GEARING UP FOR PEACOCK BASS
Use the information below to help preparing for your trip.
The most effective rod length and action for targeting fish - in excess of 12-lbs on large topwater plugs - is a baitcasting rod that is between 6’2” and 6’6” and be considered of medium/heavy to heavy action. This particular length and action allows you to more efficiently use the wrists and arms to retrieve large topwater plugs across the surface. A stout rod, combined with minimal-stretch braided line (more on that later), will allow better action and response as you aggressively retrieve these large plugs across the surface. Although a rod with a flexible tip may be suitable for a host of lures, do not use a flexible tipped rod when working large propeller baits. When casting smaller topwater plugs, such as walking baits and poppers, or medium sized jerkbaits, consider a casting rod 6-1/2 feet in length and of medium / heavy action.
Some anglers have a preference for spinning gear, but have been, mistakenly, lead to believe that this tackle is not appropriate for peacock bass. Numerous anglers have landed some of their largest peacock bass on spinning tackle. Knowing when and where to use this tackle is the key, however. During the course of a fishing day, savvy anglers will frequently alternate between spinning and casting outfits, as each calls for different casting, reeling and retrieval mechanics and will work different muscle groups of the wrists, arms, shoulders and back, thereby lessening overall fatigue and soreness while fishing. Spinning rods are very appropriate for casting 4-6” jerkbaits, 1/2 to 1 oz topwater lures and when working ¼ to 3/4 oz. bucktail jigs. If you're going to cast large surface lures, secure a medium/ heavy to heavy action spinning rod.
Braided lines are much stronger than mono, have minimal stretch and are extremely abrasion resistant. In addition, the braided line will not set on the spool and are limp. These lines yield a high break strength compared to their line diameter. What this all means is quite simple – it will allow you to retrieve lures faster, longer and with increased action than you can with standard monofilament line. This is especially important when fishing with large topwater propeller lures to tempt giant peacock bass. After years of experience, it appears that the best braided line strength for large topwater propeller baits is between 50 and 80 lb break strength, depending on just who the line manufacturer is. One certainly does not require 80 lb braided line to land a trophy peacock. However, to more effectively work the large surface propeller lures, braided lines should be spooled on your reels.
Major factors to consider when selecting a quality baitcast reel for peacock bass are: well machined, durable gears (we recommend novice anglers use a ratio of 7.1:1, or close to it, especially when using topwater plugs) and an extremely smooth drag system. Although many believe that it is the sheer power of the peacock bass that will exploit lesser-built reels, it is more the constant casting and retrieving of plugs that are typically much larger than the reels are designed for (in addition to heavy, no-stretch braided line) that can destroy a quality reel. Select a baitcasting reel that possess a minimum of 100 yard capacity to handle 17 lb mono diameter for large topwater baits. As a rule, braided line offering a break-strength of 65 to 80 lbs. possesses a line diameter that is equivalent of 17 to 25 lb monofilament. Have your reels cleaned or repaired, greased and lubricated before your trip.
Spinning tackle is very effective for peacock bass. Although you can certainly use your spinning gear for every lure in your peacock tackle arsenal, this gear is most appropriate when working medium sized topwater lures, small to medium sized jerkbaits and bucktail jigs, but is not as effective when fishing large topwater propeller plugs. Purchase spinning reels with durable, strong gears and an excellent drag system. Consider a light saltwater spinning reel (as they are usually built to handle tough gamefish) or a quality medium to large freshwater spinning reel (around 10-12 ounces). Make sure that the line roller (the part of the spinning reel that the line glides against when your reel is engaged and a fish is taking out drag) is made of stainless steel or titanium and not plastic. A plastic line roller will develop cuts in it from braided line and eventually cause fraying and failure of your line.
TOPWATER LURES FOR PEACOCK BASS
WALKING STICK BAITS
Walking stick baits are most effective when you impart what is referred to as the “walk the dog” retrieve. The “walk the dog” technique involves a coordinated series of wrist snaps with the reel palming hand - while at the same time retrieving line with the reel retrieving hand - that causes the stick bait to, in essence, "walk" across the surface, resulting in a very enticing action. Consider these lures when peacock bass are not aggressively attacking the propeller baits. They seem to produce better when the water is slick and the wind is light with little chop or ripple on the surface.
These baits are large and noisy. These are what we refer to as “power baits.” Use a medium to rapid paced, fast wrist snap. Try to impart an action that emits a definite ripping sound. This is best accomplished by using the wrists (not your arms) in a downward thrusting manner (after first reeling up any slack created by the previous rip). Short, aggressive rips seem to be much more productive than long, gliding rips. This is the most exciting lure to use if you want to experience the explosiveness nature and power of a giant peacock bass slamming your lure on the surface.
Very few anglers fish popping plugs for peacock bass. However, there are times when peacock bass simply will not aggressively attack large, noisy propeller baits and a popping plug can be the most effective topwater lure in your tacklebox. The best poppers will float (we do not comprehend this, but some manufacturers have designed them to actually sink and to work them correctly you need to keep your rod held high and reel like hell) after the cast and then provide a very distinct popping sound as you retrieve it across the surface using short snaps of the wrist.
SUBSURFACE LURES FOR PEACOCK BASS
PEACOCK BASS JIGS
SOFT PLASTIC TWITCH BAITS
Jerkbaits are long profile, treble hook laden lures,in which the most enticing action is obtained by jerks or snaps of the wrist during the retrieve, as opposed to a slow steady retrieve. When fishing a jerkbait, make a cast to actively feeding fish, fry pods, points, sandbars or other forms of cover and structure discussed elsewhere in this text. Point your rod tip towards the water and use your wrists in a downward snapping motion to work the bait. Allow the jerkbait to dart and dance from two-to-five feet below the surface. You will need to change out the split rings and hooks.
As opposed to the traditional three inch white bucktail jig, experienced peacock bass anglers are creating a combination of various colors of bucktail, with a splash of flashabou, in lengths from 6 to 8-inches on ½-ounce jig-heads. Rather than using the traditional bucktail “jigging” techniques (basically an up and down or vertical presentation), retrieve these jigs erratically almost in the same manner as fishing a jerkbait. Use them on actively schooling fish; as a follow up bait to a missed surface strike; post spawn fish guarding fry or when simply cast to cover and structure.
Very few anglers fish soft plastics, but knowing which ones to use and how to fish them is key. A very effective soft plaastic bait is the Banjo Minnow of infomercial fame. The ability to create a perfectly realistic life-like illusion is totally controlled by the angler and that is what makes it so effective. One of the other keys to the success of the Banjo Minnow is the relatively clear water you will be fishing. This lure, and the technique used to fish it, is so much more effective in clear water fisheries. If you bring some of these lures, and the necessary rigging acessories, you will not be disappointed.