Anywhere and everywhere you see schools of baitfish this summer – shallow near the surface, or deep on your sonar graph – throw a Storm® 360GT Searchbait™ and you’ll put bass in the boat.
“You don’t even need to have cover, you just need to be around baitfish,” says Davy Hite, a Bassmaster Classic champion and seven-time Bassmaster tournament winner. “Whether you’re talking about shad, alewives, blueback herring, bluegill or perch, whatever waterbody you’re on will have some baitfish that the largemouth, smallmouth or spotted bass key on. So the 360GT’s slogan, ‘Throw it anywhere, catch fish everywhere’ really is perfect for the bait. I’ve fished it from Canada all the way to Florida, and it catches fish.”
“GT” stands for “Go To” bait. Creating the ultimate illusion of natural movement, the 360GT pairs a lifelike, single-ball rattling jig head with a realistic, phthalate-free soft body with 3D holographic eyes and a toe-in boot tail that elicits fish-attracting action and vibration at any retrieve speed.
“The boot tail does a couple things,” Hite explains. “It gives the bait vibration, which the fish can feel in the water. And the slim tail going to the boot gives the bait another action — it moves side to side, just like a fish trying to propel through the water.”
Like all professional anglers, Hite hits the water with several rods rigged with different baits to account for differing weather and water conditions. In the summer, one rod is always rigged with a 360GT. He picks it up when he sees schools of baitfish, be it 50 feet deep or a foot shallow.
“When I’m deep, I’ll see schools of baitfish on my sonar graph,” Hite explains. “When I’m shallow, I’ll actually see the baitfish in the water. So whether I’m fishing a river or stream, a natural lake or man-made reservoir, I’ll throw that 360GT when I see those baitfish.”
When baitfish are shallow, fishing a 360GT couldn’t be more simple – cast it out and reel it in. When your sonar graph shows schools of bait around deep structure like reefs, humps and rockpiles, just to name a few, you’ll need to count down your 360GT to the strikezone after casting toward your target.
“Just count down the bait until you get it to the right depth, and then reel it in slowly,” Hite explains. “Typically, that bait’s going to fall about a foot a second, but it varies.”
Baits fall faster or slower in different current and wind speeds. When water color allows, Hite gauges rate-of-fall by pitching his 360GT a few feet from the boat and counting “one-thousand-one, one-thousand two, and so on,” as he watches it fall. Once it’s out of sight, he stops counting and reels in, noting how much line he had out. “So then when I make a long cast on that same slack line, I’ll know how long to count it down to get to the bottom.”
Hite’s summer 360GT game plan includes a “deep-shallow” strategy as well. When his sonar graph shows baitfish schooling near the surface over water 50 feet deep or more, he casts at the school and reels in rapidly, with his rod tip high in the 10- or 11-o’clock position.
“A lot of times, those baitfish will be suspended in the summertime and the bass will be right under them,” Hite explains. “So cast out and start reeling immediately when the bait hits the water – maybe even slightly before – so it’s not sinking down any. The bass will come up to hit it.”
Smaller 360GT’s are generally better closer to the water surface, and vice versa to get to the bottom in deeper water. Pre-rigged 360GT’s are available in three sizes: 1/8 oz jighead, 3 1/2-inch body; ¼ oz. jighead, 4 ½-inch body; and 3/8 oz. jighead, 5 1/2-inch body. Each pre-rigged pairing comes in a package two extra bodies. Each size body is available in 11 color patterns: Chartreuse Ice, Gaga, Herring, Houdini, Hot Olive, Marilyn, Pearl Ice, Smokin’ Ghost, Smelt, Tru Blue and Volunteer.
In most situations, Hite fishes 360GT’s on 12-pound-test fluorocarbon line with a 7-foot medium or medium-heavy baitcasting rod and a 7:1 ratio baitcasting reel.