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Switch Your Lure's Trailer for More Success

By George Fiorille

Over the years, I have seen some uncommon lure trailers. It makes me laugh when I think back about them.

Once during a club bass tournament, one of our members took a lunker award with a 5-pound plus largemouth. After the tournament was over, the angler was showing a bunch of us what he had caught the tournament’s largest fish on. The lure was a very large, oddly colored spinnerbait with a 10-inch curly tail worm as a trailer. Fishing was slow for him, so he changed his trailer. The angler’s theory was, “go big or go home.”

Smallmouth Bass Trailers


A Ned rig with add on spinner fooled this nice smallmouth bass.

I have caught several smallmouth and largemouth bass over the years on spinnerbaits. I often noticed that smallmouth bass would take a spinnerbait much better without a trailer and largemouths usually like one. I very rarely used a trailer for smallies to give them a smaller presentation.

One time while being a press observer with former 4-time Bassmaster Classic Winner Rick Clunn, his success during an ESPN Summer Games bass tournament impressed me. Clunn caught numerous smallmouths during the day on an Adirondack Lake in Upstate New York on a Lucky Strike spinnerbait with a 4-inch curl tail ring worm trailer. It made me think that maybe my preconceived notion about not adding a spinnerbait for smallmouth bass was not always correct. Maybe during the day, we need to change our lure’s trailer for better success?

Bass can be selective creatures more and more often on our heavily pressured waters. What if the fish are feeding on crawfish and we cast a minnow looking offering? Will the larger, more cautious bass refuse what we threw?

Experiment With Trailers

You can alter dramatically your lures offering by changing the trailer. Say for instance, you have been throwing a green pumpkin chatterbait with a bluegill-colored minnow spade tail trailer reeled in with various retrieves. If you don't get any strikes for a while, why not change to a green pumpkin craw trailer. Slow roll the lure along the bottom and go from a minnow to a craw presentation for in-active bass.

I don't see many anglers give enough thought to their lure’s trailer and prevailing conditions. A bulky trailer with multiple appendages can give different lures more lift and action for active fish. During the lows of the day, you may have better success with a trailer that just sports a straight no-action tail.

If you’re new to bass fishing, don’t fret if you have a hard time knowing when to change. The ability to realize when to change your lure trailer will come to you eventually with experience as a “sixth sense.”

Trailer Action

largemouth bass

A switch to a Ned worm trailer caught this largemouth bass.

The tail action of your lure just may be the most important aspect of your package offering. I learned an interesting lesson years ago fishing for northern pike during cold water periods in the spring and late fall. I changed my trailers on spinnerbaits and rubber jigs to ones tied with no action bucktails. I was amazed at the number of largemouth bass I would catch on these lures.

While many anglers like to use an action-packed trailer such as a curly tailed grub, a straight tailed one will catch more inactive fish. A Texas rigged worm can use the same principle. A straight tailed plastic worm not only come through cover better, but also triggers more inactive bass as well.

Blades as Trailers

Adding a blade and swivel can change your presentation. You can add this setup to a spinnerbait, swim jig, or even a crankbait. It works on soft plastics as well. This unusual set-up is likely something the fish have not seen much. Try taking the rear treble hook off a hard bait and add the swivel/blade set-up. A wide Colorado blade will help the lure ride higher in the water column. Use a thin willow leaf blade to help the lure run lower or in and around weedy cover.

On soft plastics, the spinner tail can be added to swim baits, soft stick baits, tube jigs, Ned rigs, and others. Try using the Pin Tail spinners by Rapid Fishing Solutions. They come in short and long versions. There’s also one with a hook end that can be inserted in soft plastics. There’s a model designed with a twisted end that will fit over swim baits hooks and tube bait hooks.

Change that Led to a Win

Years ago, I fished a Central New York Team Tournament Trail Classic during the fall. My partner and I took the lead on day 1 with a limit of smallies weighing in at over 20-pounds. Our pattern the first day was to drag jigs in deep water known as “Great Lake Crawl.” There were a half dozen boats all around us that could hardly catch anything, but we were reeling in 4-pounders. We were using a new protype scent on our jigs that the bass were homing in on.

Early on day 2, with much enthusiasm from our previous day, we discovered we could not buy a bite during the first few hours. I decided to change the jig trailers to an Uncle Josh 101 pork frog. It made a huge difference. We finished the day with another 20-pound stringer of smallies and won the event with a big difference from 2nd place.

Smallmouths seem to get conditioned to certain lures in just a day or two. They can also move from day to day. Knowledgeable anglers will change their presentations to entice conditioned fish.

Practically every bass angler has the same kind of lures in their arsenal. How we use these tools at different times can determine how many bass we catch and how big they are. If things slow down when fishing a jig, stick worm, spinnerbait, chatter bait, or even a crankbait, try changing or adding a trailer. You changed that trailer, and there’s a good chance you will change your success. Fish On!

Read More: How to Fish a Floating Worm

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