Peacock Bass Tackle Preparation
change font size
bass anglers in the 1980's and early 90's
had only a limited selection of lures to chose from
hold up to the havoc that large peacocks wreaked
on tackle. Very few gamefish can expose a weakness
lure as do the peacock bass, as they
routinely open split rings, straighten hooks and rip
hook hangers from
the bodies of lures that appear to be well-constructed.
However, from the mid-'90's on, tackle manufacturers
realized the potential of the peacock bass tackle
purchasing market and began making lures that were up to the challenge
of being abused by peacock bass. As soon as you handle
and observe these baits, you will note such modifications
as triple-wrapped split rings, stronger hooks and
screw eyes/hook hangers anchored deeply in the body
of the baits.
If you were to ask 100 veteran peacock bass anglers what it is about
fishing for peacock bass that they enjoy the most, a good majority
would reply with something along the lines of "It's the way they hit
a topwater plug!"
First time anglers are so startled by this vicious
topwater assault that they usually miss the first several fish. Unlike
other aggressive gamefish species, peacock bass will readily take
a topwater lure all day, even in bright sunlight. Of course, overcast
conditions will still yield the most action, but don't ever believe
that the topwater bite is over as soon as the sun comes up.
Effective topwater lures for peacock bass can
be divided into several categories, including: surface walking stickbaits;
large baits whose large propellers in the tail section can be ripped
across the surface,
and popping plugs.
I believe that walking baits are the most underutilized baits in the
arsenal of the peacock bass angler. These baits
typically require the most work (not strength) in terms of getting
the best action and anglers,
typically novice ones, shy away from them because of this.
has emerged that is far and away the most productive walking bait
for peacock bass - the Excalibur Super
Spook. This bait is extremely
when you impart the famous "walk the dog" retrieve, basically a coordinated
series of wrist snaps that cause the bait to zigzag across the water.
The "Spook" traditionally comes with three smaller, super sharp Excalibur hooks and three small attached splint rings. Remove all split rings
and hooks and only replace the fore and aft ones with large split
rings and 2/0 Gamakatsu or VMC or hooks.
Another deadly walking bait
Rebel Jumpin' Minnow. For some reason, this walking
bait is most
productive when it is erratically walked, popped and twitched
across the surface,
similar to the action of what you would see with a jumping minnow
or other baitfish.
The entire key to these lures is that they
emit a lot
of action, but stay in the strike zone for long periods of
time. Consider these lures when peacock bass are not aggressively
The first tackle manufacture to produce
peacock-proof prop baits was Luhr-Jensen out of Hood River, Oregon.
In fact, Phil Jensen is an avid peacock bass angler who is constantly
trying to come up with new lure designs and colors. Luhr-Jensen's propeller
lure arsenal includes: the
3/4-ounce Big Game Wood Chopper; Peacock
Bass Special; Jerkin' Sam; Magnum Jerkin' Sam; Big Game Ripper and
In recent years, however, other tackle manufacturers began to produce
what they referred to as their "fresh water big fish" series
of lures, ones that would be excellent choices for fish like musky,
pike, tigerfish, and, of course, peacock
bass. Must propeller lures to add to your
tackle arsenal for the Amazon include: Peacock
Passion Topwater Spin; High Roller's RipRoller; Eatem-Up's Monster
Prop; Temptress' Detonator
and Sam Griffin's Super Zip.
Propeller baits that I would refer to
as "power" type baits, including the Big Game Woodchopper;
Rippers; Monster Props; Jerkin's Sams, Detonators, and
RipRollers should be worked with a medium to rapid paced, aggressive
rip of the rod, to
impart an action and sound that emits a loud rip! This can be accomplished
by either using your wrists (don't try this all day unless you
fish 300 days per year or hit the weights four days a week) or,
by wedging the handle of your casting rod between your forearm
and against the side of your body to gain leverage and assist in
the bait through the water.
The faster and more aggressive you work these baits, the more the
peacocks are apt to attack them. Each sweep of the rod should move
the baits from 6 inches to 2 feet (dependent on the lure used, current
conditions and mood of the fish). Propellers might need to be tweaked
to insure that they bite the water and create optimum audible and
visible commotion. Typically, the guides are most adept at tuning
the baits for best action and sound, so don't hesitate to allow them
to adjust them. In many instances, they'll be the ones looking to
grab your lures to make the necessary subtle changes.
More subtle topwater propeller baits, including the 3/4-Woodchopper;
Peacock Bass Special; Super Zip and Hedden
Baby Torpedo, can typically
be worked with the wrists, using either casting or spinning tackle
and require a less aggressive rip of the rod.
I am still waiting for a tackle manufacture to design the perfect popping
plug for peacock bass. The ones that pop really well are small, with
undersized hooks and hardware. Larger poppers offering heavy duty hooks
and hardware fail to pop and stay on the surface to my liking. When
fishing at peacock destinations yielding fish in the four to 12 pound
size range, scale down your arsenal and include lures such as the Trader
Bay Lefty's Popper, Rebel Pop-R and Yo-Zuri Popper.
Far too many anglers get hung up on
the excitement of topwater fishing and neglect the subsurface approach.
I learned this lesson all to well during a December 1999 trip with
WGN fishing show host
Babe and I were desperately
trying to entice big fish to take our large topwater
We were fishing
with one of the best big fish guides in the Amazon, one that believes
there is only one lure to land a trophy on - a giant topwater
After 2-1/2 days of 8-10 hours a day of slinging nothing but
topwater baits, we decided to switch to a jerkbait and
began landing trophy fish up to 18 lbs. It wasn't that we were
fishing the prop
baits incorrectly, it was simply a matter of recognizing
that the big peacocks were not in the
mood to assault topwater
lures. It is my contention
that if one is interested in is catching numbers of fish, they
should fish a jerkbait all day, and not even bother
with topwater lures. However, if a trophy is what
you've traveled to South
America to catch,
you've got to cast them at least 1/2 of the fishing day.
For trophy peacock bass fisheries,
must baits to have include: Cordell Red Fins; Bomber Long-A
Minnows; Temptress Peacock Minnows and, my personal favorite jerkbait, the
Yo Zuri Sinking Crystal Minnow. These lures should be in the five
to seven inch size range.
For smaller peacock fisheries, make sure
you have an ample supply of Yo-Zuri Sinking Crystal Minnows;
Rapala Husky Jerks; Smithwick Suspending Rattlin' Rogues and Cordell
Fed Fins, in the five inch range they weight between 1/2
and 1 ounce. Although the steady retrieve of a jerkbait has and
will produce strikes, these
baits are most effective when worked with rapid, erratic wrist
twitches with occasional pauses.
Don't be afraid to experiment with different retrieval techniques.
In some instances changing retrieval speed or cadence is more important
than changing lures. Spinning gear is a very good choice when working
Rattling baits are typically one piece
solidly built crankbaits with a hollow rattle chamber and BBs inside.
When retrieved rapidly, they emit a loud rattling sound. Bill
Lewis Rat-L-Traps, Cordell Hot Spots and Temptress
Shiver Shads are deadly
on peacock bass.
While most anglers simply cast these baits out and
utilize a steady retrieve back to the boat, these baits can also
be worked in a yo-yo (rise-and-fall) manner.
The Rat-L-Traps come
up to 1-1/4 ounces, the larger size very effective on trophy
fish. These baits are hard and heavy, so be careful that you don't
your fishing partner out of the boat on your backcast.
Casting spoons work exceptionally well
when you are fishing in areas that offers weedy cover and the fish
are holding within this cover. Consider weedless spoons when
working fish within weedy or grassy cover. Cast as far into the cover
and use a slow, steady retrieve back to the boat. If the cover is what
it referred to as "slop" weed, than absolutely no lure will be able
to be retrieved through it. Larger spoons have been trolled with very
good success as well. Productive spoons include: Tony Aceta,
Johnson Silver Minnow and Daredevile, in
the 1/2 to 1-ounce size range.
A very good follow-up bait to use when
a peacock bass aggressively misses a topwater
lure (and you've casted
back to it on several occasions) is a 1/2-ounce white Blakemore
Roadrunner bucktail jig or standard white bucktail
jig. They are most productive
when casted into the remnant of the strike (the place where the fish
swirled or struck your topwater lure) and then aggressively jigged
up and down.
These baits are dynamite on schooling fish, especially
butterfly and royal peacock bass around rocks or shoals within
a river or lake. The strikes usually occur on the fall. For best
these on a 6 - 7 foot long medium/heavy action spinning
between 12 - 20 pound test line, depending on the location you are
Spinning gear offers the advantage of a rapid vertical fall of
the jig, an important factor when fishing current and a precise presentation
is needed to get the lure to fish holding in eddies.
|Snaps & Terminal
Consider using some type of strong
wire Inter or Double-Lok snap (size 6 - 120-lb break strength) to allow
for rapid lure change. These stronger snaps will not pull apart. Remove
the split ring at the line tie on the head of the lure and add the
snap instead. Always bring extra split rings and treble hooks, as peacock
bass will typically put a few baits out of commission during the course
of a trip.