1. Rick McFerrin | 2. Wayne Byrd

The Buckeye Shad - March 2005
Written By: Rick McFerrin


It's a well known fact that professional bass fishermen have a tendency to keep secrets when it comes to lures, presentations and just about anything that's working for them. As a matter of fact sometimes the secret can be kept for long periods of time. But, it seems like every year you will read articles that have titles like, "XYZ The Lure The Pro's Tried To Keep Secret" or " The Technique The Pro's Didn't Want You To Know About" or "My Close Encounter With Alien Bass Fishermen". Well maybe the last one went a little far...I just got carried away.

You see, keeping secrets when it comes to bass fishing doesn't just stop with the pro's. I live and guide full time in middle Tennessee. I have the privilege of being around some of the best bass fishermen that I have ever known. Fishermen that have a tendency of keeping everything "Close To The Vest" even with friends. Some of these fishermen have mastered deep clear lakes like Dale Hollow, Center Hill, Tim's Ford and others. Many  have concentrated on river lakes like Old Hickory, Kentucky Lake, Wheeler and Pickwick. And through the years there has been a lure that has remained a regional secret with many of these great fishermen. A lure that works in clear or stained water. A lure that works deep or shallow. A lure that works in rock-grass and wood equally as well. A lure that works in all 4 seasons of the year and that lure is the Buckeye Shad.

When you mention the Buckeye to serious bass fishermen in towns here in Tennessee like "Smithville" " Sparta" "Cookeville" "McMinnville" "Tullahoma" and other you can see their eyes light up, and most will proudly tell you they still have Buckeyes that are years and years old that they just can't bring themselves to use. I think the Buckeye is even listed in some of the Last Will And Testaments of many of these men just like UT Football season tickets.   To my wife I leave my house-car and bank account...BUT....to my son I leave my tuck-boat and my Buckeye Shads.

Folks, you may think I'm going a little to far, but I tell you it is hard to tell how many huge Smallmouth-Largemouth and Spots have fallen victim to this deadly little bait. For more than 50 years now the dream of Robert Richardson and his family has been living up to it's "Legendary" reputation. And for 50 years it has been a fairly well kept southern secret.

What Is A Buckeye Shad?

What makes the Buckeye Shad a very unique lipless crank bait? It's  1 1/2 inches long, casts like a bullet and will sink like a rock. The nose of the bait is more rounded than pointed and the tail is rounded and tapered all at the same time.  The mid portion of the body is wider in it's belly and narrows toward the top. Most lipless crank baits have a tight wiggle-BUT-one big difference with the Buckeye Shad is that it has a VERY TIGHT wiggle and will tack straight as an arrow on every cast and rarely will turn up on it's side and loose track. This true tracking is achieved by the precise positioning of the line tie, which is located just at the crest of the nose where it begins to slope.  The Buckeye has two sets of treble hooks-one positioned on the bottom of the bait almost directly below the line tie and the other in the tail section.  The bait is topped off with either a Red-Silver or Gold reflective eyes that is recessed into it's head that gives off a prism like effect in clearer water.

What Colors Are Available?

I like to call the Buckeye a "Blue Collar Bait".  Not much glitz and glitter-just "Solid And Steadfast". These baits are currently manufactured in the four no-nonsense colors that you see in the picture above.  Chartreuse-Blood Red- White and Black.  Do you ever get tired of throwing a lipless crank bait a few times and the color begins to come off? This won't happen with the Buckeye Shad! The Buckeyes color is molded into the bait so no matter how much beating and banging it gets the color will always remain the same. No sparkle-No translucent paint-No flaking-No loss of color-just one steady rugged bass catching tool.

When Do You Fish The Buckeye Shad?

There is no doubt that the Buckeye Shad gained it's original fame in the cold winter months here in Tennessee.  In low water conditions when the wind and snow is blowing almost side ways hardy souls armed with light line-small hair jigs and Buckeye Shads would (and still do) consistently load the boat with big brown fish. But there is more to the story!  This is not just a winter bait! Let me stress this point again. This is not just a winter bait!  The Buckeye is a fantastic ALL YEAR CRANK BAIT. The Buckeye works in all types of structure. Timber or rock, anytime anyplace all seasons. Anytime you would think about throwing a lipless crank bait the Buckeye Shad will produce hands down.

For those of you that might not be familiar with Old Hickory Lake here in middle Tennessee. It's a TVA river lake that stretches from the cities of Cathage all the way to the city of Old Hickory just east of Nashville. In-between you can find every type of structure and conditions that bass love.  River current-protected bays and flats. Ledges-drops-rock-timber-grass-boat docks-bluffs-islands-boat ramps-bridges-rip rap and more. During the HOTTEST months of the summer many big largemouth will stay in water so shallow that you wonder why you can't see their fins sticking out of the water.  During these times the bass will slam a Buckeye worked correctly around wood and grass in these shallow areas. It's also fantastic for schooling bass that we find on a regular basis in protected bays. Take a look at the dates on the 3 fish pictures October-September and January..... I could add pictures from every month.....Like I said.....It's a All Year Bait!

How Do You Fish A Buckeye Shad?

The best way to fish a Buckeye is to do so fearlessly! I toss this bait in and around every type of structure that I possibly can. I keep in contact with the structure as much as possible. This rugged little bait is designed to slam off underwater rock and wood. It is designed to be ripped through grass and weeds. It's designed to be cranked through and bounced off of everything that you can. Some of the most violent strikes will take place when you use this bait in heavy cover.

There are times when you can't retrieve this bait fast enough. Then there are times that a slow steady grinding retrieve will produce more strikes. I keep changing up until the bass tell me what they want. Choices of rods/reels and line sizes varies by the structure and water color your fishing. But 90% of the time I opt for a spinning rod and no more than 10 pond test line. Remember I stressed Fearless!


The Buckeye Shad has a big winter reputation but it is truly a bait for all seasons. I know there is a lot of hype when it comes to fishing lures-but take it from someone that shoots straight and makes his living on the water. The Buckeye Shad...A one time middle and upper east Tennessee secret----is a secret no more. If you buy one and fish it...you will be as hooked on the Buckeye as a 5 pound Smallmouth. For more information go to our links page or www.buckeyeshad.com       Let me know how you do with this fantastic little bait. Rick McFerrin Owner Tennessee Bass Guides. Com