Pros Pointers: Jimmy Houston's Angle Dangle

Updated: June 28, 2007, 1:00 PM ET
By John Neporadny, Jr. | BASSMASTER Magazine, July/August 2007
Through the College of Hard Knocks and plenty of on-the-water lessons, Jimmy Houston knows studying angles can be just as important to a bass angler as it is to a college student taking a geometry course.

The Oklahoma pro has become a leading professor in bassology and one of his favorite lessons is on the subject of angles and how these geometric planes relate to catching bass.
"You hear people say you can be a few inches off on your cast and you won't get a bite," says Houston. "We are aiming for fish that are 15 to 25 inches long and if you throw toward its tail as opposed to its head, you can be 12 to 14 inches away from the fish's mouth — even though you made a perfect cast to the cover — just because of the way the fish is positioned."

Because he can only guess which way a bass is positioned on a piece of structure or cover, Houston works the target at different angles to make sure his lures eventually run in front of the fish. The longtime TV fishing show host also changes the angle of his casts because he knows bass are constantly repositioning themselves. "They reposition themselves on an individual piece of structure depending on the angle of the sun, whether it's cloudy or windy or calm, or the time of day or water fluctuation."


Houston advises there are no set formulas on the number of casts and angles you should try for each piece of cover you target. "It sort of depends on the situation," he says.

"Figuring out how many casts you should make to a piece of cover is one of the difficult things to pattern."

The tournament veteran does have a rule of thumb he follows for covering the angles.

"Multiple casts will generally produce larger fish than just making one or two casts to a particular target or at a particular angle on a target," Houston discloses. "I have seen situations where I would have to make 10 or 12 throws to get a fish to bite."

Here's a look at the angles Houston tries on some structure and cover.

Points: "I want my lure coming with the current, whatever way that might be," says Houston. He usually circles the point with his boat, making casts at different angles across the point. During the spring, Houston casts from deep water into the shallows of the point, but he reverses his angle in the fall and casts from the shallow side of the point to deep water.

Laydown logs: "There are a lot of different junction areas on these, such as where the log enters the water, everywhere there is a limb or branch that connects to the log, and the end of the log," says Houston. He prefers to work his lures parallel to the tree's trunk and then cast at slight angles along each of the junction areas he finds on the target.

Stumps: Houston usually likes to throw a Zara Spook past this type of cover because the lure allows him to walk the topwater around the rear of the stump to the front end. He then casts to the other side of the stump and repeats the process. He moves his boat parallel to the stump and throws past the front of it to walk the Spook at a different angle around the cover.

Brushpiles: "If you know the brushpile really well, try to work the outside of it before you work the heart of it," Houston suggests. He knows catching fish from the middle of the brush will spook others in the cover, so Houston runs his lures at various angles along the edges of the brush before probing the middle.


Varying his rod twitches with a Zara Spook allows Houston to change the angle of his presentation during the retrieve. Spinnerbaits and crankbaits also are effective at running different angles in the same cast. "Spinnerbaits are good because with your rod tip you can change the angle of your retrieve a lot," claims Houston. "You'll see really good fishermen, when they make a cast, move their rod tip around a lot and that is exactly what they are doing.

They are trying to improve the angle on their retrieve."

Figuring out that right angle will help you pass your next test on the water.

Gearing Up for the Right Angles
Lures he can employ at a quick pace work best for Jimmy Houston when he wants to cover several angles on a piece of cover or structure. When he wants to walk his Zara Spook around a stump and cover all the angles, the BASS veteran twitches his topwater lure with a 6 1/2-foot medium-heavy Shimano Crucial rod and Shimano Chronarch baitcast reel filled with 14- or 17-pound Berkley Trilene XT line. He uses the same rod-and-reel combo with the same line sizes for covering various angles with a 3/8- or 1/2-ounce Terminator spinnerbait.