How to Use Spybaits Effectively

How to Use Spybaits Effectively

August 23, 2018 | Andy Buss

In recent years, spybaits have gone from being a secret among professional anglers to mainstream. On any clear body of water where bass are lurking, spybaits can lure fish when a plethora of others fail. While it deserves the reputation of catching beaucoup smallmouth bass, it is effective for largemouth bass as well.

How to Use Spybaits

B.A.S.S. Open veteran, Steve York, has been using a spybait to land big limits of bass for the past two seasons. When talking about how to use spybaits, he quickly points out, “Spybaits are especially good for smallmouth, but it will also catch largemouth.”

The spybait is a long, slender bait with a propeller in the front and back. It has 2-3 treble hooks and is heavy for its size. They sink quickly. York explains, “They mimic a fluttering baitfish.” He adds, “The propellers, I believe, mimic the fins on a baitfish.”

How to Use Spybaits: Where and When They Excel

“No doubt, when the fish are spread out on flats, this bait catches all kinds,” asserts York. Sunny days are best, and he has caught numerous panfish, walleye, northern pike, and all species of bass on flats with it. A flat is an area on a body of water that gradually gets deeper like a beach. They often have sporadic weeds and other cover fish relate to. This attracts baitfish, which in turn attracts predators. York adds, “Clear water is a must, though. Fish mostly use their sense of sight to track this bait down. If the water is dingy or stained, a louder bait, such as a crankbait, is more effective.”

“On a place like Lake St. Clair with numerous flats, if I find bait on my graph, I know the spybait will catch smallmouth bass. Bait is the key. With spybait it has to be present.” When targeting smallmouth bass, York suggests keeping the bait five feet off the bottom.

York with bass caught using spybaits

However, largemouth are a bit different. “The spybait will catch largemouth on the flats too, but it really excels after locating a school of fish. Largemouth schooled up are often focusing on bait, and they can’t resist it.” The perfect scenario for how to use spybaits with largemouth is along weed lines between 10-12 feet of water.

York claims spybaits work during all seasons, except during the spawn. “Somewhere on every lake during every season, bass are eating baitfish. Where you find bait, the spybait works.” During the first half of the year, he prefers the smaller profile of size 80, because baitfish are typically smaller. During the second half, as baitfish grow bigger, he prefers the larger size 90.

How to Use Spybaits: Retrieval

Spybaits sink quickly. The size 90 sinks about 18 inches per second, or 12 seconds for 18 feet of water. Size 80 sinks a bit slower. York adds, “Once I figure out which depth I want it, I count it down to the depth before I begin reeling it back.” This is an exceptionally user-friendly bait. York stresses to use a steady, slow retrieve. The propellers move exceptionally fast even with a slow retrieve. York thinks of it as, “Moving really fast, but going nowhere.”

The tricky part comes after getting a bite. “At times, they’ll bite it really hard. Those are actually the tricky ones to land, because they avoid solid hook penetration. But normally, you’ll just suddenly have slack in your line because the fish comes up from behind, bites it, and comes towards you.” He insists, “When that happens you have to reel quickly to catch up to the fish and then just keep pressure. Pull on the fish and keep constant pressure.”

How to use spybaits when bass fishing with York

How to Use Spybaits: Equipment

Long casts are best, and longer rods help casting distance. Spinning rods are preferred by most anglers, but York insists a baitcasting rod works with a size 90. Medium Action rods are a perfect compliment. On spinning rods, 4-6 pound test fluorocarbon line is frequently used, but York will use 10-pound test on his baitcaster.

“Check the propellers frequently,” warns York. “Be sure they are consistent, not bent, and running straight. After a few fish, these can get damaged.”

And with that, you can apply the same advice to your boat. Countless hazards are lurking in the water. So before trying out a spybait on the water, be safe and protect your boat with Megaware products such as a KeelGuard, SkegGuard, and ScuffBuster.

Check out more from Andy Buss on his YouTube Channel.