by Capt. Steve Chaconas, National Bass Guide Service
Ask a simple question, or what you think is a simple question, to a pro angler and get ready for the questions they fire back at you! Seeking a small-bodied crankbait that could dive 15 feet, a call to FLW Ranger/Mercury Frosted Flakes pro Dave Lefebre was answered with many more questions asked of me. The biggest question was “Why?” Why am I trying to get a small-bodied crankbait that deep? Why not something else? Why exactly does it have to be a small body? Why not a bigger deep-diver like the Rapala DT 14 or DT 16? What time of year? What kind of action are you looking for and why? What type of forage are you trying to imitate? The questions kept coming. Enough with the questions Dave, I get it! I asked the “wrong” question!
Questioning his own questions, or fishing with an open-mind has allowed him to earn nearly $2 million as a touring pro! Lefebre points out that most crankbaits being sold and used are in the 6-foot depth or shallower. Probing deeper depths becomes a challenge as casts have to be longer and target areas must be more specific. Marker buoys, on the cover or where the boat needs to be or triangulating to mark an exact target are required. Crankbaits are built to dive, reach their target depth and then return to the surface, allowing the bait to remain in the target depth for a relatively short period of time. Casts must be made past the target to be retrieved to the target…cover of some sort or a specific spot at the maximum depth. Smaller bodied crankbaits might not be the best choice even in the crankbait category. Larger bodied cranks are built to get deep and stay there longer. In the diminished light, larger profiles will show up better without looking that big and could be the answer. “Try to convince yourself that your first thought (or question) may not be the best thing (or answer) to do…and instead maybe focus on the positives of changing your mind (or asking yourself, you guessed it…more questions).”
Lefebre reflected on his career, noting a few instances where he felt he should use, or the fish demanded, a crankbait with a small body at deeper depths. Modifying his baits, like the DT 10, with weights and using 6-8 pound Suffix Deep Crankin’ line will get close to 15ft. There's also a Rapala ultra light crank designed for crappie that can be weighted more easily. Lefebre points out Rapala baits are depth precise, reaching or exceeding depths assigned. Sometimes a Carolina Rig will drag baits down and have been effective. But the downside of working, feeling and then landing fish outweighs this adaptation. In the final FLW Tour event in 2006 at Smith Lake, “During practice I Carolina Rigged a smaller crankbait and thought it would be the deal…when the tournament rolled around it didn’t work. I ended up using a jig.” That decision gave him just enough points to barely edge out David Dudley and Luke Clausen for Angler of the Year.
Lefebre’s line of questioning pays off with other lures that will achieve the desired depth and could be more efficient in landing fish as an added bonus. Remember the original question? Why does it have to be a small crankbait in 15 feet of water? Lefebre suggests that instead of wasting time trying to figure out how to make a 10-foot diving bait reach 15 feet; you should readjust your thoughts. “You might be better off getting the crankbait thing out of your head in this circumstance!” Achieving success with a deep diver is “…easier said than done and most likely is not your best option. If you figure out what you really are trying to accomplish, cranking might not be the best thing to do. That’s why other baits exist!” Lefebre says most of the time another bait will work much better especially when trying to get a small bait to the bottom in 15 feet, feeling there’s a minimal chance that your modified (weighted) small-bodied crankbait will outperform other baits. Spinnerbaits, jigs, and chatterbaits are easy choices. But Lefebre has come to rely on something old and something new! The Rapala Countdown Minnow or Rippin’ Rap will run deeper than any crankbait and create perfect prespawn presentations.
The veteran pro has been around the business for decades and is a bridge between the old timers and the young guns. Taking a page out of his teenage tacklebox, Lefebre recalls trips where he used a Classic Rapala Countdown Minnow and this bait would catch just about anything that swims. “The 07 size is close to the size of a small crankbait body. It's compact and, sinking about a foot per second, it will go as deep as you let it.” This bait has been used by anglers for a long time in ponds and streams for trout, but Lefebre says, “It blows my mind how few have tried it in their favorite bass fishing spots. I think you'll be pleasantly surprised.” The secret to this bait is to fish it like a Senko, cast and let it fall to the bottom or to grass cover. Once the “senko” mindset is achieved, working this bait is easy. Lift and drop, watching for line movement, a pop or added weight. Ripping off the bottom or out of grass is another trigger. Snap the bait until it’s free from grass and debris, feeling the lure wobble again, and allow to fall. Bites occur on the fall or when the bait begins to move again. This presentation excels in the spring with water in the 30s to low 40s. Lefebre warns this is not a search bait. “Again, it’s like a senko…you have to know the fish are there!” Silver is a good color and the more torn up the bait gets, the better it fools fish. Hook modifications and going to the larger number 9 size allow the pro to fish heavier cover. Dave questions, “Could the Countdown be a better option for your small-bodied 15 foot crankbait endeavor?”
His “new” choice picks up where the Countdown leaves off. The Rippin’ Rap is in his hands when the water is in the upper 40s into the 50s, the Shad Rap time of the year. Lefebre says the legendary lure company, Rapala, has developed several lipless style crankbaits. But he feels they nailed it last year with the introduction of the Rippin’ Rap. It comes in 3 sizes, (5/16, ½ and 7/8) with each size weighing the same as similar baits, but in a more compact package. Smaller sizes allow him to fish tighter areas more weedless and to get a better feel while doing so. The current shape is more shad-like and can imitate a baitfish or craw. He also feels the colors are perfect for every situation. Here Lefebre fishes the bait like a jig, casting past a target and retrieving to it. It allows him to cover water or fish a very specific spot at a precise depth, even in 15 feet! Dragging on the bottom, hopping, or retrieving steadily with the rod tip down, the Rippin’ Rap allows him to fish the depths while also feeling cover, like a small-bodied crankbait.
Both baits are on the deck of Lefebre’s Ranger when targeting prespawn fish. Rather than trying to figure out how to get a small-bodied crankbait down to 15 feet, Lefebre says anglers are asking the wrong question. He insists the question should be, “What is the most effective thing I can do in 15 feet. There are a lot of easier ways to do it.” First, anglers must allow themselves to be convinced that a small-bodied crankbait is perhaps not the best choice. Lefebre says the next step is diagnosing your reasoning for wanting to get a small-bodied crankbait to 15 feet. From there many choices are available. Lefebre’s deep alternatives are the Rapala Countdown Minnow and the Rippin’ Rap. His moral of the “fishing” story...“Sometimes another question is a better answer to your question in the first place.”
Click Here to Read Capt. Steve Chaconas' BoatUS ANGLER Pro Staff Blog
by Capt. Lou Borelli, Get The Net Fishing Charters
Every spring, Lake Ontario nearshore fishing can bring good numbers of brown trout. As the ice melts in the lake and the water starts to warm, schools of browns hug the shoreline looking for warmth and food. And as the fishing season starts, the main question that seems to come up year after year is: Do I fish with stick baits or spoons?
For me, the answer's easy. Spoons, spoons, spoons!
Both lure types come in many shapes, sizes and colors. Stickbaits are very versatile and can be used to catch many species of fish. From trout and salmon to bass, pike and walleye, the stickbait lure can be very effective.
One can even argue that the stickbait's more appealing to the brown trout than a spoon. With the overabundance of the round goby (invasive species that have taken over the lake bottom), brown trout have been feeding heavily on these fish. A stickbait with the right color (brown/gold) can easily imitate the goby, making it an easy target for the trout.
Spoons, however, are actually even easier to use when targeting the spring browns. For starters, the spoon's typically lighter than the stick bait. It also doesn't have a lip, which means it won't dive as far when it's being pulled in the water. This is important when fishing in shallow water. It's not uncommon for fish to be in less than 4 feet of water. If you're running a stickbait this shallow, you run the risk of getting it hung up on the bottom.
Spoons are also more speed tolerant. Generally a spoon's design is such that it'll have good action at various speeds. This is important if the fish are moody. A stickbait however, doesn't like to be run fast. If run too fast, the stickbait will lose its wobble action and will track straight. Remember: The purpose of the lure is to catch the fish. If the browns are in a finicky mood, they may not want to chase down a lure that doesn't reflect an injured or erratic bait fish.
Some anglers like to run both stickbaits and spoons together. They'll run one side of the boat with sticks and the other with spoons. The issue you may run into there is that if trolling at a faster clip (2.8-3.1 mph), you may lose the action of the stickbaits. This could decrease your chances of catching multiple fish and basically take half your lure spread out of the equation.
When using spoons, select the size that'll best simulate the bait. Typically in the spring, the browns are feeding on smelt, gobies or alewives. This early in the season the baitfish are not that large. Selecting a spoon in the 3"-4” length are going to be most effective.
This method of fishing can be an effective way of catching large and multiple brown trout. The key is to understand the conditions you're fishing in and use the appropriate methods to ensure multiple hook ups.
Capt. Lou Borrelli learned to fish with his grandfather and now owns and operates Get The Net Charters out of Rochester, N.Y. Capt. Lou runs trips along the south shore of Lake Ontario from Wilson to Fair Haven, N.Y. Visit GTNFishing.com or send him an email at email@example.com.
by Kurt Dove, BoatUS ANGLER Pro Staff
For much of the country the month of May indicates bass in the post-spawn behavior. From this phase of bass behavior right through the early part of summer is often a premier time to target bass on topwater lures. As with any lure there are many types to choose from and it can get confusing. I will breakdown for you several types of topwaters and some productive brands, and where they can be used to have success!
Popper – The popper style baits are awesome for keeping a lure in the strike zone for a long period of time. A Rebel Pop-R is the mainstay in popping baits. BASS Elite Angler Zell Rowland made them wildly popular back in the late 80’s and early 90’s. Other great poppers are the Yellow Magic and the Rico. I like to use poppers around wood cover, rip rap and on the edges of vegetation. They are not weedless so be sure not to throw it into or on top of vegetation.
Walkers – For me walking topwater lures that sashay side-to-side are primarily used in open water situations. Over top of points or along big stretches of rock or bank that may have a specific depth change. I typically use the ima lures Skimmer or Big Stick. For many years the main stay in topwater baits was the Zara Spook made famous by BASS Pro Charlie Campbell back in the 80’s. This style of topwater baits can be awesome on big fish!
Buzzers – Best worked with slow steady retrieves. I will mention two types of buzzers here. The buzzbait, which is a metal blade that spins on top of the water attached to a wire and hook running just under the surface behind it. Then there is the plastic buzz frog like the El Grande Lures Sapo that runs on the water’s surface with little paddle feet that make a gurgling sound and commotion. These are great baits to use in open water or over the top of cover like grass or wood. They are very versatile and the strikes are explosive!
Prop – Prop baits like the Devils Horse tend to be very popular in Florida although they are very productive in all parts of the country. Prop baits are especially productive around spawning bluegill beds where largemouth will prey. The prop bait will have one or two blades at the front or rear, or both ends of the lure. With small strokes of your rod the blades spin and cause a violent disturbance on the water’s surface causing the bass to suspect an injured fish and then striking the lure.
Frogs – Hollow belly frogs like Optimum Furbit, Spro bronze eye or Snag Proof are very good lures. With practice you can learn how to sashay your frogs for open water effectiveness, or throw them in the middle of the nasty slop and hang on for giant strikes!
May and June are awesome months for great topwater action! I hope you can get out on the water and take advantage this year!
Click Here to read Kurt Dove's Pro Staff Blog
by Capt. Steve Chaconas, BoatUS ANGLER Pro Staff
Build a shelf and
fishing manufacturers will fill them with every color shape and size imaginable.
Trouble is…do they catch fish or fishermen?
your partner says, "Get the net!" you search the deck for the
webbed hoop yo'’ve used for decades, but all you can find is a net
pole. Grabbing the handle and thrusting forward, a hidden net springs
into action! The new and improved FRABILL Hiber-Net is easily stored in
any rod box or strapped to a deck, ready to scoop up the big ones. This
product has been around for a while, but now has an added feature. A paddle
snaps into the end of the pole allowing the net to double as a long handled
rods are part of fishing, but now there is a product that not only offers
moderate protection, but also prevents rods from becoming tangled on a
deck, in a car or when stuffed into a rod box. And for organizing, colored
sleeves make choosing the right rod for the job a lot easier. The McCoy
Rod Shields come in a variety of lengths and for rod type…spinning
and casting rods. Once in place, the Shields stay in place, gently grabbing
rod guides. Easy to remove….nice idea! www.mccoyfishingline.com
line manufacturers are transitioning from good old monofilament (which
in a pinch could be cut with your teeth) to fluorocarbon and braided lines
which (would be effective in pulling teeth). But, cutting these new super
lines requires scissors…bulky and not easily stored. Finally there's
a cutter that can be hooked to your belt loop on a retractable cable.
The Boomerang Tool Company has introduced a heavy-duty mighty tiny cutter…The
Snip! They also managed to put a very small LED light at the end to see
what you are snipping! Stainless steel jaws cut for a long time and a
safety latch protects you from errant cuts! www.boomerangtool.com
and jogging shoes are not fishing shoes! They may be great on the court
or the road, but not so good on the boat or in all that Mother Nature
can dish out. Known for their sandals, Teva has created an amphibious
sport shoe, the Itunda. No sacrifice of support! From top to bottom feet
are surrounded with comfort and a Drain Frame™ to get water away
from your feet for quick drying and to allow ventilation when it gets
hot! A spider rubber bottom keeps you from losing your grip! But it’s
the Shoc Pad™ that evenly transfers the energy of impact throughout
the footbed and away from the heel. www.Teva.com
But, as you pull out the plastic to pay for your new
stuff, remember, three axioms that come to mind…fishing lures don't
catch fish…fishermen catch fish…fishing lures catch fishermen.
With every new season comes a new gadget or gizmo and an angler eager
to own one. As my wife says, "Fish until you drop!"
Click Here to read Capt. Steve Chaconas' Pro Staff Blog
by Capt. Steve Chaconas, BoatUS ANGLER Pro Staff
No one would question
how many clubs Tiger Woods carries in his bag! There’s even a meeting
of the minds to decide which to use. Anglers don’t have caddies!
They match rods to conditions and lure type. Every pro has a “system”
to increase strike-to-catch ratio. It begins at the lure and every link
in the hook setting chain ends at the angler. Every component for specific
techniques plays a critical role in hooking bass.
would seem that with a pair of treble hooks that crankbait hooksets wouldn’t
be all that important. Upon closer examination, while there are multiple
hooks, they are small and don’t grab much fish, making hookups and
hook sets complicated! BassCat/Merc pro John Crews has taken matters into
his own hands…literally. Designing his signature Little John crankbait
series, Crews wanted bait that would get fish to bite and get them hooked!
The Elite Series pro felt a flat-sided crankbait was a priority. Flat
sides won’t interfere with a fish taking bait in and allows hooks
to be more exposed than larger, fat bodied lures.
Next come the hooks. Little Johns come with Gamakatsu
trebles. But hook style is predicated on water temperature. In normal
range to cold, he says round bends provide better penetration in harder
jawed cold fish. In hot water, Crews says fish mouths get soft and EWGs
grab more. In either case, hooks must be sharp and fresh!
Fishing deeper, 6-8 feet or more, Crews says fluorocarbon
line provides more feel and better hookups. Using 12-pound test VISCIOUS
Fluorocarbon line enables Crews to make longer casts. Depth deadens the
feel of crankbait, resulting in missed bites and inability to feel or
distinguish types of cover. Crankbait bites are often very light and before
a fish blows a bait out of its mouth, anglers need to know it’s
there! Fluorocarbon transmits more feel! Once a fish is on, the hookset
must follow very soon! Better hooksets begin with Fluorocarbon’s
lower stretch. Mono is better for shallow presentations where a bit of
stretch acts as a shock absorber for close-to-the-boat strikes!
Shallow or deep, long casts are required for Crews who
uses a 7’11” Pinnacle Perfecta crankbait rod. The very long
rod enables Crews to cover water faster. The Pinnacle rod has a slow taper
to it, allowing fish to take baits deeper for better hooking opportunities.
The added length also helps control fish, keeping them down or enabling
him to stay ahead of fish changing directions. Crews says fish have a
hard time putting slack in the line…a major cause of lost crankbait
But for Crews, his rod must have a specific action in
addition to being able to cast a country mile! When rod prospecting, Crews
puts pressure on tip, loading by applying pressure on a carpet to see
where the rod bends or he’ll even grab the tip to see where the
rod flexes. His Pinnacle rod loads from the middle point of the rod to
the tip…modeled after a fiberglass rod. Early graphite rods were
engineered for worm fishing and provided sensitivity for cranking, but
did not have the “give” to allow fish to take baits. However
new Pinnacle rod technology achieves bend without sacrificing feel or
weight. Under a load this rod has plenty of backbone for solid hooksets.
But before a hookset can take place, the reel drag must
be set. Crews’ fine tuned hooking process relies again on technology.
He adjusts the Optimus XT reel’s carbon fiber washer drag for a
little bit of give. By hanging his bait on the bottom, the Virginia pro
pulls to bend the rod to the backbone where the drag should slip a little
His reeling retrieve position keeps the bait in the zone…but
also sets him up to react to a bite. Pointing his rod at the bait just
off center places more line resistance against the rod creating more feel.
With a bite, he continues to reel, speeding his retrieve and leaning back
one way or the other until he is hooked up…using the rod and reel
to set the hook. Crews gets the rod to its maximum flex point as quickly
as he can and holds it there to drive hooks into the fish…so when
the fish shakes his head, hooks are still being driven into some meat.
Crews pays attention to details, noting if fish are smacking
at lures and not coming back or just getting the back hook, often this
situation requires a change of color.
Click Here to read Capt. Steve Chaconas' Pro Staff Blog
by Capt. Steve Chaconas, BoatUS ANGLER Pro Staff
With the lure chosen
and modified, there are still several decisions to make when it comes
to winding a crankbait lure! Rods, lines and reels must work as part of
a cranking system.
good cranking rod will generally have a medium action and fast tip or
moderate fast tip. At least the first 30% of the rod should bend parabolically
before the rod loads to the backbone section to enable hooksets. In effect,
rods must have enough "give" to allow fish to inhale lures and to allow
fish to run without pulling out smallish treble hooks. A rod that's too
stiff is likely to prevent good hook ups and at the same time put too
much pressure on the hooks and line, causing failure in either. For rod
materials, there are several choices: Graphite, fiberglass or a composite
of the two.
Graphite is the lightest and most sensitive, but at the same time will
create tension or resistance under a load. Load the rod and it will spring
back to its relaxed state with some force. A flexible graphite rod has
more sensitivity even though much of the feeling is absorbed into the
"give" of the rod. A graphite rod transmits cover and "fish bites" back
to the angler better than other material options. Graphite's stiffer material
allows baits to be snapped free from grass.
The former King of cranking rods was good old fiberglass. This rod has
give and no pull! Load this rod and the tip will gently swing back to
its straight condition. But, it's heavy compared to graphite! The extra
give and no pullback allow bass to engulf bigger baits. The problem is
they have very little sensitivity. Almost no feel to them at all. This
makes it tough to fish deep cover, feeling for subtle bites. Better hookups
and angling ability with the softer rod. But, sometimes there's just not
quite enough backbone to set the hook on larger treble hooks. Fiberglass
rods are also too soft in many cases to snap baits free from grass. Rod
makers, like G-Loomis build special graphite cranking series rods designed
to overcome typical shortcomings.
Rod builders have been trying to create composite rods, a combination
of graphite and fiberglass, for a long time. Composite rods vary greatly
between manufacturers but should have the backbone and sensitivity of
graphite, with a bit of added weight. Composites run the gamut in styles
and designs and really need to be designed by fishermen! The overall benefit
is usually a softer rod. One such rod is built by Quantum for Classic
Champ and Angler of the Year, Kevin Van Dam. He's created composite specifications
for different sized lures. His new signature Series KVD Tour Edition cranking
rods are b uilt from composite e-glass and graphite. The graphite keeps
the rod light and provides sensitivity, with a strong backbone; the fiberglass
provides the give and keeps the rod from resisting the fish. KVD's crankbait
series rods are short enough for accuracy at 6'6" and long enough, at
7'10", to launch baits in open water! Rods in between offer different
casting distances and accuracy, accommodating various crankbait sizes
and styles. He specifically designed a rod for lipless crankbaits and
one for mid range as well as the big-lipped deep divers. Quantum composite
rods have sensitivity, enough give, and backbone for hooksets and to snap
lures out of grass.
But, for any rod, matching it up with line can make the difference on
most days and will be the difference on tough days! To compensate for
lack of feel in a fiberglass rod, many pros are going to fluorocarbon
lines. No or low stretch lines can add sensitivity to fiberglass rods
adding hook setting power retaining fiberglass "give". They transmit more
feel and allow for better hooksets after fish bite.
If fish are not getting baits deep enough, then it might be time to either
switch to a softer rod or line with more stretch. One way to put more
"give" into your system is to use monofilament line. Mono has about 30%
stretch, which will reduce the "pull back" that otherwise light and sensitive
graphite rods create. Mono is a good all around choice for cranking; but,
if hooksets are missing, it might be time to beef up to fluorocarbons
and even zero-stretch braided lines.
offers another characteristic. Thinner diameter lines offer less resistance
increasing casting distance, depth of lures and feel. In addition, creating
less resistance in the water allows fish to take baits deeper while not
detecting "drag" of thicker lines. Hooksets are a bit easier too as less
resistance allows line to slice through water hooking up better. Conversely,
to keep lures from diving deeper, heavier or thicker line will "float"
lures over cover to allow using bigger lures in shallower conditions.
Appropriate line can reduce shortcomings. Take note of a successful pro
and see what they userod and line!
For cranking reels, a slower one is fine, a reel with a 5:1 retrieve or
higher. But, sometimes there's a need for speed. Reels into the 6:1 and
above might be better. Experienced anglers like reel speed and possess
the ability to slow down. An old trick is to under-spool the reel to reduce
the amount of line taken up by a turn of the handle. However, long overlooked
are the old-school reels that did not have instant anti-reverse. The most
famous of these are Lew's reels. Not many around and almost impossible
to find parts, these reels are perfect for cranking. With the feel lost
in softer rods, it's the reel telling anglers what's going on! Without
instant-anti reverse, the reel handle will turn back almost a quarter
turnso when there's contact with cover or a fish, this will transmit directly
to the reel handle, giving the angler the best feel and ability to set
the hook sooner. Today reels incorporate anti-reverse bearings which lock
instantlybetter for hooksets, but not for feeling a crankbait down to
20 feet! There are a few decent older reels like vintage Abu reels; probably
the most serviceable as there are still parts floating around.
Known as "idiot baits", where any "idiot" can cast crankbaits and wind
back to the boat to catch fish, crankbait fishing is more than just using
the right lure. Advanced cranking encompasses a system to account for
a variety of depths and speeds while considering the desired result of
the rod, reel and line working in unison with the lure. Next time a lure
change is considered, take a look at the accessories, after the fact,
to make a move that will solve the fishing challenge of the day.
by Capt. Steve Chaconas, BoatUS ANGLER Pro Staff
So, you bought a new "favorite"
crankbait. Taking it out of the package carefully, you tie it, toss it
and start cranking. WHOA! Many of the top pros make modifications before
the bait even gets wet!
This year's BASSMASTER Classic winner, Nitro/Mercury Elite Series pro
Kevin VanDam made an immediate switch out of the standard hooks of the
Strike King Red Eye Shad lipless crank bait, to his newly designed Mustad
Ultra Point Triple Grip short shank treble. The short shank allowed him
to move up to the next size in hooks, giving him more hooking power without
inhibiting the action of the bait. Hook changing is one of the most common
Pros change out hooks for style, size, and quality. Ranger/Yamaha FLW
pro Jacob Powroznik switches out standard split rings for smaller ones
to allow him to put bigger hooks to prevent the hooks from catching each
other. He tries several hook/split ring combos to find the biggest hooks
that won't catch each other. When he buys a crank bait he always removes
the hooks. He contends most crankbaits come with cheaper hooks that might
rust, leaving a stain on his lures. As for hook style, he sticks with
round bends. An on-the-water experiment demonstrated to him that round
bends hook fish better than triple grip styles.
But it's more than hooks, Powroznik changes the face of his lures. Fellow
pro Craig Powers paints some of his deeper diving crankbaits in 2 colors
shad or chartreuse colors. But, just as important as the crankbait is
the accompanying tackle. Depending on circumstances he uses to bigger
line to keep baits over the grass. Fluorocarbon, while abrasion resistant
is his low stretch line for deep cranking. Low stretch enables hook sets
on long casts, sensitivity is secondary. He also doesn't use wimpy rods,
opting for a long 7'6 Berkley Elite Carolina rigging rod because he is
driving 6 hooks into a fishnot just one. Besides, he usually uses a fast
speed, eliminating a need to feel. He crashes coverto get reaction strikes.
Bass Cat/Evinrude pro Bill Chapman, winner of the points title in the
American Fishing Series Northern Division qualifying for the 2011 Forrest
Wood Cup, notes crankbaits may look the same, but perform differently.
Some go deeper or have different actions, either running erratically or
the bait "hunts", an erratic movement. This could be caused by excess
glue, a misplaced internal rattle or irregular thickness. If the baits
aren't "special", he takes them back to the store and buys more! He takes
note of these and saves some for tournament occasions. He adds bigger
hooks for weight to go a bit deeper.
Like most, Chevy/Ranger FLW pro Dave Lefebre changes hooks, but he also
tinkers with baits like not many others. Even on his reliable Rapala crankbaits
Lefebre alters the diving bills, using scissors, snips and a file to change
round bills to square and square bills to round. This changes the action
and presentation of any lure, making them roll and have a different action.
A shorter bill allows them to run shallower. Thinner lipped Rapala crankbaits
create different and more pronounced deflections. Lefebre scratches the
surfaceof his lures. Though he says it primarily makes him feel better,
he scrapes lure finishes to make them look like they've been catching
fishbut in reality it changes color patterns adding contrast. As for hooks,
he'll cut the lower hook on each treble to make them more weedless over
cover. Otherwise, he uses red hooks, sometimes applying nail polish remover
to reveal the gold hook underneath. Still one to sharpen hooks; he leaves
some red on the hooks, as he believes different colored hooks help when
the fishery is pressured, giving him a bit more confidence. Finally, Lefebre
removes the line-tie split ring using super tiny snaps.
Sometimes pros just can't make enough changes on the fly, instead designing
their own "Frankenstein" lures, with parts of several baits to create
a fishing lure monster. Bass Cat/Mercury Elite Series pro John Crews is
one of those guys. By throwing different crankbaits, he found he preferred
flat-sided lures. The selection was limited. He sought a flat-sided crankbait
that would cast well and have good action. Handmade cranks were the easiest
for Crews to modify as they were made of wood and the bill was easier
to change. Bending the line tie up or down would alter the running pattern
of the bait. With the tie in the nose generally, a bend of the tie toward
the bill would produce a harder action. But, further away from the bill,
it tended to swim side-to-side, not rolling or tight. Thus began the design
of his Little John Spro crankbaits.
It was constant trial and error, experimenting with bill angles and line
tiestaking the bill out, shaving and reshaping changing the angle using
epoxy. To achieve maximum casting distance, Crews placed Storm Suspend
Dots on the belly, focusing weight around the front hook hanger. Adding
tube weights hanging on the front hook fine-tuned the slight nose-down
angle. Crews even drilled his way to balance, dropping BBs into hollow
hard plastic baits, finding belly chambers or seeing through a clear bait
version to locate them. He added BBs one at a time, sealing holes with
plumbers' putty, two-part clay epoxy. After weighting, he positioned the
bill for the ideal diving hard wiggle vibration. Crews' baits swim horizontally,
slightly tilted down but still come through cover even grass, ticking
the top rather then hooking it with the lip. His weighted lure became
a triple threat. Longer casts, faster/deeper diving and the angle Crew's
prefers, all designed with a channel that, during casts, transfers a rolling
weight to the tail. After the cast, the weight moves to the front hook-hanger
during the retrieve. Adding a ballast weight keeps the bait upright to
allow the ball to roll to the front. Crews spent a few years to get it
just right, including having enough weight to produce a slow risemaking
it different than others in this class. Crews' Little John rips free from
grass and sits in the strike zone just a little longer. His modified lure
is available from Spro Lures.
Another angler who won't take what the package offers is Skeeter/Yamaha
Elite Series pro Mark Menendez. This Kentucky angler also makes good use
of the Storm Suspend Dots & Strips, not to suspend but for casting.
Similar placement as Crews, but normally a bit more forward, under where
the bill protrudes from the body of the bait. Menendez does this on hard-to-cast
baits, like the Strike King Stealth Shad. Changing to the sharpest hooks
he can find, Menendez alters the hook sizing on Strike Kings Spitting
King upsizing the #6 front hook to #4. He suggests this changes the attitude
to balance the bait allowing him to walk the bait better.
But, one of his simplest tricks is to use a black Sharpie marker to add
a false eye to the bait above the front hook- a big help with Red Eye
Shad lipless baits - to provide a target area in a better part of the
lure for better hook ups, not more bites. Black is his go-to color, but
he carries red and green as well.
When modifying jerkbaits or diving minnow crankbaits, one name comes to
mind and it's Mark Menendez. He wants baits to suspend at a 45-degree
angle, nose down. He is also looking for baits that cast further into
the wind, run deeper and stay put! Menendez's modified lures start with
floating baits because they're louder compared to suspending baits, which
come with fewer rattles and a smaller internal chamber. Up-sizing to #4
hooks on 5-inch and #6 on 4½-inch baits, he chooses wide gap trebles,
which are usually stronger than regular round bend trebles. But, not liking
angled hooks Menendez straightens out the bend with pliers. Affixing Suspend
Dots and Strips, Menendez goes old school with ¼ ounce rubber core
weights on 5-inch baits and 1/8 ounce on 4¼-inch baits. Clamping
on the front hook, he whittles away the lead and adds suspend strips to
achieve neutral buoyancy. He chills his test tank to 38-50 degrees when
Topwater lures, while not really crankbaits, do have treble hooks and
have been morphing over past decades. One of the true pioneers is top
water aficionado Skeeter/Yamaha Elite Series pro Zell Rowland. The Texan
started carving up what would become the standard in topwater designs
about 25 years ago. Armed with a dremel tool, sandpaper, and airbrush,
Rowland revolutionized topwater popper fishing. Taking the legendarily
popular Rebel Pop-R, Rowland sanded the sides, and flattened the mouth
to be more oval rather than round turning it into a thinner-sided spitting
topwater. Trial and error produced a balanced bait. His finishing touch
with the airbrush created a masterpiece. Through sanding and carving,
the baits became lighter, allowing them to sit up higher in the water,
slightly tail down, attracting more fish. It also changed the sound of
the bait quite a bit. Today his designs are mass-produced by the XCalibur
division of Pradco. The Zell-Pop is one of today's best spitters (rather
than popping), walking across the surface to generate huge topwater strikes.
You don't have to be a pro to modify lures. Hooks, colors, and physical
changes can make any bait on the shelf become one-of-a-kind. Here are
some other tips and tweaksSlightly bending a line tie will force a lure
to run left or right to run into a dock or bridge pilings. To a limited
extent, bending the line tie up or down will make a lure run shallower
or deeper For brand new crankbaits, it's a good idea to remove the hooks
to clean paint over-spray out of the hook hangers to allow hooks to swing
freely. Since bluegill and yellow perch have orange on their bellies,
and that's what the fish see when cranks go by, some pros paint bait bellies
orange. Many change to an oval split ring to avoid tying the knot on a
round split ring to prevent placing the knot in the "split".
Finally, a tip that improves fishing with crankbaits, not really a modification,
but rather involves digging out old gear. When the fishing reel industry
switched to infinite anti-reverse, a lot of very important feel while
cranking was lost! Crankbait rods are usually the softest rods to allow
lures to be inhaled by fish. Unfortunately, this "give" also deadens the
"feel" as contact with cover or fish is absorbed, not transmitted. Old
style reels without infinite anti-reverse allow "feel" in reel
handles that crank backwards a quarter turn to nearly a half turn when
hitting cover or when a fish bites. To anglers, this allows more feel
while cranking as the bait will hit cover and pull back on the handle
just a bit. This allows the angler to slow down and to keep the bait from
getting hung up. Likewise it also allows feeling the often subtle crankbait
bite...in the cranking hand...signaling the angler to set the hook! This
extra feel is particularly important in deep cranking or when the bite
is soft. In any case the "feel in the reel" is lost in infinite
anti-reverse reels. When looking for an edge, old school reels are something
new to consider!
Cranking is more than just opening a package and tying one on. It's the
little things that can reel in big fish. Loaded with odds and ends; paints,
Suspend Dots & Strips, hooks, and even stick-on eyes, Jann's Netcraft
(jannsnetcraft.com) has everything needed to modify lures. Just making
them look or perform differently, can turn a tackle box bottom-dweller
into an odds-on favorite.
by Bill Carson, BoatUS ANGLER Blogger
little about umbrella rigs and how to use them.....first of all there
are laws in some states (like Tennessee ) that quantify the number of
hooks on "an array of baits" and most urigs are either 3 arm or 4 arm.
A 3 arm rig can have either 4 baits or 7 baits and a 4 arm rig can have
either 5 baits or 9 baits. Which number of baits is up to angler
In Tennessee I use umbrella rigs but I remove all of the hooks except
on the middle bait and I make the leader going to the middle bait a little
longer than the other leaders. Most of the time I use 45 lb. leaders in
the 5" variety for all leaders except the middle where I use a 9"
or 12" leader. Since this one trails behind the "school" of bait it is
the one getting most of the bites.
The colors that seem to work the
best are white and chartreuse for trailers and the sky is the limit on
baits. I do use a lot of Captain Mack's jigs and rigs which can be found
at a number of retail dealers or on the internet at captmacks.com, stripertackle.net
or fishingpharmacy.com to name a few. Tsunamis, flukes,
bass magic and a whole array of swim baits will all nwork.
The single most important must have item to purchase
before all of the other stuff is a urig retriever and is carried by all
of the suppliers listed above.
Of course it is virtually impossible to use the umbrella rigs with out
a good sonar and cartography combination unit and this is why I choose
the Lowrance HDS unit with Navionics maps. The safety contour option is
a great tool for targeting the fish at this time of year since they are
"pointed up" or on the points. Try crossing or "clipping" the points where
the shallow water drops off into the deeper water. These fish will be
constantly hanging in 15-30 feet of water this time of year and this method
of "clipping points" will produce some big numbers. When you locate fish
on a point you can many times catch more than one fish on the same point
by making turns and revisiting the point from differing angles of approach.
Some times the fish will hang on walls of rock ledges such as those that
exist in Lakes Cumberland and Cherokee. I have had 100+ fish days a number
of times on both of these lakes as well as in rivers below Kentucky and
Umbrella rigs are a great way not only to locate fish but a great and
productive way to catch fish. For some short videos and more information
check out www.nothinbutfish.com.
Some of the best fishing and boating times of the year are before us and
please let me remind you of the importance of having up to date insurance
coverage for your boat prior to hitting the waterways. I use BoatUS ANGLER
because they provide some of the best coverage not only on the water but
when the boat is on the trailer too.
can still remember my first spinning reels. They were an old Quick and
a French-made Centura. They were given to me by an old couple who were
friends of my parents when we lived on Captiva Island . The reels were
in bad need of repair. I, about age 11, set out to make them work again.
Thus was born my love affair with tackle in general, and tinkering with
it in particular. As it turned out, it was mostly a matter of removing
sand and dirt, tightening loose parts, and lubricating moving parts. That
still holds true today.
Maintaining your own tackle today can be lots of fun. But today's tackle
is far advanced from the tackle of the 40's and 50's that I cut my teeth
on. Spinning reels have line layering and wrapping systems on long-cast
spools, velvet smooth and sophisticated drag systems, free-line systems
(Bait-Runners), infinite anti-reverse systems, quick-fire bail systems,
trigger bait/line release systems, inner-rotor bails, and on and on. The
baitcasters of today are just as advanced with features like magnetic
spool controls, variable braking systems, flipping switches, infinite
anti-reverse systems, line layers level-wind systems, and bearings and
Baitcasters are much more susceptible to loss of performance (casting
distance) from improper lubrication and maintenance, or marginal parts
because the spool actually revolves to feed line during the cast. When
properly functioning they offer superior drag systems, smoother operation,
and superior casting distance with all but the smallest baits. The laws
of physics are responsible for longer casts, that is, an object in motion
tends to stay in motion. They also offer superior casting control, in
Spinning reels, although refined to new heights recently by Shimano's
Dyna-Balance System and twist reducing line roller, still have one bugaboo
that's a function of design -- they still twist line, and they always
will. Casting distance is superior with small baits like whitebaits or
small artificials because there's no spool inertia that has to be overcome
as with the baitcaster. That advantage soon disappears with increasing
Another obvious advantage of the spinner is casting into the wind. Even
the best of us will backlash a baitcaster into the wind occasionally.
Of course, I've seen lots of my clients have real problems casting down
a serious breeze. The line keeps peeling off the spool after the bait
has hit the water. The resulting first few wraps are stacked very loosely,
and the whole mess likes to jump off the spool in one twisted lump on
the next cast.
With the sophistication of today's tackle has come an increase in the
number of parts it takes to build a reel, and a decrease in their size.
Typically, there are a host of small mechanical parts, bearings, springs,
shims, shafts, etc, in a reel that can be difficult to handle just because
of their size. On first examination by the inexperienced, the function
of many of these parts is not immediately apparent either. In fact, some
of these systems are quite complicated, and best left to the experts.
Of course, even the experts sometimes have trouble remembering the placement
of parts, because they don't work on the same reels every day.
said all this, repairing and maintaining you own tackle can be fun and
give you a great sense of accomplishment, as well as save you money. For
a fishing guide like myself, this is doubly true. Someone is always dropping
tackle into the water, banging it against the boat, or sitting or stepping
on something. Things get broken!
If you're on the water a lot, learning to maintain and repair your own
tackle would serve you well. A word of caution, though - if you're not
mechanically inclined to begin with, you may wind up doing more harm than
good. If you are so inclined, and like to tinker, this is for you.
Presuming you are now still interested in doing your own thing, you will
need to set up a little shop. You work area can be as simple as your kitchen
table or as nice as your garage workbench. The main thing is that it's
kept neat and clean. I suggest the first thing you do before ever turning
the first screw, is lay down a large white towel or cloth of some kind.
This will absorb cleaners and oils, but more importantly, give you a good
contrasting surface to lay parts on. Sometime small parts, particularly
tiny springs, just disappear before your very eyes, and the reel won't
work without that part.
You also will need a cleaning tank - it doesn't have to be large, you're
only working on reel parts. I use a cold sterilization tank from a dental
office. It's about 12 x 6 x 4 inches and has a self-draining tray that
lifts out of the cleaning solution when you open the lid. This is just
the first of many dental tools I'll discuss that are perfect for tackle
maintenance chores. So get to know your dentist - ask him or her if you
can have some of the discards, they'll still work for you.
As for cleaning solutions, the best is plain ole' garden variety kerosene,
which is readily available, and cheap. I keep a large plastic container
around from which I top off or refill my cleaning tank. You also may want
to have other solvents around like CRC Marine Degreaser, but kerosene
will cut all but the toughest stuff. Be careful with the degreaser, as
it will melt some plastics.
Another item that will serve you well is a plastic egg storage container.
Our refrigerator had a two tier container which was not being used. I
scarfed it for my reel repair business. Those little egg cups are perfect
for keeping parts separated by the system it belongs to, thus avoiding
confusion later. Sometimes small screws, springs and things that look
alike at first glance, in fact, aren't.
Your supply of lubricants is very important. One of the most important
elements of reel performance is using the proper lubricants. You will
need a gear lube like Penn's Blue Grease or equivalent, drag grease, which
is not the same as gear lube, light oil for bearings and other lube points,
and sometimes special lubricants like Shimano's TBM Grease, and drag grease
that is used on many, but not all drag systems. A word of caution here:
not all reels use lubricated drag systems. If you grease a dry system,
you will render it ineffective, so pay attention to this. Make sure you
have a supply of the lubricants on hand before you ever crack the reel
open. Also make sure you've got plenty of clean rags on hand - you'll
Now, to the tools. Throw away your crescent wrench and kitchen pliers.
Those two tools, in the wrong hands, can damage more parts than anything
else I can think of. Another tool that inflicts a great deal of damage
is the screwdriver. Too many people just don't pay attention, or don't
realize that there is a proper screwdriver for every job. If the tip of
the screwdriver you're about to unscrew that pretty gold plated screw
on your Stradic with doesn't fit into the screw head like a glove, nice
and snug, don't use it. Find the one that does. If you don't, you're going
to wind up damaging the screw. If it's a stubborn screw, salt water aged
and full of corrosion, you may wind up having to drill it out. The lesson
here is.....use the proper tool for the job.
Tools you already own will probably serve you well. All you need is a
set of small sockets and small end wrenches. You'll also need a small
file, a small hammer, pliers, wire-bending pliers, magnifying glass, small
flashlight, inspection mirror, and tweezers.
Now it's time to see your dentist. He can give (or sell) you an inspection
mirror, fine tweezers, hemostats, and a myriad of scraping, shaping and
spreading tools designed to do who-knows-what. They sure are great for
working on reels. You'll find something that's great for reaching into
places you can't get your chubby little fingers to place a part, hook
a spring, or spread grease where you can't reach. If he offers it, take
it. You'll find some use for it. Also, don't forget some fine steel wool
and emery paper.
I use an antique dental work stand with one drawer. The drawer is large
enough to hold all my tools and lubricants, except spray cans. On top
I keep my cleaning tank, egg container, and spray cans. On the bottom
shelf I keep clean rags. The stand has roller feet and easily goes where
I want it, right next to my work surface. When I sit down to do a reel,
I have everything I need right at my fingertips.
take down a spinning reel for a routine D and C. If it's a front drag
model, which are superior to rear drags, the first step is to remove the
spool. The drag system is in the spool. This should be your first area
of attention if it is anything less than silky smooth at all settings.
Refer to your owners' manual for proper lubrication.
The next step is usually to remove the handle. It's probably a folding
one of some variety and removing it should be simple. Lay it and the related
parts in the egg container. To further disassemble many of today's spinners
any further it is first necessary to remove the rotor housing. This will
allow access into the reel body through the side plate. This is usually
accomplished by first removing a locking screw, then the rotor nut from
over the spool shaft. If your reel is a rear drag model, you may first
have to open the side plate and disconnect the spool shaft from the rest
of the drag mechanism. Once the spool shaft is removed, you can remove
the rotor. Note: Some of the newest reels have a left handed thread on
the rotor nut.
Now, if you haven't already done so, you can remove the side plate. You
will now have the internals revealed and have access to the rotor bearing
on most reels. On many reels, you may have to remove the anti-reverse
mechanism before you can remove the rotor bearing for replacement or lubrication.
Study it carefully. Study the owners' manual exploded parts view carefully.
When you feel confident that you understand what everything does, proceed.
Same for the insides. Reel make, design, and features will dictate what
you will find inside. You may or may not encounter a level-wind mechanism,
anti-reverse mechanisms, free-spool mechanisms, as well as the main gear
drive and spool actuator mechanism. If you're feeling a great deal of
anxiety at this point, you may want to stop here, and put Humpty Dumpty
back together again for your reel service man. If not, keep going. Just
be patient and careful. Note the location of shims, springs, and such.
Make sure you understand where it goes and what it does after you have
it clean and ready for installation and lubing.
Wash each part carefully. If you're confident, you may want to put the
whole ball of wax in your tank and let it soak overnight. If not, you
may want to wash each part individually and return it to the egg container
so you don't get things mixed up. You may want to remove the kerosene
film from some parts before applying the prescribed lubricant. You can
do this with spray degreaser. Pay careful attention to the recommended
lubricant in the owner's manual. Don't put grease where oil belongs, and
don't overdo it. Too much can be as bad as too little.
You may find sealed ball bearings, some requiring oil, some requiring
grease. Greasing sealed ball bearings often confounds people. There's
a simple way to do it, but it's messy. Put a blob of grease in the palm
of your left hand. Now take the bearing and press it into and drag it
through the grease in your hand. After a couple of times you should notice
new grease coming out of the sealed side of the bearing facing you. Ahead
of it will usually be the old grease remaining after you cleaned it. Just
keep pressing the bearing into your palm until you can see that only fresh
grease is coming through. It's ready to install. Of course, new grease
is not a cure for a rough bearing. If it's rough or noisy, replace it.
The reassembly process should be the exact opposite of the take-down.
Remember to pay close attention to the order of things done. The last
step is to spray the reel with a good quality protectant. I recommend
Corrosion Block. It's expensive, but worth it.
Now, function test the reel. Check every feature on the reel to make sure
it works properly. You don't want to find out when you get on the water
that your anti-reverse doesn't work or that your drag is jerky. When you're
finished, you should have a reel that feels and works as good as new,
sometimes better. If all this sounds like too much hassle, I'd be happy
to service your reel for you. I guarantee 24-hour turn around on full
take-down and service, not repairs. Visit my website www.Barhoppr.com
If you take your reel down and can't get it back together properly, consider
this story. I have a good friend here in Sarasota who owns a copier repair
business. He amazes me with his ability to fix one of the most complicated
devices ever contrived by humanity....the copier. I mean, they're complicated.
He can often fix them without parts, using little tricks he's learned
over the years. But, to this day, he cannot take a rear-drag Shimano reel
apart and have it ever work properly again. For some reason the whole
concept seems to be beyond him. It just doesn't figure.
So, if it happens to you, don't feel too bad!
by Waldo "Double Treble" Tejera, online contributor to Islamorada
Have you ever stepped into a fishing tackle aisle
in a store and found yourself confused or amazed at the variety of hooks
available today? Well if you have don't feel too bad because in
reality its hard to really know or be familiar with every hook available
out there today. What you need to know is what hooks are useful
to the types of fishing we do here in the Keys. So then let's look
at the basics and unravel the mystery.
we must understand the makings of a typical fishing hook. Hooks
are principally classified into sizes. Hook sizes are from 1/0 (smallest)
to over 12/0 (largest). When a hook size is stated without the /0
it is smaller than a 1/0 shook. These hooks become smaller as the
number increases. These small hooks are used for catching bait and
other small fish. Most hooks have an eye where fishing line attaches to
and a straight section called the shank leading up to the curved point.
At the point there may be a barb intended to keep the hook stuck in the
fish's mouth or wherever it sinks in to. Some hooks have no barbs
to aid in quick release without harming the fish. Some fishermen
intentionally remove these barbs when barbless hooks aren't available.
The hook point may be rounded or knife edge or even curved inside.
Hooks are made of forged steel, stainless steel, nickel, and some other
metallic materials. They're usually colored bronzed (brown), chromed
or silver, red, black, or grayish. Differences in eye styles, shank
lengths, gap sizes, barbs, point, and color are what we must focus on
to determine which hook we need.
Hook eyes can be straight, tapered, or needled. Most hook eyes are straight. Some hook eyes are easier to open to
allow joining two hooks for rigging long baits such as ballyhoo. Tapered hooks are useful in aiding a hook embed itself easier in a fish's
mouth especially when fishing with dead or live natural baits. These
hooks are also used when snelling is preferred where a special high strength
knot is needed. Needled eyes are usually found in large, big game
hooks where the eye is drilled in and not formed by bending the hook wire.
This prevents the eye from opening under heavy stress as is encountered
with very heavy fish. Some hook eyes include a split ring which
is useful in live baiting where you want the hook to move freely.
For most purposes straight eyed hooks are fine.
Shank length is an important factor in choosing a hook. If you will be live baiting or using any type of natural bait where a
fish will have time to observe your offering, a small shank is indicated.
Small shanks will allow you to embed the hook into cut bait and will also
allow a live bait to swim freely. Short shanks are stealthier and will
be less noticeable to fish. When fishing for toothy fish such as mackerel
and barracuda, long shank hooks are useful if no wire will be used.
A long shank will give you a measure of protection on break offs from
these fish. It will also allow you to tie your line directly to
a hook without wire thus improving your strike numbers. For larger
toothed predators you might want to attach two hooks together or a short
shanked hook with a wire leader.
Lighter hooks are generally better for live baiting. Thinner wire hooks weigh less and thus allow a live baitfish to swim freely.
By the same token light wire hooks are easier bent by large fish.
So ideally a high strength, light wire hook is excellent for live baiting.
Heavier hooks with thicker wire can be used for trolling or for larger
Gap size is extremely important in selecting your hooks. Gap size should correlate with what type of fish you are targeting.
For larger fish you'll need a larger gap; smaller gaps for smaller fish.
If a fish with a big lip bites on your bait but your hook's gap is smaller
than its lip, you'll lose the fish because the hook will slip out of its
mouth. A good rule is to match the hook gap to bait size.
Barbs and hook points are generally similar in most hooks. As stated before barbless hooks are useful in quick release
of fish. Hook points should, of course, be sharp. Some hook points are knife-edged to improve penetration into the fish's mouth.
Laser sharp hooks have specially sharpened and extra strong hook points
that will not bend or become dull. Hooks can be offset or straight pointed.
Offset hooks are slightly bent at the curve where the barb is. This prevents a hook from coming out of a fish's mouth before
embedding itself. For live-baiting and dead-baiting offset hooks are generally
better. Straight hooks are better for trolling where streamlining is important.
These straight hook points are exposed and trolled baits swim more naturally.
Circle hooks have inward points useful in preventing gut hooked fish.
These hooks are especially good for bottom fishing where a fish will have
the time to inhale the whole bait. When using these hooks you must
allow a fish to hook itself and avoid setting it. Some live baiters
also use these hooks for fishing catch and release species such as Tarpon
and Sailfish. When a fish swallows a circle hook, its inward point
will allow the hook to slip out of its stomach and it will only attach
itself in the fish's mouth.
Hook color, though perhaps not as important, is another variable we must consider. Most hooks are silver or chromed.
Because they shine when under sunlight, they are more visible. If
your bait is silver as a pilchard or ballyhoo, silver hooks are generally
fine. Darker colored hooks are less visible under water. They
do not reflect light and are perceived as stealthier. Many live
baiters used short shanked, brown colored or coffee colored hooks for
this reason. There are now red hooks in the market which are supposed
to simulate a bleeding baitfish. Many stainless steel hooks are
black and thus are not as visible. Stainless steel hooks while stronger
and non-rusting, become a problem if lodged into the mouth of fish to
be released. Steel hooks will rust out in time and will allow a
fish to continue living if released with a hook in its mouth.
So now which hook to use? In general smaller hooks will generate more strikes. Use 1/0 to 3/0 short shanked hooks for
whole live baitfish such as pilchards and sardines. For trolled
baits used long shank hooks size 4/0 to 6/0. For big bottom fish
try circle hooks in sizes 3/0 to 5/0. When using cut bait use small
short shank hooks size 1/0 to 3/0. For live baiting use light wire,
dark colored short shanked hooks. When using live shrimp it's generally
better to use 1/0 to 2/0 hooks through the horn. When using dead
shrimp use long shank hooks and thread the hook through the shrimp.
Treble hooks are special three-pointed hooks useful in live baiting.
These hooks will attach themselves a lot easier to a fish's mouth.
When a fish strikes a live bait it may be so quick that it may miss a normal hook's single point; not so with a treble.
They are often found in plugs for these reasons. Some fishermen
frown on using trebles because they claim they are less sporting.
Well I guess you can see by me boat's name that I don't fall into that
Hopefully next time you walk into that fishing tackle aisle, you'll be prepared to make a quick hook selection for you
by Lee McClellan, Associate Editor Kentucky Afield magazine
such as "Texas-rigged worm," "Carolina-rigged lizard" or "wacky rig" are
part of a bass angler's everyday lexicon. But to a beginner, the experienced
anglers might as well be speaking Chinese.
The Texas rig is probably the most popular fish-catching innovation in
the evolution of bass fishing. The term stems from Nick Crème and
Crème Manufacturing, the company given credit for inventing the
plastic fishing worm. Crème created a double-hooked plastic worm
with a straight tail. He tied the hooks to a leader, and then added a
couple of red beads and a propeller out front. People called it the "tourist
rig" because it was so easy to catch bass with it.
The rig worked great in open water, but snagged logs easily. Crème
introduced an improved version of this rig in 1964. He replaced the propeller
with a slip sinker and a bead, and the double hook with one large hook.
Crème imbedded the hook point into the worm to make it weedless.
He called this the Texas rig.
The basic design hasn't changed much since.
The Texas rig shines for bass around stumps, submerged trees and in weeds,
because the hook is nearly snagless and the sinker punches through the
cover. A medium to medium-heavy rod with a stiff tip is needed to drive
the hook point through the worm and get the fish out of heavy cover.
A Carolina rig is an evolution of the Texas rig. It employs a ½-
to 1-ounce egg or bullet-shaped slip sinker slid onto the main line from
the reel, followed by two red glass beads. Brass is the preferred material
for the weight. Brass makes a better clicking sound than lead when it
contacts the glass on the retrieve.
The main line is tied to a barrel swivel. An 18- to 36-inch leader of
monofilament or fluorocarbon line goes on the other loop of the swivel.
The leader material is usually a lighter pound test than the main line,
such as a 17-pound test main line with a 12-pound leader. A wide-gap offset
worm hook goes on the business end.
This rig is versatile because it presents soft plastic worms, jerkbaits,
lizards, creature baits and even live bait to hungry bass. The heavy weight
of the rig allows the angler to follow contours of the bottom while covering
water quickly. The Carolina rig is highly effective for fishing large
mud flats, channel drops, ledges, sandbars and submerged humps. It is
the go-to bait for many bass anglers fishing deep water, especially in
summer and early fall.
You can also toss a Carolina rig onto a brush-covered flat or in the middle
of a large weed bed. The heavy sinker on the front of the rig punches
through the weeds and brush down to the bottom with the soft plastic bait
hovering just above it. This method works wonders for bass on Kentucky
The wacky rig is a departure from both the Texas and Carolina rig. Several
theories abound on the origin of the wacky rig, but one of the most often
cited involves two novice anglers bass fishing one of the large reservoirs
in Texas. They didn't know how to thread a plastic worm onto a hook properly,
so they impaled the middle of their Crème Scoundrel worms and let
the ends dangle. The worms hung on the hook like a clown's frown.
The pair threw their worms over weed beds and caught large bass after
large bass. When they returned to the dock, a couple of onlookers asked
how they did. The two anglers opened their livewells and showed off some
huge bass. The onlookers asked what they caught them on and the anglers
held up their funny-looking worm rigs.
After some mighty guffaws, one of the onlookers exclaimed that it was
the wackiest looking rig they'd ever seen. This was the birth of the wacky
The wacky rig is great for fishing docks and up and under overhanging
or flooded trees because you can skip it across the water. The undulating
action of the worm drives a bass hanging under a dock or in a flooded
Soft plastic jerkbaits such as the Senko work great for this technique.
They also draw strikes fished over weed beds or stumps by pulling the
worm up and allowing it to flutter back down.
Don't let terminology stand in the way of learning to fish for bass. Get
out this summer and toss one of these rigs in a lake near your home. You'll
soon become addicted.
-- Lee McClellan
McClellan is an award-winning associate editor for Kentucky Afield magazine,
the official publication of the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife
Resources. He is a life-long hunter and angler, with a passion for smallmouth
Walk the aisles of tackle at a sporting goods store
and it's easy to get overwhelmed by what's on the shelves. But it doesn't
have to be this way. You don't have to have a tackle box so large it could
double as luggage.
an angler, no matter what the skill level, you need to simply ask yourself
'what do I need to catch the fish I'm going after?' This eliminates
a lot of unneeded stuff from the start, and then you can fine-tune your
Think of the species you fish for and then think of your tackle box as a toolbox. Just as there are basic tools needed for
nearly any job, so are there basic lures and terminal tackle needed for
your favorite fish. Pick lures, baits and terminal tackle that will allow
you to fish from water's top to bottom and you should be on the right
Just as a good mechanic can accomplish nearly any task with the basic tools, so can the angler catch fish with the basic baits.
Know the essentials and master them, then worry about over-loading your
tackle box with specialty lures and baits. Besides, experience says
that when all is said and done, you will be returning to the basic baits
much more often, and much sooner than you first realize.
Your Own Fishing Lures website
- There is still the problem of taking care of and maintaining repair
of fishing lures so that they are always in good condition after they
are made. This requires some effort and time but is usually easy for the
angler who makes his own lures.
Since he made them and put them together, he also knows
how to take them apart and repair them. He also has the hand tools and
fishing lure parts necessary for such work.
Fishing lures in general do not require much care when
storing them in a home or shop. The best idea is to put them into cabinet
drawers or individual boxes so that they can be found easily and can be
In humid climates or near the seashore it is important
not to expose the metal parts to the air; otherwise, hooks will rust and
other metals will corrode. Fishing lures which have feathers or hair should
be kept in air-tight containers so that moths and other insects or small
animals will not get to them. This also applies to new fishing lures which
haven't yet been used. Click Here to Read
More on Care & Repair of Fishing Lures
by Jack Phillips
Jigs are one of the oldest artificial baits used in angling. The earliest
examples used a weighted hooks with animal hairs or bird feathers tied
to them. The jigs used today are still just that simple, but come in a
wide variety of styles. By adding an assortment of jigs to your tackle
box will make you a much more versatile and consistently productive bass
Jigs can be broken down into two general categories; those that are designed for light-line
use, for smallmouth and finesse largemouth bass fishing; and those designed
for the heavier line and largemouth bass in and around cover.
The light-line jigs are a lot less bulky than their larger cousins. The hooks are also
a lot smaller. Relatively snag-free conditions are fished with these jigs,
allowing the use of spinning outfits with 6 to 10 pound (2.7 to 4.5 kg)
Jig heads come in a large number of varieties, but a few basic styles are all you really need to get yourself started. The standard ball-head is a great choice to begin with. However, the banana shaped head will snag a lot less vegetation in the weedy situations you get into. Other styles, like the arrowheads, can be used in both situations. Add to them a new array of sliders, rockers and wobblers are used mainly by walleye anglers, but horizontally flattened sliders are useful for fishing over and around shallow bass cover.
One of the oldest jig dressings is buck tail. When worked properly, the deer hairs pulsate as the jig is pumped through the water to resemble a darting minnow or baitfish. There is no built in action to jigs. The plastic rails are the easiest jigs to use. Their actions attract bass and can be worked effectively even by the novice angler. Twister tails, shad tails, twin tails and a host of other shapes and actions are also available. Stick to these two common types and you will no trouble attracting those lunker bass.
One light style is the tube jig, its a split-skirted plastic sheath that covers the jig head. You can use standard heads with them, but the newer elongated styles, developed for tubes specifically are of course best. When using a tube you can also use fish scents to help attract more bass. Heres a great bass fishing tip, put a few small chunks of alkaseltser in your tubes the bubbles created will drive the bass crazy. The bubbles will also attract bass from a longer distance.
Be sure to use light jigs for largemouth and smallmouth bass in open-water situations. When you are fishing in heavy cover, switch to bulkier flipping jigs with weed guards to help keep them from fouling or snagging. These baits usually have rubber or plastic skirts and large hooks. They work great with a pork rind, plastic or one of the newer trailers. They also add bulk and action and help slow down the jigs fall to better imitate a crayfish or other creature. Use flipping jigs when fishing short-range targets, such as docks, submerged stumps, or holes in heavy vegetations and weedbeds. To pull large bass out of this heavy stuff, use strong baitcasting equipment.
Jigs come in an assortment of colours. Try to match the forage of the water body you are fishing. Blacks, browns, and orange are the standard. When they fail to fool the bass, experiment with the brighter colours, such as yellow, chartreuse, orange, red, or blue. For clear-water smallmouth bass the smoke bodies are effective. Just experiment and get out there and go fishing.
from the Make
Your Own Fishing Lures website - No one is sure who made the
first fishing lures for freshwater fishing. The fishing lure known as
a "plug" had its origins in the distant past. The modern wooden
fishing plug had its beginnings around 1900, and in the following years
several companies started to manufacture these fishing lures for black
Later they made larger and stronger fishing plugs for
pike, muskellunge, and salmon. Plugs are now widely used in freshwater
fishing, as a look at any fishing tackle store showcase or counter will
Today there are many different types, sizes, shapes,
and colors of freshwater fishing plugs on the market. The angler who wants
to make his own plugs can duplicate many of the more popular models. However,
there are a few basic types, and the construction of these will be covered
in this page.
To make plugs you will need wood which can be cut into
small blocks and then shaped to the size and form you require. The best
all-round wood for making freshwater fishing plugs is cedar. Straight-grained
white cedar is excellent since it is light, strong, and easy to work.
It also stands up better in the water than most woods. Red cedar can also
be used instead of the white variety. Other woods which can be used for
making plugs are basswood and birch.
Most of these woods can be obtained at a lumber yard
in large blocks or round logs. They can then be sawed with a circular
saw or hand saw into convenient small blocks about 6 in. long and about
4 in. square.
The fastest way to shape wooden plugs is with a lathe.
With a wood-turning lathe or even a metal-turning lathe, for that matter,
you can shape the plugs quickly and uniformly in fairly large quantities.
If you already have such a lathe, so much the better. When turning down
plugs with a lathe, mount one of the wooden blocks between the centers.
Click Here to Read More on
Making Basic Lures
by "The Bass Coach" Roger Lee Brown
of today's anglers all to often seem to have the enthusiasm to get themselves
all psyched' up for that big day of fishing the following day only to
find themselves coming in at the end of the day with only one or two bass
caught. They will spend the day, usually casting, re-rigging, running,
loosing lures, etc., but most of all getting frustrated because the fish
aren't cooperating. Sound Familiar? I, surly know this feeling and I'm
sure that any angler reading this article has had the same feeling at
some point and time. Now, don't feel bad if this does happen to you because
you are definitely not alone, there are probably millions of other anglers
out there that this same problem happens to! But, there are a few "Tricks
of the Trade" that you can use to help remedy this problem..... at least
it works for me and many of my former bass angling students and charter
clients that I have taught in the past.
I found that on certain days when the bass don't seem
to cooperate, I usually will put my action baits away and pull out the
"Last Resort Rigs" which are the TEXAS RIG, CAROLINA RIG, and FLOATING RIG.
These three rigs are probably the most successful patterns
for catching bass (Largemouth, Smallmouth, & Spotted Bass) that a
angler can use just about "Anywhere and at Anytime." Now, some anglers
may ask; "Why would I use all three of these rigs?" and the answer is
really quite simple. It's like using tools of the trade! A carpenter wouldn't
use a hammer to back out a screw, nor would he or she use a screw driver
to pound nails (Well, at least most of them wouldn't!....smile!....).
The same goes with bass fishing, an angler should have the right Tools-of-the-Trade
to do a specific job!
First, let's talk about the TEXAS RIG.
This rig was the first "Plastic Bait" rig that was used by most of the
anglers when the sport of bass fishing really got started over 25 years
ago! It is a simple rig to set up, and has produced more bass catches
than any other artificial baits ever used, even today!
To rig a Texas Rig you will need line, a hook and a
sinker.......That's It! First, you put your sinker (usually a "bullet
shaped slip sinker") onto the line with the smaller point of the weight
going on first or "facing up." Then tie your hook (usually a off-set worm
hook) to the end of the line after you put on the weight. Now you are
ready for your plastic baits (I always refer to artificial baits because
I haven't used live bait in many years) to be put on the hook.
This type of rig (Texas Rig) can be fished (or presented)
just about anywhere you will find bass, it has certain advantages and
disadvantages over the other two rigs that we will talk about, and I will
give a few examples after we rig up the Carolina Rig and the Floating
So next, let's rig the CAROLINA RIG
.... With this rig you'll need line (main reel line), a barrel swivel,
about 6' of leader line, a weight, glass or brass bead or rattle chamber,
and a hook. I know this seems like a lot of stuff, but the results are
First, take your "Leader Line" (usually the same line
that is on your reel already, but I would suggest at least a 2 lb. test
lesser than your main line in case of a break-off..... Most of the time
by using a lighter leader line, when it breaks it will break off at the
leader line thus saving the other hardware on the rig) and tie one end
of it to one end of the barrel swivel and then put it aside for a moment.
Then, take your main line from your reel and first put on the weight (usually
anywhere from a 1/2 oz. up to a 1 oz. bullet or egg sinker). Next, after
the weight is on your main line, follow it with a rattle (rattle chamber,
glass or brass bead) and then tie the end of the main line to the other
end of the barrel swivel that you just put aside. After you tie to the
swivel, tie your hook at the other end of the leader line giving you a
2' to a 4' leader. Now, we're ready for the bait!
Next, let's rig the FLOATING RIG! This
"Floating Rig" can and will produce bass sometimes when all else fails......
It's quite simple to rig and the results can be devastating! You will
need a SMALL Barrel Swivel and a Hook for this rig. First, take about
3' off of your main line for a leader line. Tie one end of your leader
line to one end of the barrel swivel, then tie the other end of the barrel
swivel to the main reel line. With this rig you leave off the weight!....
NO WEIGHT!!!!!..... Then finally, you tie the hook (preferably a "Light
Wire" worm hook) with only allowing about a 1' leader for the leader line.
The reason for no weight and a light wire hook is to allow as much buoyancy
as possible. This rig is designed mostly for Floating Worms and buoyant
plastic artificial baits.
Now, let's say that you were to fish around "Rip-Rap"
(Rock Areas) around dams levees etc. You probable wouldn't use a Texas
Rig unless you put the lightest weight possible on it to keep it from
getting it wedged in the rocks. Nor would you use a Carolina Rig because
the heavier weight (1/2 oz. to 1.oz.) would most likely get hung up. So,
the rig that makes the most sense would be the "Floating Rig." This rig
will allow a slow presentation over the rock areas and the bass that may
be around the rocks will come up after it. Also, this kind of rig is used
better around branches, Lilly pads, thick surface vegetation etc.
Now, let's say that we are working a "Downward" slope
from about 3' depth to a 20' depth. The most sensible rig to use would
be to use the Carolina Rig because it will stay in contact with the bottom
contour and the deeper you work it, giving it line from your reel you
can get a better "Bottom Presentation." A Texas Rig can be used for this
also but the deeper you go with it the more it will lift off of the bottom.
Let's say that you were going to work some pockets around
a Bull Rush field. To accurately cast into the pockets a Texas Rig would
be the most preferred because with the weight of it you can make accurate
casts. A Floating Rig would also be recommended for this type of area
Thick sloppy grass and vegetation areas, all three would work, but the Carolina Rig has produced some quality
bass in areas like this over the other two rigs. Don't worry about getting
weeds on the Carolina Rig! Just give it a try and clean the weeds off
of the rig and keep casting into these thick areas and "Hold On!"
These rigs can be used anywhere and just about under any circumstances. Remember this; most Bass Tournaments
ever fished have paid out more money fishing these rigs than any other
types of artificial baits ever used! So if you're not using all three
of these rigs, I promise, the results can be devastating! Just give them