Tommy Biffle's Bottom-Buggin' Bass Fishing Technique

I guess I should have thrown this at Smith Mountain," said pro bass angler Tommy Biffle with a smirk. He twisted his hook out of the mouth of his fourth bass in as many casts.

The rig consisted of a Gene Larew Biffle Bug -- a lure of the veteran pro's own design -- matched with a unique jighead that sported a hinged worm hook on a football-shaped head. A friend had been making the specialized heads for Biffle, and he had used some previously but had not combined one with a Biffle Bug. That was about to change -- in a big way!

Biffle had told me about the head and noted that he had rigged it during the most recent Bassmaster Elite Series event at Virginia's Smith Mountain Lake but had not picked up the rod. A Biffle Bug had been the pro's lure of choice during that tournament, but he had relied on Pearl Pepper Biffle Bugs, Texas rigged, and had pitched them to spawning fish that he could see.

Those four consecutive fish and a handful of others caught later in the same short afternoon gave Biffle real confidence in the rig, which he was dragging across the bottom at a semi-slow but steady clip. He liked the way it felt and the way the offering danced when he swam it just beneath the surface for observation. Most importantly, he was impressed with the way it caught fish. Biffle soon began to fish with rig more often, and every time he played with it, he gained more confidence. It ended up producing every fish he brought to the scales during the Elite Series event at Kentucky Lake.

But the breakthrough came at the Sooner Run in Oklahoma.

Biffle won the Sooner Run, which was moved to his home waters of Fort Gibson Lake because of flooding at the original venue. He caught all his fish by "bottom-buggin'" -- a nickname coined by BassFan during its daily coverage of the Sooner Run. Later the term was adopted by Biffle and Gene Larew.

A couple of weeks after that, Biffle won a Professional Anglers Association event on Tennessee's Cherokee Lake using the same color of Biffle Bug, partly with the bottom-buggin' technique

Biffle's pair of wins created such a buzz that Gene Larew decided to mass-produce the specialized jighead, releasing it last summer as the Biffle HardHead. The win also prompted the release of the custom color of Biffle Bug that Biffle had been throwing under the name "Sooner Run."


Biffle's bottom-buggin' technique falls somewhere between tube-dragging and cranking cover. He drags the lure across the bottom, probing every nook and cranny, but he moves the offering with his reel, not his rod. He employs none of the rod pulls and pauses normally associated with dragging techniques for football jigs, tubes or Carolina rigs. The lure stays in motion -- albeit slow motion -- all the time as he cranks.

"I'm holding my rod at about an 8 o'clock position and cranking the Bug so that it's dragging and bumping everything it comes in contact with along the bottom," Biffle said.

The technique allows Biffle to feel the bottom constantly, so if he ever loses contact, even for a moment, he immediately sets the hook with a sideways sweep of the rod. Often, there will be no distinctive thump. The rod tip will simply stop jiggling for a moment when the fish lifts the lure off the bottom. An angler who waits to "feel" more a stereotypical strike will miss many of the fish.

Biffle has used his crawling technique both shallow and deep with similar effectiveness, fishing everything from washes in the backs of pockets to offshore humps. Anytime the bass are holding near the bottom it is apt to work.


The bottom-buggin' technique has great tournament applications.

The bait is always moving, so it's a great way to cover a lot of water and a broad range of depths. However, it's also very precise, and the exact cast that produces a fish can be repeated and often will produce more fish that are relating to the same structure. Bottom-buggin' also provides a great feel of the bottom, which is extremely helpful for understanding a lake and refining a day's pattern.


The football-shaped HardHead creates a lot of commotion along the bottom and allows the rig to traverse very rough terrain, following uneven contours and rocking free without getting hung frequently. The hinged worm hook allows for straight weedless hooking and tremendous lure

mobility. The HardHead comes in four sizes that range from 3/16-ounce to 11/16-ounce.

The Biffle Bug is a 4 1/4-inch flat, creature-type lure that Biffle originally designed for pitching. Its curled and paddle-tipped back legs dance wildly.

The Sooner Run color is a watermelon red flake with a dark back that Biffle believes causes it to imitate a crawfish. He soon proved that the bass also liked this color.

Get Your Fish On.

Plan your next fishing and boating adventure here.

Recommended for You


MidwayUSA Pro Series Shooting Mat

G&F Staff

Shooters across the U.S. are using this competition shooting mat.


New TRUGLO Bowfishing EZ•Rest

May 23, 2019

Brush-style bowfishing arrow rest and kits designed for simplicity and reliability.

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Costa's Award Winning Waterwoman Sunglasses

Costa's Amanda Sabin tells OSG's Lynn Burkhead about all of the great features that made the new Waterwoman frame a big winner at the 2019 ICAST show as well as out on the water.

MLF Pro Tips: Go-To Baits for the Spawn

Major League Fishing pros talk about the first lure they choose when targeting spawning bass.

Mustad's Saltwater Jig Lineup

Russ Whisler shows OSG's Lynn Burkhead the innovative features and great color schemes in Mustad's voluminous lineup of saltwater jigs introduced at ICAST 2019.

See more Popular Videos

Trending Stories


7 Best Bets For New Jersey Largemouth Bass

October 04, 2010

From Monksville Reservoir to Union Lake, plus five other picks, here's where you'll...


Top 10 Biggest Pike World Records of All Time

Jack Vitek - August 19, 2015

While wildly popular amongst anglers around the world, the IGFA World Record book shows the...


How To Make Your Own Catfish Dough Bait

Keith Sutton - August 04, 2015

When it comes to fishing baits, you won't find a more unusual variety than the strange brews...

See More Stories

More Bass


The 1-2 Punch for Smallmouth Bass

Glenn Walker - June 26, 2019

Throw reaction baits, then switch to finesse setups for smallie success.


Largemouth Tech Tips: Water Temp, Fishfinders, Lure Hacks

Dr. Jason Halfen - August 09, 2019

These three skills belong in your bass-fishing bag of tricks.


MLF Pro Tips: How to Fish New Waters

G&F Online Staff

These Major League Fishing pros share their approach to a new lake.

See More Bass

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Temporary Price Reduction


Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services


GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.