Fishing Lily Pads: Tips, Lure Choice, Techniques

Loooking at a massive field of lily pads can scare young bass fisherman. It’s like staring into the unknown. With all those pads, where do you even start? After a Few years you start to realize that Fishing Lily Pads isn’t all that hard.

Start Fishing Lily Pads Today!

I always get pumped whenever I see lily pads sprouting up in the late spring going into summer. The spawns over and bass start taking up residence in nearby cover close to the shallows.

Some guys claim that lily pads suck for bass and they actually prefer hydrilla/millfoil ETC when there’s a lot of cover. Honestly, I think they’re crazy! I’ll keep fishing the pads with frogs and jigs bringing in a ton of big post-spawn bass.

Not All Lily Pads are The Same

Fishing is all about responding to the situation at hand. So it’s important to realize that not all lily pad fields are created equal. Understanding the subtle differences is the key to success.

I look out for large pad fields with small holes spaced throughout. Those holes offer natural ambush points where predators stand in wait.

You’ll also come across pads of different sizes, that you’ll need to approach differently. Small tight clusters of pads will be harder to fish, but they hold bass all year long.

  • Small Round Pads: These small clusters of pads are usually so close together that they can be hard to fish. They do however hold monster bass all year long. Treat them like grass and only throw completely weedless lures that can’t get hung up. You’ll want to go with a Texas Rigged plastic bait that isn’t going to get hung up. (I love these Zoom Bait Brush Hogs)
  • Large Lily Pads: These are the massive lily pads that almost look like elephant ears. You can fish these oversized pads with almost anything. The edge of these pads almost always lines up with deeper water. Fish the edge along the points using frogs(Booyah Padcrasher), squarebill crankbaits(KVD Squarebill) topwater baits and jigs.
  • Leafy Pads: These pads grow up over the surface of the water and provide shade throughout the summer. Even during the hottest days of summer you’ll find monster bass hiding out in the shade. Use either a texas rigged worm or jig.

Fishing Pads Takes Experience

Learning how to fish the pads is all about feel and experience. When looking at a large field of pads it’s all about trusting your gut. Some places just look like they might hold bass, and most of the time they do.

It’s just going to take practice before you fully understand how to fish the pads. After a little while you’ll know instinctively which places are worth a few extra casts.

Find The Forage

If you can find the forage you’ll always find bass. Fields with loads of moving bait will always have hungry bass nearby.

When approaching a lily pad field take your time and look for signs of activity. Most of the time you’ll see the pads subtly move as bass feed on the baitfish below.

When you see baitfish it’s always worth pitching/swimming a jig or hollow body frog through there. Hollow body frogs like the Booyah Padcrasher are completely weedless and so easy to use.

Work The Outside-In

Work along the outside edge of the field and slowly work your way in. I like quickly working along the outside edge with a squarebill crankbait or simple spinnerbait(Mini Spinnerbaits with a Single Colorado Blade).

You can usually pinpoint areas that are going to be productive and work your way in. Work your way into the pad field moving along stealthily.

Focus On Tiny Holes

Focus on those tiny holes that offer natural ambush points for predators. Bass like to wait around these holes waiting for that easy meal. Throw a texas-rigged worm into these holes and let it drop slowly to the bottom. You’ll normally get a bit on the drop as it approaches bottom hugging bass.

Work Deep On Cloudy Days

On cloudy days work your way into the middle of the pads. Bass like to actively feed through the middle of weed beds. Rip a hollow body frog, spoon, buzzbait or floating warm through the middle of the pads.

Cast Parallel to The Pads

You’ll also find lots of bass moving along the pad edges. Work along the edges using fast moving lures that you can’t get deep into the beds. Cast parallel to the pads and work the edge fast.

Try using squarebill crankbaits(KVD Squarebill), lipless crankbaits(Red Eye Shad) and spinnerbaits. Anything that you can work fast and accurately cast will work.

Use Heavy Duty Tackle

Fishing the pads is usually going to require some heavy duty tackle. Go with a medium-heavy rod with a fast tip that will allow you to rip your way through the pads. (check out my post on rod action and power)

I like to either use 20-25 pound fluorocarbon or 50 pound braid when working my way into lily pads. Remember that hauling a big bass out of the pads is going to be a challenge. You need enough backbone to set the hook and rip him out before he buries himself into the pads.

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