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The power of the wacky rig

It must seem out of place for me to be writing about a slow, methodical technique. When you’ve built your reputation as a power fisherman who covers water and fishes fast, it hardly seems fitting for me to talk about something at the opposite end of the technique spectrum. But I’ve learned the hard way. Wacky rigging is an important tool that can be so darn deadly in a variety of situations. Like now. Fish are beginning to spawn in the southern half of the country and bass are more fickle about lure presentations than any other time of the year. …

The rise of the drop shot

The continual evolution of tackle and technique trends amazes me. I’ve been stunned by how things have changed and how technology has expedited those changes in recent years. Our improved tackle has made us far more efficient on the water than we were 10 years ago. When I first began as a pro some 26 years ago, I could go to a Bassmaster event just about anywhere and either flip, throw a spinnerbait or crankbait and be successful. Today, we have categories of crankbaits, topwaters, jerkbaits, jigs, swimbaits and soft plastics designed for specific presentations. We need all of those and …

A drop shot bait for my aggressive style

A lot of people were surprised to see me finesse fishing when I won at Cayuga. That was a very satisfying win because it proved that I can do well fishing other techniques as well. Don’t get me wrong – put me on a spinnerbait or crankbait bite and I’m in my element. But I’ve also learned how effective drop shot fishing is north to south and year round. I’ve caught fish on that rig from Florida to Toledo Bend, at Kentucky Lake and, of course, the smallmouth lakes of the North. Several of the fish I caught at Cayuga came …

KVDs comeback: In his own words

Bass fishing is a lot like any sport. Fall into a slump and critics crawl out of the woodwork. And with today’s multitude of media, there are way too many opinions flying around — most of all in the realm of social media, where everyone’s an expert. But the squawk boxes are a little quieter this week for Kevin VanDam as bass fishing’s icon commanded a wire-to-wire win at the A.R.E. Truck Caps Bassmaster Elite on Louisiana’s famed Toledo Bend, ending a five-year drought between major wins. With the world watching, the four-time Bassmaster Classic champion and seven-time Toyota Bassmaster Angler …

The techniques I used to win Toledo Bend

I’m getting a lot of questions about the crankbait strategy I used to win at Toledo Bend last week. A lot of questions are about my system which was an integral part of my success. My rods (Quantum KVD Tour cranking 7-11 and 7-10), reels (KVD Tour and EXO 200) and line (XPS Fluorocarbon) made me extremely efficient at fishing those deep-running Strike King 6XD, 8XD and 10XD crankbaits. But there was more to it than casting and winding. I was doing a lot of subtle things to help me catch the fish that I did. The first two days were …

Capitalize on the shad spawn

The shad spawn is kicking in across the south, including here at Wheeler Lake where the Academy Sports + Outdoors Bassmaster Elite event is underway. It’s a pretty cool phenomenon that every bass angler should be aware of. Bass know when the shad are spawning and they gang up on them. Savvy anglers who find spawning shad locations can really log some good catches. Shad spawn at night and especially around full moon periods. They will continue spawning activity into the low light hours, but once the sun gets up, they move off the structure. That’s why it’s important for anglers …

How KVD Hammers Big Bass With Nail Weights

After watching his friend and fellow competitor on the Bassmaster Elite trail, Brett Hite, nearly win the 2015 Bassmaster Classic by strategically nail-weighting soft plastic baits, Kevin VanDam realized he had some homework to do.     While he’s always been known for his preference to fish fast and efficiently, once KVD delved into this technique, he realized it was right in his wheelhouse. VanDam’s success fishing belly-weighted hooks on stick worms and Strike King Caffeine Shad are well documented.  Today, he insists that the action achieved by inserting a weight strategically into the bait can make a huge difference.  He’s discovered that spreading the weight …

Finesse swimbaiting ideal for clear, cool water

An interesting technique emerged last season that might play well in your local waters. We’re talking about finesse swimbaiting, or the use of smaller bodied swimbaits on jigheads and spinning tackle. It showed up quite a bit in smallmouth tournaments last season and has proven to be extremely effective when the water is clear. The technique has proven to be incredibly effective when the water is cold, such as during the late fall and late winter on highland reservoirs or Great Lakes waters. It is deadly on smallmouth and spotted bass but will catch a fair share of largemouth as well. …

Add deep jerkin’ to your year-round arsenal

I love fishing a jerkbait. It’s a lure that most anglers pigeonhole as a cold-water bait, but it’s one I use through all of the seasons. I’ll use it throughout the summer when the bass suspend in deeper water and the water is relatively clear. The jerkbait is a sight-oriented presentation, so you need clear water, but you also need the fish to be in a zone where they can see your bait. That presents a problem when the fish are deep because standard jerkbaits only dive to 3 to 5 feet. Now, when I go into northern Michigan, I can …

Know the differences in baitcast reels

One of the most intimidating purchases a newcomer can make is a new baitcast reel because there are so many choices yet they look similar but can be very different. There are left- and right-handed models, various gear ratios, different materials and prices that range from $50 to $300 or more. The average angler can be confused easily trying to understand what separates reels that look and feel similar. Gear ratios are always a consideration, but remember that reel speed is only partially determined by gear ratio. Other key factors are width and depth of the spool and how much line …