Whether you call them laydowns, stick-ups, or blowdowns, trees lying in the water are absolute bass magnets. They feature the perfect combination of shade and cover, which attracts baitfish and in turn bass.
Although there may be some seasonal variation in the types of laydowns bass use and the number of bass using them; if you fish enough of them, you’re almost guaranteed to get at least a couple bites.
The bottom line is: if you come across a tree lying in the water, you’re in luck. Just make sure you know these 3 tips to successfully fish a laydown.
1. Try Moving Baits
When many anglers think about fishing laydowns, the technique that immediately comes to mind is flipping. Although flipping is without question the bread and butter of laydown fishing, there are several moving bait techniques that can load the boat while allowing an angler to fish more of them in a day than with a flipping stick. Both square bill crankbaits and spinnerbaits are deadly around laydowns, and can easily out-fish a flipping presentation when the bite is on. Before pulling out your big stick, try grinding a square bill like The Xcite Baits XB-1 Square Bill Crankbait through an area of downed timber first. If you strike out, then come back through with a flipping stick.
2. Probe the perimeter
Once you’ve decided to pick a laydown apart, the best bet is to make your first pitches to the outside branches on the deepest side. Focus on holes in the limbs and the outside edge of the cover with a jig like the V & M Flipping Jig. The most aggressive bass will be out on the edges feeding, and you’ll hang up less on the outside, which prevents spooking the whole thing.
3. Get to the heart
After probing the outside of the laydown, make several pitches to the shallow side and the heart of the laydown. Focus on the main body of the tree where major branches split off. The main trunk of the tree provides the most shade, and pressured bass most commonly hang in the thickest portions. Don’t be afraid to make repetitive pitches to the darkest recesses; sometimes you need to make several presentations before a bass will bite. Also experiment with yo-yoing your bait in the tree, sometimes they need to look at it a while before striking.
For even more tips on how to fish laydowns, here’s Fishing The Midwest’s Jon B. with an instructional video: