new-lead-picThis second installment on Road Runner fishing is directed at working the little under-spin consistently, something that has proved extremely successful for me since I stumbled on this old/new lure a couple of seasons back. When you find the rhythm and consistency of retrieve–and get back to line watching–you’ll start adding bites you just weren’t getting before. Pretty cool, eh?


Long before most of us were chasing bass, Buck Perry taught that speed and depth control were the keys to lure presentation.  What I’ve found, however, is keeping control through the water column can be tougher to maintain with the Road Runner, which by its weighted nature will not hold a level plane, and due to the drag of  its turning blade, also tends to lean to one side if retrieved too fast.

The real secret then, is to harness the speed limitations of the lure, but also to integrate those important directional changes that draw strikes –and to do it all without having to develop a whole new angling skill-set.

bottom-cropped7For me, the way to do that is to incorporate the standard stop-and-go retrieve, letting actual bottom depth determine the lower limits of your retrieve and putting a ceiling on the upper range of that presentation by your retrieve speed. (Looking at the photos in sequence) if you start the retrieve with the bait on the bottom (bowed line, left), raise it and draw it forward by one to three quick turns of the reel handle (taut line, lower left), and then stop turning the handle to allow the bait to fall back (vee wake, below) to the bottom, you will have all the key elements in place.

Your depth control is maintained by the actual bottom contours and by how fast you retrieve (in conjunction with the rod tip position). Your speed control is regulated by the lure’s configuration (blade size and shape and weight of the head on the horizontal plane as well as on the fall) in addition to how fast you turn the handle. And furthermore, the start up, the retrieve period, though brief, and the lure falling to the bottom, comprise at least three directional changes. These help make the Road Runner so productive.

tight-line-retrieve11vee-wake-of-the-line15In the realm of presentation then, you’re really only required to be a good line watcher, noting if the terrain is steep, you need only a turn or turn and a half of the handle since the bait will fall farther in each cycle. If the ground is flatter, generally, two or three and maybe four turns gets the bait up and then moving horizontally, but it will hit the bottom more quickly when you stop turning the reel handle (since it doesn’t have as far to fall).

And the bites? Most of the time they come when the lure is falling, or I’ve found when I start to turn the handle again, the bass already has the bait. You may feel the strike, but many of them you’ll see as a tick in the line.

About the only other thing (other than blade and trailer changes, which I’ll talk about next time) you should incorporate is the same general line test or diameter. Thin is better because it lets a light head sink as quickly as possible, and I use 6-pound or something around .008-.010 diameter. Also, I’ve been cheating by splicing maybe 2 feet of 10-pound fluoro (AbrazX has been good to me) and then tying to the bait. It’s better against nicks and gives me a stronger knot.

Of course, there are other retrieves: vertical jigging, high hopping, pendulum swinging to name a few. But day in and day out, something in the stop-and-go routine will work for you. Get comfortable with the base line retrieve and then expand.

FINAL INSTALLMENT: Road Runner blades, trailers and tricks