Buzzbaits 101: Session #1 of 2

What Are Buzzbaits

Buzzbaits are those darned, fast moving, noisy, surface splashing, peace disturbing, squeaky, fish attracting, sputtery, antagonizing, clicky-clacky, nightmarish,(did I say fish catching yet?) pieces of wire, aluminum, plastic and steel that bring huge fish from 50 yards away, right up close to see just what the heck's going on in their own living-room!

Buzzbaits have got to be considered as and have got to be fished the same way as Topwater Baits!

A buzzbait is a true top-water lure!

It is designed to ride at the water's surface (or just beneath it), to make as much noise and to kick up as much water as is possible.

Buzzbaits draw a reflex strike from Bass as well as other predatory fish.

Most anglers new to fishing top-water lures have a natural 'knee-jerk' reaction to their first top-water strike.

Set the hook immediately!

Don't do it!

Just like every other top-water lure that you would normally use, never attempt to set the hook on a buzzbait (or on any top-water lure) until you actually feel the weight of the fish on the end of the line.

A sure-fire way to miss that 'fish of a lifetime' is to pull the lure away from it when you see the strike coming (and believe me, most of the time you will).

Let the fish itself determine when to set the hook.

You'll loose far fewer that way!

Buzzbaits have got to be one of the worst of baits and still be one of the best fishing lures readily available to the fishing-public today.

In the hands of an individual that is an inexperienced or first-time user who is totally unaware of the 'horrific', 'mind-blowing', arm breaking, surface erupting and still totally beautiful strikes that these lures draw, using a buzzbait could mean an almost certain heart attack!

I don't think I've ever seen a single other lure in my lifetime that caused such a "love/hate" relationship with so many different anglers!

I also don't know of a single other lure that is used in the pursuit of Bass today that has LOST more possible trophy fish for an angler than a buzzbait!

I include myself in this number as well!

Time-Out ----- Buzzbaits 101 Flashback!!

I was fishing an individual-draw cash-tournament in North-Central Indiana about ten years ago this August.

It was mid-morning (about 8 AM).

The haze on the water had just lifted.

And, it looked like it was going to be another beautiful late-summer day.

I'd picked up on a near-shore weed-pattern earlier in the week and it looked like it was going to pay off today as well.

My drawn boat-partner and I both had a couple of 'decent fish' in our 'live-wells' already and the tournament was only an hour old!

We'd just finished fishing a weed-bed that was situated on a short rocky point, when I noticed a small, shallow, weed-choked cove just around the corner from the point.

The cove couldn't have been more than 50 yards across and about another 50 yards to the back of it.

Maybe 3 feet deep with 'wall-to-wall weeds'.

The only visible structure there, were two old, dilapidated and long unused boathouses situated on the closer shore.

They were separated by what must have been an old wooden break-wall that the years had not been very kind to.

I just had to wake up the neighborhood!

I made a LONG cast to the closest boathouse and landed my buzzbait just inside of the open door, right at the edge of the shadow!

I don't think that I had turned the reel handle a complete revolution on the retrieve before the water literally exploded!

That bass knocked my buzzbait four feet straight up in the air - out of the water!

But, it never felt the hook!

I couldn't believe that it didn't take the lure and run with it!

All it did was throw it out of his living room because it aggravated him!

For a half hour we both went after that fish with everything on board but the kitchen sink yet couldn't get it to respond again.


Glad that Flashback is over!

Back To The Subject at hand!

Lessons Learned

That day I learned the true meaning of a love/hate relationship!

You know, even though I've been fishing for more than a half century now I'll never forget that single event in my life!

Would you like to know the color or kind of the weeds in that cove?

Or which of the boards were missing from the wooden break-wall between the boathouses?

How about the color & size of the buzzbait?

Or where the sun was as it shone through the willows at the edge of that boathouse?

I can tell you the answer to each of those questions.

Except for why the fish wasn't hooked?

That, I couldn't even begin to explain!

There was just never a weight at the end of the line to set the hook on!

I can't say why!

I can tell you what I used as a follow-up lure when I quickly dropped that rod after the Bass missed the lure.

I can tell you all about the other three fish we pulled out of that cove (all on buzzbaits).

I can tell you that my boat placed the #1 & #2 money-spots for that day's tournament.

But I sure can't tell you why I didn't weigh in that one BIG FISH that day!

Guess what, that's the nature of the beast!

Types of Buzzbaits

Now we get to the most confusing part of this article: Lure description.

A buzzbait is a buzzbait, is a buzzbait!

How's that?

That's actually a pretty honest conception of them!

Buzzbaits are divided into two classes: Inline & Weight-Below.

The classifications only describe the relation of the weight & hook to the blade.

There are so many possible variations on those two classifications, that it would make your head swim!

Inline Buzzbaits

There are jointed, raised, dropped and rotating styles of inline buzzbaits currently in vogue and available for purchase by the general public.

And as with every lure design on the market today, some work and some don't.

Inline buzzbaits were initially designed to go places that a weight-below buzzbait couldn't and still catch fish!

A well-designed inline buzzbait can be fished in as little as a couple of inches of water (Half of the depth of the blade, minimum).

The drawback?

Keeping the hook in a vertical position for the hook-set!

Most inline buzzbaits can't do that because there is nothing to act as a stabilizer.

Especially if/when they touch weeds or grasses.

They lean.

Then they snag.

Then the angler gets mad.

Then the lure goes into the bottom of the tackle-box and it's never used again.

And that's a real crime!

They ARE an extremely effective bait IF they're designed right and IF, they're fished in the manner that they were designed to be fished.

Long-distance cast.

Begin the retrieve before the lure touches the water.

Retrieve at a speed ONLY fast enough for the blade to keep churning up the surface.

And Keep The Rod-Tip High During The Entire Retrieve!

Follow those instructions and even a poorly made inline buzzbait can produce fish for you regularly.

Weight-Below Buzzbaits

This is the most common style of buzzbait currently in use today!

During my bait store visits and catalog browsing this year, I've counted twenty-four 'weight-below' variations that are available to the general public and two more new styles limited to 'PRO Clients'.

Most are from ⅛ oz. to ½ oz. in weight.

There are twin-arm baits with counter-rotating blades (These actually run in a straight line during a retrieve. The ONLY buzzbait that does!).

Long-arm/high riser baits with BIG blades (designed to be retrieved at a slower rate of speed).

Short-arm/short riser baits with very small blades (designed to be 'ripped' across the surface. Usually available only in a small 1/8 oz. size.).

Baits with 'clacker-blades' on the riser that hit the main blade to make even more noise.

Baits with more than one blade (front-to-back or one blade inside another or even two-piece blades).

Baits with Brass blades or Aluminum blades or Plastic Blades, all with 2-3-or-4 edges to the blades, colored blades, colored wires, rattles added etc. etc. etc.

You get the idea.

Most lure-makers offer one or maybe even two styles of weight-below buzzbaits and then throw in a few variations in colors, skirts, weights and blade types to offer variety.

In the next session of Buzzbaits 101: Session #2 of 2, we'll cover the Where, When, & How, to fish with a buzzbait.


Dennis Bryant
The Fishin Professor

Look for other articles written by Dennis Bryant in The Fishin Professor's Pro Staff Angler Profile