The following is an article from Clark Reehm, Bassmaster Elite Series Pro.
As I travel around the US on the Bassmaster Elite Series one of the shallow water elements I try to key in on that produces on a consistent basis is emergent vegetation. Some prime examples of what I am looking for are water willow, small lily pads, reeds and hay grass.
Ideally, isolated patches and clumps of grass will be present which makes fishing this stuff easy and predictable. However, most of the time these weeds will pop up in vast areas making the fish more difficult to pinpoint, and requiring the angler to have an efficient strategy for approaching and fishing these vegetation flats or patches. Many times you will feel like you are searching for a needle in a haystack. I like to attack these weeds with a one two punch since that enables me to maximize my time in the most productive areas.
When I initially start attacking these weeds, I am going to utilize a reaction type of bait that I can cover a lot of water with such as a swimjig with a Vibra Grub trailer or a topwater like a hollow body frog or Evolve Mad Mouse. Both of these setups can go through the thickest of vegetation and I can fish them across the surface or just under the water depending on how thick the grass is or the temperament of the bass. The biggest key when fishing this way is to keep the trolling motor as well as the bait moving. All you are doing is looking for the most productive area, and most active fish in the haystack at this point. It is essential at this point not to get caught up fishing an area that you think looks good. Some of these vegetation flats are massive, and before you know it, you can blow a lot of precious time getting hung up on one or two nice looking pieces of cover instead of just fan casting a broader area and giving yourself the best shot at finding numbers of fish. With a bit of luck, this initial probing pattern will help you identify specific areas that are alive and should produce a fish or two for the livewell.
Hopefully you will be able to identify an acute area in the vegetation that most of your bites have come from and that is when you are able to slow down to deliver your knockout punch. For the second part of the attack, I will be pitching a Kompak Craw or other low-profile punching/pitching bait. Contrary to what some guys are throwing, I specifically seek out a streamline bait that gets through thick grass and vegetation without disturbing or dragging bits of weed into the bass’ laire. This phase allows you mop up the fish that did not want to chase the swimjig or Mouse, frog, or other reaction-type topwater offering. Typically, I will have two different Dobyns Rods rigged up for this follow up approach each rigged with a different sized tungsten weight, a 1oz and a 3/8oz. I will use the 1 oz set up for the thicker vegetation where a reaction bite on the fall is the optimum way to trigger strikes. The 3/8 oz rig will get the nod when I am pitching the Craw into sparser holes in the weeds or when picking apart the edges. Another important note- when pinpointing specific holes or breaks in mats, if you get your bait to fall through the cover, and after a quick shake or two, do not get bit, move on.
This one two punch will work from early spring through late fall when the weeds start to die off. The key is to identify the best spots in the grass and then to milk them for all they are worth.
For readers’ reference, here is what I’ve found to be some fantastic options for attacking grass across most regions of the USA:
STEP 1 - SWIMJIG
BAIT: BOBBY D’S SWIMJIG: SEXY SHAD - 4”VIBRA GRUB: WHITE SHADOW
ROD: DOBYNS CHAMP 735
STEP 1 - MOUSE
ROD: DOBYNS CHAMP 735
REEL: LEWS 7:1 TOURNAMENT PRO
STEP 2 – LIGHT PITCHING
3/8OZ ELITE TUNGSTEN WEIGHT - 3/0 BMF HOOK
LINE: 20LB SEAGUAR ABRAZX
STEP 2 – HEAVY PUNCHING
BAIT: KOMPAK CRAW: JUNEBUG
1 OZ ELITE TUNGSTEN FLIPPING WEIGHT - 3/0 BMF HOOK