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Don’t overlook spinnerbaits this fall

Spinnerbaits. Remember them? They still catch big fish and can really catch ‘em in the coming months of fall. Admittedly, they have kinda been pushed aside. Years ago, no one fished without having at least one tied one on. But over time, our lure arsenal has grown to include baits that perform similarly but with different actions. We’ve got swimbaits with more eye appeal and some vibration; square bill crankbaits that emit action, vibration and erratic movements; bladed jigs with some vibration and less flash than a spinnerbait; and swim jigs that move horizontally through the water column but more subtly. …

Give me fluorocarbon for drop shotting

Drop shotting has become a staple on the Elite circuit, especially during the second half of the season when we fish a lot of smallmouth waters. A huge drop shotting trend among Bassmasters is to spool their spinning reels with a small diameter superline (braid) and add a long fluorocarbon leader. Even so, it’s interesting to see that an equal number of touring pros still prefer straight fluorocarbon over the braid/fluorocarbon combination. And while I will use the braid combo on occasion, I am among those who prefer to fish with straight fluorocarbon when drop shotting. There really isn’t a right …

The versatile swimming worm

When fishing shallow cover, most anglers think of swim jigs, swim baits, frogs or topwaters. But what about swimming worms? Now, there’s a tactic that has been used since the day plastic worms were created but in this era of trendy baits and techniques, it’s been forgotten. Not for me. I love swimming a worm over shallow grass, especially in places where you can’t fish a buzzbait, spinnerbait or other types of lures that might hang up. You can use a standard plastic worm, but some manufacturers offer a more specialized swimming worm that works more efficiently. Years ago, I used …

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 …