Top 3 wintertime bass baits

Bassmaster Elite Series pro Keith Combs said a topwater frog is a great all-around lure for shallow wintertime bass.
Bassmaster Elite Series pro Keith Combs said a topwater frog is a great all-around lure for shallow wintertime bass.

Nothing like topwater frog explosions

Bassmaster Elite Series pro Keith Combs has to put fish in the boat year round, but he experiences what every other angler does during the summer: Tough fishing, when five bites a day are what you hope for.

But that all changes as cool fronts push through the South, lowering water temperatures and putting fish back into a feeding mood.

“They’re going to be easier to catch, as a whole,” Combs said. “The late summer gets tough because they’re waiting on a weather change, cool temperatures.

“That’s when the shallows come to life.”

This Texas angler said shad move into shallow water again, and predatory bass follow. However, there’s also another baitfish we anglers often forget.

“Don’t forget about the ones feeding on bluegill,” Combs said. “Those are going to be hammers.”

To make the most of his cooler-weather fishing, Combs depends on these three lures:

  1. Strike King hollow body frog

When bass head for the shallows, they often bury in the salad that grew up during the heat of the summer.

Sure, you could flip and catch some of those fish — but why not have fun with topwater explosions? And the Strike King KVD Sexy Frogs offer everything you could hope for.

“I can throw it anywhere — around wood, vegetation,” Combs said.

It’s also a lure that can reach a lot farther than a punching bait.

“You want something you can make long casts with,” he explained.

He simply skips the frog along until he reaches holes and thin spots in the vegetation, where he slows down a bit to allow any nearby bass time to get aggravated enough to blast the apparent hopper.

Another bonus to the lure is that he can cover a lot of water.

His rod of choice is a 7-foot, 5-inch Shimano Zodias heavy-action rod matched with a Curado K 7.3:1 reel.

That high-speed reel ratio is important.

“When you hook them shallow, a lot of times they come at you (after the hookset),” Combs said. “I’m able to catch up with them with that reel.”

  1. Strike King KVD Heavy Cover Swim Jig

This is another lure that allows him to cover water and catch numbers of actively feeding bass.

“I want a bait I can cover ground with,” Combs said.

But it’s extremely versatile, working in open water and around cover.

“I can fish it around weeds and wood, and I’m not going to get hung up,” Combs said. “I try to contact weeds or wood occasionally.”

His preference is for the 3/8-ounce version teamed with a Strike King Swimming Caffeine Shad.

He fishes his swim jigs on a 7-foot, 2-inch Shimano Zodias medium-heavy rod with a fast tip paired with a Curado K reel.

  1. Strike King Swimming Caffeine Shad

This soft-plastic is a versatile lure that really doesn’t require a lot of attention to technique.

“It’s just a steady retrieve,” Combs said.

And it’s perfect for when a fish misses a topwater skipped across vegetation.

“Some days, it’s a great followup to your frog,” he said.

He rigs it with a 3/16-ounce, 4/0 Owner weighted hook, and just casts and retrieves. Well, that’s what he does most of the time.

“I might get it up and wake it across the top of the water,” Combs explained. “That works really well on a muggy, cloudy morning. The fish will get way up in the water column, and look for that wake.”

His tackle setup is the same as with the swim jig.


About Andy Crawford 863 Articles
Andy Crawford has spent nearly his entire career writing about and photographing Louisiana’s hunting and fishing community. While he has written for national publications, even spending four years as a senior writer for B.A.S.S., Crawford never strayed far from the pages of Louisiana Sportsman. Learn more about his work at www.AndyCrawford.Photography.