When bass suspend over deep water the soft stick bait like the Slug-Go, Senko or the YUM Dinger can be deadly and oftentimes triggering bites when nothing else will. Bass will often suspend in the water column and refuse to bite. However, there is a technique that will oftentimes produce in these situations, the soft stick bait. With the soft stick bait the rate of fall can be managed with a couple of tricks to slow or speed up the fall depending on the situation and what the bass prefer that day.
The best way to control the rate of fall is with the hook. With a big heavy wire hook the bait will fall fast while a small fine wire hook will cause the bait to fall slower. I prefer a heavy wire hook when casting into open water. The heavy hook helps get the bait down to the desired depth. Once the bass are located drop a marker a distance past the fish a little greater than the depth they are suspending. Casting past where the bass are suspended will ensure that your bait ends up where the bass are when it hits the magic depth. Making your cast to the exact spot will cause the bait to pendulum away from the strike zone. This technique works equally well whether you rig the bait Texas style or wacky style. I prefer wacky rigged soft stick baits when in open water the Texas rig is better when fishing water with a lot of cover where hang-ups can be a problem.
It is important to know the sink rate of your soft stick bait and develop a countdown for your bait. This will allow you to work the bait once it is in the strike zone instead working it in non-productive water. You can test the sink rate of your rig by letting the bait sink for 10 seconds and measuring the distance from the water's surface to the bait then divide by 10 so if your bait sinks five feet then your bait is sinking at a rate of one foot every two seconds. The time spent acquiring this sink rate will allow you to consistently put the bait in the strike zone and more bass in the boat.
The line will also make a big difference in the rate of fall. Monofilament and most braided lines will slow the rate of fall as they tend to float. On the other hand fluorocarbon sinks and allows the bait to fall at a faster rate getting your bait down deeper and getting it there faster. Keep in mind that resistance increases as the bait reaches deeper water slowing the sink rate so anything deeper than say 15 feet usually needs a small split shot above the stick bait to overcome that resistance and continue on down to where the bass are waiting.
When you feel confident that your bait is in the strike zone then you can work the soft stick bait to entice the bass into striking. I like to twitch the end of my rod to give the bait a very subtle undulating action. It is important to barely twitch the rod tip for that subtle action bass want when suspending. After twitching the rod tip several times it's time to be patient. Let your bait sit still for several seconds as it slowly falls through the strike zone. The bass saw the bait falling and they know it is there and dead-sticking the bait will often trigger a strike when movement of the bait might turn a potential strike into a turn and run leaving your bait dead in the water.
I believe it is worth mentioning a new line for your spinning rigs. Nanofil, by Berkley, is made of gel-spun polyethylene consisting of hundreds of Dyneema nano-filaments molecularly creating a unified filament fishing line. I'm not sure what all that means but the line is great and will increase your casting distance dramatically. I am very pleased with Nanofil's performance and intend to use it exclusively this year on my spinning reels. Nanofil is white and provides great visibility and the fish do not seem to notice, however; I have not used it in clear water but a fluorocarbon leader would help that if it proved to be a problem. Initially I used a fluorocarbon leader but broke it off in a tournament and needed two more fish to fill my limit. With only a half hour before heading in I decided to save time and tie directly to the Nanofil line. I have never used a leader since that day as I filled my limit and actually culled. I caught not only more fish but bigger fish. This could have been a coincidence but if you fish tournaments you tend to file away little things like that coincidence or not.
The next time you are on the water and you just can't get a strike pounding the bank move out and use your sonar to locate suspended fish and throw a soft stick bait into the school and see what happens. However keep in mind that bass usually suspend for a reason and more often than not that reason has also suspended feeding as well. Experimenting with this technique and fine tuning your soft stick bait arsenal will help you catch more suspended bass when the bite gets tough.