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Pros and cons of longer rods

The new Bassmaster Elites Series rule that allows rods up to 10 feet this year hasn’t been a factor, but that could change as we get into summer patterns. Several companies have come out with longer rods, and I’m working with Quantum to develop new spinning and cranking rods that extend beyond the former 8-foot limit B.A.S.S. imposed. Are there benefits? Absolutely, especially in those fishing scenarios where longer casts give the angler an edge. My experience of fishing the ultra-clear Great Lakes has proven that the farther you can stay off a school of fish the more success you can …

Deep Jerks

Jerkbaits are essential lures for every Bassmaster Elite Series pro, as they should be for any serious angler. Although short-billed jerkbaits are big hitters, deep jerkbaits have been slow to catch on. There are several reasons why. Early deep jerkbaits cast poorly. They tumbled in the air and were impossible to cast for distance or accuracy in anything more than a mild breeze. Although long-billed jerkbaits get deeper than short-billed versions, some of them produce elbow-jolting resistance due to their long lips. They also failed to respond with the quick, hard-cutting, strike-triggering action of their short-billed brethren when twitched. Despite these …

Fishing History

No, this week’s column is not about history like that. I’m not going to tell you about the earliest bass anglers or who invented the spinnerbait.  This column is about the tendency we all have — including me — to fall into a comfort zone and continue to fish the same way and in the same places even when we should know better. When I say, “fishing history,” I’m talking about a double-edged sword — going back to the same places and fishing the same ways can be a terrific shortcut to success … or it can absolutely kill your chances to …

KVD Has a Secret

“I changed every single treble hook on every single bait.” Kevin VanDam was focused. I could hear it in his voice.  “I’ve never been more organized. I know everything that’s in my boat.” While he rebounded well last season, hammering out multiple wins in classic KVD fashion and placing high in the 2016 Angler of the Year points race, one could sense a lingering sting in the angler’s voice. Long heralded as the greatest competitive fisherman of all time, VanDam stumbled a bit during the 2015 Bassmaster Elite Series season, missing the year-end championship. It seemed clear that was still …
Paper maps and technology give anglers an edge

Paper maps and technology give anglers an edge

There’s no question that today’s electronics and GPS mapping programs are good. I mean, real good. However, there are other tools that belong in anglers’ fish-finding strategies. Like, I still use paper maps and utilize satellite imagery even when I’m on the water. In my mind, it’s important to use every mapping tool available to me. I know some anglers may think paper maps are antiquated and seemingly useless when they have detailed maps on their graph screens. But that’s not the case. They remain critical to my studies because they give me a broader overview of what a system has …

Save time, be prepared

My previous blogs discussed the importance of restocking and organizing tackle during the offseason, but carrying sufficient boat gear can make you more efficient on the water. I’m probably over the top with everything I carry and some of the items have never been used. On the other hand, I want to be prepared to fix any boat or tackle problem that might occur that can save me time. We have excellent service crews at the national tournamentsm, but I never want to take the time to go back to the launch for them to fix a problem if I can …
A great time to learn

A great time to learn

This is the season of learning for all anglers interested in bass fishing. I say that as I kick off my travel schedule to do seminars and sport shows around the country before the Bassmaster Elite season kicks off next month. It began this week when I flew to Bass Pro Shops in Destin, Fla., for a store managers’ workshop program. It’s an annual program that Bass Pro Shops puts together to educate sales people on new products. The workshop lasts a week and is quite comprehensive. Tackle companies visit Destin to spend time with the managers, teaching them the ins …
Are you properly ‘hooked’ up?

Are you properly ‘hooked’ up?

As I explained last week, now is a good time to inventory your terminal tackle needs and get organized. We covered sinkers and what I carry in the previous blog, so today I’ll the most critical terminal gear I carry - hooks. It’s vital that I have precisely the right hook because I make adjustments all the time, especially when conditions change and call for a different presentation. You can use any utility box for hooks, but I’ve found the Plano FTO Elite Terminal Tackle Organizer to be ideal for a number of reasons. First, it has 26 fixed compartments rather …

KVD’s 6-season bass guide

Kevin VanDam needs no introduction. He's done everything there is to be done in the world of professional bass fishing ... multiple times. I've shared a boat with VanDam several times, and I have been amazed at his uncanny ability to find and catch bass on lakes he either hasn't fished for years or has never fished before. When I asked him about his gift, he shrugged his shoulders and said, "I just follow my Seasonal Guide. It works on any bass lake, anywhere in the country." Just what is this mysterious "Seasonal Guide" VanDam refers to? How is it different …

Add weight to your tackle needs

It’s time to start thinking about restocking tackle boxes in preparation for the upcoming season. It’s never too late to shop the bargains, especially if you’re hitting the sport shows, visiting local tackle shops or reviewing 2017 catalogs. Most anglers only focus on new baits or hot new colors of their favorite lures, but don’t overlook terminal tackle that often gets depleted throughout the year. Perhaps the most overlooked item is your sinkers and weights. If you’re like me, you go through a lot of those during the year and they are easy to overlook. Before I outline the different types …