Here in the West we are known for our finesse fishing. But as we look at what we do, is merely dropping down in size of baits (and the attendant tackle that fishes them better) so clever? I mean, when we go small, have we really “finessed” anything?

I ask that for a good reason after doing some reading this weekend. While I’ve heard reference to threadfin shad spawning more than just once (a year)–and that in early summer–I really hadn’t confirmed that in my head.

And I should have.

So when I looked at some available data (click here), I realized that yes, there could be multiple shad spawns in the front of summer, and then again later when those conditions generally repeat themselves at the end of summer.

Because of the numbers involved and the reputed short life-span of the baitfish (around two years), it seems pretty apparent that those “mature” or larger shad that are supposed to dominate the fall season, are probably more of a theoretical presence. In other words, if you take a million 2 1/2-inch shad and they lay say 10,000 eggs each, and do this three times in 12 months, what is the forage base going to look like?

The young of year grow to just under an inch in three to four weeks, and maybe up to 2 1/2 inches in the first year. No matter what is left of the mature, max-aged adult shad that are still alive, they are going to be lost in a sea of smaller baitfish. If that’s the case, then, when we drop down in size of our offerings, we are not doing anything unusual, we are just going in with another bite-sized bait.

Yet, that’s not all bad because where this kind of biomass is present, it also means that all the fish–all sizes of predator fish–are faced with equal conditions. And in all likelihood, the fact that shad tend to school by size, and that larger shad hand in the upper stratum of water, it also figures the predators that want more bang for their bite are also shallow.

It’s not enough to match the hatch. I think it’s presentation including levels, angles and vibration may have more to do with drawing strikes. Whatever the finesse methodology, it has to have more to do with drawing attention to the bait, rather than mimicking to the last detail.

What touch do you “add” that draws attention to your bait?