As some of you know, my wife is from Croatia. Every spring, her and my son go to visit her family. They usually stay for around a month. The times I am fortunate enough and rich enough to accompany them I have a great time. The times when I am stuck here get pretty lonely. I had to stay this year. Tomorrow is my son's 4th birthday and I'll miss it, but will try to make up for it as soon as he gets back. They get back back on the 27th of May so it is coming up soon.
So much has happened with me and my job since they left. I offically found out yesterday that I got a promotion I was trying for. 150 people applied and 8 got it. It is for a relief team manager. Basically if a permanent mgr is out for a while we would cover their teams. That project lasts for 6 months. Usually this is a door into becoming a full time mgr with the bank. The advantages of that among other things would be that I could get 3 weeks of vacation each year instead of the two weeks I get now. That would come in pretty handy.
My brother in law mentioned to my wife in passing the other day, "Oh tell Phillip that when we were in Hercegovina we saw a river full of "mladica" and they were in there spawning. Your cousin went down and caught one of them."
Here is a brain exercise:
Krabby patty recipe is to Plankton as
Motherlode is to a '49er as
Old rich guy on death bed is to Gold-diggers as
Mladica is to Phillip Taylor
Understand???? For someone who has never caught one or even seen one in real life, it is my absolute DREAM fish to catch. What is it?
It is the largest salmonid in Europe. It can grow to over 6 feet long and historically could weigh over 100lbs. It eats grayling and brown trout. This is the fish that Neanderthals swam with, that darted away from cave bears. This is a fish's fish! Pictures below.
In Croatia I have not been able to fish for them since we usually go to Croatia in the late spring and the season lasts for the month of February. I guess the season in Bosnia is different, so when I go next, my fly rod will be with me along with a bunch of PMS's. All I have to do is wait for next year and hope that things work out so that I can go. My wife goes to Croatia to see her family, I go to see that beautiful part of Europe.
More fishermen are using superlines every day, but there are still myths and rumors floating around, so anglers wonder what are the real advantages of spooling up with one of these "super" lines. There are more than a just a couple of lines to choose from, and many tackle considerations when switching from standard nylon monofilament, so let's get started with the definition of superline, then different types and material of these lines, knots and tackle, and end with a few tips.
Most anglers call modern fishing lines made from the high strength microfilaments Spectra or Dyneema "Braid", which isn't technically correct since several lines that have been on the market are thermally fused, not braided. I use the term "Superline" which describes all of them, fused or braided, so now when I use that term you'll know what I'm talking about. Anyway, in the early 90's the original Spiderwire hit the market, it was an offshoot of work with Spectra fiber for bullet resistant vests. Very high tech, and very different from standard nylon monofilament. Both Spectra and Dyneema are trademarked names of the two different materials, both are chemically identical, but are manufactured a little different. Does it matter which one your superline is made of? Probably not. Spectra is made here, and Dyneema is European, Belgian to be exact. When the first lines made it to fishermen there were rumors of pulling up stumps, rods shattering on hooksets (how hard were they setting the hook?), rod guides sawed though, and various other weird things, good or bad depending on which axe the teller of these tall tales had to grind. I remember Bassmaster legend Roland Martin hawking the stuff, and opinion of him may have colored the way someone felt about it, too. But there were, and are, real advantages to superlines. It's much thinner than monofilament in equal strengths, so it's often referred to in a first number diameter/second number pound-test term like 4/15 ( same diameter as 4-pound test mono, actual strength 15-pound test) or say 15/65 (15-pound diameter, actual break strengths 65-pounds). Often it's simply referred to as 20- or 30- or whatever-pound test. A little unwieldy, but it's not too hard to understand once you're familiar with the terms.
As far as I know there is only one fused line on the American market, Berkley Fireline. Spiderwire Fusion was another fused line, it had a thin waxy coating that wore off quickly and then the line became "fuzzy" in a short time after that. It never really caught on. It's selling point was it's price, which was much less than FireLine. Fireline seems to be a love it or hate it superline. I know one reason I like it might be because I'm such an In-Fisherman fan, and several staff writers there at the magazine are really keen on it, most notably Matt Straw. So I have years of tips and tricks on using it from them to build on, that and I can tie a reliable blood knot for a superline/fluorocarbon leader connection easier with Fireline than any other superline, braid or fused, that I've ever tried. Fireline recently introduced Fireline Crystal, which is a much more translucent line. When I use superline with a fluorocarbon leader, I prefer my main line brightly colored for easier strike detection. But if you like to tie directly, it may be your line of choice. The fused lines tend to be a little thicker than braids in similar strengths. Fireline in 10-pound test is about the same size as 4-pound test mono, but braided Spiderwire Stealth in 10-pound is only the diameter of 2-pound mono. I find Fireline most useful for local bass fishing in 4/10, 6/14, and the 8/20 versions. Color choices’ are Crystal, Smoke, and Flame Green. It has more "body" than the braids, and can be a little stiff for the first trip or two. As soon as it gets "broken in" a little, it works really good for me.
When it comes to braid, an overwhelming amount of lines are out there. Some have a coating on the individual fibers, on smaller bundles of fibers, or the entire surface is coated. A couple are braided, then are fused for a slicker surface and are touted as handling easier, like new Stren Microfuse. Even within brands there are different choices. Spiderwire alone has Original, Stealth, Supercast, and InvisiBraid (another more translucent line). There are store brands from Bass Pro Shops, Cabelas, and others. If you hang out with the guys at RiverSmallies.com, you may think the only braid in the world is PowerPro, and lots of touring BassMaster and FLW pro's like Spidewire Stealth in 50- or 65-pound test (which is roughly the same diameter as 12- or 15-pound test mono) for Froggin' or fishing heavy vegetation. Cuts right though lily pad stalks and such. I've had great luck with Stren Superbraid for my favorite spinnerbait combo in 40-pound test, which is about the same size as 10-pound mono. I can fish all day (sometimes several) and never have to re-tie. There are people who love P-Line's Spectrex, but I haven't tried it. Trophy bass hunter "Fish Chris" Wolfgram uses Tuf-Line braid and it must work out well for him because I know he uses everything from live bait to huge swimbaits and uses only spinning tackle. I've never tried it, but he has lots of experience with it, and will probably respond to a kind Email if you want to know more. Check out the photograph section of his website. Absolute monster Bass!
Sufix is a newer force on the market, but their "Performance Braid" has really become popular. A funny story about the Sufix Braid. I was walking the around the "Spring Fishing Classic" at the main Bass Pro a couple of years ago, and the representative from the Sufix booth basically shoved a spool of their monofilament into my hand while almost yelling, "Hey, look at the way our line comes spooled! Less memory than whatever you're using right now!" I was taken by surprise but managed to notice it was 8-pound test. "Sorry, I use Fireline for that." He looked grim, but fired back smugly "I bet getting a backlash out of it is tough!" I answered "How do you backlash a spinning reel?" He looked pretty steamed, so I left while he lined up another victim. Here's a marketing tip for you tackle representatives out there: No matter how good your product is, if you don't make something a customer wants, they will go elsewhere. You can't tell someone "Hey, what you like and catch fish on sucks, so stop it and use our stuff!" They will simply go elsewhere. I guess I wasn't the only one who balked, because it was a year later I started seeing the glossy full page advertisements for a new braided superline, yes indeed, by Sufix. I wonder if getting a backlash out of it is tough? I don't know, I still haven't managed to backlash a spinning reel, and I haven't tried it on a baitcaster yet. All joking aside, I do have to admit Sufix Performance Braid in 20-pound test is pretty good on spinning reels. I'd rate it and Spiderwire Stealth about equal in my book.
Speaking of tangled line, a backlash is still a backlash no matter what line you are using, so for me baitcasting reels aren't really better on that issue with monofilament or superline. The only difference is if you get a backlash picked out, the superline will usually be less damaged. Usually. A square or "Granny" knot is bad on any fishing line, but it's Kryptonite to superlines, and if you get several of these (like you can in a severe backlash) you may have your line part ways later, usually on a hookset or the launch of a long cast. Not fun. Braids seem a little more susceptible than fused lines in this regard. Spinning reels are a different matter when it comes to manageability. Think of all the issues with line twist, spooling, and having to do it often because the twist wears mono out quickly, and the inevitable mess of old twisted mono jumping off the reel like a slinky when you open the bail. Now make it all go away. That's right, none of that again. Spool up with the right superline and you may not have to re-spool for years. Put a rod/reel combo away, and when you get it out just go fish, even months later, no line memory. I have a combo I use for light cranks and it's on it's third season of pretty heavy use, it's spooled with 4/10 Fireline and usually has a 10-pound fluorocarbon leader. I just get it out, use it, put it away. The only maintenance I have to do now is reel cleaning/lube and cleaning the grit off my rods guides. But hey, this is America, if you are just in love with re-spooling spinning reels, stick with mono. For baitcasters, unless you are using one of the few high end models designed for light line (Diawa Pixie, Shimano Scorpion, etc.) stick with superlines that are the diameter of 8- or 10-pound test. Anything smaller can cause problems by getting between the spool and side plates.
That brings us to knots. With the exception of fly fishermen, freshwater anglers balk at any rigging where you have to tie more than one knot. Yeah, I know some Carolina rig, or tie a small swivel ahead of jerk shads or their drop shot to keep line twist down, but most people jump on the line/leader knot as the reason the don't like superlines, and they also won't try to tie direct to their lure in clear water. As Goldmember says, "Well, then there is no pleasing you". Learn to tie good knots, and there is no problem. I think you can tell the level of a fisherman’s experience by how well versed they are in knot tying. I don't have a merit badge, but years of Flyfishing and making my own knotted leaders definitely makes me a mean bloodknot tying machine. That's a great knot for superline/leader connections. Put a dab of superglue on the knot and let dry a second for extra strength.
I also use the back-to-back or double uni, which is easier to tie in braided lines than the blood knot.
There are some more exotic knots, like the Slim Beauty or J-knot, but I rely on the former two knots for my superline/leader knot needs.
For small diameter lines like 10-pound test Stealth, you might double the end of the line with a spider hitch (sometimes called a Surgeon's end loop) before using the new doubled end to make a blood knot to your 8- or 10-pound mono or fluoro. Doubling the line helps prevent it from cutting into the larger mono or fluoro.
A big advantage to the superline/fluorocarbon leader system is you can use leader material that is much stronger than the ones that are made to be manageable for spinning reels. One of the problems of fluorocarbon lines is that the same properties that make it abrasion resistant and have less stretch also make it stiff. It really doesn't matter how stiff your leader is, so I often use Seaguar or Orvis leader material, both of which are just tough stuff. These are expensive, but they last because I only use 7- or 8-foot of the expensive fluoro leader material at a time. "See Honey, it saves me money in the end." That sometimes works.
For tying directly to a lure, there are several good knots. Be mindful that some lures and hook eyes have gaps big enough for small diameter superline to wiggle out from. The only time I tie directly to a lure and not use a leader is for spinnerbaits, swimming jigs in vegetation, or for toothy critters. I like the Uni-knot with the line passed through the eye twice before making the knot.
Some prefer the Palomar for directly tying on lures, and it's a good knot, too.
Coated braids are slick, so a dab of superglue on your knot is always a good idea when using them. Just make sure whichever knot you try, be ready to try a different one if your favorite doesn't work out. All the strength and sensitivity of superline means nothing if your knots fail.
Netknots.com is a great place to study these knots.
If you want to start using superlines, forget about those old nail clippers or using your teeth (your teeth!), you will need a pair of sharp scissors. Another thing- I've cut my hand twice trying to free a snag. Instead of going bare-handed, use a glove, or wrap the line around the butt of the rod or a small dowel to pull a snag loose. If all fails, my motto is: "Just cut your line, don't let your line cut you." The small 2/10 braids are the worst culprit, but even the larger lines can draw blood. Another good thing about the superline/leader system is you can usually make it fail on a heavy constant pull right at the line/leader knot and get all of your expensive superline back, losing only the leader. Oh, and the lure of course, which you were gonna probably lose anyway at that point.
One problem some fisherman have switching is putting superline on a rod already setup for a certain technique with mono or fluoro. You no longer have to fight the rubber band like stretch that some monofilament lines have to get a good hookset. Superlines have almost no stretch, which make them extremely sensitive, but knots, hooks, even rods and reels can reach a critical point quick in the heavier tests because there is no "give". Where before you may have had a heavy action rod and heavy hooks with some give to the line, you now have knot popping ability if you set the hook hard with the drag clamped down. You may have to drop down one notch in rod power, so from medium/heavy, go to medium, and you will have to learn to set your drag correctly where it gives a little on the hookset. You'll learn you don't have to give a "cross their eyes" hookset with superline, usually just a medium power sweep. I used to use a medium heavy spinnerbait rod with 15- or 17-pound test mono, and you had to really give it a good yank to get the stretch out of the line at any distance, but now I use a medium power rod with a softer tip for braid. When I fish hits I just keep reeling until I feel weight, then sweep the rod to the side, and always get a good hookset. I haven't had to replace the line in three seasons, either. If you look at my fishing reports, I'm usually holding up a spinnerbait fish about every other one, usually caught on that combo. Still going, like the Energizer Bunny. The color has faded in the last 20 feet of line, but it seems the fish don't care. Maybe I'll break out the Sharpie someday and touch it up, maybe not. For crankbaits, something medium or medium light with the tiny amount of stretch a fluorocarbon leader gives will prevent trebles from tearing out, but still allow hook-setting ability with a flick of the wrist, even at the end of a long cast.
Braid can loop around your rod guides easier, and uncoated braids pulls more water up towards the reel, which usually doesn't matter except when it's below freezing. For me PowerPro get less tangles around the rod tip than any other braid I've tried, but I don't have that problem at all with Fireline. All superlines get a little faded from use, no matter the color. If this bothers you, an appropriately colored Sharpie will bring that line back in a few seconds, or camo it with a different color if you want.
Some reels just don't like braid, and some just aren't great with fused lines. You'll get tangles around the front of the spool on front drag spinning reels, or it'll loop around the line roller in weird ways unless you close the bail by hand. In my experience, the reels that don't like Fireline are usually the same ones that don't like mono. So if your spinning reel is giving you fits with good mono like Maxima, P-Line or Ande, you might try PowerPro instead of Fireline. But I have two reels (one Shimano, the other Bass Pro brand) that just don't like Spiderwire or Sufix, but are fine with PowerPro or Fireline, so go figure. When you want to spool up, the easiest way to do it is go outside somewhere, take your reel spooled with whatever it is now . Tie the end around a tree, have your dog hold it, or whatever, and walk back about 50-60 yards. As far as a real long cast plus some more. This is where you cut the mono or fluoro off, and tie your superline to it with a blood or uni knot. Fill the reel back up to the brim and now you've used only half or so of your spool of superline. I've seen reels spooled with nothing but an entire 150 yard spool of 4/15 superline, which does not halfway fill the spool of a baitcaster that holds 160 yards of 10-pound test mono, then the person complains that the stuff doesn't cast very good. Well, no kidding? Think people, common sense doesn't end at the waters edge. Use cheap mono for backing so your spool is completely full, and also get twice the use for your money.
To sum up: The main advantage is of superlines is sensitivity, and it's hassle free- no re-spooling all the time. Actually cheaper than straight fluorocarbon with superline/leader system with flouro leader spools lasting a long time. Versatility. Change leaders according to conditions. Able to make long casts, and to get good hooksets at long range. For throwing crankbaits, you'll get a deeper dive with skinny superline verses thicker mono, and it's so sensitive you can tell if a leaf or weed gets stuck on your lure during the retrieve, even a small one. You won't believe that until you try it, but it's true. Oh, how about environmentally sensitive, due to less waste monofilament you have to recycle. You do recycle all that old mono, don't you?
O.K., now the bad news. Cost. None of these lines are given away. These prices are from checking BassPro Online just moments ago, all in the smaller 100- to 150-yard spools:
Sufix Performance Braid: 15.99
Berkley Fireline: 13.99
SpiderWire Stealth: 11.49
SpiderWire Invisibraid: 18.99
New Stren MicroFuse: 16.99
P-Line Spectrex: 9.49
If I can give just one recommendation on trying superlines for Bass fishing here in the Ozarks, it's get a good 6' 6" or 7' medium power fast action spinning rod, not necessarily expensive, but good. Then get an equally good spinning reel that holds about 160-180 yards of 8-pound mono. That’s about a 30 size reel, every reel manufacturer makes one. Spool this with mono backing as described before, top it off with one of the high visibility braids like Yellow 4/15 Spiderwire Stealth, the new Red 4/15 PowerPro, or the Flame Green fused 4/10 Fireline. Then get yourself spools of 8-, 10-, and 12-pound test fluorocarbon. Throw in some good 10- or 12-pound test mono, too. You'll only need 8-foot for a leader at a time, so these spools don't have to be big, and 100 yard "filler" spools aren't too expensive. You're set, and with one combo. Shaky head worms on Table Rocks' pea gravel banks? 8-pound fluoro leader. Want to throw a small crankbait into a breeze or swim a grub on those same banks? 8-pound is fine, but step up to the 10 around chunk rock or timber, and ditto for stream cranking Smallmouths and wacky rigging soft stick baits. Works perfect for suspending jerkbaits and soft plastic jerk shads, too. Dock skipping, or fishing heavier cover, lake or stream? Tie on the 12-pound. Want to use a topwater? Tie on 10- or 12-pound mono, since the fluorocarbon lines sink easier, throwing off the action of surface baits. "Walking the dog" is easy with the no-stretch main line. There's more than I can list here, you'll probably think of some I haven't if you try it, but the point is: This is the one rig I never leave behind no matter where I'm fishing for bass, year round.
In the end, the key element in choosing a line is figuring out the method of fishing you intend to do (Spinnerbaits in timber, small cranks for stream Smallmouth, maybe shaky head worms on Table Rock) and then find out what the guys who are experts at it are using. Then experiment. Everyone is different, and personal preferences can outweigh everything else. Is one of your friends a superline nut? Go fish his rigs a day or two, see what you think, and buy the boat gas for thanks. Hey, for what boat gas costs today, I'll take you if you're buying!
Not from Lake Springfield, but close by. I was going to post last week but didn't have time.
I'm going to have to make more of these spinnerbaits.
Big Bass 1
The second one is real nice.
Yeah, I know in the second video I was calling maple pods "willow pods". Give me a break, I was a little happy, it's easily my biggest Largemouth this year. I was only scouting how bad the flood debris was, not really expecting to get into any good fish.
I forgot to get a good high resolution picture of it, too.
My bro' Joefish, called me Sunday night and told me he had a "log" hooked and was fighting it as we spoke. He said he'd call me back when he got it landed. I watched all of "Good Luck Chuck" went to the store to get some beer, called him and he was still in the process of landing it. My friends and I had to check this out so we grabbed a gaf and headed out to see this monster fish. Before we could get to the lake he called back and said he had landed the big flathead! He had originally estimated its weight at 30lbs, however when we got on the scene and checked it out it was more like 50!!! Although we didn't have scales we all estimated it to be over 50, I'm say ing 52-54lbs, based on measurements. Length 45", Girth 27", and width of head 9.5", its the biggest flathead I've ever seen caught on a rod and reel with 8 lb test! He fought the thing for over 2 1/2 hours! I'm sure he's already posted pics for everyone to see, what an accomplishment, hes been waiting his whole life to catch a fish that big out of our local lake. So heres to my bro' on a great catch! Cheers big ears! Now I've got a goal, beat that!! Ha, not likely for me!
Yep, from Lake Springfield yesterday. I couldn't get the picture to attach to a post in forum topics, and you got to show one like this off, so here it goes. Several good fish were just off the points leading to spawning flats, but mostly I caught fish up on the shallow areas around brush on a little custom spinnerbait in firetiger, silver willow blade.
Best day I've had on Lake Springfield, and I probably fished for a total of 4 hours.
My next regular post will be about superlines-(Fireline, Spiderwire, etc.) so stay tuned.
Let's consider fishing boats. We can reserve the discussion of runabouts, ski rigs, and personal water craft for some later time.
Here in the Ozarks we are familiar with purpose built boats. The classic White River jon boat and similar float boats are examples of craft built for a particular purpose.
Today, the jon boat concept has altered to include a motor mount, swivel chairs, and a beam that allows a falling angler at least a chance of landing in the boat.
Other purpose built boats thrive in the Ozarks. Many people float the Buffalo, War Eagle, and Kings, to name a few examples, in canoes and kayaks. Inevitably, purpose built boats from other locations come to the Ozarks. Like thousands of others, they often stayed. You see drift boats from the West coast every day on the White River.
Other boats we see often now days are mutations of older ideas. Look below at the 1950 and 1985 Skeeters.
The V hull has also evolved. A couple of years ago I was at Bull Shoals during the PWT and was blown away by the V hull rigs those competitors used.
So, to start the discussion, let us exclude fishing guides: not from the discussion, but from the considerations below. Why? Because boat decisions by fishing guides are based upon different considerations than personal buying choices. They may have three jumbo size novices to fish in a heavy chop. That requires a vastly different boat than even the 1985 Skeeter shown above. Besides, customers paying $300 or more per day expect the guide to have the "best" equipment.
For similar reasons, let us exclude the top tier professionals. Many of them don't buy their boats. The boat at no or low cost is one form of sponsorship. The boat and motor manufacturers supply the biggest and baddest rigs to showcase their wares. Others buy the hot rigs as one way to acquire a more lucrative "skin" i.e. a sponsor whose name is blazoned on everything. Regardless, boat choices are driven by considerations other than purpose, size, and speed alone.
Once those groups are excluded, there remains a very large and interesting group of us out here buying boats. Some of us fish tournaments. Some of us don't.
Answer the following questions, to yourself, and then reflect on the answers.
1. How many hours per year are you actually in your boat and on the water?
2. How often do you fish alone?
3. How many hours per year do others spend in your boat and on the water?
4. How much did the boat, motor, trailer, and accessories cost you?
5. Multiply the hours number by ten and divide that number into the total cost for BMT and accessories. Is the result less than $10?
6. Recalculate the cost of the boat by adding slip rental, tag, taxes, insurance, gasoline, lubricant, and maintenance. Divide by ten years worth of hours again. Is the result less than $20?
7. How fast will your boat travel at WOT?
8. When the lake is calm, do you ever travel at less than WOT?
9. How long is the lake you fish most frequently?
10. When was the last time you traveled more than 20 miles on the water in one day of fishing for any reason other than you wanted to try something different?
11. If the answer to number 10 was yes, why?
12. If the answer to number 11 was a tournament, why?
13. Other than the fact your boat handles like a pig with only 150 HP, why did you buy the 225HP (or larger)?
14. Is your boat longer than 18 feet?
15. If the answer to number 14 is yes, why?
16. If your answer to number 15 is survival on the Lake of the Ozarks, we understand. If not, please explain your answer to number 13 to us as if we were six year olds.
17. If your boat weighed half as much as yours, what would a reasonable power package be?
18. Is there a boat with near the length of yours and half the weight?
P.S. Some of my answers to the above questions are justifiable only by using manly retorts like, "Because I can!" and "Because I want to!" I just thought that in light of $4.00 gas this summer, we might want to rethink what we drive. BTW, the Supreme in the picture was mine. I sold it for a much larger boat.
The ugly guy in the picture is me. This is my first attempt at putting together any kind of web page or blog. The kids I teach are veterans of My Space, but I am not.
I intend to add pictures, comments, and stories you might find interesting. Be forewarned I have a quirky sense of humor. I fish out of Holiday Island and the entries will focus on what I see up here. Those of you who stay in the dam area may find it interesting to learn what it is like to fish a lake less than 60 feet deep.
By the way, the large walleye I am holding with another was the second largest one I caught in 2007. The one I am hiding behind is a 2011 fish that weighed 13.75 pounds and measured 32 inches.
There have been many "hot baits" throughout bass fishing history. Some blow up, then fizzle out, like the Chatterbait, some are "only available for a limited time and not in stores" (think Banjo Minnow or Flying Lure), while others actually fill a niche and continue to be effective year after year. The soft stick bait, first introduced by the Yamamoto Custom Baits Senko, will be here for a long time. The story as I understand it is that tournament fisherman and lure designer Gary Yamamoto was trying to make a soft jerkbait, something to rival the Slug-O or Fluke, but without the little fins or other things that can cause it to spin if not rigged right. His first mold was made from the shape of a magic marker. Straight, fat but tapering towards the tail, and as it turns out, totally different. You can work a Senko like a jerkbait but the real magic is when you let it drop on a slack line the whole bait wiggles slightly as it falls. A slightly restrained version of a friendly Lab wagging it's whole body when it greets you type of wiggle. When Texas rigged weightless on a wide gap hook, it's as simple as casting it by some cover, letting it shimmy down, and then waiting for the line to start moving off when a bass takes it. People now use 3-inch versions for big panfish or drop-shotting, the 4-and 5-inch versions are a bassin' mainstay, and the bigger 6- and 7-inch models are crammed into every available space when traveling to the trophy bass lakes in Mexico.
I don't know when I first read about wacky rigging a Senko, but I didn't try one for years, wacky rigged or otherwise. I hate to admit it, but I just didn't like the way these lures looked. "It looks like a plastic hot dog" was my comment when someone asked me what a Senko was. I have used Zoom Trick worms, Flukes, and Slug-Go's since, well, forever, both Texas and wacky rigged, so I thought I had my bases covered, why change? Well, I always preach trying things other folks have raved about, give something a good fair shake to see if it'll make it to the tackle bag, so I finally took my own advice and tried something different. The first trip I used a Wave Worm Tiki-Stik, a good cheap knock off if there ever was one, and well, I had to admit I was wrong. I still can't believe how well these lures work. They work twitched and drifted in current, dropped down bluff walls and beside brush piles, and really work skipped under docks or over hanging limbs, their salty weight making them some of the best skipping baits ever. Even though these lures are a sure-fire option for bass when Texas rigged, wacky rigging one of these fat sticks isn't popular around here. That's a shame, and I'll explain the hooks and tackle, different makers, sizes and colors, and finally how and where I like to use it "wacky style".
Available in every color of the rainbow and from tiny to massive, the soft stick is here to stay.
When any lure becomes as popular as the Senko, there are going to be imitators, but one thing that is common to these types of baits is the heavy salt content, which helps them sink and enhances their action, but also makes them fragile. Although wacky rigging plastic worms has been around for years, some enterprising angler probably ripped his Senko on a fish, turned it around, did it again, then before throwing it away had a crazy idea, hooked it right in the middle so both ends flap on the drop, and caught another. Brilliant. Hooking a plastic worm this way has been called a "wacky worm" for some time, but the fish don't object to the "wackiness" at all, rigging a soft stick bait like this can be deadly.
Wacky rigging has one problem, and that's the hook point is exposed. So, you can deal with snags, or try a weed guard design. I like to throw in, around, and sometimes through cover, so it's weed guard all the way with me. I have used Matzuos' bait holder sickle in #4 for a couple of years and it's O.K. The hook uses a wire just a little too heavy for my tastes, so I looked at some others, used a Mustad model a little, and then realized I had the hook I was imagining already, and I had been tying a weed guard version of it already, it's just been under deer hair or foam. The Tiemco 8089 is a bass bug hook, and in my opinion, the best one out there. It comes in either standard or nickel plated, and I have used it for years. It's point is slightly turned in, has a small but good barb, and is wicked sharp without dulling easy. I have taken a razor blade to several of the mauled bass bugs I tied on these hooks, got down to bare steel, and tied another, and used that one until it was lost, or I did it over again. So yeah, they're pretty tough. Priced at about $7.00 per 25, they come in # 2, # 6, and # 10, I use the # 6 size the most now for wacky hooks, but have made up several dozen of the #10 size for drop shotting, and also wacky rigging of smaller worms, like the new Berkley PowerBait Shaky Worm or Zoom Finesse. You can bet if I ever get to sling 7" Dingers at Lake Amistad, Falcon, Toho, or a trophy bass lake in Mexico, a couple dozen of the # 2 size will be making the trip with me. You can pick these hooks up at Backcountry Outfitters if you feel like making some, it's next to Fin and Feather in Springfield on South Campbell Avenue in Springfield. They are easy to find at online fly tying retailers, too. I recycle guitar strings for the wire, but you can get stainless steel wire leader of about 40-pound test at Cabela's, and that works great too.
Matzuo Baitholder Sickle(Left)and Tiemco 8089 with homemade weed guard(Right).
I like to add weight to the hook shank when fishing deeper, in current or wind. Sometimes the fish want a faster drop speed. It's easy to use lead fly tying wire, or 50/50 rolled solder works too.
Regular and weighted wacky rigs.
A jig head is also an easy way to get it down quicker without having to buy or make weighted hooks, there are a couple I like, but have had the best luck with one available from Bass Pro: http://www.basspro.com/webapp/wcs/stores/s...010000_100-10-6
E. C. jigs with Dinger, Kalin Grub, and Zoom Shaky Tail.
The 1/16 ounce size works awesome in rivers or shallow water. Use the 1/8 ounce for deeper water, or for faster current. These have a wicked sharp Matzuo Sickle hook and a pretty good weed guard. One great thing about using a jig head like this is you can change what presentation you want to go with so easily: Swim a grub to cover water, thread a finesse worm on to make it a shaky head, or wacky rig a stick bait without having to re-tie. Very versatile, making one rod able to cover a lot of water, river or lake. I was just reading about "weighted wacky" and "flick shakin" as hot new techniques in a couple of magazines. Both use wacky style rigging combined with worms or soft stick baits on jig heads. Wow, I didn't know the past couple years I was innovatin', I was just fishin'!
For most of your wacky rigging, spinning is the way to go. With the hook exposed, you don't need a broomstick to get a solid hook set, so a 6' 6" or 7' medium power, fast action rod with a good capacity reel is about right. Skipping is easier with spinning tackle, too. I like Fireline on my spinning reels with a fluorocarbon leader both for abrasion resistance against rock or wood, and it's near invisibility in clear water. I like 4/10 Fireline and 8- or 10-pound fluorocarbon leader about 8-to 10-foot long for finesse fishing or streams, and 6/14 Fireline and 12- or 14-pound fluorocarbon leader just a bit shorter for dock skipping or dropping a stick into a cedar tangle. One of the castable fluoros' like Yo-Zuri Hybrid Ultra Soft or P-Lines Flouroclear in 8- or 10-pound test is a good compromise for those who don't like superlines. You could get away with 6-pound away from cover, but I have used a 14-pound Berkley Vanish leader while dock skipping on Beaver Lake and got plenty of bites where you can see the bottom in 25 feet of water. A bright colored Fireline/Fluorocarbon leader setup really helps with strike detection, too. You don't have to get real complicated with all this line/leader stuff unless you want, back in the day I used 8-pound Maxima monofilament for wacky rigging Mann's Jelly Worms, and did pretty good. It's just another refinement of your tackle you can try.
Yamamoto designed the original, but there are almost too many to choose from now. Yum has the Dinger, Bass Pro Shops has the Stick-O, Wave Worms has the Tiki-Stik, on and on. The most popular sizes are 4- and 5-inch. Some, like the Mann's Hardnose Freefall, are specifically made for wacky rigging with a more durable midsection, while the Strike King Zero is made of a unique elastic material you have to play with to fully understand. You can stretch it maybe 3 times its length, and it will snap back to almost its original size. But this unique stretchiness also make it hard to get a good hook set Texas rigged. But that doesn't matter once wacky rigged, you can catch many, many, fish without tearing it. It's available only in a 5-inch model but worth checking out. The Senko has plenty of action, but is delicate, the Dinger a little stiffer, but also more durable. The Stik-O is somewhere between the other two. The Tiki-Stik is a little slimmer than the other ones, and has lots of action. It also comes in a wide range of cool colors, laminates and swirls, and it's one of my favorites.
Most folks use the 4-inch model for Smallmouths and Spots, and the 5-inchers for Largemouth's. I can't argue with that much. I like the 5-inch Tiki-Stik for stream smallies, but it's kind of slim verses other 5-inch models. The 4-inch Yum Dinger is a great skipping bait, but for some reason I don't do as well with it as I do the 5-inch model. Once you get to 6-inch models there aren't as many choices, and really for around the Ozarks they're a little on the big side. On the other hand, you might do good right before the spawn dropping a big stick around staging areas. I have used the 6-inch Stik O some, but I don't know if it works any better than it's slightly smaller brother, or even the 4-inch model. I do know that I seem to get bigger bites from Largemouth's on the fatter 5-inch models. On Smallies and Spots it doesn't seem to work that way. Going bigger than a slimmer 5-inch just seems to decrease the number of bites. There are also the "Slim Senko" and "Stik O Slim" models, both are as thin as finesse worms, but I don't think any of the super skinny versions have much more to offer than a lot of finesse worms. I use them mostly for kids fishing or small stream wading, when any 10-inch bass is good. So for Smallmouths or Spotted Bass, a slim 5-incher or regular 4-inch model is perfect, and for "green bass" 5- and 6-inch models are going to work well for you. I could live with only two models as far as wacky rigging goes: A slimmer 5-inch like the Tiki-Stik, and fatter 5-inch model like the original Senko or maybe the super durable Zero, and be done worrying about size.
I try to keep it simple and stick with three basic color schemes: Baitfish, earthy, and wild. Baitfish can be light belly/dark back laminate, or maybe all pearl white or smoke glitter. I like these colors when using a soft stick as backup or "throwback" for fish that miss your jerkbait or spinnerbait or follow and won't commit, and anytime I'm thinking the fish are keying on shad or other baitfish. I've even caught a few Stripers on Beaver Lake throwing baitfish colored sticks at schooling fish. Earthy is watermelon/red flake, maybe green pumpkin or just earthworm brown. Near shoreline structure, dropped into brush, or dock skipping are all good times to use these colors. Anytime I'm catching fish shallower than 10 feet with a jig, tube, or finesse worm I'll throw a earthy colored stick and see if I can get a bigger bite. Wild is, well, wild. Tiki-Sticks in "Bruised Orange" or "Sweet Potato Pie" are good examples. Best for stained water, or when smallmouth get hyper, and hot colors produce best on stream Smallies for me, clear water or stained, year round.
When and where do you cast these sticks? Anywhere, anytime. Besides a throwback bait as just mentioned, vertical structure is probably the best place to use one, but I even use them as search baits when wacky rigged. In clear water like Table Rock, a bass can see a long ways, so I make a cast to about 10 feet of water, let it sink on a slack line, reel in and then repeat every 50 feet or so down a bank. Makes a great change up if your partner is fishing something with a more horizontal presentation, like a grub or crank. Dock skipping and pitching to shoreline cover are just perfect. In our local streams Smallmouth love them so much you'll just have to see it for yourself. Do yourself a favor and try that "Bruised Orange" Tiki-Stik or one of the similar Senko swirl colors. Cast to current seams, and behind current breaks.
Try a wacky rigged soft stick this year, you might make this technique a favorite in your arsenal, too.
Dad and I went up towards J town and fished an hour or so with night crawlers and caught five pan fryers. River is in good shape but banks were a little muddy so didnt change spots to much. Perfect condition to float.
Ice fishin was concluded and ended up catching a few crappies and bass on several outings. Finally found a small shed down on the farm. Over and OUt.
When will the rain let up and give the lakes and streams a chance to heal? I spent most of the month of Feb. in the hospital and re-cooperating from some major illnesses so my fishing times were NILL after New Years Day. I took advantage of the nice weather and fished Upper Taney. Since I've been home from the hospital, I think that Taney has decided it would come to me! I'm about 3 blocks up the hill from the normal lake but if it gets any higher, I think I can cast crankbaits off my deck. I'm looking forward to getting back on Taneycomo and would like to get on upper Bull Shoals while the whites and walleys are still active. I was down to Beaver Creek Marina 2 wks. ago and if I had had my binoculars, could have seen the docks from water's edge. Bad thing is.....They were expecting another 11' rise during the next few days. Like I originally said, I'm somewhat of a fair-weather fisherman but it looks like the weather is going to turn fair real soon! HAVE A GOOD DAY & GOD BLESS!
1. Rockaway Beach dock & ramp,
A jig is simply a hook with some weight added and hair, feathers, or some synthetic material tied to it. It's one of the oldest lures in the world, for all species of fish, freshwater or salt. As far as modern bass fishing goes, the "jig and pig" was just some rubber stranded skirt material on a weedless leadhead jig, and preserved pork skin trailer. Flipped into heavy cover, crawled along drop offs or even retrieved steadily to "swim" it, it remains a staple of every bass fisherman to this day. When I was a wee bass caster in my early teens, the jig'n'pig craze was in full swing, and I vividly remember one of my brothers catching some nice bass on it back in the day. When I was old enough to buy my own tackle, I was caught up in one tackle fad or another, and was either throwing a finesse worm or tube to cover where others were throwing jigs. Or maybe fishing a Slug-O, floating worm, or even using a fly rod. I was really into finesse fishing, and except for spinnerbaits, rarely picked up a baitcaster. At any rate, I never really got into regular old bass jigs. I tied and fished hair jigs a bit, but that's about it.
This changed when I moved to the Ozarks. It wasn't a short time after I was here that I was fishing with someone on the James River. I was really into fly gear at the time, and was using my 8 weight and a Clouser minnow. The water was still warmish, a little off color from some much needed rain, and I think it was early October. I couldn't get a bite to save my life. My host was creaming me by casting a funny looking little jig into pockets just off the current and letting that lure just sit. The bass would come over and pick it up. I asked to see it after a bit, it had cut collar skirt, small craw trailer, on a small ball head. It really did look like a crawfish. "Eakins Jig", he said. I had seen the Strike King "Bitsy Bug" and some other compact or small jigs, but this one really had it all tied together. The Eakins clan is still a force on regional tournaments, largely propelled by the use of their namesake jig. Because of that day and many other experiences over the years, I've come to realize that when bass are foraging on crawfish in the Ozarks, you better have a finesse jig.
Two Eakins 3/16 ounce jigs, one with Berkley PowerBait Craw(top) and Smallie Beaver(bottom).
The finesse jig is a result of clear water conditions in our Ozark lakes, combined with the almost constant fishing pressure from weekend guys to guides to national pro tours. When fish get pressured, sometimes you have to out fish the other fishermen. Something a little more compact, a little more natural looking, has it all over a traditional sized bass jig. What makes the finesse of a finesse jig? I think it's the combination of compact size (not necessarily weight), and a small matching trailer. There are different head shapes for different uses, as we will see. Pitched under docks, drug across pea gravel, or swam along rip-rap, if you don't use them, you are missing fish.
So let's at the makeup of finesse jigs, and see what qualities it needs for different uses.
First, the skirt. The cut collar popular on pitching jigs does three things: It thins the skirt by half, making the trailer more visible, helps slow the fall rate of the jig, like a small parachute, and lastly, it just looks "right".
There are several jigs on the market that I like to cut the skirt, "converting" them. Both the Strike King Bitsy Bug and Booyah Baby Boo jig have standard skirts, but "make the cut" well. The 1/8 ounce Bitsy Bug is really great paired up with a small craw for stream smallmouth (and has scored my biggest Goggle-Eye), but does have only a small 8 fiber weed guard not suitable for heavy cover. The 3/16 Baby Boo is my favorite finesse jig, used for stream smallmouth and dock skipping, but I think the hook could be one size smaller. That's just me, on the 5/16 version it's just right.
Strike King Bitsy Bug and Booyah Baby Boo, after trimming the skirts.
Finesse jigs now come in many weights and sizes.
Not every jig has the cut collar, and not all of them should. The Tom Monsoor swim jig available at Bas Pro comes in some good colors, has an awesome Owner hook, and is compact with a thin but nice skirt in many colors. Just because it says "Swim jig" doesn't mean you can't pitch it. I haven't used this one yet, but will this summer.
Another famous father - son duo from the Ozarks, Guido and Dion Hibdon, have racked up numerous tournament wins, one of the most recent was the elder Hibdons' win on Lake Champlain event of the FLW series. After doing well for the first days of the event on a bigger football jig, he cinched the win by skipping his namesake Luck "E" Strike finesse jig backed with a Guido Bug trailer under docks.
The light single wire weed guard on the Eakins Spider Jig and the double wire on the Terminator Finesse jig help keep light cover at bay, like when pitched to a specific spot, then retrieved. They aren't for heavy timber, or skipping where a forceful skip could knock the wires off center, making it easy to snag around dock hardware. I have twice skipped a Terminator Finesse into a dock float and had it stick like a dart! I've never had that happen with either the Eakins or Baby Boo.
The Booyah Baby Boo comes in 3/16 and 5/16 of an ounce, has a weed guard that can be trimmed down, and a slightly upturned pointed head that come though cover well.
You can probably tell I like these a lot. The Bitsy Bug has a similar head, but a much thinner weed guard. I only use it around thin cover, or it hangs up easily. The wildly popular Eakins has a ball head with 60 degree cross eye. According to the Eakins, the design is made mostly to pitch in a spot, jiggle it a little and reel it back. I have found this to be true, it comes over pea gravel and small rock well, but falls over and gets hung a little more than other designs in timber. A few more compact jigs have a Football head, which is great for dragging on a rocky bottom, but not so good in timber.
Last but not least, the trailer is not just a part of the jig, but probably the most important part. I think the skirt is really just dressing for the trailer. A small plastic craw is traditional, and there are a lot of them out there. Yamamoto, Eakins, Berkley, on and on. Usually it's recommended to pinch off enough of the tail of the trailer so that the hook comes out just between or behind the eyes on your craw. I sometime let it dangle just a touch more, but either way find what looks right to you.
You have to pinch off a little of your trailer sometimes, don't be afraid to experiment.
Some other trailers are also good. I like the small beaver baits for a trailer in cases where you just need a little more bulk. One case is if current or wind cause you to not be in touch with the lure at all times. Fish tend to hold on longer to these bulked up jigs. Another is if you want more of a spiraling glide, instead of a straight fall.
Some good trailers, from the traditional craws to chunks and beaver baits. Don't forget a simple grub, either.
The 3" PowerBait Beast from Berkley is the widest of the smaller sized beavers, and matched with a 3/16 Baby Boo is a real killer when that spiraling fall is the trigger fish want. Conversely, if fish have been hitting the jigs right on the bottom, a heavier head and small bodied trailer will get you back down to the strike zone in a hurry. Sometimes a different silhouette from the normal craw trailers is the ticket, so other small creature baits, like the popular Brush Hogs from Zoom, or even just a tiny chunk can be better if everyone is using the same type trailer where you fish. For swimming a jig, a double tail grub can be the most snag proof since it tends to keep the jig upright, but even a plain single tail grub can be a great trailer. The Baby Boo 5/16 in white with a pearl 5" Kalins grub has been my favorite swim jig for the past three years, but the whole topic of swimming jigs will be another story. Just experiment with size and keep colors mostly natural, adding contrasting highlights for off color water. I like orange or purple, but even chartreuse tips work.
O.K., tackle comes down to mostly older tech versus new tech. Most tournament guys use baitcasters in the 6' 6" to 7' range in medium to med/heavy power range, fast action. Usually spooled with fluorocarbon from 10 to 14 pounds. Most stream smallmouth fanatics use spinning rods of similar power and action, but spool 6 to 10 pound line, flouro or mono. I kind of split the difference with two favorite setups of mine, for small 1/8 or 3/16 ounce jigs I have a new Team Diawa 6' 6" medium heavy, fast action spinning rod spooled with 6/14 Fireline. I use 10 or 12 lb. fluorocarbon leaders about 7 or 8 foot long, tied together with back to back uni knots. This rod has a softer more "medium" tip, and is a new favorite for dock skipping. My heavier rod is a BPS Extreme 7 foot medium heavy spinning stick spooled with the same 6/14 Fireline, but almost always use 14 pound or heavier Flouro leaders. This is a fast action rod with lots of backbone, just like a 7' baitcaster pitching stick. I mostly use it for around heavy cover, or for the more weighty compact jigs in deep water. Why the spinning rods? Because of hand injuries and tendonitis I can only palm a baitcaster for so long, and I can only carry so many rods, and they are a little more versatile for me than a baitcaster, especially when it comes to casting light lures in the wind. The Diawa combo also works to pitch a Texas rigged plastic with a 1/16 ounce bullet weight, or skip a 1/8 ounce shaky head rig. I know there are guys who can really skip with casting gear, but I'm not one of them! The heavier 7' combo is also great for light Carolina rigs with 1/4 to 1/2 ounce weights, which is a killer for pre spawn smallies on the flat pea gravel banks on Table Rock or Beaver.
If you haven't tried finesse jigs yet, get a couple this year. If you fish stream smallmouth, try the 1/8 or 3/16 ounce versions around boulders and root balls, and you Table Rock guys will love the slightly bigger 5/16 ounce size for fishing around bluff banks and pitching to docks or brush piles. Like any lure, they aren't magic, but some times they can seem like it! Just try them, pick colors you like, experiment, and fish with confidence.
Alrighty then, its finally Friday and I'm getting to go home early from work. I've got a fishing trip all set up for tomorrow I just hope the rain and wind hold off long enough for me to wet a line. Haven't decided where we're going yet? My buddy Willie Nelson and I are going to try out his new boat! Since were from up North I'm debating on where to go. He usually defers to my wealth of knowledge in determining which lakes to fish and when. I'm after Walleye! I'd like to run down to fish Stockton but that is about a two and a half hour drive for us and he won't want to do that, so I think I'm going to try and talk him into running over to Long Branch near Macon. They've stocked millions of Walleye over the last ten to fifteen years and should have a nice population by now. I have to remind myself to buy my fishing license, BUY FISHING LICENSE! I'm going to put the trap in the creek tonight and see if I can catch some chubs, if not I'll have to use worms w/ jigs and/or crankbaits. Thank GOD that spring has finally sprung and great fishing is on the way. The Midwest has got to be the jewel of the USA when it comes to fishin', huntin', and outdoor recreation in general. Our new state motto should be "We've got it all"! Keep that information to yourself though, we don't want anybody moving in on our territory! It's crowded enough as it is. Well, I'll let you know how I do tomorrow, until then this is Buck Dandy saying, if you ain't huntin' or fishin' or exploring the unknown outdoors, then you're makin' my day by leaving it all to me"!
Well, I asked for it and here it is, a mucky, muddy, miserable, March! Oh, its not that bad, we've had a few nice days with warm weather and lots of wind. I've been crappie fishin' and shed huntin' and have had better luck shed hunting. So far I'm six sheds in five trips out with one complete set. I've found three sheds which have been small eights. One tall spike and a set which was a 5x4. I fixed my 4 wheeler, had a throttle adjustment cable which was unhooked and had to put it back on, so now I'm fully mobile and able to cover more ground. I don't know if I'm just lucky or if I've learned to look in the right places, or if it is the antler restrictions implemented by the MDC, but I've found more this year than any year previously. Finding a matched set is like getting a bonus buck tag free of charge! I am already getting excited over my elk hunting trip for 2008. My group is having our annual elk meeting to discuss our gameplan this Sunday. My brother and I are going to apply for New Mexico this year, our fallback is Colorado. Muzzleloader or Bow, it doesn't matter to us, we plan on laying something down in 08. Sorry to hear about all the rain some of you are getting down in SoMo, I'm sure its effing up the fishing. Well, enough for today. Talk to you later, until next time, keep your lines wet and your powder dry!
It won’t be a shock to anyone who reads my articles that I'm a big fan of Rapala lures, I've used the plain minnow for bass and trout for as long as I've fished. I remember reading an In-Fisherman article in the early 90's about people in the Ozarks doctoring up their Rapala minnows with weight to get them to suspend, and catching winter bass like dynamite on these customized lures. I doctored a few, and it worked just as they said. When Rapala came out with the Husky Jerk, I was a happy camper. They usually suspend right out of the box, and bass eat them right up. Trout, especially big browns, do too. The Shad Rap and I go back almost as far, and I have used the smallest shallow Shap Rap as a go-to bait for trout for years.
Here you see the whole Rapala family that lead to the X-Rap Shad, at bottom. It starts with the Husky Jerk and Long Cast minnow, which gets you the X-Rap. Cross with the Shad Rap RS, and there it is.
The only problem with these lures is that they are light, the Husky Jerk is plastic, the original Minnow and Shad Rap are balsa. The bigger Husky Jerks cast O.K., but the balsa lures are frustrating in the wind, even with fairly light spinning tackle. Rapala answered the problem with the Long Cast Minnow. A patented weight transfer system inside the lure consisting of a metal ball that rolls inside a track allows long casts, but normal action when the lures is retrieved as the ball locks in place until it is cast again.
These lures must be a pain to construct out of balsa, and they don't seem to be selling well for freshwater anglers, which is a shame. The smaller size is my favorite Brown Trout lure when fish are aggressive, and has scored my two biggest at TaneyComo. The larger size is a great warm water bass jerkbait. I guess most bass anglers don't use floating jerkbaits enough, or maybe don't know about this one. Whichever, it is available only in the saltwater line as I write this.
Here you see the Long Cast Minnow in two sizes. A great overlooked bait.
The weight transfer system was a great idea, and too good to stay only in one lure. Rapalas answer to high priced suspending jerkbaits, the X-Rap, was an instant success. It is plastic, but borrows the diving bill placement (further forward) and long cast weight system from the balsa Long Cast Minnow. The first one I tried caught a bass on one of the first few casts. A good omen indeed. Now the X-Rap is available in different sizes, deep water long billed versions, saltwater, etc. But the Shad Rap kind of stayed where it was at. The plastic Shap Rap RS (Rattling, Suspending) was a mild success, but even made out of plastic still was hard to cast.
The Husky Jerk(Left) and Long Cast Minnow(Right), which combined make the X-Rap(Bottom).
Now the Rapala family tree brings the long casting, suspending nature of the X-Rap to the shad family with the X-Rap Shad. It even has the same color-coordinated "dressed" rear treble hook like the X-Rap.
X-Rap Shads in Silver/Black and Purpledescent.
I had tried to doctor some lures up to be more of a suspending shad imitation, but nothing worked quite right.
The "Swimmin' Image" Shad weighted to suspend.
I had tried the Shad Rap RS, but again it didn't cast well in wind, so it was out, except for a trolling bait. I think the new version of the Shad Rap will prove to be a great success both as a standard crankbait, and as a stop and suspending bait for coldwater bass.
The new X-Rap Shad has the same deadly nose down then slowly right itself on the pause action that the original X-Rap does, and can be twitched like it's jerkbait kin to good effect. It retains the tight action of its Shad Rap forefather on a straight retrieve, although it's bill is slightly different than either the Shad Rap or Shad Rap RS.
Diving bill shapes are slightly different for all three shads: Shap Rap RS (Left) X-Rap Shad (Center) Shap Rap (Right)
Rapala has demonstrations on their webpage showing the swimming action of all their lures.
The new bait comes in 5/16 and 1/2 ounce sizes, the smaller version running 8 to 10 feet (depending on line diameter), perfect for cold water or finesse type situations, and the larger size is going to go deeper, sure to compete with some of the much more expensive deep diving lures for summer structure cranking.
I really like the colors on the new lures, one of the colors that I like is the "Purpledescent." Sort of a purple back that fades into faint chartreuse sides, with a pearl white belly. I need a regular X-Rap in this color, and now am on a campaign to email Rapala every time I think about it until they get one out there. It really looks good in the water, and I decided to use this color of X-Rap Shad in the smaller 5/16 size to try out. I don't think it will ever replace the standard jerkbait, but in a few situations, I think this lure will stand out. Anytime you want to get down quickly to 8-10 feet, then let the lure sit, like around isolated tree, this lure gets the call. Most of the time I just cast a standard jerkbait past the cover and retrieve it back, but when fishing this past weekend I found a perfect spot for the lure. A large tree down on a bluff, the only cover on this stretch of bluff for 50 yards, and no way to cast beyond it to work a regular jerkbait down very deep. I cast the lure tight to the bluff, just slightly past the tree, reeled down a few cranks and twitched the bait, followed by a long pause. Twitch a couple of more times, followed by a faint "tick" on the line, which was this nice red-eyed Spotted Bass.
I think anytime you want a more subtle crank (which is almost every time you fish Table Rock) the new lure will work great as well. Oh, and for colors, Rapala really needs to get a crawfish color going on with the new lure, too. Are you hearing me, Rapala guys? Oh, it retails under 7 bucks, too.
My only dig at this lure is the way the line attachment fits in the bill. The Shad Rap RS had the same problem, and that I like to take the split rings off my lures and use a snap. A standard small snap is really hard to get onto the lure, although you could just leave the split ring on and clip to that. The Norman Speed clip that is popular around the Ozarks isn't a problem at all to get on there, so really it's just my pet peeve.
Really only the lack of a crawfish color and the snap thing stop me from giving it a 10.
So solid 9 out of 10 for the new X-Rap Shad.
I made some furled leaders the other day. I bought a DVD that gave step by step instructions on how to make the furling board and then how to make the furlrd leader. I furled up two leaders using 6/0 tying thread and two with 2 lb maxima ultragreen mono. They turned out really good. The DVD also demonstrated how to make the end loops in the leader, that was the toughest part of the construction in my opinion. I can't wait to get out and try these at Montauk later this month. The furled leader setup produced a fishable leader about 5 foot long. The thread leaders seem to turn over the fly well and land very softly, looking forward to casting some dry flies with them. I have been finding different board setups on the web to make different length leaders and different tapers. Just what I need, another addiction.
I'm ready to go fishing. Haven't been since December, getting cabin fever. I have been tying flies to pass the time but it only makes me want to go even more. Work has been busy with all the snow and bad weather. Lots of traffic accidents but nobody hurt real bad. Alot of people sick from the flu and viral sicknesses, just a matter of time before I get it from them all.
Positive note: I did schedule a trip to Montauk for Marck 23 - 30. If anyone is gonna be down there during that time PM me, I would love to share the water with a fellow OAF member.
Went shed hunting on Saturday with my dad, we covered a lot of country but didn't have any luck. Found a bunch of sign, the trails really stand out in the snow. Deer have mostly been concentrating on cut corn fields, as far as I can tell.
Went ice fishing on sunday the 24th, hit three ponds and caught a fish at each, then we hit another one and I cleaned up pretty good. I caught seven or eight bass and two really nice crappies, caught most of them on white hair jig tipped with crappie nibbles, the others on red, white, and chartreuse hair jig tipped with crappie nibbles. Ice was 12-14" thick on most ponds. Got tired of drilling holes pretty fast. Nothing tastes better in February than a fresh bunch of fillets.
One of the first lures I learned to catch bass on was a spinnerbait. I don't know the make or model, but it was a small one, easy to throw on what was my only rod at the time, I think it was a 6'6" medium action Fenwick, with a Cardinal reel. Pretty nice set up for the era. Both were given to me by one my brothers, and I don't remember exactly how old I was, but that little 1/8th ounce bait caught a lot of bass. These days I use a spinnerbait for river Smallmouth a lot, I can't think of a better barometer to see if the fish are really active and chasing. I usually use a two pronged approach when first on the water, spinnerbaits over and around timber, and crankbaits bouncing off rocks or the bottom in deeper water.
The crankbaits are a story for another day, but when it comes to spinnerbaits for river or stream Smallmouth, I prefer a compact model. The only problem was until recently, compact spinnerbaits were either too small, not balanced well, too light, or not available except from custom tackle makers. I think the ultimate compact spinnerbait these days is the Terminator Custom Tungsten. With it's compact "snap back" titanium wire frame, tungsten 7/16 ounce weighted head, it casts far, runs true, and stands up to abuse like no other I've used. The tandem willow is my favorite for river Smallmouth, and loaded up with lead until it weighs 3/4 ounce (outlined below) is my go-to Table Rock spinner. I have heard that the blades on the Terminator baits tend to vibrate so much they can work the split ring on the swivel apart resulting in the blade coming off in mid retrieve. I had never had this happen until this past year, but according to those in the know, it has only happened on the "Oklahoma" blade, not the willow that I normally use.
Top: Strike King "Little Mr. Money". Bottom: Terminator, Custom Tungsten.
Change out the regular round split rings for the oblong shaped ones,, and no more lost blades.
So, any other downsides to the Terminator? It usually retails just under $10.00 a piece. Yeah, ouch.
S.O.B Lures http://soblures.com/catalog/index.php?cPath=73_23
has some awesome models, almost too many choices in colors, truly a custom bait, but you have to pay shipping, and there is something to be said about actually looking at something before you buy. So are there some good, more reasonably priced (say $5.00), compact models out there you can pick up at Bass Pro or "Wally World"? Yes, and that brings me to the current pair I'll talk about today.
As soon as I saw the online advertising for the War Eagle "Finesse" Spinnerbait, I was, well, hooked. It's supposedly designed by Pro Mike McClelland. Is it? Who knows. I liked the looks, it comes in both 3/16 and 5/16 of an ounce, and the standard War Eagles are really popular around the Ozarks with a good fish catching reputation. It has the "Tux and Tails" type skirt as a different company calls it, with long strands flowing back beyond the hook shank. It has some good basic color choices, so I ordered the first one I could get hold of, which was the 3/16th ounce version. When it arrived I was amazed at exactly how compact it really was. It has a tandem blade setup, with the front being a small Colorado, and the main blade kind of a modified Oklahoma, like on Terminators. These are now available at my (Ozark) Wal-Mart as I write this, and to tell the truth, they are just a little smaller than I like for general use. We'll see how it fishes, as I will give them a real field testing as the water warms over the next month or so.
The other model I'll talk about here is the Strike King "Little Mr. Money" which I actually kind of laughed at when I saw it on the "Strike King Pro Team Journal" Television program. The story was that Pro George Cochran wanted a finesse bait for tournaments, etc., and we are to believe that this is his "baby" and everything. They really talked it up, kind of infomercial style, and I am always skeptical of marketing anyhow, but then I saw it at Wal-Mart, and well, now I have 6 of them in my river tackle bag, and a couple in my big boat to throw around docks and shallow stuff at Table Rock and Beaver when the bigger baits aren't working. It weighs 3/16 of an ounce, has a Tandem Colorado/Indiana blade setup, and the main blade probably looks a little small to most people, but it allows you to really use it well in current without to much drag. It has a similar type skirt to the War Eagle, I think that some folks would skip a trailer on both of these baits, but I use a matching Kalin grub for almost 100% of my spinnerbaits, and they work well even under these skirts.
Left: War Eagle. Right: Strike King
Both baits are light, and for someone using spin cast or spinning gear they would work fine, but I like to use flytying lead or solder to add weight to the shank of the hook, and use superglue to hold it in place. You can really load up the Strike King model, and it'll cast a mile, but run true when you "burn" it back at high speed, which can trigger both Smallmouths or Spots, river or lake. The Strike King is said to be available only at Wal-Mart, but the exact same thing is available at Bass Pro with all the other Strike King spinnerbaits, just not labeled as the same bait.
Lead wire wrapped on hook shank of War Eagle to add weight.
So, 1-10 scale, I will have to give the War Eagle a tentative 6. Looks good, good hook, great blade, just a tad small.
The Strike King? 8. It could have a longer arm, I have noticed it's not as snag resistant as the Terminator or S.O.B., and that's a function of how long the arm come back over the top of the bait. They look the same, but when retrieved the titanium flexes more. But it does has a wicked good hook, nice paint and detail on the head, cheap, catches fish. I've been changing the small Indiana blade out with a #4 Terminator willow, and having a lot of success with that version.
It will have a place in my tackle box until I find another, cheaper, better bait. If that ever happens.
Two more Views of the Strike King baits.
Oh, if I overlooked some other lure, please tell me, and I'll check it out. I can't be everywhere, all the time. I take more stock in a personal tip than all the marketing hype in the world anyway.
Mount I entered in these two shows. in the Masters Fish.
Best Paint, Best Reproduction and Second place Master, Best Fish of Show in Arkansas
Southern Regional Show, Best Reproduction, Best Paint and Second Place Masters Fish