Saltwater bass fishing is really similar to freshwater bass fishing.  I’m getting better at using weedless swimbaits, hardbaits, and lead head/big swim jigs to probe the depths.  I have spinnerbaits and jerkbaits in my game.   You rarely fish super shallow, for any period of time, but if you are fishing shallow, you’re likely looking over your shoulder for a wave.  Boiler rocks, crashing waves, beds of kelp—these are where big calico bass live.  

I had the chance to fish some water near the Mexico/US Border with Kevin Mattson.  We took his boat and he got us around fish, and did the heavy lifting.  Great trip.  Here are some highlights and things I’m confident to share: 

Cut Tailed Triple Trout

If I wasn’t so dumb, I would have picked one of these up sooner and committed to it.  The cut tailed Triple Trout floats, which means it can be fished extremely slow.  Much slower with the an awesome waking action you only get when you burn the standard Triple Trout.  You get a great wake at a much slower speed, is the net net.  You can ‘stall’ it around the sweet spots and let the bait dead stick a little to draw a bite.  Very ideal for grass fishing and a little theory of fishing truth I like to call ‘rate of stall’.  You can fish the Cut Tail Triple Trout around grass pockets, laydowns, big shade spots—-and really milk the spot.  You spend a lot of time with your Triple Trout  making killer S Turn surface wakes vs. burning it for 3-5 feet before it gets waking on the surface.  And it fishes much slower and can be twitched/jerked.  I am getting blown up on calico bass in the kelp around Dana Point, and recently smashed some good ones with Kevin: 

The Cut Tailed Triple Trout comes in a few sizes.  I like the 8″ and the 10″ Models. I have a couple of sweet ones Scott has made me.  You can get them at Tackle Warehouse or you can order them directly from Scott’s website:   They have a similar, yet slightly looser action.  More joints = more clack and more foldability of the bait.  The tail is really lazy and whips around nicely.  

I fished mine on 80# PowerPro and upgraded my hooks to Owner ST-66 Trebles, and Owner Hyper Wire Split rings.  I direct tied my 80# Braid and always use Fitzgerald Braided Line Paint.  I have been fishing the Cut Tail on a Daiwa Lexa HD 300.  I am exploring a bunch of low profile saltwater grade bass reels.  I’ll do a review on them at some point.  The Lexa is good, but I’ve blown it up a couple times.  I have to admit, being a back seater cramps my bigbait lobbing style.   I have the 8:1 which makes it fish fast, but you lose that torque and low end.   If you are good with your rod and have the drop on the fish, you can make it all work, but I wonder if I’m setting myself up for disaster on a really big calico bite or one that gets me out of position.  Too fast of gear ratio and big fish that live around heavy cover can spell disaster.  That is what makes bass fishing fun, a lot of times.  Fishing around visible structure, and literally, yanking them out from their ambush spots.  Calico bass are no different. 


We threw the 8″ standard Triple Trouts and caught some fish, but the better quality, and most action was on the Cut Tail. 





This may be completely “duh” to some people, but I am still acquiring my arsenal of glide baits and learning how to properly fish them in all sorts of places.  The Deps Slide Swimmer 175 is a killer medium sized swimbait that is going to catch you quality and quantity.  If I lived in Georgia and fished the Blue Back Herring bite, I would be all about the Deps Slide Swimmer 175 (SS175) in the Blue Back Herring color.  This bait is 7.5″ long and weighs 3 ounces.   It fishes like a a ‘fluke’.


Herring Eaters

May – June tends to be awesome time for the herring eaters.  I think the bite goes thru the summer, you just have to adjust and fish thru crowds and the heat.   Fish this thing on a medium 8′ swimbait rod, 65# Braided line (direct tie) and a 200 or 300 series 7.1 or 6.3:1 low profile reels.


Applications / Approaches for Herring Eaters with the Slide Swimmer 175 Blue Back Herring:

Docks-Fish the seawalls in between docks and long runs of seawalls anywhere you can find them. Especially early morning bite.  Cover water with the Slide Swimmer.  You can have a lot of fun high sticking with braided line and really pumping your bait upward so the glide breaks the surface.   Then stall it out and let it just die.  Or just parallel good sections and fish it slow and steady, sorta spinner bait style.

The Slide Swimmer is an amazing bait.  I don’t care how you fish it.  You can really jerkbait/fluke style fish it.  So around certain docks, you could even pitch it into open slots and fish it out and draw out a biggun.   I would stall it around shade spots, and just use it pull fish out from under floating docks.  Fish the windy / outer side of anything if you get the chance.


Points-I would fish the Slide Swimmer 175 Blue Back Herring like a mad man on places like Lake Murray or Clarks Hill.  I would run and gun as many red clay points and just good rocky points I could hit.   I would spin around and fish way offshore those points. I found fishing over grass that was 15-12 feet deep with a Triple Trout a really good way to catch quality fish on Clarks Hill.  I think the Slide Swimmer 175 would do some real damage on the herring lakes if a guy knew where the fish were.  Herring eaters are hard to find and stay on.   You gotta be able to fish up shallow then pull off the point, fish ontop, fish double fluke rigs, etc to pull ’em up.  The SS175 is going to be another tool in your tool kit.

Red Clay
Red Clay



Notice, the 175 next to the 250 Slide Swimmer.  The 250 has fins on the belly, the 175 does not have those same fins.
Notice, the 175 next to the 250 Slide Swimmer. The 250 has fins on the belly, the 175 does not have those same fins.


The Tail of the 175 vs. the 250 Slide Swimmer.  More of a Cleaver than the 250s tail.
The Tail of the 175 vs. the 250 Slide Swimmer. More of a Cleaver than the 250s tail.

BrushPiles- I always think of Ryan Coleman from Flowery Branch, GA when I think of brush piles.  I hired Ryan to take me fishing on Lake Lanier.  He took me to some brushpiles and showed me the how they do it with the FishHead Spin over the brush piles.   It was really cool to see how Ryan had the brush pile game down.  I told him we’d be shot for cutting down a tree in California.  I would suck at creating brushpiles.    But if you know where there are brush piles, I would fish this bait over those brush piles, like you would your Zara Spook or GunFish.

Brush pile revealed by low water.  Clarks Hill 2008.
Brush pile revealed by low water. Clarks Hill 2008.

Laydown Trees of course, too.

Man Made Structures – Whatever you do, DO NOT fish this bait around dams, big concrete pump houses, around bridge pilings.   You will probably get your arm broke!

Smallmouth/Spotted Bass – Because this is a ‘medium’ sized swimbait, it makes it extremely attractive to guys who hunt big smallmouth. And spotted beasts. Spotted bass that eat herring are different than largemouth that eat herring.    All I know is, the SS175 is a great selection when you have spotted or smallmouth basses on your agenda.

Saltwater –  The BlueBack Herring is descendant the saltwater run herring.  Herring are a great bait offshore in Southern California. I plan on feeding some calico bass, white sea bass, and yellowtail some Slide Swimmer 175 this summer.



Purchase from Tackle Warehouse Now:



The Bettencourt Baits Dying Trout.  Fusing a deadstick, stall, and slow grind approach.
The Bettencourt Baits Dying Trout. Fusing a deadstick, stall, and slow grind approach.

I have a thing with stalling and deadsticking. It’s a universal truth of catching fish on bigbaits.  It’s a part of my approach to picking baits, and choosing my style of retrieve.  Context.   The Bettencourt Baits Dying Trout is approximately 7″ long and no more than 2 ounces.  It’s not exactly a mega-bait, but what it lacks in bigbait appeal, it makes up for in a killer swim, stall, and death dance.  It’s also likely something the fish haven’t seen yet.  I can see setting up on a prime rocky point, or offshore spot with a sweet spot, and really setting up for one or two prime casts.   I would swim this thing right into mother hen’s den, and then kill it…..and let it sit on the surface for as long as you can stand it.  Then twitch it once or twice hard and violent and let it sit again.  You could really draw a killer strike on this bait, if you knew where some big ones lived and need a fresh approach.

Here’s a little video, from one my favorite places to film on earth, in Cotter, Arkansas:



Not to say, you couldn’t just ‘go fishing’ and catch fish with the Dying Trout.  It’s a great bait, and my hat is off to Nathan Bettencourt for making baits uniquely his own.   His Dying Bluegill was a fun bait to test.  They aren’t swimbaits you go power fishing and cover tons of water with.  You need to take your time to fish the Dying Trout or the Dying Bluegill right.   So, if you found yourself in 3 feet of clear water on lake Okeechobee, and magnums up and around beds, you should fish the Dying Bluegill.  If you find yourself off a prime main lake point with a sweet spot that gets a little shade in the afternoon, I’d fish it there.   Another tool to try out. It’s going to force you to slow down, which is a good thing, most times.

Want to Buy a Nathan Bettencourt Dying Trout?  Click HERE

You can get a good grind and dig out of the bait, you just have to be very mindful of your retrieve, and in total control/contact.
You can get a good grind and dig out of the bait, you just have to be very mindful of your retrieve, and in total control/contact.  It fishes like a square billed crankbait on the straight wind.


Horizontal Half Moon Rising
Horizontal Half Moon Rising


They Dying Trout Crankbait!
They Dying Trout Crankbait!


It’s getting really hot, really muggy, and the grass is getting way thick. I always look for the cleanest/blackest water I can find with the most beautiful hydrilla, and usually the fish are there.  I found a few instances where I could fish the XL Nezumaa around isolated clumps of reeds and buggy whips.  The bottom is just carpeted with wonderful hydrilla, that really good green hard and crisp hydrilla, and the water is by far the deepest and clearest water   I’m fishing the XL Nezumaa along walls of reeds too, and just trying to get a big bite where I can.  As the heat sets in, I highly suggest rats and big wakebaits, like MS Slammers or 3:16 Hardbaits.   Big topwater baits basically, the can catch a big one at high noon, blaring heat in the right conditions.  And rat baits are super fun to fish-my favorite.  Just super fun fishing and helps endure brutal conditions and heat.



I do like fishing certain bigbaits on snaps. I really find the Owner Hyper Cross Locks fit this bait, and my application beautifully.   I like to walk and stall my rats.  I do like to slow reel and wake them too, but man, I just can’t help but make that bait look alive and struggling out there.   I only have small pockets of fishable water, I don’t usually have long runs of clean swim lanes to bring a top water bait thru, a bait like the XL Nezumaa, I can throw it right on the ‘point’ of a good isolated clump of reeds and usually there will be a hole in the hydrilla around the reeds enough to fish it out a few feet or more.  You just don’t get 15-30 feet of swim most times, you only get 2-6 feet at times to work with, so you need a stallable bait, and a topwater is the bait, the ultimate stall bait.   So around grass, or isolated layown trees, or around shade pockets, you want a bait that hangs in the little ‘pool’ you have to work with, and where too, you can get maximum action out of your bait when you do decide to walk it and really jerk it.  The XL Nezumaa is violent and raucous, and you get a lot of action and noise and the bait only moved 4-6″ toward you.  And with the right wind or bow in your line, you can float a bait like the XL Nezumaa rat in place.  I am fishing 80# straight braid on my XL Nezumaa and recommend a Low Down Custom Rods 8′ XH  if you haven’t ever tried one of those rods for lobbing a BIG bait like the XL Nezumaa or Slide Swimmer 250.





What is the difference between the four rates of fall available in the 8″ Rainbow Trout Huddleston Deluxe swimbait?   How do you tell a ROF 12 vs a ROF 16, especially if there is no marking on the tail?  How do you tell the ROF 5 vs. ROF 0 in your tackle box?    The answer is below:

There is a wealth of information in this photo. Notice the subtle differences between the ROFs as far as lead and harness material is considered. There is very little actual weight difference between the Huddleston ROFs. The difference is in the gut of the Hudd, where by adding more or less ballasting, you have a faster or slower Rate of Fall (and Rate of Stall).


ROF 12 vs ROF 16

Both the ROF 12 and ROF 16 have a top hook, so you might have a top hook 8″ Huddleston in your hand and not know which ROF it is.  Ken no longer paints the ROF on the tail, so, how do you tell the difference?  You have to ‘feel’ for it.  You literally take your finger and feel the underside belly trying to feel for the extra bulb or extra weight in the belly.  You can feel the additional bulb of lead on the ROF 16, by poking your finger into the Hudd, as if you are a doctor playing prostate examiner!   You can feel the ROF 12 has a shorter keel on the harness, and doesn’t have the ‘bulb’ that the ROF 16 does.

You need to feel the underside of your Hudd, between the belly ring and anal fins, and you’ll start to notice the difference in the internal ballasting (ie, the big bulb of extra lead on the ROF 16). That is how you tell the different top hook ROFs.


Feel in this area, to determine if there is an extra bulb of lead on the harness, and that will tell you if you have a ROF 16 or ROF 12. The ROF 16 has more lead, the extra bulb you can feel, push on the Hudd just above the anal fins, and you’ll feel it.


ROF 5 vs. ROF 0

Both the ROF 5 and ROF 0 come out of the package without a top hook and again, it can be confusing, which bait are you holding in your hand?  The ROF 5 has a definite keel that can be felt between the belly ring and the anal fins.  There is something hard there that gives the underside ballast area some mass and bulk.  With the ROF 0, you can just feel a notch, and have way more soft squishy plastic in the ballast zone, than you do with the ROF 5.  Bottom line, you have to learn to feel the difference in your Huddlestons by doing a poke check with your fingers in the area between the belly ring and the anal fins to feel the harness.

You need to learn to feel the underside of your ROF 5s and ROF 0s to get a feel for the difference, and discern one from the other in your tackle box.



Same deal, feel the area just behind the belly ring on the underside of the Huddleston to determine if the bait you are holding is a ROF 5 or ROF 0, when you don’t have a top hook. The ROF 0 has a definite notch you can feel, and is mostly squishy and soft plastic in the gut area. The ROF 5, pictured above, is solid and hard for approx 2 inches behind the belly ring.



The Bettencourt Baits Dying Bluegill. Start, stop, kill, or swim. Interesting spin on flat sided presentations, and cool little swimbait.


Nathan Bettencourt has been quietly providing swimbait fishermen a unique offering of baits.  Each bait he makes has incredible realism and attention to detail. He makes hardbaits and they all tend to have fur and hackle and have reproductions of the real fish inlaid as paint jobs.   Nate sent me his Dying Bluegill and I have spent some time swimming it and messing with the action, and I have to say I like what I see.  If I was fishing an area, where I knew a big one lives, I’d swim this thru, and then kill it.  It has an incredibly slow Rate of Ascent, like ROA 3.   You can get a feel for the bait, how it swims, how it kills and how it looks in the water here:



The Dying Bluegill swimbait just released today.  You can purchase the bait online at for $29.95, that is $10 off the future retail price of $39.95.  This bait is small, relative to the swimbait and bigbait discussion.  It’s about 4.5″ long and weighs about 1 ounce.  The fur material looks really good in the water, real subtle movement, and I have to say I really like the out of the box flat side down presentation of the bait.  Bluegill swimbaits are something I’m making a conscious effort to explore and test, and serving them flat side down is really interesting.

Flat side down. One hanging treble from the side of the bait, and the bill, make this a unique swimmer and application. The Flat Side Down fits the ‘killed’ nature of this bait, hence the name, Dying Bluegill.


The bait will dive 3-5 feet, and once you kill it, it SLOWLY floats back to the surface, but I mean slowly ascends. You can twitch it and give it some English in the killed phase to make it look dying, but not dead yet.


Because the bait has a bill, it cranks down and swims along like a big flat billed flat sided crankbait. Too much torque will cause the bait to blow out, but just right, you get a nice fluid swim.


Nate has posted his own video alongside the links to purchase the BettenCourt Baits Dying Bluegill.  View the page for the Dying Bluegill HERE.  Bluegill eaters will be an ongoing discussion, just like the rest of the conversations about bass eating bigger fish or bigger creatures.  Thanking Nathan Bettencourt for engaging us, and looking forward to sharing some of this other creations soon.  Nathan calls Clinton, Missouri home, which makes us neighbors in the grand scheme of swimbait geographies.

Bettencourt Baits Dying Bluegill Photo Gallery:

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