Winter Fishing

McClelland’s Blade Bait and Damiki Winter Bass System

McClelland’s Blade Bait and Damiki Winter Bass System

Bass fishing legend Mike McClelland talks about winter bass fishing on highland reservoirs, focusing on the effectiveness of blade baits and the Damiki rig. While we’ve covered Damiki rigging winter bass, we’ve been light on blade bait content. McClelland covers the basics of fishing blade baits for suspended deep-water spotted and largemouth bass.

TACKLE USED (retail links)

McClelland emphasizes the necessity of having a blade bait in your arsenal when targeting deep fish in winter. Blade baits sink fast, which is a must when making precise casts or drops on bass when using forward-facing or 2D sonar, as the bass constantly move. McClelland details his light-line spinning rod setup, consisting of a low-diameter braided mainline to a low-visibility fluorocarbon leader connected via an FG knot. Low-diameter braid facilitates the following:

  1. Fast sink rate due to minimal drag
  2. Superior sensitivity due to low stretch
  3. Hook setting power, again, due to low stretch

Combined with a low-visibility fluorocarbon leader, these attributes round out the optimal line setup. 


Forward-facing sonar has revolutionized our understanding of fish behavior in winter, revealing that bass commonly roam deeper in pursuit of shad than previously thought. McClelland highlights the importance of finding baitfish and bass with live sonar, backed by observing natural indicators like birds. While you can use 2D sonar to target these fish, the forward-looking range and real-time feedback of Garmin LiveScope brings a whole new level of effectiveness when sharpshooting suspended bass.

McClelland delves into the specifics of using blade baits, a metal lure with lead or tungsten, which vibrates when ripped through the water. He discusses varying the action based on the fish’s response – some days, minimal movement is key, while more vigorous action triggers bites on others. McClelland stresses the importance of adapting to the fish’s reaction to the bait. He recommends trying different colors and adjusting the snap position for varied actions. In his experience, less action can be more effective in cold water.

Lastly, McClelland points out the benefits of alternating between different baits, including blade baits and Damiki rigs. The common denominator is fishing heavy, fast-sinking baits. Both presentations dive fast, so you can present them to the fish before they move.


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