Using Square Bills

Jasper Johnson “Hook Up”

I’m sure you have heard or read that a square bill is a very versatile crank bait that can catch a lot of fish quickly if it’s employed right. Well, that’s true and I use them a lot. Let me try to share with you how I select and employ my square bill’s in the right conditions to catch a big’un!

As you walk into your favorite tackle shop looking for square bills, you will find that they come in a myriad of sizes and colors. What to do? Well, if you listen to the pros, bigger is better, right? Not always! Yes, midseason and later, bigger baits will catch bigger fish but what about the spring and early summer season? I am a firm believer that you must “Match the Hatch!” You need to ask yourself, how big is a shad when it’s spawned and for the first few months of its life? One to two inches is the right answer, so if you buy that big square bill it may not be too effective in the spring but may be really good in late summer or fall.

I guess what I am trying to say is, get an assortment of sizes to accommodate the seasonal growth rates of the forage that’s in your lakes. 

Next, you also need to think about “What is the major forage for Lake X that you’re going to?” If it’s shad, then your square bills need to also match the shad coloration. If it’s crawfish, then your square bill needs to match the crawfish colors. If it’s something else, then you need to match those colors. Are you totally confused yet?

Well, let’s narrow the scope a bit to our local lakes…Belton and Stillhouse. Shad is the primary forage but the bass also feed on crawfish, white bass and frogs. So what colors do you think would be the right ones for them? That’s right, the shad color—blue back, white sides with the yellow stripe, and white belly; or the craw red with the black marking to break up the shape; or plain old white or bone to mimic the white bass.

Now we have our colors down, but what about sizes? In spring through early summer I would use the smallest one you can get. Summer through early fall I would use the mid-size, fall and winter, the largest ones I could find. Yes, that means you have to have at least three of each of the colors in each size plus at least one backup in each in case you are tearing them up and lose one. Well, that just fills up one Plano box, didn’t it? 

Ok, now let’s talk about employing the square bill. As I’m sure you have read the best thing to do with a square bill is hit something with it and let it deflect off the object. Well, this is very true! So, if you are fishing a rocky point, crank it till it starts bouncing off the rocks and keep it bumping along during as much of the retrieve as you can. In rocks, be ready—the strike could come at any time. Lowering your rod tip to just above the water will also help. If you are fishing submerged trees, bounce it off the limbs and let it float up just a second and begin to retrieve it hard again till it bumps the next limb and repeat.  In trees, the strikes will generally come on that brief pause. If you are fishing submerged grass, crank it down until you feel the bait just ticking the top of the grass and slow your retrieve to keep it at that depth, bumping the top of the submerged grass but not burying itself in it. 

I love to use square bills in shallow water as well. I throw it out and twitch it back to the boat like I’m fishing a top water bait. I’ve had some massive explosions on the bait using this tactic. Fish it like it’s an injured shad flopping around on the surface and you will do well.

Well, I hope this has given you some insight into the way to select your square bill and how also to employ them in catch that elusive bass here in Central Texas. So take your Plano and go out there and catch a big’un! Send me the pics you take using this technique to and any comments or questions you may have. Have a great day on the water!

Copperas Cove Leader Press

2210 U.S. 190
Copperas Cove, TX 76522
Phone:(254) 547-4207