Buzzbaits: Why should you use them in the river

Buzzbaits: Why should you use them in the river

Standard style buzzbaits, but there are numerous styles

KABLOOM!!!! Yes, it is what we all want to hear when throwing a buzzbait for bass. And, if you are a river fisherman already you probably know that the aggressive nature of river bass make this a mandatory tool on the river. There are many reasons that a buzzbait works better in the river than on an impoundment.

First of all rivers have current which creates more chop and turbulence in the water. And, if you know anything about throwing a buzzbait, or a spinnerbait, in a lake, then you know they are most effective under windy and turbulent water conditions. Well, in a river, you always have those conditions with the occasional exception of some very slow, deep water areas mixed in. Also, in impoundments, buzzbaits work very well around thick or heavy structure because they have just one (or two max) exposed hooks facing upwards. Well, guess what, 95% of rivers have lots of exposed structure because river are inherently shallow and by nature full of visible structure. Having the single hook is a key because the structure is so thick that treble hook topwater plugs will often get hung up in the areas that

buzzbaits will roll right through.


I've caught a lot of big bass on a buzzbait, including this beautiful Flint River largemouth that weighed 7 1/2lbs.

And, the biggest fish like to live in these thick log jams and rock outcroppings so obviously you need to find a lure that can get to where the big boys are before you can have a chance of landing them. Another negative on treble hook baits in a river is the fact that even if you do get one back into the prime spot and you do get hooked up with a big river bass, you now have to fight her out with half a bait and sharp treble hooks sticking out of her mouth. Those hooks can easily catch on a log and give her the leverage she needs to break free and break your heart.So, we have turbulent water, structure, and lastly I’ll point out that rivers can often be muddy, which is the final positive indicator that it might be time to put on a spinnerbait or a buzzbait to get the fish’s attention. All three very positive factors for buzzbaits are commonly found in the river and all you really need is one of those to start flinging one. Not, to mention that rivers hold fish that are far more aggressive than in lakes, which means they are more likely to chase the buzzbait down.
So, now that we know why a buzzbait is usually a good bait to have tied on, when do we need to throw it?

Well, water temperature is the first major factor on determining the when. People have different opinions on what the water temperature needs to be, but in my experience in rivers it should be over 55 degrees. And, I wouldn’t even throw it at 55 degrees unless I was in a smaller, shallower river. 57 to 58 and upward to about 75 is my preferred “prime” buzzbait water temperature. Water temperature is just one of many factors that dictates how a bass will be feeding. In my experience river bass are most aggressive when the water is between 55 and 75 degrees.
Another when factor is when you see tons of rock and structure everywhere and just don’t know where to cast. It would take forever to cover all buzzbait2that structure with a soft plastic bait, so a buzzbait is a great search tool to find aggressive bass and to cover a lot of water. A buzzbait is about the fastest way to fish and often times in a river with so much structure it pays to utilize the speed of the lure to cover as many ambush spots as possible. To me, it is just a game of odds. River fish all hide behind structure waiting to ambush, so the more ambush points you can get a lure to run past in one day, the better your odds will be that you run into fish and hopefully a big one.

If you fish rivers with granite shoals then a great place to throw a buzzbait is in the push water of shoals. I like a heavier spinnerbait in the rougher water actually in the rapids.  However, if there are calmer pools within the shoals then a buzzbait is a great tool. Most shoals are not extremely deep so if there is a feeding fish in the area, they should come up a few feet to feed.  Next time you are on a river with shoals, take note of how much life is in the shoals as compared to the rest of the river.  Usually you will see all sorts of small fish in the shoals that you won’t see anywhere else – darters, shad and small other baitfish as well as bream and smaller bass species. The large fish can’t safely get into the real shallow water but you better believe they will be in any deeper water near that area waiting for some little guy to slip up.  And, a buzzbait is a perfect match in the shoals because it mimics a little fish that is in distress.
In rivers, or sections, where there are no shoals the best place to throw a buzzbait it simply along the bank in a parallel fashion or parallel along blowdowns, log jams or weed lines.  The key is to keep the buzzbait in the strike zone as long as possible and there are a few ways to do this.  One, is to wind as slow as you can, but where the lure is still on the water’s surface.  Or, you can parallel the structure so that it is in a strike zone virtually the entire cast.  Although it is not the preferred angle to bring a cast in, another way to slow a buzzbait down is to bring it upstream against the current.  This will give you the ability to virtually run the bait on the surface at a snails pace.

Whatever you do, just make sure you make a buzzbait a part of your river fishing arsenal – you won’t be disappointed!

One Response to “Buzzbaits: Why should you use them in the river”

  1. Brent says:

    Great write up. If I was stuck on an island in the middle of the Upper OC and could only have one lure, it would be a buzzbait.


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