The Natural: Aaron Martens' Tacklebox

Known for drop-shotting, Aaron Martens has much more in his repertoire

Article by Steve Bowman

Photo of Aaron Martens fishing the Bassmaster Elite Series
Aaron Martens is considered one of the master technicians in the Bassmaster Elite Series field. (James Overstreet photo)

"Natural" is the word consistently used to describe Aaron Martens as an angler.

They normally come with accruements like "amazing" or "super." The 41-year old, almost kid-like angler is a favorite among pros and fans for his ability to catch bunches of fish in almost every venue in the country. 

To achieve success at the level he has, an angler has to be versatile. Those successes include six Bassmaster championships, two Angler of the Year awards, more than $2 million in prize money and what he considers a blemish, four second-place finishes in the Bassmaster Classic.

He's generally regarded as a drop-shot guru. If you were to look in his tackle box, you would naturally think that drop-shot equipment would take up the lion's share of space.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

“Drop-shotting works for me,” Martens said. “But I'd much rather be power fishing with a crankbait or spinnerbait. I'm really good with those things, too.”

His tackle box reveals a different side of Martens that most of us have never seen.

Aaron Martens' Tacklebox

Photo of Aaron Marten tacklebox 

1. Bagley Balsa B-2: “It’s old school and still one of my favorite crankbaits of all time. This is the bait I won the All-Stars on last year, the B-2 and the B-1. I fish it in about 2 feet of water with 16- or 20-pound line. It’s a bait I always have in my boat. I never leave home without it.”

2. Megabass SR-X Cyclone: “I use it for pounding the bank, covering a lot of water. You can control the  depth on it by raising or lowering your rod tip in 1- to 3-foot depths. This GG Gill color is one of my favorite bluegill color patterns.”

3. Strike King KVD Square-Bill 1.5: “This is the bait I used when I finished second to Kevin (VanDam) at the Red River Classic (2011). I like this bait a lot.”

4. Strike King 6XD, 5XD: “I use both of them a lot when I need a deep-diving crankbait. And I use both in all the colors they have.”

5. Megabass Bait-X: “I’ve used this bait over 10 years. It comes through grass good, like a lipless crankbait. It’s got a real tight wiggle. It works well in the same places a lipless crankbait works, when I’m fishing 5 to 8 feet of water.”

6. Megabass Giant Dog-X: “This is a really good topwater bait. I usually put a feather on the back of it. I think most topwater baits work better with a feather on the back. I tie those myself.”

7. Reaction Innovations Vixen: “I throw the smaller one, too, but I throw the big one the most.”

8. Megabass XPod: (The bait has an adjustable jaw.) “I fish it as a popper bait (with the jaw extended) most of the time. It has a really big ball bearing, and it really gets their attention.”

9. JJ’s Magic (clear garlic lure dip): “In the last two years, I’ve used it religiously. I marinate my soft  plastics in it. I think it makes the fish bite better and hold on to the bait longer. You’ve got to put it in cellophane bags though, or it will bleed through and stink everything up.”

10. Roboworm, 6” Straight Tail: “It’s one of my favorites. There are situations where a skinny worm works better than a fat worm. I’ll fish the Robo Fat Worm in dirtier water because it displaces more water. The skinny worm has a little better movement. And I use both in the 4-inch size, too.”

11. Roboworm Zipper Grub: “It has a split-able tail, and it’s one of my favorite baits for finesse flipping and pitching. All the colors are good. I’ve almost won a couple of Elites on this bait. “

12. Zoom Speed Craw: “Green pumpkin is my favorite color. I use it for finesse flipping, and I’ll also punch (mats) with it and a 1- or 1 ½-ounce weight. It’s one of my go-to baits for flipping and pitching.”

13. Megabass Vibration-X: “This is a silent model. They have a rattling model, too, but my favorite is the silent one. It’s just a really good clear-water lipless crankbait. The rattling model is better in dirtier water.”

14. Megabass Vibration-X Ultra: “It’s an awesome new lipless crankbait that Megabass came out with. I like the silent (non-rattling) model. It works really well for getting down to 6 or 8 feet of water.”

15. Megabass Vision 110 and 110 Magnum: “It’s an awesome jerkbait. I threw it a lot this year at West Point, and I throw it all year long. It works especially well in the summertime, but it works in the winter, too. I fish both the 110 and the 110 Magnum. They make them in sinking, floating and suspending styles. I use the suspending models the most.”

16. Basstrix Paddle Tail Tube Swimbait: “I throw the 5- and 6-inch the most. I throw them on a jighead mostly, but I Texas rig them too. I usually throw them on a 5/0 hook.”

17. River2Sea Tungsten Skinny Drop: “Most of the time I use a tear-drop weight. I can feel the bottom better with a tear-drop. But I use a cylinder weight when I need to come through grass or other thick cover. For drop shot hooks, I like 1/0 and 1. Those are my two favorite sizes. I used a 1/0 hook with 3/8ths and half-ounce weights at Lake Erie.”

18. Davis Baits Aaron Martens Shaky Head: “I carved (the prototype) about 12 years ago. It’s got an O’Shaughnessy (style) hook, which is my favorite for any jighead. I use it in 1/8th, 3/16ths and quarter-ounce.”

19. Davis Baits Aaron Martens Shakey Fish Swim Jig – “I use everything from 1/8th- to ¾-ounce, but my favorite weight is ¾. With the O’Shaughnessy hook, it’s very versatile in 15 to 25 feet of water. I throw it on 10- to 15-pound fluorocarbon. I usually put a Zoom Fluke on it and swim it or hop it.”

20. Davis Football Head Jig: “This 5/8ths-ounce with an O’Shaughnessy hook is my favorite. This is a 3/0 hook, but I use a 4/0 a lot. A football head jig is one of my favorite baits.”

21. Davis XWire Spinnerbait: “(William Davis) sends me the straight wire, the beads and the blades. I usually just make them as I go. This one has Colorado blade with a willowleaf, but I throw a double willowleaf the most. I caught most of my fish on the Alabama River with a 1 ¼-ounce model. They knocked the piss out of it. I gave Brent Chapman a couple and he caught some of his best fish on it. It’s a killer spinnerbait. It would be hard for me to use a normal wire spinnerbait after using this one. The (XWire) is patented. I’ve only broken one in about six years. That’s crazy for a spinnerbait because they break all the time.”

22. Flutter Spoon: “This is the same one that Brent Chapman won with at Toledo Bend (in 2012). I didn’t use it a bunch this year, just because of where we fished. I usually throw it a lot. A flutter spoon is one of my favorite baits.”

23. EZE LAP Diamond Pen Hook Sharpene: “A hook sharpener  might be one of my keys to success. I try to sharpen all my hooks before the season starts. But it’s one of the reasons I stay up late sometimes. I  sharpen all my hooks.”

24. Frog: “I love this frog. It’s narrow in the front and you don’t miss them on it. I’ve thrown all the frogs. The Spro frog is my next favorite, but this is by far my favorite. Color matters. This silver/pearl is real shaddy. I throw white, black and chartreuse, depending on the day. But if I had to pick one color, this is the one.”

25. Swim Jig: “I don’t know who makes this one. Todd (Faircloth) gave me a dozen of these. I throw a quarter-ounce the most, but they also make a 3/8ths and half-ounce. I use a Skinny Dipper for a trailer.” 

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