Mar 13, 2019

Dead Sticking Baits for Tight Lipped Bass

Tips for landing bass when the water temperatures are cold or they’re otherwise inactive

By Glenn Walker

There is a time and place for fishing fast and a time and place for fishing slow. Fishing slow can take several meanings – it can mean slow rolling a spinnerbait, maybe working your jig back to the boat in a painstakingly slow fashion. Or it may entail soaking, also known as dead sticking your bait for tight lipped bass.

Soaking a bait or dead sticking is a presentation that shines when the water is very clear, when the bass have been heavily pressured, when the water temperatures are cold or simply when the bass are inactive.

When bass are inactive or just waiting for that prime opportunity to pull up on a point and feed, they’ll sit behind that point or on either side of it where the water is deeper. By sitting in these deeper holes, a bass will maintain the element of surprise as its prey swims higher in the water column.

I use three presentations to dead stick baits for tight lipped bass: the Carolina-rig, a shaky-head jig and a soft plastic stickbait.


A Carolina-rig can be cast out and slowly drug along the bottom. I never want to pick my weight off the bottom, as this will create the maximum amount of silt disturbance, mimicking a crawfish scooting along the bottom. Use a larger weight than you normally would. For me, I usually use a ½- or ¾-ounce brass or tungsten barrel weight.

This big weight will keep my bait down in the water column where inactive bass are positioned. Since I’m letting my bait soak in the water, I want a finesse plastic that will still have some action when not moving. This is why I use the Zoom Fluke Stick, as the forked tail will still have action when not moving.

The depth of water I’m fishing and the cover I’m around will determine my decision as to what hook I use. If I’m fishing clear water or targeting fish down deep, I’ll use a standard extra wide gap hook, as I’ll get a better hook penetration on my hook set. If I’m fishing heavy cover, I’ll switch to a heavier hook. The size of plastic I’m using will dictate the size of the hook, but it will likely be a 3/0 to 5/0.

Shaky heads and soft plastics

Soaking a shaky head is a great way to trigger an inactive bass into biting and offers versatility as you change up the size of your jig depending on water depth and current. I’ll use anywhere from a 1/8-ounce all the way up to a ½-ounce jig.

For a soft plastic trailer I’ll use a Zoom Finesse Worm or Z-Hog Jr. Both provide a compact presentation that will tantalize a bass when sitting still. The reason I have two different plastic styles is that the finesse worm is good when the bite is very tough and the small creature bait excels when the bite is tough, but yet the bass want a bigger lure profile in the water.

More than likely you’ve heard the phrase “soaking a Senko” by a bass fisherman at one time or another. This technique is probably one of the most used dead sticking approaches to targeting inactive bass.

What it entails is Texas-rigging a soft plastic stickbait, usually weightless, but a small tungsten weight – generally 1/32 to 1/8 ounce – can be put in front of the bait as well. Cast it out to your target, let it sink, then soaking it, reel up some slack a bit and then repeat.

This is a great technique to use around lilypads, along a weedline or a barebones transition bank on which bass are staging. A wide variety of sizes can be used for soaking. The standard five-inch works great, but if needed a smaller four-inch size – or bigger six-inch size – can be used depending on the lure profile the bass want.

Since I focus on key sections of cover or structure, I want to fish as methodically as possible and not focus on running my trolling motor constantly.

If the bite gets tough for you this fishing season, don’t get discouraged and leave that area without taking a stab at dead sticking some baits. As many times, slowing down and fishing those key areas will put some bass in your boat and turn your day around quickly. 

Glenn Walker has been fishing tournaments for more than 15 years, spreading his passion and knowledge of the sport via articles and videos. He keeps busy fishing events across Minnesota and on the Mississippi River. For more information, check out or on Facebook at