of the blade each time I rip it off the lake bottom. When it comes to brands, I am not picky as I believe that fish strike these baits merely out of reaction. In other words, I don’t think they get a lot of time to analyze the bait to see how realistic of a finish it has. That being said, I have come across some blade baits that foul up more than others. Typically in those cases, you can downsize the treble hooks by a size to prevent some of the foul ups. Some popular options of blade baits are the Silver Buddy, Bass Pro XPS Lazer Blade, Johnson Thinfisher, and the Damiki Vault. When it comes to size, I typically reach for a half-ounce. I also choose colors based on conditions: if I’m fishing clear water with bright sun I go with chrome. If the water is a little murkier or it’s a cloudy day then I go with gold. I have experimented with chartreuse as well in the past with some success but haven’t made a habit of experimenting with many other colors.

Jigging raps took a long time for me to gain confidence in, but now I always bring them with me when I’m targeting deeper fish. I used to not understand a few of the nuances of the bait and couldn’t understand how it was such a popular bait, but with some help from others I finally started sticking fish on them. The biggest tips that helped me were:
• When you rip the bait off the bottom, rip your rod tip to about a 11PM angle and keep it there to allow the bait to sail back to the bottom.
• Get into a rhythm of ripping the bait off the bottom and experiment with pauses in between rips.
• Sometimes size makes a difference: experiment with sizes 9, 7, and 5. If you only use one size then go middle of the road and buy the 7.
• The latest tip I got was to tie directly to the lure instead of using a snap. This allows better hook penetration on hooksets and will result in keeping more fish pinned.

Last but not least is the jigging spoon. The jigging spoon is the lure that I throw the least amount of the three, but I think that’s true for a lot of anglers. The fact that this is the case seems to make the spoon more productive at times. It seems like there are days when the spoon catches fish when nothing else will. Long story short, I typically reach for this bait if the other two lures don’t work out, and sometimes it’s just the ticket. My favorite spoon is the Luhr Jensen Crippled Herring. The thing that I like about this spoon is that you can easily bend it to get a different type of fall. So, if you want to jig straight up and down it works, but if you want it to have more of a flutter then simply bend the spoon until you achieved your desired result.
The final thing I want to mention about these lures is to dial them in with your gear as much as possible. These are heavy lures, which gives fish a lot of leverage to potentially throw your bait. There are a lot of things you can do to help with your hook-up to land ratio.
• Upgrade your hooks to Trokar EWGs to prevent snags on the lake bottom while increasing your hook-up ratio.
• Have a rod with some flex in the tip
• Consider using a mono leader for added stretch if your gear is too stiff
• Consider adding a swivel to decrease line twist
I hope these tips help you guys get into more fish using heavy metal lures!