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Finesse Fishing

By Rick La Point
Professional Fishing Guide
Table Rock Lake

Imagine this, you feel the subtle tap on your most sensitive spinning rod with 6 pound test mono. Then, WHAM! You set the hook with the swiftness of a lion pouncing on his prey. The medium action rod is bent in a full circle, just enough give for the lightest of lines but enough backbone to slam the light wire hook in the steel jaws of a lunker bass. The drag starts singing as you feel the head shaking of a huge bass on the other end of what seems like a thread separating you from your respected quarry. You quickly release the anti reverse to manually fight your prospective catch, relying on skill and expertise to back reel when your mama hawg jaw makes those last minute runs at the boat. Then, PANIC, you feel the telltale sign that your line is hung around a limb you confidently release all pressure. Like a miracle from God your quarry swims free, you gingerly finish the battle knowing your line has some damage from the unsuspected limb. Slowly bending over the gunnel, you grab her with your hand, then unsure you reach with the other lifting that beautiful fish out of the water. Admiring her for a few seconds you gently ease her back watching her slowly swim back to her deep-water lair.

'Rick, with a couple nice finesse bass'

That’s what finesse fishing is all about! You are literally one on one with the bass. I like to call it feel fishing. With a sensitive rod and a soft touch you can detect those subtle bites that most fail to detect. My favorite finesse fishing rod is a custom built rod by Grandt Rods. Jim Grandt makes his own blanks with a 70 million modulus graphite material which are the finest and most sensitive, lifetime warranty, rods on the market. This rod paired with a ultra smooth Shimano Sedona 2000 makes a deadly combo. 

Fishing with a instrument like this (retail combo $250) is definitely worth the money. Your fishing line is the most important link between you and the fish. Using a good quality limp monofilament is extremely important for finesse fishing. You need your line to lay down with ease and not twist. Properly spooling your line on your spinning reel is crucial making sure the line comes off the spool the same way it goes on the reel. Spooling your reel this way will help you some of the headaches that frustrate anglers. I use Excel Mono 6# test or 8# test in the green color, which works well in the clear waters of Table Rock Lake. Using green line makes you rely more on your sense of touch since it is hard to see against the clear water.

Your selection of lures can vary, from small worms, French fry’s, bass jigs to 1/4oz. jigging spoons. You can use most anything for finesse style fishing. Probably the heaviest finesse bait I use is a 1/4oz. spider jig. The lightest I trust in is a weightless French fry. Both can be awesome when used in certain situations. Precise presentation of your lure is a must and casting these light lures takes a lot of practice. Most of my finesse fishing is down around boat docks or brush piles. Occasionally I fish deep cedar trees, with a slider rig and a 4-inch finesse worm. Sharp hooks and a good hook set is a key. If the bass gets you down in the thick of things the only thing you can do is give the fish line and pray. Many times the fish will swim out of the tree or dock. Other times "snap" and she’s gone.

Finesse fishing is a style of fishing more than a type. Slow and deliberate concentration a key, the touch a must. A good finesse angler is hard to fish behind unless you watch the anglers every move. Throw between casts, watch his presentation and vary your presentation slightly. That makes the difference between catching a bass behind him or going fishless. The best way to learn is to fish with a finesse style fisherman. Watch the anglers every move and observe his techniques. Any Angler can learn from another, even the best can learn from a novice. A particular instance comes to mind, although not while finesse fishing, but while fishing Zara Spooks in a Mid-West Bass Regional tournament at Lake of the Ozarks. I was on some good bass, fishing a spook. I told my amateur partner to rig up a spook. We arrived at my honey hole, I threw the spook out methodically walking the dog, not missing a beat. I made about 5 casts before my amateur partner reared back and let go, causing a huge backlash in his reel. I ask him if he needed help he said no. After about what seemed like a minute he jerked the spook inadvertently, then WHAM a huge bass swirled at his spook, he jerked the spook back to the boat in one motion. Thinking it was just a fluke I continued fishing. The very next cast, he got another backlash though this time not so bad. He pulled it out and the instant he moved the spook another bass inhaled it this time. Just a little shy of being a keeper I knew it wasn’t a fluke this time. My next cast I let it sit there for what seemed like 30 seconds then before I moved it a good keeper inhaled it. I went on to win the 2-day tournament thanks to my partner's backlash. Although he never fished a spook before this tournament, my partner taught me a great new way to present this lure.

There is a couple of different techniques I use will finesse fishing. The slow crawl method, the jiggle method, (my favorite) and the dead stick method. All have their niches and times they work best.

Remember finesse fishing is not a type of fishing, but a style of fishing.

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