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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 …

The long and short of rod uses

The continued evolution of bass fishing equipment has enhanced the methods in which we use it. Fishing rods are good examples. We can be more selective in the rods we choose for specific techniques, be it in material, actions and lengths. Those options make us more efficient anglers. A recent trend in longer rods being offered has added to those options. You’re seeing more anglers opting for rods in the 7 1/2- to 8-foot range for techniques other than flipping. Those longer rods give you a huge advantage when fishing open water and making long casts. My Quantum Signature Series Tour …

Be a smart boat buyer

A friend of mine called this week seeking advice on buying a new boat. His rig is five years old, and while it’s in great shape, he’s looking to upgrade his equipment or possibly trade it for a new one. He’s planning to hit the boat shows this winter to research what’s out there and what’s best for him. This is a great time to shop new boats, whether you’re a first-time buyer or looking to improve what you have. Dealers that attend shows are eager to deal, especially those sitting on last year’s models and who have new inventory coming …

KVD’s favorite Lakes in Michigan

When Kevin VanDam speaks, bass fishermen crowd around and listen intently. When he talks about his favorite Michigan bass lakes, they take notes. VanDam, known as KVD by his countless fans, is the greatest angler to ever pilot a bass boat. He calls Michigan home and grew up fishing many of the Wolverine State’s fabulous bass lakes and rivers. Here’s what he has to say about one of his favorite Michigan fishing destinations. Lake St. Clair “St. Clair is the greatest smallmouth bass fishery on the planet,” VanDam said. “It’s my favorite lake to go to for numbers of smallmouth …

Put some swing in your plastics

I’ve made a good living fishing big crankbaits and Texas rigged worms during the summer, but in the past couple years I’ve added another valuable tool to my arsenal – the swing head jig. Tommy Biffle gets credit for bringing this nifty rig to the bass fishing world when he won an Elite event with his Hard Head and Biffle Bug. That created an explosion of similar rigs and a new technique we’ve all learned to embrace. I have to admit I was skeptical at first. I thought it was a gimmick, but I learned a long time ago to …

Adjusting for really big fish

Bass fishing is about making adjustments to various conditions that confront an angler throughout the day. Not all adjustments come while in the act of fishing. Sometimes you have to prepare yourself mentally to approach a lake differently. For example, this week I’m at the Texas Toyota Bass Classic on Lake Fork. My last tournament was on Lake Havasu, Ariz., a much different fishery than we’ll be facing here. Fishing was pretty good at Havasu and offered a mix of largemouth and smallmouth. But here at Fork, it’s all about BIG largemouth. And what a fishery it is. Managed by …

Fishing high water patterns

With the spawning season fading throughout most of the Southern states, heavy rains and flooding conditions have opened a different set of opportunities for anglers. We all know that when the lake rises, like it has throughout most of Texas and other Southwestern lakes, the bass move shallow into the flooded trees and grasses. However, the bass that are done spawning have other things on their minds, such moving toward summer haunts and feeding up on the baitfish. That’s not to say that you still can’t catch fish in the shallows. Absolutely you can. But the backs of those big …

Transitioning to spring

As I drive south from my Kalamazoo home, I’m thrilled to see the seasonal change. The further south I get, I see more trees budding, dogwoods blooming and greener grass. Although I was just in Texas for the first Elite Series tournament, this transition seems so strange because it’s been 20 degrees during mornings back in Kalamazoo. In fact, some of lakes are still partially clogged with ice! Ahh…but the drive has made me forget about that. Seeing the transition to spring is exciting and signals a time of year every bass angler loves – fishing during the spawning season. …
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