Category Archives: Tackle
Now that the days are longer than the nights, and the waters around the country are in the low-to-mid 80’s, and the bass’ metabolism are as high as they’ll get all year long, it is time to fish some of those fun reaction baits.
The sun is very intense in the Summer and bass, who have no eyelids to block out the suns rays, will seek shaded cover for ambush, and feed in low-light conditions early in the morning and late in the evening; before and after the sun rays hit the water. Maybe it’s that shaded side of the lake, or in the grass, or in the deeper waters where the suns rays can’t quite penetrate. Summertime is all about finding these areas and choosing the right reaction bait to entice and catch those aggressive Summer bass.
The small splashing and the subtle popping noise of the popper simulate small baitfish feeding on bugs on the surface of the water and what bass can turn down such an easy meal.
Nothing is more fun in fishing than seeing a bass blast a topwater bait off the surface. Another good lure in the early morning, along the shallow water, is a walk and spit style lure like a Daiwa TD Pencil. This type of bait you can walk and splash water at the same time.
Bottom line early morning before the suns rays hit the water you have night time feeding bass up shallow trying to catch baitfish that are trapped on the shore where they feel safe and there is some submerged cover, so any style of lure that floats and can move some water whether it be splashing, or side to side movement is going to get a bass’ attention.
My first choice early morning is a popper, I prefer it due to its smaller size, moves slowly, makes a good noise, and stays in the strike zone longer. I will switch after the popper does not get as many hits up shallow and when I feel the bass have moved out a little deeper. I will switch to the TD Pencil and work the lure a little faster and try to cover water to find those roaming bass.
If there is grass along the bank I will toss a popper right along the deep water weed edge and work it fairly fast trying to trick those bass to come out of the weeds and attack. If the popper does not get their attention, I will use a hollow body frog on top of the weeds. If in a boat I will cast to the bank and work it onto the weed mat with some moderate downward pumps of the rod all the way back to the boat. A bit of advice is to keep the boat at least 20-30′ from the deep water edge of the weed mats, so when you work your frog back in towards the boat the bass have a chance to follow it through the weeds until the lure hits open water and they can see it and attack it. I have caught hundreds of bass that have followed the frog and tried to hit it and even push the weeds up a bit and follow the frog until it hits an open pocket, or the weed edge and then blast it, so staying off the weed edge may put more fish in the boat.
When working a grass mat your going to need a med-heavy rod, a high speed reel and at least 50lb. braid for line. I prefer four colors of frogs, black, brown, green, and white with black being the most productive for me. I believe the darker color provides a better silhouette that helps a bass see it through the dense weeds and track it better. Rule of thumb when frog fishing, when you see your frog get bit count one thousand and one and then set the hook. This will give the bass a chance to compress the hollow body of the frog and expose the hook.
Towards the middle of the day you can find a good amount of fish deeper especially if your fishing a lake that has depths around 100′, or more. Where I live the lakes are deep and the night time cycle pushes plankton to the surface which the shad will feed on in the early morning. Once the sun hits the water the plankton start to sink in the water column and the shad will follow the plankton and so will the bass. The lakes can be as clear as 40′ in the Summer so the plankton and shad will be around this depth.
My lure choice when fishing this scenario is a 1/2 ounce shad patterned spoon on 8-10 lbs monofilament line and 7′ medium action rod. I’ll cast the spoon across creek channels where most of the shad balls are and count down till I believe the spoon is in the zone and then pop the rod hard from the 9:00 to 12:00 position giving about 2-3 seconds between pops until I feel a hook-up. This can be a great way to put numbers of bass in the boat during the middle of the day, but typically not the bigger bass which are most likely structure oriented in ambush mode during the heat of the Summer days.
Towards the end of the day I love to work a larger surface style soft swimbait along the shoreline, fan-casting from shallow to deep. The rod of choice is at least 7’8″ med-heavy action rod. I like a slow gear ratio reel 5.1-1 with 18-20 lbs monofilament line. I like the slow gear ratio so I can keep the swimbait in the strike zone longer.
I like at least an 8″ bait and will always start with a bass patterned color. A nice steady retrieve with the occasional pop and pause in the cadence is good. Sometimes I’ve found if the wind is light that a faster retrieve is better. The Eagle style swimbait I use has the fishing line run through the bait and then tie to a size 2 treble hook. This hook rig works great for keeping bass hooked due to the way the hook is in the bass’ mouth and not the entire swimbait that a bass come break surface and use the weight of the bait to shake it free.
There are hundreds of great Summertime reaction lures out on the market today, so lets hear what your favorites are.
Wow! I just hit the elusive 70 mph mark on ole Betsy; that’s what I call my bass boat. How did I do it? Taking a look at my gear and figuring out how much of it was tackle overkill & excess weight.
Listen up, it was actually pretty easy. The first item on my list was to get rid of every bait and tackle box that hadn’t been used in eons. An example would be my Senko boxes; I had in excess of 10 different colors and sizes. What stuck me was that 90% of the time, I only used two colors: the green pumpkin/black flake and the Junebug. Now, those two are the only ones I carry, this process of elimination continued throughout the day.
The next item on my list was to get rid of two anchors and since I’ve been using the DigIn shallow water anchor system they weren’t needed, all they were doing was taking up space and adding weight. I’m sure at some point I’ll wish i still had them, but for now, the weight had to go!
Moving on I started looking at how the items in my boat are distributed. After removing all the excess tackle and accessories I re-positioned the rest of my stuff equally on both sides. Here’s the final picture of the tackle that I carry on my boat and, when I’m on the road fishing with someone else, all I have to do is grab my bag … Done!
A few other tips I used to cut down on weight; I never top off the gas tanks in my boat or my truck, why haul around all that extra weight? I’ll get what is needed for the day plus a little extra. Also, don’t fill your live wells up until you get to your 1st stop. Remember its all about keeping your boat weight down.
Batteries are a huge weight consideration; get the lightest ones you can buy. I have a problem with this one because the cost of the new high tech batteries are through the roof, some of them going for a thousand bucks, or more, each. Needless to say I’m running the big ole heavy ones!
Take a look at your boat folks and see what your carrying around and how much needless weight it amounts to. With the gas prices being so high, these ideas will save you a ton of money. BTW I very rarely run faster than 50 mph so the 70 mph I hit the other day was only to prove my point, LOL!
Until next time “ Stay on Em” …. Let the picture below be the reason your boat is overweight !
For well over ten years now I have been using the Rago Rat and it is by far one of the easiest swimbaits to use and highly effective. Long over due, here’s my Original Rago Rat Lure Review.
Company: Rago Baits
Lure: Original Rago Rat
Weight: 1.7 Ounces
Length: (Body 4 1/2″)(Tail 4 1/2″)
Lure Speed: Slow-Medium
Composite: Hard Resin
Sink Rate: Floater
MLO Rating: 4.5 out of 5
The body of the Original Rago Rat is 4 1/2″ and the tail is 4 1/2″ with a weight of 1.7 ounces this little bait casts like a dream. It is built from very buoyant hard resin which keeps the Rat on the surface. When Rago Baits made the very first Rago Rats they were made out of wood which and were about 1/4 ounce heavier and sat in the water perfectly to make a beautiful surface V-wake.
The Rago Rat has a small hard plastic lip which helps to pull the Rats first section just under the surface, while the second section of the Rat wakes the surface.
The tail of the Original Rago Rat is made from soft plastic and works in a S-motion behind the Rat to tease any bass watching into biting.
The single joint of the Rago Rat makes a knocking sound in the water from the front, and rear sections hitting together while the Rat is swimming and this is a great noise attractor to the bait in dirty water, or low light conditions.
The Rago Rat only has one treble hook on the first section which works out perfect to help give the second section more freedom.
Below is a small video of the Original Rago Rat in action:
Pros: Very compact durable wake bait, cast good in windy conditions. The joint makes a great knocking sound to attract bass as well a soft plastic tail for a teaser. The lip is built into the bait to survive shore, or rock hits. Hinge is built to handle very large stripers, and the eyelets are heavy duty with a 100lb. split ring to hold the hook on with the big fish.
Cons: Tail does come off and is difficult to reattach in the field, make sure you have a few extra when you go out on the water with a tooth pick to help reattach one.
Another day comes to a close and my arm is hanging on by a thread. It seems all you hear about are the big swimbaits and the huge fish they catch. Surprisingly you also see lots of smaller fish with huge baits hanging from their mouths as well. On the flip side, small baits catch small fish and I’ll suggest that they also catch more than your fair share of giants. We just don’t hear much about it because it’s just not sexy enough to say you caught a DD on a Drop Shot as opposed to a huge swimbait. The key to catching big fish is “be versatile.” While fishing for big fish one day with a large bait and not having any luck, I decide to throw a little drop shot worm down and BOOM she bites first cast. There are just times when you have to downsize even when trophy hunting. Yes you will catch a bunch of small fish, but then you might also be rewarded with a monster!
One of the big obstacles for many fishermen is the cost of these Big Bait. Some go for as much as $85.00 a piece. Make no mistake, you will catch huge fish with these baits given the time and opportunity, but keep in mind that you can find alternative big lures that will be just as good and won’t break the bank.
Last week I was throwing a big 7” jerk bait by a company called Deadliest Katch that is priced around $6.50 and stuck a really nice fish. Look around at some of the big Musky baits and some of the other companies that make oversized lures at a reasonable price.
Now back to the small bait tactics. I would venture to say that big fish eat tons of crawdads which are normally small in size. Bass eat a lot of frogs as well, and they’re usually on the small side too. There’s no shame in saying I caught that Toad on a 6” FX Soft-Shell Craw RoboWorm or a hand poured Fringe worm by your local worm maker. Have an open mind and don’t get locked in to thinking, “if I don’t have the hottest, I’m out of the game,” because you’re not! The big fish will eat what your throwing whether it’s a 10” top of the line swimbat or a small jig.
Gary Dobyns West Coast Tournament legend and rod maker spoke to our trophy bass club and related a story about catching a 12 lb fish on Folsom using a small worm that he had just bite off to make it smaller.
Big Baits… Big bass, small baits… Big Bass. Yes, it happens more than we think!
Until next time… Stay on Em!
What fishing line to use is a question I get asked about all the time and it can be a very tough question to answer. There are so many good brands of fishing line out on the market and sometimes it just comes down to how much are you willing to spend. That being said, there are some things I look for in a fishing line. I want a line that is very durable and I want it to have a good, elastic response. If I toss a heavy swimbait all day and my line starts to stretch on every cast, my line is no longer the same diameter and will not have the same strength it had when I first put it on my reel. This could result in losing fish and that’s not acceptable in my world. So once I find a durable line, I try to use the heaviest pound I can get away with.
There are times when fishing very clear calm water where fish are super spooky. To compensate for this you have to use light line to trick these fish due to their sense of sight being so unrestricted that they can see that heavier line in the water and be on on guard. Also, their lateral-line system works better in this calm water and they can easily detect heavier line in the water. In Southern California we have learned to fish 2-5lb lines in this clear, calm water and by downsizing the baits as much as possible so not to overrate the line.
Knowing the type of line you will need, next you need to find a line that fits your price range because you will be buying a lot of it. No matter what line it is, it has a shelf life and will only last so long after being exposed to water and sun along with all the abuse of fishing it. When I purchase fishing line, I try to ask someone in the store when they stocked the line that I want to purchase because I don’t want a line that’s been sitting in a store for over six months. For me that is just too long. I’ve had bad times fishing with line that has sat in stores for far too long. After that I examine the line by taking it out of the box and feeling it. I look for a line that has a smooth, silky feeling. This has always been a true sign of a good line and when I pull some off the spool I want it to be as straight as possible. I don’t want it to have a lot of memory because that may indicate that the line is old or was sitting in a hot container during shipping too long and the chemical make-up of the line may be compromised. This can sometimes give the line a dull look and feel kind of chalky and rough.
Taking good care of fishing line after you purchase it is very important. I always store my line in an air-tight sealed bag and then put in a refrigerator when there is room. I don’t want to freeze it; instead just keep it at a controlled cooled temperature. When I take it out to spool up a reel I try to let it get to room temperature before I begin.
When spooling up a reel I try to make sure if it’s a bait caster that I always take line off the top of the spool towards the reel. This helps with any memory the line may still have. Using a line conditiner on a small cloth or a paper towel pinched on the line as it goes on your reel will help tremendously with tangles and twists. This can also be applied to your line while on your reel from time to time to continually help with tangles and twists. An old-school trick if you do have a lot of tangles and twists in the line while you’re out on a boat, is to move at idle speed and with no lure or hook attached, just line only, let out about 50 yards of line while out on the water and pull it behind the boat for around five minutes. This will help get tangles and twists out of your line.
Another thing I try to always practice while fishing in the boat is to only have rods out that I will be using right away sitting out on the deck. This helps keep the sun off the line and also the heat from the deck of the boat from damaging the line.
Back when I was much younger, if I needed to repair a soft plastic lure I had two choices: if it was a tear I could heat it with a match and weld it back together, which was not always easy to do, or I could heat some plastic and fill or patch the lure. At first I used Super Glue because with it’s secret ingredient, an acrylic resin called cyanocrylate, it bonded instantly. I found that I had to make a smooth, oil-free surface to make a good bond and with soft plastic lures which have a lot of oil in them that could be very hard to do. Fortunately, over the last ten years, a few companies have discovered better ways to make incredible glues that will work on our soft plastic lures. One of them is Mend-it, which is my favorite, because you simply apply wherever needed and hold it in place for a few seconds to let it cure. It gives you a super strong bond which is almost better than new. I glue tails and fins on soft plastic swimbaits all the time and rarely have any issues. When using these newer glues, you need to get the cap on the bottle as soon as possible to keep the glue at full strength. Leaving the cap off will eventually compromise the glue’s strength and it will eventually dry out. Another thing that is key is to storing your glue and getting a longer shelf life is keeping it in a dark, cool place. Sunlight or hot air temperature will heat the bottle up and also compromise the glue. Be careful when using these glues to not get the glue in contact with your skin. If you do, some companies make a glue nuetralizer to help if this happens.