The bulrush (bullrush, reeds) is often confused with cattails. Bulrush tends to grow in slightly deeper waters and have more of a circular cross section as compared to the semicircular section of the cattail.
Depending on the time of year and bass feeding habits, bulrush often dominate in fish catches over cattails. I believe it’s primarily due to the depth of the water (it grows in deeper water). The larger bass tend to migrate to the first structure they come to when actively feeding, and the bulrush is often closer to these deeper water migration routes.
My personal favorite technique for fishing bulrush is to pitch a Texas rigged worm. I tend to use a harder, straight tailed worm over a ribbon tailed one. The reason is that the ribbon tail will often wrap around the bulrush stem thereby wasting time and aggravating the fisherman as well as spooking fish. My favorite worm for pitching is the Zoom trickworm in the Junebug (purple/green flack) pattern.
The weight I use with the Texas rig varies with water depth and wind. The shallower the water, the lighter I go. A lighter weight gives the worm a more natural fall and can get more strikes, however if too light, the worm may catch on the bulrush stems and not finish it’s way to the bottom. The windier the day is, the heavier I go. This gives me better control during the pitch as well as better feel for what’s biting on the other end of my line. Too light of a weight on a windy day will throw off your pitches and often get your wrapped around a bulrush stem.
The only time I resort to heavy weights is when I’m flipping matted cover in the bulrush. I’ll use 1/2 – 1 oz weights in this type of situation. If matted cover exists in bulrush, you’ve got to get your flippin stick out and flip the mats. If you don’t you will lose out on many opportunities to catch above average bass.
In working the bulrush patches/lines start back from the bulrush approx. 10-15 feet and pitch. Pitch forward of the boat if possible and restrict any side pitches or back of the boat pitches. The reason for this is that the bass are often spooked by the boat passage, and by pitching sideways or towards the rear of the boat you are often pitching to spooked fish or fish that have moved due to being spooked.
Always be a line watcher, whether pitching, casting or flippin a soft plastic. Any twitch of the line or sideways motion of the line often indicates a strike, so reel down and set the hook even if you don’t feel the typical thump!
When pitching, work both deep into the bulrush patch and to the outside edge of the bulrush. Try to make contact with the stems whenever possible, but don’t neglect the open pockets and also work right in the middle of those pockets.
If you follow these tips, I’m sure you will be doing more catching with less fishing!