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A Weird (but Effective) 5 Step Way to Fish a Prop Bait for Bass That’s Perfect for Your Hardest Days of Fishing… and… How To Work the Bait The Right Way… Without Missing a Single Fish!

A truly "no brainer" (yet almost always overlooked) way to fish a prop bait for bass and increase how many fish you catch by 112% or more... automatically!

Do you want to catch more fish?  Have you heard of a prop bait but are still unsure how to exactly when, where, and how to fish it correctly?

Many anglers know a prop bait is a floating topwater bait in the form of a cigar or baitfish that also has a propeller on either the front, back, or both ends is known as a prop bait.  The prop bait causes a fluttering commotion on the water as you reel it in.

But what many anglers are kept in the dark with is how exactly to get started fishing with a prop bait, or how to choose the right prop bait that actually works. 

A huge problem I faced… and… possibly you… was what are the best conditions to fish a prop bait?  But that wasn’t the end of my problems… I also had the problem of knowing where exactly I should throw my prop bait (without wasting a full day of fishing!)…  Then I go and find out I had the wrong prop bait and all the wrong gear!… So I had to research and learn how to choose the right prop bait for the conditions and what’s the best rod, reel, line set up that gave me the best chances of actually catching a fish!

All this makes fishing a prop bait a nightmare! But luckily for you, I watched hours of instructional videos, read books and magazines about this topic, and even talked to pros at seminars at our local Bass Pro Shops. 

So, if you’re a person who really wants to catch fish with a prop bait and wants to find a resource that is actually helpful, then this 5-step blueprint is the answer you’ve been looking for!

Prop Baits Primer

Single, or double prop baits, they all work the same. The prop bait floats on top of the water. When retrieved, or twitched, the props spin and create a huge cacophony of rhythmic sound waves and vibrations in the water. No one is sure whether bass bite these out of a predatory instinct, or just to shut them up. Either way, they work, and work well.

Step 1 - Understand How To Fish A Prop Bait

There are three basic ways to fish prop baits. Just cast out and retrieve, use a stop-and-go retrieve, or just twitch them every so often. All three methods work, and which one you use is mostly a matter of personal preference, and prevailing conditions.

There is always a topwater fishing rhythm that will be more effective on that particular day. The bass will tell you their preferred size of the bait, what speed they want the lure presented, and how long to pause between each movement by striking at your lure – or not.

Ask any experienced angler how they initially work this bait one of these ways:

Technique 1

More likely than not, they’ll say they like to twitch the prop bait three times before killing it for a few seconds.

When the bass aren’t active and lazy, twitch it harder to make as much commotion as you can trigger a primal reaction strike.  Conversely, when the bass are more aggressive, only kill it for about a second – that’s all you’ll need.

Technique 2

Simple jerks mixed with pauses are another method of fishing with these baits.

Not exactly a “jerk,” more of a “pull” of the rod is required to start the blades spinning. The movement is kinda-like when you’re walking your dog and it stops to sniff something and you don’t want to wait and pull the dog back to you to catch up.

When you are close to cover, pull it, wait, then twitch it once and kill it right next to that structure.

Technique 3

Depending on the lure you can also create the same “walk the dog” rhythm that top bass professionals use with stickbaits.

Technique 4

It may be fished with a steady reeling motion, exactly like a buzzbait. These baits have the nice feature that you can kill them when you work it next to a prime structure and give them a little twitch to lure the fish out to bite it.

Technique 5

This lure also works when you’re around thick cover or grass mats…

Cast the lure to the edge of the thick cover and retrieve it parallel to the cover.  

Also, find any natural cuts or water channels between the cover or vegetation. Simply cast the lure to the back of the channel and work it slowly back. Wait for all ripples to disappear before retrieving it. Then, give it just enough movement to spin the props once or twice, by twitching it. Start a straight retrieve if no strike occurs.

Whatever the retrieval method you go with, each approach makes this lure appear to be a struggling baitfish.

However, it’s crucial to never give a bass a chance to closely look over your lure. Often, strikes occur before the lure even moves a foot.

Step 2 - Knowing When Is The Best Time Of Day To Fish A Prop Bait

When the weather is hot most anglers (including myself) don’t like to fish in the sweltering midday heat.  Thankfully, a prop bait is great for early morning fishing, especially when the water can be flat and calm.

That is because bass aggressively chase and eat bait close to the surface in the early morning and evening when the surface water has cooled. 

However, when the sun is shining the brightest (and you’re willing to brave the heat), you can catch some large summer bass with a prop bait – no joke!  

But this tactic requires you to search and find shade. The deeper and darker the shade, the better it will be.  Also, the more isolated the shade is the better chances it will be sheltering a fish.

Remembering summertime bass will either dive deep or gather in the shade when the sun is at its highest.  More likely than not, if a bass hasn’t retreated to deep water, they’ll nearly always be perched on the edge of a shadowy area, so you can almost call the shots.

Step 3 - Knowing When Is The Best Time Of Year To Fish A Prop Bait

Prop baits will work whenever a bass is willing to take a topwater, but most fishermen prefer to fish them during a spawn or in the summer.

Step 4 - Knowing Where The Best Locations Fish A Prop Bait

The ideal places to fish with a prop bait vary depending on the kind of environment, but solitary cover (such as a dock, boat ramp, laydown, point, channel swing with steep rocky banks, or vegetation mat) is always a solid choice.

Additionally, prop baits excel when fished around bluegill beds, areas where there is a shad spawn occurring, or while they are in the pre-spawn, post-spawn, or even during spawning.

When using these baits, you are often targeting only 1-2 fish rather than giant schools of fish.

Furthermore, it is a kind of bait that you can simply tie on and use to fish along the bank if it is unique when compared to its surrounding area…

A good example: You're fishing a section of a lake that has a silty sandy bank and a featureless bottom, and you see a jetty (or any other type of extended rocky bank). The rocky structure is the solitary piece of structure when compared to the area around it.

Prop baits have been used by many fishermen with some luck in stained water, although clear water regions seem to give the best results.

However, fishing prop baits too slowly creates issues in clear water. When bass see anything out of the ordinary, they may stare but hold off on striking.

By appealing to their reactive impulses, provoke them into a reaction strike… Pick a tiny, natural-colored prop bait, and while retrieving, keep the lure moving continuously.

Bass shouldn’t be able to view the bait well, even between brief pauses.  Keep the rod’s tip down and prepared to strike.

One of the best tips I can give you is the one I learned from angler Kip Carter, Two-time BFL All American award winner and one helluva bass angler. 

The fastest and most straightforward method for locating and landing huge fish on a prop bait really has little to do with geography, but is instead heavily determined by current, or recent precipitation.

If your lake just had a thunderstorm roll through, start at the rear of shallow nooks near feeder streams. Bass will follow the bait fish feeding from all the food that was washed into the lake.  You’ll be astonished at how shallow the bass will be chasing bluegill and other baitfish, especially if the runoff raises the oxygen levels in the water.

Helpful Tip: If you see a run off draining into the water, try to cast your lure up into the runoff and let the current carry it down. Once it hits the water give it a few small twitches and your lure will get smashed.

If the summer is dry where you live, search for shallow water that is nearby deep water. Small creek channel swings are a good example.

If bass hears your prop bait making noise, they will sit on edges and break lines and utilize them as ambush sites.

Step 5 - Knowing What are the Best Prop Bait Colors For Bass and Why

Choosing the color for your prop bait isn’t as simple as picking the prettiest one in the pack. You need to consider a few things when selecting the color of your prop bait, including water clarity, the geographic area you’ll be fishing in, and the forage species found native to the lake you are fishing on. 

If you’re casting into clear water (you can see >3 feet under the water), you’ll want to choose a lure that you can see through. On the other side of the coin, if the water you’re fishing is stained (you can see 1-2 feet under the water, then you’ll want to go with an opaque colored lure. 

If you’re fishing in open water, off a point, or if you see bass chasing bait fish on the surface in open water then you’ll want to have several shad colored lures on hand. These will mimic the prey fish of the area and will be natural colors, such as gray, white, or silver.

However, if you’re close to shore, if a structure consists of something such as boat docks, floating vegetation patches, or boulder piles you should have some bluegill or bream colored lures ready to be tied on.   These will mimic the prey fish of these areas and will take the color in tones of green, brown, yellow.

The geographical area and native forage species go hand-in-hand when choosing a prop bait color. In some areas, you’ll find that one or two colors perform much more effectively because it mimics the native forage species found in the region.

Best prop bait color for clear water: Natural translucent (bluegill colored)

SaleBestseller No. 1
LUCKY CRAFT Kelly J (180 Flake Flake Golden Sun Fish)
  • Length: 2-3/4" (70mm)
  • Weight: 1/2oz (13.2g)
  • Depth: Surface
  • Type: FLOATING
  • Hook Size: VMC #6, #6

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Best prop bait color for clear water: Natural translucent (shad colored)

Bestseller No. 1
LUCKY CRAFT Kelly J (270 MS American Shad)
  • Length: 2-3/4" (70mm)
  • Weight: 1/2oz (13.2g)
  • Depth: Surface
  • Type: FLOATING
  • Hook Size: VMC #6, #6

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Best prop bait color for stained water: Natural yet a bit brighter in color

SaleBestseller No. 1
LUCKY CRAFT Kelly J (110 Bone Shad)
  • Length: 2-3/4" (70mm)
  • Weight: 1/2oz (13.2g)
  • Depth: Surface
  • Type: FLOATING
  • Hook Size: VMC #6, #6

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Best minnow shaped prop bait

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Smithwick Devil's Horse - Tiger Roan - 3/8 oz
  • Classic handcrafted wood design
  • Surface churning propellers cause comotion
  • Fishes best with a stop and go motion
  • Country of Origin:Guatemala

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(Bonus) Step 6 - Knowing What’s The Best Setup To Fish A Prop Bait

Rod

Casting rod medium backbone, with fast action tip 6’9”-7’6”. You want the backbone to be strong enough to hook the fish buy have a tip that can act as an shock absorber to the bone crushing topwater strikes that come with this style of fishing.

Reel

Having a dependable reel with a smooth drag is very important. Having a smooth drag when fishing topwater baits is key, because with the fish bolts the drag will keep up with the fish. If the drag is poorly made it will have a stop-and-go action, the fish can snap off the line.

Line

15-25 pound monofiliament leader tied to a 50-65 pound braided main line is recommended.  A braided backing has phenomenal casting ability and will not cause line twist and it floats!  The mono also floats, will not get wrapped up in the front hooks and has some stretch to it, so I can act as a shock absorber. Some prop baits come in really large sizes and is going to require a larger pound-test size.

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