A wire-arm or “safety-pin” style bait, like the spinnerbait or buzzbait, is one of the most popular and productive lures available to bass fishermen. The spinning, flashing blade (or surface-churning prop and the pulsing skirt) make it a go-to lure from early spring to late fall.
The popularity of spinnerbaits has also been their downfall on heavily fished waters. When every fisherman has a spinnerbait tied on, bass wise up to the steady, flashing action, and are less likely to strike.
To add an erratic action to a wire-arm bait, Yo-Zuri replaced the blade with a ball, creating the 3DB Knuckle Bait. The ball causes the bait to shake and jive like a Tim Wakefield knuckleball—hence the name—and during almost three years of testing and development, the Yo-Zuri’s designers discovered that bass are eager to take a swing at it.
The ball sends out the vibrations of a spinnerbait, but the action is more erratic, making its movements unpredictable. This unpredictability can be the key to catching pressured fish that have hundreds of spinnerbaits thrown at them each season.
The Knuckle Bait is available in two styles. The 3D prism pattern flashes as the ball bobs and weaves on the retrieve and the painted Sound Ball adds a fish-attracting rattle, perfect for generating bites in stained water or at night. It comes in one size, ½-ounce, and seven colors, chartreuse, golden shiner, gizzard shad, pearl shad, red crawfish, shad, and Tennessee shad.
The hand-tied skirt on each Knuckle Bait won’t pull down while fishing, and a hook-keeper allows fishermen to add trailers to provide even more action. Bassmaster Elite Pro Bobby Lane recommends always outfitting the lure with a paddle-tail swimbait to bulk up the bait’s profile and provide even more action, though he says there are times when a presentation without a trailer is best.
An additional benefit of the ball over a traditional spinner blade is that the Knuckle Bait is more aerodynamic and, therefore, casts farther, helping fishermen cover more water.
The Knuckle Bait can be fished in a variety of ways. It is surprisingly weedless, and can be ripped through underwater vegetation, slow-rolled along the bottom, or waked across the surface. The bait’s action on a steady retrieve is only outdone by its slow sashay to the bottom on the drop. Bobby Lane likes to hop the bait and let it fall because the ball continues to wobble as the bait falls, helping seal the deal with following and noncommittal fish. The Knuckle Bait stands upright when sitting on the bottom, and fishermen have had success fishing it extremely slowly, like a jig. This versatility makes the Knuckle Bait a lure for all seasons, one worth keeping tied on from ice-out to ice-in.
The Knuckle Bait isn’t a replacement for the spinnerbait or buzzbait, but is another pitch to have in your arsenal to help you keep the bass off balance on opening day next spring.