Creating A BUZZ

By Capt. Steve Chaconas

It looks crazy and a bit ridiculous, but one of the most effective bass lures from prespawn into fall is the buzzbait!

Photo of finished DIY buzzbaits

A few surface gurgling lures existed, but the 70s buzzbait boasted a patented propeller design to put the lure on the surface quicker to give bass a slow buzzing target over their heads. Buzzbaits leave a tantalizing gurgling trail for fish to follow. Blades squealing against rivets annoy bass! Anglers soak rivets in saltwater to corrode them, enhancing the sound. It wasn't long before everyone was tying buzzbaits to their lines and truck side mirrors to accelerate the wear and tear to achieve squeal sooner! A swinging metal arm, clacking against rotating blades like baseball cards in bicycle spokes, adds more noise. Lure manufacturers alter blades for sound or disturbance to broaden the lure's range for varying fishing conditions. Buzzbaits are not a fad!

A Favorite Lure Of Dave Lefebre

Fresh off his Lewis Smith Lake FLW Tour win where he pocketed $125,000, Ranger pro Dave Lefebre says buzzbaits played a role in bringing home the trophy! The Erie, PA pro has had buzzbaits in his tackle box since he was a kid in the 1980s. They still work because they create commotion and look more alive than other lures. It's a reaction bait, but can mesmerize them as they zone in on it and strike. "Bass are like a cat and they want to pounce on something. It intrigues the bigger ones and I needed big fish on day 4 and that's what you do for a big bite!"

Reliable around 54-55 degrees, Lefebre carries around 60 buzzbaits to cover various presentations. In practice or on tournament day, he always has a buzzbait rod outfitted with 20 or 17-pound test Sufix fluorocarbon line on a high speed 7.3:1, 13 FISHING Concept reel, both E and A models. The 13 FISHING 7'6" medium heavy OMEN rod is perfect for longer casts and hooksets. A softer tip allows fish to take the bait deep enough to get hooked! "I throw it all the time. I try it in practice everywhere. Potomac, Champlain into the summer." Lefebre says buzzbaits get hot again in the fall with water cooling into the 50° range.

Preferring a Terminator and an out-of-production Luhr-Jensen buzzbait, he uses three sizes: 1/8, 1/4 and 1/2 ounce. For the 1/4 and 1/2, he uses the blade that comes with 1/4 ounce baits. Wind determines bait weight for casting. The 1/8 size, with small blade, is perfect for late summer to skip under docks and trees, giving a different look than Senkos and jigs. In lieu of skirts, Lefebre slides a variety tube colors over the lead head, securing with Super Glue, making skipping even easier! This setup casts a mile. Fatter tubes for skipping. Slender for burning or smaller baitfish situations. He reels fast with erratic stops and jerks.

For a couple of decades, Lefebre's big secret was well guarded. Now he threads on a Gary Yamamoto YamaFrog instead of buzzbait skirts! Both are big fish baits! This combo produced winning fish for him on his way to 6 tournament wins and over $3 million in prize money! Buzzbaits with frogs allow him to reel much slower and he says, "The cat's out of the bag."

Lefebre's skirt colors are simple: chartreuse/white, white, translucent chartreuse & blue glimmer, blue glimmer, and black. Heads are white or black. Often, he scrapes the paint off, revealing plain lead. Using mostly the standard silver blade, he prefers black blades in rain or low light. In stained water, white blades, head and YamaFrog tend to glow, providing a better target! Clackers work in tidal fisheries, stained water, current, milfoil, or choppy water. Twin-bladed buzzbaits create more noise as blades strike each other and can be retrieved very slowly. He replaces aluminums rivets with stainless steel, roughs up points of contact, and bends the bottom tab of the blade until it makes a nice squeak. "Each one is different. Buzzbaits are one of the most touchy lures with a lot of figuring out to get the right size, speed and sounds."

Another trick is pre-rigging a 20 pound test Sufix fluorocarbon leader with a small swivel on one end and about 4-6 inches away; a small stainless snap. To keep the snap from sliding down the buzzbait, he pushes a piece of clear tubing on the R bend, leaving space for the snap! The swivel end is tied to his line. This allows longer casts by preventing the buzzbait from spinning and prevents his line from becoming twisted and needing to be replaced sooner!

Tinkering is an on-the-water adaptation, but he looks for a change of direction. Buzzbaits tend to run left, perfect for baits running into cover to the left. For cover to the right, Lefebre bends the end of the buzzbait blades to the opposite direction, making them run to the right! Now he has a one-two buzz for covering both sides of cover! In addition to tuning to keep baits from tipping over, he bends wires to position heads under the blade.

With aggressive sidearm casts along edges: grass, riprap, docks, laydowns, even open water, Lefebre retrieves with his rod slightly up, keeping line out of the water and slowing down. Rod position changes the sound the bait makes! For faster presentations, he lowers the rod. In either case, after allowing fish to take the bait, he employs a sweep set.

Making these noisy lures is simple! You can save money and create unique lures! Lure Craft, supplier of soft plastic bait production products, has everything to create perfect buzzbaits. Heads are available in many sizes and matched to a variety of blade styles. Assembly and customization is easy.

Color buzzbait heads with Lure Craft vinyl paint, powder coat, or nail polish! Paint on eyes or add adhesive backed 3-D eyes! For clackers, thread on a hollow metal bead, the clacker, and then the last bead. You might have to bend the wire frame to slide these on.

Add the preferred blade. Lure Craft allows further customization with dyes to color blades. I add a plastic bead after the blade and then the rivet. The flat side of the rivet goes toward the blade. Line up the blade on the wire shaft so it contacts the clacker. Without a clacker, allow enough room for the blade to turn just ahead of the lead head. Bend the wire end to keep the rivet in place. Trim excess.

Add skirt and that's it! The cost of a premium buzzbait is about $8! Custom buzzbaits with Lure Craft components run about $1.50! Less if purchased in quantity!

For a lure that hasn't changed much in 40 years, there's still a lot of buzzbait buzz, a lure Lefebre says provides something different for a successful pattern or to get a single big fish bite.