Do you love big bluegill?
This is a shallow water method, first told to me by our own beloved John Sheehan, of RINGWOOD, NJ. You may not know that John is a fine musician; you can hear him on ITUNES or see him on YouTube all day long. I encourage you to do so. But John is also an accomplished angler and he uses this plan for both bass and pickerel. Let John tell you how it works:
“Flutter spoons thin gauged spoons that come into play when a slow fall is the preferred presentation . This means they don't cast as well, especially if there is any wind blowing. However, they work well on shallow water fish like bass and pickerel. I've caught many pickerel with them, in fact, drifting over weed beds and casting with the wind at my back. Granted, I'm in a boat under those circumstances and that does help with the cast. But you get the point.
The slow fall and 3-5"profile of these spoons is what makes them work. They represent a dying bait fish to weed-hiding pickerel; all the fish has to do is dart out and nab a supposed “easy meal.” Flutter spoons can also be cast when wading or bank fishing, as long as the wind is not too strong. Also, if the wind is behind you they can work out well.
By contrast, heavy, fast-falling casting spoons, like the heavier Acme ‘Kastmaster’(R) or Luhr-Jensen ‘Krocodile’(R) are prone to get in trouble over weeds and around other cover. They are fine for open water, but may be hung up too often in the shallows. Now, when the wind gets to whipping, heavier spoons like the KROC's or ACME spoons (my faves) are the ticket. They buck headwinds and crosswinds much better than flutter spoons and give you both distance and accuracy. I also think the roiled surface waves caused by the wind might make these weightier spoons fall slower. Nevertheless, I usually want heavy casting spoons for a two reasons: Suspended fish over deep water, or working on and hoping off clean bottoms .
Because they tend to sink so fast and so get in shallow water trouble, this is their best use. They are simply not prone to getting hung up on the cleaner bottoms found in deeper water. So what if I must work a heavy spoon from deep into shallow water on the same cast? I’ve found (at least on summer bites when the water is warmer) that when it approaches the shallows, I can ‘snap’ it up away from the bottom, then let it fall backwards as I retrieve it. The net effect of this 'lift-and-drop' retrieve is the spoon stays near the bottom, in the water column, but not right down in the “snag zone.” Predators looking for a meal will then sometimes dart out of the cover I'm trying to avoid and grab it!
NOTE: This is a GOOD WAY to find where the holding spots are, too. But do pay attention where the fish came from!
Much of what I'm saying applies to bass fishing, too, and in my New Jersey waters the two are often reacting to the same presentation.
So much for the heavy casting spoon. What about the flutter rig?. Here's what I think is happening with that (actually has happened to me). Let’s say it’s a few weeks, maybe a month, after ice out in NE New Jersey. It’s the middle of the day in early or mid-April and there is an easy wind blowing here and there. You’re casting to three feet of water, where (you hope) hungry bass and pickerel are cruising. You want to throw a spinner and retrieve it steadily, mostly because you like them. The problem is, the water temps are still fairly low and these fish just don’t have the metabolic “oomph” to keep up with spinners.
You are also sure smaller is a better profile for the early season, and you resist the large flutter spoons in your box. Finally, you select a Dardevle “Chucklett” or an Acme 1/6th oz. Flash King Wobbler (now very sadly discontinued from the Acme Catalog) and tie it on to your six- eight pound test line.
‘So far, so good,’ you think.
Which is about the time you find that these thin gauge spoons cast like crap, especially with the unpredictable side-winds common in Spring. You still believe in a small, slow-falling bait because you’re sure the fish want an easy meal. You’re right in thinking that their lowered metabolisms practically demand it.
For more distance and a better cast, you decide to put on a split shot, 6-8" above the lure. You cast and the shot drops to the bottom. You hope the spoon, fluttering down behind that sinking shot, looks like a dying bait fish. Hope is about all you can do at this point.
Before the spoon hits the bottom, though, you see the line jump and move off.
“THAT WAS NO WIND GUST!” you shout, and you quickly reel up the slack line and set the hook.
Sure enough, it's your first fish of the day. After the battle between man and beast is over, you think you've figured out a pattern. As you continue working it, lesson number TWO sets in:
Several frustrating casts occur right away with the line, spoon and shot getting tangled up in the wind. Before long, you figure out that low rod angles and casting between gusts (as much as you can) reduces those problems to a minimum.
If you had just the right size spoon to mate with the gear you have, you'd abandon the shot all together. But for now you're going with the added weight. Hey, it works so go with it!
You find yourself, at times, moving the shot around. You bring it closer or farther from the lure, to find what the fish want to see and feel from your presentation. You soon feel the thrill all anglers experience when catching fish with an artificial lure – in some way, you have beaten the odds and fooled hungry fish with just a bit of metal and lead. You vow to try the technique over the weed edges in the late Fall, perhaps with bigger and heavier flutter spoons that may not need shot.
You are confident you can call up Mr. Pickerel and Brother Bass, now, hiding there in the weeds. They want to pick off easy victims and your spoon perfectly imitates a dying bait fish for them. You figured it out, this day. No triumph of Man is ever as sweet as this."