I‘m a liberal leaning outdoorsman attempting to open the minds of right wingers to the idea that libs fish too. Anglers come from all walks of life, left, right, and center. Not everyone who fishes for bass is a redneck fond of Nascar, country music, and religiosity. Expect posts about largemouth bass fishing, techniques, reviews of lures and other products, but not any condemnable conservative rants. I hope to inspire the online angler community to dial down rhetoric which will do more harm than good to our sport.

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Sunday, August 16, 2009

• Strike King Bleeding Bait Elite Buzzbait

Strike King has a number of great buzzbaits in their lineup. On this blog, I have previously discussed the Tri-Wing as it is a favorite of mine, but this post is dedicated to an almost equally successful buzzbait, the Bleeding Bait Elite Buzzbait.

At 3/8oz, the Bleeding Bait Elite Buzzbait ends up being a very comfortable lure to cast. The overall design is really nothing to marvel at, but it has everything I need in a buzzbait this size. A lead head and long shank hook is connected by a wire to a single spinning blade on the opposite side. Upon closer inspection, the blade has two holes for making noise and producing an extra bubbly splash. The ends of each blade are rounded off and bowed out to churn up even more water. The head of the lure has a unique oblong design with a flat planed inner edge and curved outer edge. A pair of glaring red eyes is also affixed to the side of the head for effect and the nose of the lead head is tinged with red paint. One of these buzzbaits costs a little more than $4 locally and online. They are made in Costa Rica.

The Bleeding Bait design falls in line with the notorious "red theory" taking the fishing industry by storm. The front of the package has a blurb which reads "Research shows a red blood trail triggers a natural feeding response in predatory fish." Anyone following the red hook theory knows this to be a load of bunk. Of course, I did not buy the lure for the fancy red additions. I bought it for the size and form factor. Each lure is fitted with a silicone skirt which features red strands representing a blood trail. In addition to the red mixed in with the skirt, each Bleeding Bait buzzbait has a long shank red hook which also fits into the whole bleeding bait theme. I like to leave the skirt as-is, but I will trim it short just behind the bend in the hook. I personally like the wavy action the thin skirt strands give off. If you want to squeeze a little more wavy action out of the skirt, pull the strands through the band some more. It will add bulk and the skirt will acquire a more hypnotic rhythm.

There is another small feature on this bait which deserves some attention. Attached to the wire just above the blade is a peculiar black cone. Strike King calls it the Grass Cone. It is designed to prevent weeds from wrapping up in the blade. Unfortunately, it is not as effective as one would hope. The blade still attracts weeds, but so does the cone and the rivet under the cone. Any weeds wrapped up around the wire and the rivet can hinder the performance of the lure and can prevent the blade from turning at all. In my opinion, the grass cone does not serve its purpose. Don't get me wrong. The lure is definitely weedless, but not as good as they claim. According to the information on the packaging, the Grass Cone is also supposed to add some squeak to the blade because as you swim the lure along, the rivet concealed under the cone rubs against the metal blade. The amount of extra noise contributed by rubbing up against the metal plate beneath the Grass Cone is minimal, so whether or not it makes a difference is likely arbitrary. A second rivet rests below the blade and in addition to keeping the blade from coming off the wire, it serves as a second friction point for added squeak. What's your take?

Colors available:
Bleeding Black, Bleeding Chartreuse/White,
Bleeding Chartreuse, Bleeding White
Strike King certainly does not provide a lot of variety, but for topwaters, black, white, and chartreuse dominate the field. You can always pick up a pack of skirts in other colors and Strike King sells replacement skirts in three-packs. Each skirt features the trademark red blood trail strands and red flakes of glitter mixed in. My confidence color is Bleeding Black.

What gear do I use?
With any topwater lure, the gear you decide to use is absolutely crucial for success. I have found that this bait allows for some flexibility with regard to the rod and reel. At slow speeds, it's very forgiving and stays on the surface quite well. I've thrown the Bleeding Bait buzzbait on a 7' ML rod with a 6.3:1 baitcaster and with a 7.1:1 baitcaster on a MH 7' rod with a somewhat flexible tip. The medium light rod allows the fish to take the bait before a hookset. When I do set the hook, I'm not immediately ripping the lure away from the fish. The extra give in a lighter action rod suits me for many topwater applications. Still, a lighter action rod does not have a lot of fighting power. A medium heavy rod with a super fast 7:1 reel gets the bait moving right away and provides that extra security when hauling in a good bass. I have yet to try this lure out on a 5:1 reel. I would be interested in finding out how slow I can really go and still keep the buzzbait turning on the surface.

As for line, I opt for a copolymer (or monofilament if you prefer) because it does not tend to sink and has a little bit of give in the stretch department. I use Gamma Copolymer in 20lb test or PLine CXX in 15 to 20lb test. Yes, I like copolymer line a lot. I rarely tie directly to the lure. I am very comfortable using a swivel with many lures, including buzzbaits. Some argue that swivels keep the wire too low in the water. No problems here.

Packing a 3/8oz punch, the Bleeding Bait Elite buzzbait makes casting a relatively easy chore. Casting does not come without its problems, however. The width of the blade serves as a point of air resistance during a cast. Unfortunately, if I whip the rod too fast, I can almost guarantee I will get a backlash. The lure will sail far enough if thrown correctly, but make sure the brakes on your baitcaster are set accordingly. I wouldn't blame the bait for these issues. It all boils down to user proficiency. I recommend learning to use a sidearm cast. Pitching is a breeze. I spend most of my time fishing shallow cypress trees, so as long as I can make accurate short distance pitches and longer sidearm casts, I'm a happy angler.

My retrieve is certainly nothing out of the ordinary. When I make my cast, I immediately engage the reel to start buzzing the bait across the water. Any delay gives the lure too much time to sink. My retrieve is typically on the slow side. Burning a buzzbait works, but it's not a technique I frequently employ. By engaging the reel early and buzzing the lure right away, I can draw out a strike from a bass lurking nearby. A fish may not hit right away. A chase may ensue, so watch the water behind the bait and be prepared to pause and give time for the bass to take the hook. Short hits are a common occurrence in the world of topwater lures, so keep your wits about you and pay attention. Don't lose yourself in the moment and set the hook too soon. Strike King designed this buzzbait with a long shank hook, putting a fairly wide gap between the blade and the hook point. The intent was to improve hook ups. I can't recall any lost fish, but I have witnessed a few short hits. Another technique I use with buzzbaits involves alternating between a slow and fast retrieve which gives the lure an almost pop-r-esque splash and frequently draws a reaction strike right away. Assuming the topwater bite is on, using these three retrieves appropriately with the right gear will reward you with some fun fishing.

Do I use a trailer hook? Never. Never? Nope. I can tell some of you are shaking your heads. I only had trouble getting a hookset when I was learning to use the lure. I no longer have trouble with hooksets. The long shank hook seems to do just fine on its own. Another reason why I don't use a trailer hook is because gar in area lakes love to snap at buzzbaits. If I put on a trailer hook, they are more likely to get snagged and damage the lure. I don't want that. I do sometimes add a trailer, but again, I prefer to leave the lure as-is for the most part. Any curl-tailed worm adds that extra flair when you need it and I prefer using Renegade or Culprit worms for my trailers. They add some weight to the lure, but not so much that it changes the action in a bad way.

Wire bending is a common practice for buzzbait aficionados. The wire on these buzzbaits is very easy to alter, but difficult to return to the original position without some sort of vice grip and a pair of pliers. If you do decide to bend the wire, narrowing the gap between the blade and the adjacent wire aids in fast retrieves and widening that gap helps slow the lure down. I recommend buying two and leaving one as-is and modding the other.

Any problems or complaints?
Aside from getting bent beyond repair resulting in unwanted behavior and the air resistance from the blade causing an occasional backlash, the skirt bands are not very durable in the southern summer heat. Replacement skirts are easy enough to find, but I don't like that eventually, I'll have to replace it. Perhaps this is a moot point, but the eyes do not stay on as well as I expected. Over time, an eye might begin to peel back away from the head. The red paint on the hook wears off over time. Not sure how much of an effect that has on drawing strikes. The blade can attract weeds when worked through surface clutter, but goes over weedbeds just fine. Pads are usually a no go as the lure hangs up too often. I reach for a frog or a smaller buzzbait like the Tri-Wing in that situation.

In summary, this lure is simple yet effective. It performs as intended and catches fish. What I like about the Bleeding Bait Elite is that it is a no frills buzzbait for a reasonable price. My best fish on this lure has probably been a good 3lb 7oz bass caught in the middle of the day off a shaded spot in cluster of cypress trees. If you are searching for a no frills buzzbait, the Strike King Bleeding Bait Elite has everything you need to get the job done.

Related Posts:
Buzzbait Techniques
Strike King Tri-Wing Buzzbait
Trailer Hooks
Bank Buzzbaits
Cross Lake Report 10-14-2008