Tackle These Tips for Fishing Florida Bass

    By Terry Gibson

    "A luxuriant understory of complex submerged vegetation."

    That was one scientist's attempt at waxing poetic about the results following the water draw-downs and de-mucking activities designed to enhance bass habitat and bass populations on a local lake.

    To me, it meant "tackle up." We're going to be fishing in a tough neighborhood.

    Many visitors from northern and midwestern lakes bring relatively light rods and lines to chase lunkers in Florida water bodies. Most of our lakes, streams and rivers are "tough neighborhoods." We catch big bass out from mats of dead vegetation, in fields of cypress stumps, and out of tangles of lily pads, better known here as "bonnets."

    Most rods are seven feet or longer, and fall under the medium- or medium-heavy action class. Most of us also carry one stout flipping stick for mat punching. That's a type of flipping where we're using one to two ounces of weight to get a lure down under a tangle of floating vegetation.

    While finesse tackle plays some key roles, most of my conventional rods are lined with at least 20-pound mono, or 30- to -50-pound braid. Especially the flipping sticks.

    When using such heavy line, especially with lures such as frogs, floating worms and soft-plastic baits that double as swimbaits and buzzbaits (e.g. the Gambler Flappin' Shad and Reaction Innovation's Skinny Dipper) it's a good idea to use a rod with a softer tip. This is especially true with braided lines that don't stretch. You don't want the fish to feel any pressure when it takes the bait, and the softer tip gives you a little more "wiggle room."

    Feel free to ask us any tackle-related questions.