Brett Richardson, well known fishing writer for over 35 years, shares his tips for choosing leader lengths, weights and bait options for using a 3 way rig and a sandbag weight or Lindy snagless sinker for smallmouth bass. This rig is very easy to set up. You can contact Brett by going to his Facebook page here.
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Guidelines For Choosing Leader Lengths
When trying to determine most effective leader length for each situation you encounter on the water, these basic guidelines can be followed, Then fine tune your presentations from there.
In variable current speeds when river fishing on shoals, flats and reef areas, from 12 to 35 feet, start with a leader length of 3 to 4 feet. This will usually suffice in most instances, especially when smallies hold closer to bottom. For suspending fish, or when drifting up entries to steep sand bars and ledges from deep water, I’ll opt for 4 to 6 foot leader lengths when river fishing stronger currents and when smallies suspend on the facing of bars and ledges.
Another scenario requiring the longer leader lengths would be swift current river environments with deep structures such as boulders, rock piles, pelagic hump areas, steep ledges and intermittent changes in bottom content with smallmouth relating to the top portions of these various types of structures. These particular applications apply for drifting all live baits and plastics, including Grubs, Leeches, crawdad imitating plastics, live crawdads, emerald shiners, red-tail chubs or live bait of choice. I’ll also vary my leader lengths to present each form of bait and presentation in the most natural manor depending on variations in current speeds, depths, structures and activity levels of smallies in various water temperatures.
The key factor is to get each individual bait presented in a natural manner that the particular time of year, location and current speed that the baits are actually moving at.
When drifting crawdads for instance, many times I’ll shorten leader length to 2 feet or so to keep the baits closer to bottom depending on position of smallies in the water column. You usually won’t see crawdads flying down the river 3 to 4 feet off bottom so if they do, this is unnatural presentation. Drifting a shiner or chub in a higher position in the water column however will look totally natural to smallies chasing bait, or schools of bait throughout the river out into river mouths and lake or reservoir areas.
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