Kayak Fishing with the Texas-Rig
Kayak Fishing with the Texas-Rig
When it comes to fishing for largemouth or smallmouth bass, I will tell you that 90% of the time I have a rod ready with a Texas-rigged plastic. This rig is one of the most common and versatile presentations in bass fishing. For kayak anglers however, this rig can present some unique challenges. More often than not, plastics are going to be fished fairly slowly. This requires an angler to stay in position so they can properly work a piece of water and therein lies the challenge of fishing plastics from a kayak. I have written about the importance of position before but when it comes to plastics and even bass jigs for that matter, position is of the utmost importance. I want to briefly cover a few tricks I've learned for fishing these presentations from a kayak that definitely help put more slime on the measuring board.
First of all, here in the midwest one is hard pressed to find a calm day. You will almost certainly be dealing with some wind on most outings. This is where an anchor system comes in very handy. There are a variety of set-ups but I've found that quick and simple systems are my favorite. Personally, I use a retractable dog leash for my anchor. I simply click the release button and my anchor drops, I lock the cord and then I'm ready to fish. When I want to move, I pull the anchor up and the cord feeds back into the handle and out of my way. Another method is a trolley system that runs the length of your kayak. This system allows you to anchor from the front, back or side of your kayak. You can then cast with or into the wind. This is helpful because often bass will position themselves on habitat according to wind direction. When anchoring there are a couple things to keep in mind. One thing to think about is the best place to efficiently work a piece of habitat or to cover the most water. Think about how the wind is going to move your kayak while anchored. Another thing to consider while fishing the Texas-rig is the length of your casts. Let me give you an example. Last week, I went out for a couple hours in the evening. The wind was gusting to 20 mph and I anchored near a beaver dam and started tossing my PowerTeam Lures Texas-Rig Jig. This is a unique bait that resembles a bass jig with a craw trailer but it is a one piece plastic bait. One can Texas-rig this bait and have a jig-like presentation that is even more weedless than a jig but has the same bulkiness and action. I immediately started getting bites but I was only hooking a small percentage of the fish. The problem was that I was making long casts. The strong wind was making an arc in my line and I couldn't make up the slack in time to get a good hook-set. I finally repositioned closer to the beaver dam. With less line out, I had less wind play on my line and started connecting. This is a very important thing to pay attention to with fishing plastics. The kayak allows for a stealth approach, don't be afraid to move in close. If you keep these details in mind while anchoring, you will have more bites and hook more fish.
There are other ways of positioning for fishing plastics as well. I always have a bungee cord with a carabiner attached to my kayak. You can tie-off to about anything with this option and it is very efficient and less time consuming. If you are fishing wood, an anchor can lead to difficulties but a tie-off can work very well. I've tied up to trees, rocks, docks, fence poles, etc....When I can, I use a tie-off over an anchor because it is so much faster. One tip to stay in good position so you can detect the subtle thump of a fish picking up your plastic is to wrap your cord tightly around the object you've tied off on. In the wind, you will move around quite a bit if you have slack in your cord. I have a friend who likes to use fish grips attached to a cord. He simply snaps the grip on an object and starts fishing. Once again, the less time you waste trying to position, the more time you'll spend actually fishing and catching fish.
Another good option is a stake-out pole. If you are fishing shallow water, a stake-out pole can be very handy. You can simply stick it in the mud and have a secure object to tie off to. Remember, that if the bottom of the lake is soft, you'll want plenty of length to drive the pole down so it is secure. Another friend has rigged his pulley system so he can position his stake-out connection at the front or back of his kayak. Once again allowing for the perfect position to make his presentation and ever-important for fishing plastics.
Lastly, don't be afraid to nose up on the bank and fish from there. Often a wind-blown bank is a prime place to find bass. They will often be facing the wind waiting for food to drift in and casting out from or parallel to the bank is key. I have spent much time sitting against rip-rap with a foot hanging over my kayak on a rock, holding me in place. Of course, if there are no rocks it is even easier to just let the wind hold you against the bank. It surprises me how many anglers think because they are in a boat they don't need to get close to the bank. This is actually an advantage of the kayak, we can make the same presentations as a bank fisherman as well as the guys in the glitter sleds.
Well, hopefully I've given you some ideas on the best way to fish your plastics whether it be a Texas-rig, Carolina-rig, drop-shot, weightless or even a bass jig. There are a couple other general tips for fishing plastics from a kayak aside from positioning. Regardless of how well you position there will be times when you've made the perfect cast and you find yourself drifting out of position, it happens. Try moving your rod tip towards the bait as you drift, keeping the bait in place but enough tension to feel a bite. You can even pull some line off if need be. This sometimes works well if you decide to let your kayak drift in a light breeze. Another key point is always pay close attention to your line. If you see a twitch, if the line slacks up a bit, if you feel anything different at all, set the hook! When in doubt, set the hook! There have been too many times when I have wondered, "was that a fish?" ...only to see the flash of a big bass disappearing or a swirl in the water and it's usually too late at that point. Also, it is good to remember that using a heavier weight can help you detect bites better in the wind. I could and probably will eventually write another blog on choosing the weights and sizes/shapes of plastics for fishing the Texas-rig but that is a subject of its own.
I want to thank my buddy Kevin for suggesting this topic. I think most kayak bass fishermen have quickly learned the challenges of fishing this old go-to rig from a kayak. I hope by sharing what I've learned from my own trials and errors, you'll be smelling of fish more often. Tight lines!