As an avid bass angler a thought that’s always on my mind is “How can I improve?” We all want to avoid “The One That Got Away” and I’ve found that taking the time to modify my lures has definitely helped put more fish in the boat. I’m constantly tweaking all of my lures to find new methods, and having an upgraded bait definitely boosts my confidence. Here are a few of my lure modifications for bass fishing that I’ve learned over the years, I hope they work for you.
This old school lure has been catching quality bass for decades. The market is filled with brands that have engineered their own version of the popper. Since most bodies of water are demolished by topwater lures on a regular basis I’ve found that modifying your standard popper helps you stand out from the rest. This modification was passed down from my father and gives your popper a more unique, realistic sound.
Topwater Popper Modifications
- Get sandpaper with a Medium Grain rating
- Sand off the bottom lip until the curve is removed.
- Play around with how much of the lip you remove, different levels of shaving produces different noises.
Other Basic Modifications
- Always remember to swap treble hooks for sharper ones. Owner ST-41’s or Gamakatsu EWG Trebles provide great quality.
- Adding a treble hook with feathers attached can provide more flash and movement in the water. Play around with a feathered front hook, back hook or even both.
Spinnerbaits and Buzzbaits
Adding trailer hooks to spinnerbaits and buzzbaits is not a new concept, it’s a proven method to increase your hookup ratio. Since fast-moving spinnerbaits and buzzbaits are only equipped with a single hook there is a chance that the bass will only bite the tail end of the skirt or miss the lure completely. Having a trailer hook will increase your chances landing fish that are constantly short-striking your lure. Some anglers make their own trailer hooks with straight-shank hooks and surgical tubing, but nowadays companies have done all the work for you.
Spinnerbait Trailer Hooks
- Gamakatsu Trailer Hook SP
- Owner Spinnerbait Trailer Hook
Hard Body Swimbaits & Large Topwater Baits
Even though these two types of baits are different I modify them the exact same way. Big swimbaits and topwater lures are known for enticing huge bass, and with big bass come bent hooks and temper tantrums.
I personally trust Owner ST-56 hooks because they are much more robust than your average treble. The ST-56’s are the thickest and strongest treble hook for freshwater that I’ve ever used. A few people may think this is overkill but I would rather be safe than sorry. Swapping out stock hooks has made a big difference in my fishing but best of all it give me more confidence in my lures.
Swapping Treble Hooks
- Split ring pliers make life a lot easier. Buy a pair!
- Pry the o-ring open with your pliers and slide the old treble hook out.
- Before you remove the old hook you can slide the new one on for a faster swap
- Once again play around with feathered treble hooks or red hooks for a different look.
Crankbaits & Lipless Cranks
Switching the stock treble hooks on all types of crankbaits and jerkbaits is extremely crucial. Often times the stock hooks on these types of lures are not up to par, especially for cheaper baits such as the Strike King KVD series. Not saying that those cranks are bad (they actually rock) but it always helps to go sharper to land more fish.
- Swap treble hooks – Owner ST-41’s and Gamakatsu EWG Trebles are great.
- Add a red hook on the front to direct attention to the front of the bait. This will greatly increase your hookup ratio.
- Using an oval split-ring in the front instead of a circular one can help the bait track straighter in the water.
It is extremely important to swap out your treble hooks on jerkbaits for the same reason you do for all types of crankbaits. Jerkbaits are worked with an erratic action, often giving the fish only a few seconds to swipe at the lure. Having razor-sharp hooks mean that even if a fish barely taps your lure they’ll be stuck for good.
- Swap out treble hooks to Owner ST 36’s or Gamakatsu EWG Trebles.
- In the colder months you can add Storm Suspendots on the belly of your jerkbaits to help them either suspend longer or sink slowly on the pause.
- Similar to crankbaits, experiment with red hooks and feathered trebles to entice more strikes.
Hollow Belly Frogs
Topwater soft-bodied frogs are notorious for losing fish, and this is due to the extremely effective weedless design. Over the years I’ve learned a few tricks to tweak my frog and found that I’m able to walk my lure better and increase my hookup ratio as well.
Hollow Belly Frog Modifications
- Add a split ring to the front eye – This helps keep the connection between line and lure loose, helping you walk the frog easier.
- Bend both hooks upward just a little with pliers – This raises the hook points just enough to dig in better during a hookset. Bending them too far will cause the frog to start snagging vegetation.
- Trim the skirt – If the frog’s skirt is too long you will experience a more difficult walking retrieve and more short strikes. Often times bass will bite only the skirt and cause much frustration. Trimming it down just a bit helps both the action and hookup ratio.
- Pull the skirt to one side – This actually helps walk the frog even better. By pulling the skirt so that it’s uneven you’ll cause the frog lean to one side every twitch, giving you a better kickstart to a solid walking retrieve.