Noise is necessary when using buzzbaits

Bass anglers who find the perfect buzzbait cherish the lure and take extreme measures to save it from broken lines, terminal snags and other peril.

Buzzbaits are topwater lures that feature a propeller with cupped blades that spin thanks to the water pressure exerted against them as the angler winds. The twirling blades create lift that enables the lure to rise to the surface and ride there all the way back to the retrieving angler, stirring up enough commotion to alert nearby bass, northern pike, muskies and other surface feeders.

Strikes range from a delicate sip to an all-out explosion, depending on the mood of the fish.

The perfect buzzbait rarely comes directly out of its package. Experience has proven that a fresh buzzer needs time at work to be properly broken in.

Some anglers put time on their buzzbaits by holding them out the window of their car to catch the wind and get the blades screaming.

As the blades spin, they wear the metal shaft and start to squeal in a pitch that appeals to predator fish far more effectively than the newer, quieter lures. The rule for most buzzbaits is the older, the better.

I had the perfect buzzbait tied on Thursday as I worked the shallow cover and flats at Shenango Reservoir. It quickly proved it was exactly right for catching the attention of nearby bass, as two nice fish took their swipes within my first handful of casts.

Then it was gone.

Buzzer blades are fashioned out of aluminum, which is light enough to ride the surface at just about any retrieve speed. But aluminum is soft and the holes on which the blade rides the shaft eventually wear through, effectively disabling the lure.

My squeaker became a dud, so I had to tie on a new buzzer. That the broken lure had been perfect became evident within minutes. The new one was quieter, as it had not yet been properly broken in, and was just not up to the task. The bass ignored it.

I have selected two new candidates for the car window air blast break-in. Ten miles at 50 mph should get them tuned just about perfectly.

I am not certain why a squealing lure is so appealing to bass and other predators. I pay pretty close attention when I’m out on the water and I have never heard anything quite like the perfect buzzbait.

Fleeing baitfish, a slithery snake, struggling insects and paddling ducklings all are relatively quiet compared to the squawk-box buzzbait.

The sound apparently triggers a kill reaction in predator fish because if they are in the neighborhood, it doesn’t take them long to find and attack the buzzer.

Buzzbaits are effective on all of our local waters — from the reservoirs to Lake Erie and the Ohio River. Largemouth and smallmouth bass are the targets most often for buzzbait slingers, but muskies and pike love them, too.

Before my next fishing trip, I will have two more perfect buzzbaits ready for duty. Autumn is coming, the water is cooling and the bass will be looking for the squeakiest lure on the lake.

Jack Wollitz is a writer and angler who loves the lakes and rivers of Ohio and western Pennsylvania. He also appreciates emails from readers. Send a note to jackbbaass@gmail.com.


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