Names for many lures are quite descriptive

One thing we can say about fishing terms is they describe stuff pretty well.

“Spoon,” “spinner” and “topwater,” for example, certainly paint vivid word pictures. They are categories of lures that are among the building blocks at the foundation of many anglers’ fishing interests.

Spoons look just like the utensils in your silverware drawer, but with treble hooks. Spinners feature spinning blades. Topwater lures are fished — you guessed it — on the surface of the water.

“Square bill” is another apt term that has grown in popularity in recent years. A square-billed crankbait has a square-cornered diving bill at the front of the lure body, hence its name.

Square bills are extremely effective in generating strikes from predator fish and we are in the peak season. October in our part of the fishing world may very well be Square Bill Month.

My scorecard these past two weeks shows a large number of largemouth and smallmouth bass have eaten my square bills. But the lure is not just for bass; I also have caught numerous walleyes, channel catfish, muskies and northern pike on them.

Numerous bait manufacturers market square bills, including Strike King, Spro, Luckycraft, Storm and Bomber. All feature the namesake square-cornered plastic bill that grabs the water as the bait is reeled forward, creating an aggressive wobbling action that mimics fleeing baitfish and crawfish.

My tackle arsenal includes a well-stocked box of Strike King KVD 1.5’s in an array of colors that mimic shad, perch and crawfish. In addition, my boat is always stocked with square bill models featuring the fish-catchingest color: chartreuse.

The 1.5’s dart and dodge in an erratic fashion that predator fish find irresistible. They dive from three to five feet, depending on the size of the line on which they are fished.

Due their erratic action, square bills are effective even on simple cast-and-wind retrieves. But the real ticket to square bill success is retrieving them so they bump the stumps and careen through drowned tree limbs.

Even with a pair of treble hooks, square bills are relatively snagproof, thanks to the fact the diving bill deflects the lure off the wood.

Anglers look for shorelines where trees have blown into the water and cast shallow-running square bills so they can be dragged from the point where the trunk enters the water out to the top where branches provide hideouts for big bass.

A recent outing underscored the potency of square-billed crankbaits in October. As the day advanced and the sun climbed high, the bass shinnied into the shadows of sunken logs.

The fishes’ location became very predictable and it was rather obvious which casts might produce. It’s fun when you can almost call your shots.

I boated a dozen largemouths in a couple of hours, all of them tricked by the chartreuse square bill at the end of my line.

October may be Square Bill Month, but you don’t need to put them away after next week. Shallow-running crankbaits will produce until the lakes freeze.

Jack Wollitz is a writer and angler who fishes all of the waters in northeast Ohio and western Pennsylvania. He also appreciates emails from readers. Send a note to Jack at jackbbaass@gmail.com.


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