Do Bass Prefer Vertical or Horizontal Presentations?

Do Bass Prefer Vertical or Horizontal Presentations

Well hello my friends – I hope you and yours had a very Merry Christmas!

We sure did…

christmas boys excited presents family
“Errrrmagerddd Christmassss!”

We’ve now entered into that weird week between Christmas and New Years Day. Many businesses close down. Many individuals take this time off to reflect, watch sportball, go through their movie collection, lounge around… or in some cases: plan.

If you’re a planner like me, this is the best week to get ahead of everyone else – while they’re sleeping off their eggnog comas!

It’s 5 degrees here in Illinois at the time of writing, but it’s never too early to start thinking about the best ways to target bass. Let’s jump back in with this important concept:

Bass are Most Sensitive to Baits Moving Horizontally

“You sure?”

“Yup.”

“How?”

“‘cuz science.”

I was flipping through the pages of In-Fisherman the other day (yes, an actual physical magazine, which is something I highly recommend) and came across a sidebar by Ralph Manns. These smaller side-sections may seem less important than the main articles, but it caught my eye. The title?

Bass Vision & Presentations

Well… that’s generic enough.

Upon closer inspection, it quickly became apparent that what this blurb lacked in quantity, it made up in quality. It starts like this:

Dr. Keith Jones, former director of the Pure Fishing Laboratory, noted that “Many fish, including black bass, appear to be more in-tune with objects moving horizontally than vertically.” He suggests bass may maintain a sharper memory for lures retrieved across their visual fields than lures drifting or falling from above.

Now, we discussed the rest of this sidebar at length in a recent article:

largemouth bass vision horizontal vs vertical
Largemouth Bass Vision: Horizontal vs Vertical
“Bass may react to horizontal baits, but they may also be quite picky about them. Look for horizontal baits that are not widely used, especially if you are fishing pressured water. Modify your baits. Do something different. Learn how to work the baits in a way that is convincing and lifelike to the fish you’re targeting.”

We hit two main conclusions after going through the content – but I wanted to bring up one more important idea.

Manufacturers make a lot of money off of their hard baits. Cranks, plugs, jerks – there are about a billion varieties of hard baits that move across the horizontal plane.

Every year, we hear about the “hot new bait”. Pro anglers and weekend warriors alike start buzzin’ around the ramp, bragging about all the fish they’re landing on the NEW & IMPROVED XYZ.

If bass really have a tendency to prefer horizontal baits, and they also have a tendency to learn and avoid dangerous horizontal baits, it would make sense that a new / popular crankbait would have a limited window of productivity.

The bass simply aren’t conditioned to it.

Yet.

This is very good news for tackle manufacturers.

lucky craft jerkbait pointer 100
Lucky Craft Pointer 100
Price Check
Amazon

This also lends itself to the popular idea of “old baits becoming new again”.

If an old bait is made well – if it accurately represents forage, or better yet, an easy meal, there is a good chance that at some point, bass that have been conditioned to a bait may succumb to it again after a certain amount of time has passed.

Therefore, it makes sense for anglers to collect new baits, test (then re-test) old baits, but at the same time discard the least effective baits in search of a collection of producers.

Soft plastics and vertical presentations may provide a certain level of consistency, or longer periods of productivity if the theory above is true.

This reminds me of a mutual fund.

Are you going to have runaway, explosive growth with mutual funds? No, probably not. Are they something you want in your portfolio because historically they provide safer, more consistent gains?

Yes.

Hard baits are closer to speculative investing or individual stocks – they have a chance to be explosive. Hard baits can allow you to move fast, and if you find the right one at the right time, you can land fish after fish after fish. Many of us have memorable “crankbait days”.

TMF Short #2 Manns's 1-Minus Crankbait Largemouth
A late morning spent landing over 20 pounds of largemouth bass on hard baits in less than 2 hours before a storm rolled in. My most productive crankbait? A Mann’s Baby 1-Minus… and I remember each fish like it was yesterday.

I can’t really recall my last dynamite “Senko day”…

They exist, of course… but… maybe they’re more consistent and therefore less memorable? Maybe they’re less explosive?

Hard to say.

The bottom line is this:

If we’re going to collect hard baits and test them, we need to make sure we throw away the baits that don’t work well. This will help us avoid becoming collectors, or incorrectly placing our focus on stockpiling stuff. The baits that we do keep must only be the ones that we’ve had success and built confidence with. This will help us select effective hard baits in the future – maximizing our time on the water.

As a Minimalist Fisherman, maximizing our time on the water is key.

Time to start planning for 2023.

It’s going to be a great year!

Tight Lines & Godspeed, Patriots.

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