For those who love to toss big swimbaits Real Prey Swimbaits has a bait made you in the 10″ Real Prey Trout. It’s like no other big swimbait on the market today, mainly due to what the Real Prey Trout is built from — high modulus silicone, which makes this swimbait very durable and incredibly buoyant while swimming in the water.
Company: Real Prey Swimbaits
Lure: 10″ Real Prey Trout
Composite: High Modulus Silicone
Weight: 7.9 Ounces
Sink Rate: Slow Sink
Color: Natural Trout
MLO Rating: 4.5 out of 5
The Real Prey Trout is definitely a different swimbait, beginning with the material used (a high modulus silicone) which is very durable and hard to tear. The silicone gave the swimbait incredible buoyancy in the water. I found, on my slow sink model, that it had a very slow sink rate for a 10″ swimbait, falling at a rate of around two feet per second, semi-nose down. When I added a 1/4 ounce nail weight to the bottom of the swimbait, just behind the pelvic fins, it balanced the swimbait out perfectly.
The Real Prey Trout will not tear as easy as a swimbait built with soft plastic and the paint is more durable than any other soft plastic swimbait paint job on the market today. The paint will not peal off and, after catching a few good bass on the Real Prey Trout, I could not find a single tooth mark on the bait.
Real Prey Swimbaits paid close attention to matching natural colors in their paint scheme, like with the pearl white belly to the tan colored fins, and the small silver sparkles on the side of the swimbait, to the natural green on the back.
The eyes on the Real Prey Trout are 180 degree hard plastic eyes which you can see from the top and bottom angles of the swimbait which I believe is key in giving a swimbait that natural look to a bass while in the water.
The picture above shows just how buoyant the 10″ Real Prey Trout is. This bait will fall nose down and by adding a little weight near the anal fin you can get the Real Prey Trout to fall horizontally.
The tail of the Real Prey Trout at first glance looked too big compared to what I’m used to seeing in a swimbait tail design, but when I tossed the Real Prey Trout in the water and saw the tail wag and felt the thump of the tail I was very impressed. The swimbait tail swam at very slow speed which surprised me but made sense for how buoyant the silicone is in the water. And when I cranked the swimbait at a fast speed I was very impressed at the balance of the swimbait, it never rolled over on its side and did not fall immediately when I paused it between hard cranks.
Below is a video showing the Real Prey Trout in underwater action.
Pros: The Real Prey Trout is made to last longer than any other swimbait on the market today by being made of high modulus silicone. You can get the tail to swim at very slow speeds and when you burn this swimbait it does not roll over. I was very impressed with buoyancy of the Real Prey Trout especially when bumping it off the bottom.
Cons: If you happen to tear the Real Prey Trout you’ll have to repair it with silicone and I would like to see another eyelet behind the dorsal fin for a stinger hook.
MLO Rating: 4.5 out of 5
“I just ate the World Record Bass tonight and it was good!”
Who did this? Soon after he caught that infamous fish and it was certified, George Perry’s record catch went into the frying pan. Before the advent of catch and release (C&R) back in the early 70’s, it was almost always catch and eat.
Let me say I release all my fish, but are we doing more harm than good now with the C&R mentality? Some studies seem to bare this out coming to the conclusion that lakes have become over populated with small fish and have actually hurt the bass from growing bigger. So what’s the answer? Maybe we should start taking some of the smaller fish home. One of the major problems is that some will become the victims of ridicule for keeping fish.
I’ve always felt if someone wanted to take his limit of keeper bass then that was just fine. It seems the answer is to take the right fish home and let the big fish go after a quick picture and measuring. It’s safe to say that the number of really big fish in a given body of water is relatively small. So it only makes sense to release them to spawn and fight another day. One point here is there’s no need to be mean or rude to someone who does decide to keep a trophy fish. I’ve see guys get beat down verbally and bashed, so all we can do is try to instruct folks on the merits of releasing the big girls, and in a positive manner.
This next area is something that needs to be examined as well, and that’s how we are handling these bigger fish. All too often we see folks bouncing big fish off the boat deck, taking pictures of them on the ground and just generally not treating the fish with care. The Pro’s and Tournaments circuits preach the merits of C& R but what message does it send when you see them culling fish on the bottom of the floor or flexing their jaws on the weigh in stand? Look we all need to do better myself included, we all want to protect the resource and educating folks is the way to go.
Selective harvesting on certain lakes can be a good thing and will no doubt help the big bass population grow by providing more forage. One way of looking at it is instead of releasing that 2-3 pounder and it becoming the next big fish in the pond, it may be the reason we’re not catching 10 pounders, food for thought. So until next time “Stay on Em “and maybe taking a few of them rats home for the family or friends will produce future giants.
Lately I have been slowing it down a bit and going “old school.” What is old school you ask? It is tossing the worm… most likely the first artificial lure to catch a bass and a favorite of most bass fisherman in the world. This time of the year I like to stitch a big worm between 12′ and 16″. Yes, I said 16″! It is a monster of worm, but it catches some big bass.
When getting ready to stitch a big worm, you first need to get your tackle set up correctly. I like a rod between 7′-0″ and 7′-8″ in a medium-heavy action and any reel that will hold plenty of 15-20 pound line. Over the years I have changed over from monofilament to fluorocarbon line because I like the way I can feel the bottom I’m stitching better with the zero stretch line. I prefer a slow ratio reel like 5.1-1 because the ideal is to “slowly” work the worm over the structure back to the boat, or shore.
Once you have your rod, and reel ready it’s time to find some big worms. This can be easier than you think, but I would suggest going to your local bait store and seeing what they have. You might only see smaller worms so ask the someone if they can order larger worms for you. Most people who pour worms have a few big worm molds that they will use for a custom order.
After you find your big worms invest some time in to getting some good worm hooks. I prefer to use Owner oversize worm hook in 7/0, and 11/0 sizes. As you can see in the picture above this hook is built for big worms. It has an extra long shank that gets the point of the hook further down the worm and the “Z” bend was designed to hold the hook in place better in the head of the worm. This “Z” bend is key during casting so that your hook stays in place. What I really like about this big hook is how the point of the hook lines up with start of the hook (as you can see by the picture below, I drew a red line to show how this lines up).
There have been plenty of years I have used pliers to bend the point towards the shank of the hook to keep the point from sticking out of the worm and hanging up on structure. Proper hook placement is key in a big worm your casting a lot of plastic that will stretch during the cast so you will have some movement. The last thing you want is your hook point sticking out and snagging on structure, or dulling the point of the hook, so when you get bit you can’t get a hook set.
I very rarely use a bullet weight with big worms since the hook has enough weight to help keep the worm head on the bottom. Besides, I like to stitch the nastiest structure I can find so rigging the big worm without a weight or fly-lining it is essential to getting all that plastic through the structure.
Once you’ve secured you tackle, it’s time to do some homework and find some good structure to stitch. I like to start with a main point and set up in about ten foot of water and toss out to the deep water. Stitching big worms is a technique where you need lots of patience. The key to success with these giants is to work these big worms as slow as you can, I mean “fall asleep slow.” If you want to catch one of the monster bass in the lake then you need to keep the big worm in the big bass’ house for as long as possible.
Stitching is an old technique where you hold your rod downward towards the water and hold the line between your fingers and slowly pull the line away from the rod. While stitching you want to pull the line and pause, you should always feel tension on the line, if not you need to pull more line out until you feel some light tension. What’s nice about stitching is your going to know when your bit. Big bass thump the big worms hard so hold on. If you have pulled some line out and get bit let the line pull back towards the rod while still holding, once the line is back to the rod, let go and set the hook.
Working big worms on points, humps, and flats with deep water access is how you’ll catch some of the larger bass in the lake. Once you fish these areas for a while, you’re going to find some sweet spots, or key areas on these locations that you will have to make note of mentally so you can visualize in your mind what your big worm is doing. Paying close attention to which direction you’re stitching is also very important. I almost always work the uphill, but there are times during the year when you’ll find the big bass want the worms pulled down hill.
Time of day is another factor you should pay close attention to. I have caught some giant bass early in morning and during the last light of the day while working shallow water key spots with deep water access. I have found that water color and time of the year really dictates if these big bass will be shallow and want to eat a big worm. Once again putting time on the water and taking really detailed notes will help you understand when and where you need to be and how much time to stay and stitch an area.
Moon phase was a trigger to some of my largest catches on big worms. I’ve found that while looking at my fishing logs, kept for over 30 years, that the times you want to be on your key fishing area is 45 minutes before and after a moonrise and moonset. These times of gravitational pull seem to activate the big bass and get them moving and hunting.
Another secret that for me has changed over the year is scent. I am a firm believer in using scent when spot fishing. I call it the “barbecue effect.” If your neighbor three houses down is barbecuing a steak, you can smell it through the air, it will most likely make your appetite increase. This is how I see scent on a key area i’m fishing. If I’m set up on a rock pile and have the wind at my back and there is some water current blowing towards deep water then the “barbecue effect” is working. The only difference between air and water is the density of the molecules. Air molecules move very fast and free if there is a breeze, water on the other hand is much more dense and you need some water current to move your scent in the water. Bottom line is the less current the smaller the area around your scented bait that the bass can pick up the scent. But if you work an area for an extended period of time you can really marinate it and believe this will help spark the bass into biting.
I prefer to use Smelly Jelly in the 3XXX, or Crawdad flavors and after years of getting scent on my hands I finally figured out a better way to apply this sticky smelly scent.
By using a large sandwich bag and placing a small amount of scent inside the bag you can now dip your worm in the bag and squeeze the worm around with your hand on the outside of the bag where no scent can get on your hand. I have found this to make my life much easier while worm fishing and less flavor on my sandwich.
As for big worm colors I always keep it simple brown with a black vein, cinnamon black vein, purple pink vein, and black with a purple vein. These colors for me where I live here in San Diego California work really well, but when I look at my fishing logs I have caught 70% of my largest bass on the brown black vein color. It is a very natural color matching a night crawler. My logs also show that some of the best times for me have also been during storms where there is some runoff going into the lake. If there is a key area next to some stained, or dirty runoff coming in the lake I have had some multiple big bass days. I believe as these bass grow up they recognize that food is coming in the lake during storms that are large enough to create some good runoff where worms and bugs are un-earthed and go down stream into the lake. I have noticed that the first good storm that produces runoff is best and only for a couple of days.
So next time you feel like slowing it down a bit, but still want a chance at a toad bass go buy some big worms and soak them on your best spot I think you’ll be glad you did.
Takeshi Matsumota owner of Fish Arrow and Ken Huddleston owner of Huddleston Deluxe have collaborated to make the Huddle Jack 150 a 6″ hard bait with the Huddleston Deluxe swimbait tail. Fish Arrow the maker of the famous Monster Jack swimbait decided it was time to up their game and make a hard swimbait with a kicking tail instead of the traditional lipped hard bait, or hinged S-motion style swimbait.
Lure: Huddle Jack 150
Weight: 1.6 ounces
Color: Blue Back Pearl
Composite: Hard Plastic
MLO Rating: 5 out of 5
The Huddle Jack 150 is the Sparta of swimbaits, it is a tough little swimmer weighing in at 1.6 ounces for its slim 6 1/4″ body length it is built for speed. Fish Arrow loves to build swimbaits that are durable and will last for years of fishing abuse. I found casting this bait was effortless especially in the wind.
One nice thing about a 6″ swimbait that only weighs 1.6 ounces is you can use lighter gear. I matched the Huddle Jack with a Dobyns DX 744, and a Shimano Calais reel spooled with 15lb. flourocarbon line.
The Huddle Jack 150 is marked on the back for the model and an “S” for sinking. As you can see by the picture above the tail is a Huddleston Deluxe hard wedge tail.
The Huddle Jack 150 is built with a super strong hinge that will handle some monster bass especially if you plan on using a rear hook off the tail.
Fish Arrow research and development people are fishing all the time and know that sometimes you need a rear hook and by removing the two belly hooks and using a rear tail hook it will allow you to fish much more structure instead of hanging up on it, or dulling the point of the hooks.
Fish Arrow always puts good hardware on their baits and with the Huddle Jack 150 Fish Arrow used 60lb. split rings and Owner 1/0 treble hooks. The eyes are high end realistic taxidermy grade and on the eyelet they added a 80lb. split ring.
While I was casting and testing the Huddle Jack 150 a small bass decided to give his review..He was hooked!.. Below is a Huddle Jack 150 demonstration video I made to show just how amazing this little strong bait is.
Pros: The Huddle Jack 150 is an incredible bait for casting all day long, flies straight in the air, and swims just like its soft bait cousin the Huddleston Deluxe swimbait. Having a choice of hook placement is key if you need to adjust your bait for short bites, or trees and rocks.
Cons: I found none
MLO: 5 out of 5
Editors Note: This article was written by Mike Long and not E.A. Castro as previously ascribed. We apologize for the confusion.
Well I finally got some time on the water with MattLures new 13″ dead twitch bait, it is by far the most natural looking soft plastic bait of its size and weighing in at 14.4 ounces your going to need some heavy duty gear if you plan on chucking this big bait all day.
Style: Floater (slow twitch)
Weight: 14.4 ounces
Hooks: Owner 2/0 (2)
Composite: Soft Plastic
Custom Paint: Yes
MLO Rating: 4.5 out of 5
I had to break out the Dobyns 867 swimbait rod and spool up with some 25lb. Maxima monofilament on my Curado 300 reel to handle the new MattLures DeadTwitch bait. The heavy weight of the DeadTwitch bait requires some heavy gear unless you decide to long-line this giant bait.
MattLures company has once again stayed true to their theme of making some of the most natural looking baits on the market today and the DeadTwitch is the result of years of research and development in the evolution of the Mattlures natural trout series.
The MattLures DeadTwitch bait has a single hinge which gives this bait the ability to glide left, or right on a slow twitch.
The picture above shows how much freedom the second section of the bait has with a full 180 degrees of movement. I found when twitching the DeadTwitch bait you needed monofilament line for a little stretch and that when twitching the bait you needed some slack in the line and a very subtle down motion drop of the rod to give the bait a slow tug and allow the bait to switch directions. This bait requires patience, it is a bait that you can leave floating over a lake point for hours teasing the big bass to come up and blast it off the surface, so patience is a key to success with this bait, but if you can keep an eye on this bait and twitch it at slow cadence making the DeadTwitch look slightly injured your gonna have some awesome success. Warning also keep an eye out for Ospreys they love trout on the surface and will take your bait for an unwanted ride.
MattLures placed the eyelet for tying on the DeadTwich inside the mouth. I suggest using a 50lb. quick snap.
MattLures used some heavy duty hardware starting with 100lb. split rings and Owner 2/0 heavy duty treble hooks.
MattLures added an eyelet on top of the DeadTwitch bait where a treble hook can be added. If you decide to take off the two bottom treble hooks to give your bait the most natural look and add the top hook you will need to add some kind of ballast weight where the bottom hooks were. I found some tungsten nail weights placed in the belly worked just fine.
MattLures designed the DeadTwitch bait to just barely sit under the water with the full dorsal fin exposed and part of the tail.
This underwater shot above shows what a proper weighted DeadTwitch bait should look like from an underwater view.
If you decide to dead stick this bait in calm water I would suggest to remove the bottom hooks to allow this bait to look as natural as possible.
Pros: Once again MattLures has created a bait that truly imitates nature and that will help most anglers have a better chance of catching that big bass of a lifetime as long as you can exercise a little patience. And the price is a steal.
Cons: The DeadTwitch paint job looks awesome until you catch a few big toothy bass and it starts to tear some.
MLO Rating: 4.5 out of 5
3:16 Lure company has been around for quite some time now and make some of the most creative swimbaits on the market today. From their first creative design the Mission Fish the first weedless swimbait, to the full line of hard swimbaits. 3:16 lure company is the working mans company and pays close attention to detail.
Company: 3:16 Lures
Composite: Hard Resin
Lure Type: Floater
Weight: 2.3 Ounce
Color: Rainbow Trout
Hooks: Owner 1x
MLO Rating: 5 out of 5
My first experience with 3:16 Lure companies Baby Wake was during a cloudy day with light rain and light chop on the water. I used a Dobyns 784 rod spooled with 18lb. Maxima fluorocarbon line and a Shimano Calais 200 reel. On the first cast I was very impressed with the wake that this little bait made in light wind. The first section of the Baby Wake . just barely went under the surface, while the rear section kicked back and forth at a slow retrieve. I also noticed a knocking sound from the two sections of the bait hitting each other on the retrieve which I am a huge fan of. Something that shocked me is the Baby Wake will walk when you pump the rod downward. It walks and rolls which while I was testing the bait I got slammed by a 5 lb. bass. This added action gives this lure and added dimension which can really help to trigger a bite.
Upon close inspection you’ll notice that these hand made baits are built to be fished hard from the hardware used, to the paint job 3:16 lure company cut no corners.
3:16 Lure co. uses top notch Owner 1x treble hooks that are super sharp and very strong and are attached with heavy duty 100 lb+ split rings. The nose of the bait has a heavy duty eyelet that no fish will ever break.
A front shot of the wake bait shows the 1/8″ clear diving lip which is built into the bait in a way that it will not break off on a shore cast, or hitting rocks. 3:16 pays very close attention to natural detail and the eye sockets popping out of the wake bait and pointing downward really look natural and give this bait life.
The eyes 3:16 Lure co. uses are high grade taxidermy eyes which absolutely give this bait life. I suspect the artist at 3:16 hand paints these eyes to match the species eye color exactly that is how good these eyes look.
The picture above shows the detail on the back of the hand painted Baby Wake. Once again the artist paid close attention to what species that he was replicating in this case Rainbow Trout. These are all hand painted so every bait has its own unique pattern.
What helps give the Baby Wake its wake ability is 3:16’s unique custom hinge system. 3:16 Lure co. was one of the first swimbait companies to incorporate this design into a swimabit. This hinge is built to withstand years of abuse with a custom drop pin to help keep the hinge together this system will hold up against 100lb. ocean fish.
The tail of the Baby Wake is built to withstand numerous shore hits and has a 1/8″ of play which helps give the lure some added motion without adding another hinge, but what I found was this play also made a high pitch slapping sound in the water which is very unique in a surface wake bait.
Pros: The Baby Wake is one of the top wake baits on the market today and by far one of the most natural looking. The Baby Wake is built with heavy duty hardware, no short cuts in this bait.
Cons: Was hard to find any since so much thought was put into this design, I am a fan of such detail and that is why I call this the working mans swimbait!
MLO Rating: 5 out of 5
I’m only 47 and have worked in construction since I was 16 and being a highly active person mountain biking, fishing, and hiking every chance I get, I live in a world of chronic pain –shoulder, neck and back pain — almost everyday. I have had days where standing at the front of the boat was such a challenge, I could barely fish.
I was fishing this past Summer with a friend who plays professional baseball and he witnessed how much pain I was in while fishing. He walked up to me and handed me a necklace and said to put it on it should help to relieve some of the pain in a few days. Well, I was real skeptical, but figured suffering from years of chronic back pain, I had nothing to lose, so… what the heck, I’ll give it a try.
The core of Phiten technology is in their Aqua Metals – metals that are broken down into microscopic particles dispersed in water. Every product features Phiten technology: from their signature necklaces, to their performance apparel, and to their sports care items like body supports, tape, and lotion. They tailor their products for everyone, from hardcore athletes to weekend warriors, to get them through the daily grind and to support a healthy and active lifestyle.
So after about a week of wearing my Phiten necklace, I was pain free and after over four months of wearing my Phiten necklace at least three days a week, I am still pain free. First time I can say that in well over ten years.
The Phiten necklace that my friend gave me is a camo color which blends right in with any of my fishing apparel. It has an easy to use latch and the necklace is easy to clean with soap and water.
After talking with some other baseball players about the Phiten necklace they suggested I use some of Phitens’ other products like the Phiten bracelet, tape, and lotion. They told me while rehabbing from sports injuries and using the Phiten products like the Phiten tape, and lotion on the areas of the body where their injuries had occurred seemed help to speed the healing process of their injuries.
So from my personal experience, if you suffer from any kind of chronic pain give Phiten products a chance, I think you’ll be glad you did.
For years I’ve tried my hardest to get my hard lures to look as natural as possible and to have a durable finish that will last for at least one season and withstand the toothy bass that will be attacking them. I have also searched for a lure painter that did a good job for a reasonable price and had a quick turnaround. Yes there are some lure makers that put a top notch paint job on their lures, but they also charge a lot of money and it may not be the right swimming-style bait I want.
I got lucky one day and received a custom painted BullShad Swimbait from owner Mike Bucca in the mail. It was a threadfin shad paint job and it looked incredible. It was by far one of the best paint jobs I had ever seen at the time in a shad pattern.
I later found out that Mike had BaitWerks do some custom paint jobs on his BullShads and that the shad was just one of the custom colors he offered.
Dwain Batey, the artist and owner of BaitWerks, has custom painted quite a few swimbaits for me over the years and they all just flat out look incredible. So realistic that my large bass catch percentage increased when using the custom painted baits.
I truly believe, from my many years of chasing the little green bass, that the lures having that real-life custom paint job make a huge difference. First off, I have more confidence with a custom-painted lure than I do without a custom paint job. I can’t tell you how many times I have second guessed a lure and was using thinking it did not look natural enough to get the job done and switched it out for another lure. This was down time that my lure was not in the water, when the game plan is to have confidence in a lure and keep it in the water.
Above are a few samples of what BaitWerks has custom painted for me in the BullShad swimbaits. Baitwerks can paint anything you can send a picture of.
When I sent a picture of a California Golden Shiner to Mike Bucca and asked him to have Dwain at BaitWerks paint a BullShad close to the picture, I was very skeptical that he could match the picture. A Golden Shiner can be a tough fish to copy, but when I got my custom painted BullShad back I was shocked at how good it looked and as soon and as put it in the water I was very impressed at how realistic the lure looked. Bottom line it made me a better bass fisherman.
BaitWerks does a great job doing custom paint jobs on almost any lure for a fair price and in a timely manner depending on their workflow. Take a look at BaitWerks.com and see if BaitWerks has a color you like, or send them a picture of what you would like to copy. I believe you will be happy if you do.
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!
Every now and then I get to do a review on a bait I am very familiar with and the MS Slammer is one of those baits. It is the working mans swimbait, each swimbait is handmade with high quality cedar and some of the largest screw eyes put in a swimbait. The MS Slammer is simply a workhorse swimbait.
Company: M.S. Slammer Hand Crafted Lures
Bait: MS Slammer
Weight: 2.9 ounce
Color: Rainbow Trout
MLO Rating: 4.5 out of 5
The MS Slammer is no longer a secret West coast swimbait, it has become well known throughout the swimbait world. Being handmade out of high quality cedar you get a very durable swimbait that was made to go out and fish hard without the worry of breaking the swimbait if it hits a rock, or the bank on a cast.
The 9″ MS Slammer has a top notch durable paint job that will stand up to hundreds of hours of fishing and the tail of the Slammer is soft plastic and very easy to replace if needed. As for hooks they are size 2/0 VMC that will get the job done. Every bait comes with a large quick release snap that helps give the Slammer more freedom while swimming and easy to change out baits to different colors, or sizes when needed.
Every Slammer is initialed and dated what month and year it was made at the rear of the first section. All MS Slammers are put together with the largest and strongest screw eyes of any bait made of its size and you will never have to worry about a fish twisting these bad boys free. The mid section o the Slammer is the motor of the bait and puts out a thumping sound of wood hitting wood as well as the squeaking sound of the screw eyes a true fish calling swimbait.
The Slammer is built to be a floating swimbait that has an incredible V-wake swimming action especially on calm water, but this lure can be twitched as well as burned at a faster speed to get it down to 4′-0″ I have found times where ripping and pausing the bait to be an incredible way to get a bass to bite. Bottom line the Slammer seems like a topwater only bait, but you can test its limits.
The picture above shows how buoyant the front section of the bait is. Once you start reeling the Slammer the diving bill of the bait pulls the front section just under the surface of the water while the rear section kicks and rolls side to side.
As you can see by the picture above the MS Slammer reeled at a slow-medium retrieve wakes the surface nicely and is an incredible bait up in shallow water around sticks and grass where some wake and noise is what you need to call the big bass out.
Pros: Very durable bait, very buoyant and comes handbuilt with some of the strongest screws in a bait its size.
Cons: Would like to see the eyes come out farther.
MLO Rating: 4.5 out of 5
It’s that time of the year for cranking the rock piles and I have been waiting quite some time to field test the Damiki crank baits. Where I live here in San Diego Califonia the lakes are deep and the bass suspend offshore in 20′-40′ of open water during the Fall and Winter months. And when the bass move from open water to the rock piles to feed on crawdads you need a crank bait that will get down at least 15′ to have a chance at getting a bite.
Lures: DC300 / DC400
Depths: DC300 12′-15′ / DC400 16′-18′
Color: Real Shad
Style: Deep Diving Slow Floater
Casting Weights: Yes
Weight: DC300 .55 oz /DC400 1 oz
Length: DC300 2.13″ / DC400 2.76″
MLO Rating: 4.5 out of 5
When I first got my crank baits from Damiki I was not sure what to expect. It was first experience with Damiki lures.
One of the first things I liked about the Damiki lures was the packaging. My lures were very easy to get out of the package and just as easy to get back in their packaging after use and I can’t tell you how nice that is, especially if I plan on just taking a few lures on a trip. The sturdy packaging will keep my lures from getting stuck in my travel gear.
The two Damiki crank baits I field tested were the DC300, and the DC 400. The DC300 dives 12′-15′, while the DC400 dives 16′-18′. Both crank baits tested were in the real shad color.
In the picture above of the side by side comparison you can start to see huge size difference in these deep diving crank baits. The DC400 on the left has a much longer body and larger diving bill, while the DC300 has a much smaller compact body size and a very large diving bill for it’s body size.
The DC300 has a diving bill and body shape very similar to some of my favorite crank baits growing up like the Fat Free Shad, and the Fat Rap. This little crank bait has an incredible wobble action in the water and I had no trouble at all casting this small crank in the wind due to the four bearings that all move to the rear of the bait during casting.
Under close inspection I was very impressed with look of the crank bait. The black eyes really look good on the lighter colored baits as well as the detailed groves that help give these little baits life. Damiki put small fine wire hooks on the DC series which I’m a huge fan of.
The DC series has a weighted balance plate in the belly of the bait which will help keep your bait balanced during pauses, also there is a separate chamber in the DC300 that has small glass beads that produce a high pitch noise sound which is a great lure attractor in dark deep waters. The DC400 has three ball bearings that all move to the rear of the bait while casting and also give the lure a low noise sound.
The DC400 has a very large strong diving bill which I put to the test bouncing off rocks for the better part of a day and I found it to be just fine. The 400’s body shape was little longer and has less wobble than the 300, but I found the 400 to dive quickly and wobble just enough that I could feel it through my rod tip.
Pros: I found the lure balance in the water to be real good. As for casting in windy conditions the DC300, and DC400 were some of the best cranks I’ve casted in years, the ball bearings in the baits moved to rear at the right time to help the lures fly straight on each cast.
Cons: I was not a fan of the small split rings on the DC series.
MLO Rating: 4.5 out of 5
In the last year I have fished with quite a few people who were complaining about how their reels just didn’t seem to cast as well as they use to. The first thing I ask is, “Do you ever oil your reel?” Everytime the answer is, “No, how do you do that?” Well, here’s how you do it.
These fishing reel casting and maintenance tips begin with lubricant. Almost every reel I have ever bought has come with a small bottle of oil. If yours didn’t most sporting good stores carry reel oil.
Accessing the spool is a little bit different with every reel. I try to always use reels where it is easy to field access the spool.
The reel I have pictured above is a Shimano Scorpian and the side plate can be completely removed. On some reels the side plate pops-out and moves up or down. The goal is to get to the spool bearings for oiling. Once you’re able to unlock the side plate, the first thing you want to do is visually inspect it for any foreign debris and run your finger around the outside of the spool and spool guide making sure it is smooth and free of debris.
Now that you have unlocked the side plate and inspected the spool and bearing it’s time to hold the bearing level and add few drops of oil.
Next step is to very carefully move the spool away from the reel handle plate and add a few drops of oil to the spool shaft. After adding oil, you will need to tilt the reel so the oil can run down the spool shaft to the inner bearing.
With reels that have a VBS (variable braking system) you want to inspect the break weights to make sure some of them turned on and some are turned off. The way this is done by pressing the break weight closer to center is off and pushing the break weight towards the outer end of the post is on. I like to have my break weights set at 50%, or every other one on. If all break weights are off the spool is 100% free
Another great thing about reels that have a centrifugal braking system using break weights is you can remove them and add lighter or heavier brake weights that can help when conditions require some centrifugal weight adjustments.
When using any reel with a centrifugal force braking system there is a right way and a wrong way to cast. The picture above shows the wrong way to hold and cast the reel if any brake weights are on.
The picture above shows a proper hold when using a VBS system with any brake weights on. You need to turn the reel on its side so gravity will not be pulling at your brake weights that are turned on. Holding the reel sideways the centrifugal force has a chance to work evenly and casting will be smooth.
I sure hope these small tips help you to get some better and further casts and will let you have a more productive day catching fish instead of pulling backlashes out.
One of my all time favorite swimbaits is a Huddleston Deluxe 6″ weedless swimbait. It is a great little swimbait for working through rock piles and submerged brush. So when I heard Huddleston Deluxe was coming out with an 8″ weedless swimbait, I was very excited to get my hands on some and try them out.
Bait: 8″ Weedless
Color: Holdover Trout
Weight: 4.7 Ounces
Hook: 8/0 Black Nickel
MLO Rating: 4 out of 5
Ken Huddleston the mind behind Huddleston Deluxe is master craftsman who always pays close attention to nature when designing lures. I have been fishing Ken’s lures from the beginning and have always been amazed of what he has been able to design with soft plastics, so when I heard the 8″ weedless was available I knew it was time to get my hands on a few and go to work.
The color I used for this review was holdover trout, it is a color I really like for dingy off colored water and when fishing deeper waters during the middle of the day. Once again the Huddleston paint job was top notch one of the best soft plastic swimbait paint jobs available on the market today.
Huddleston uses a monster 8/0 black nickel hook that is super strong and sits in custom weedless slot that is a 1 1/2″ long, a 1/4″ deep and 1/8″ wide. I found with the four baits I tested that it was very important to inspect the area around the hook to make sure it is clean, and clear so the hook will sit in it properly. Also inspect the hole around the hook, when pushing down on the plastic in front of the hook where the hollow air cavity is it should move up and down freely. With the custom hollow air cavity I found my swimbaits swam better when this cavity did not fill with any water. I recommend adding a little vaseline, or Smelly Jelly around the hook hole at the bottom of the weedless slot and also on the slot edge, this will help some with the hook barb catching on top of the swimbait and plug up the hole around the hook helping to keep the hollow cavity full of air during the swimbait retrieve.
In the picture above you can you can see how the hook pops out when the hollow air cavity is pressed down.
This hole between the pelvic fins is connected to the hollow cavity in front of the hook and is the air release port for the hollow cavity when the swimbait gets bit. This was a very well thought out design, but always check to make sure this hole is clear of any debris.
One big change in the weedless version from the original is where the eyelet is on the weedless 8″ Huddleston. The eyelet is in front of the swimbait near the nose and is turned horizontally. In order to have the air cavity built into the swimbait the hook had to be lower in the harness thus coming out in front of the swimbait. I am a huge fan of a weedless swimbait having the eyelet directly in front of the bait, it helps to get better leverage on the swimbait when it gets stuck on the bottom and that is exactly what I found with the weedless 8″ Huddleston it was very easy to get out of trouble when crawling it slowly on the bottom through the rocks.
I am a bottom crawling swimbait lover so I always look for a swimbait that will sit naturally on the bottom and not fall over and The Huddleston 8″ swimbait does everything I like in a bottom crawling swimbait and I especially like how the tail will slightly rise when the swimbait is paused. And when the swimbait is slow crawling along the bottom the tail will be allowed to kick unobstructed.
I found that the Huddleston Weedless 8″ Swimbait swam a little different from the original 8″ Huddleston. Out of four baits I tested I found the tail of the swimbait did not kick the same as the original 8″ swimbait.
Side by side comparison of the new 8″ weedless with the original 8″ swimbait you can see a few subtle changes like in the girth of the swimbaits and the length.
Holding the new Huddleston weedless swimbait up against the original you can clearly see the girth differences as well as the added 1/4″ length in the new weedless swimbait.
Pros: I was very impressed with the weedless system there was alot of thought put into this design and the air cavity for the the weedless system was a highly effective bladder that really helps this design swim naturally. The paint job is still one the best of any soft swimbait available on the market today. The swimbait is by far more flexible than the original 8″ Huddleston.
Cons: I wish the bait had a larger tail, I felt the the bait lost some tail kick from the original and a larger tail would help. You will need to clean the paint off the hook and after a few catches the barb ocassionally got stuck on top of the bait tearing the paint, I found a little vaseline, or smelly jelly helped this some.
MLO Rating: 4 out of 5
A huge bass just swam by and all I can do is marvel at its beauty. We moved to Florida six years ago and I thought this is going to be power fishing at its best! It’s a flippin’ paradise with all kinds of wood, pads, grass and more weeds than you can shake a stick at.
There was another side to the fishing landscape that I had no idea existed; sight fishing. It involves fishing crystal clear spring fed rivers with a constant 72 degree water temperature year round. This really appeals to me, although I still love the classic in your face style of fishing that Florida is known for.
Think of sight fish every day you go fishing, you may say WOW that would be so cool. Being able to see the fish you’re attempting to catch is awesome, but therein lies the problem; if you can see them, they can see you as well. So it becomes a cat and mouse game of trying to fool a wary prey. It requires light line, light tackle, stealth and coming from the proper angle. Which also means everything has to go right from the beginning of the battle to the end. If you have a weak link in your plan, you’re toast. Retying is critical, the line has to be top notch, your rod and reel has to be in great shape.
You’ll only have one chance, if you’re lucky enough to get the fish to bite in the first place. It can become a real source of frustration, watching huge fish after huge fish swim by and literally swim away from your bait. The key is to find a fish that’s on the prowl for a meal; you’ll know when you spot these active fish by how they act. They’re more relaxed, focused on one thing and that’s eating what you’re presenting, whether it’s a jig, swimbait or even a drop shot.
Its one of the most exhilarating moments is watching a huge fish finally inhale your bait! Then watching every head shaking move a bass can make. The clarity of the water allows you to see all the action from the top to the bottom. One of the biggest observations I’ve made is that we are missing a lot of bites; fish have come up and inhaled my bait without the slightest tap, pull or even the appearance of having taken the lure.
Example , I tossed my drop shot along a grass island one day and as I get a little closer there’s a 5 lb sitting in the current about 10 ft off the weed bank. This fish had picked off my bait swam out and I never felt a thing until the final moment of setting the hook! It makes you wonder how many big fish, including what may have been a personal best, we have missed and not known it.
So as you can see, it’s not as easy as one might think and the frustration of watching schools of 5-10 lb’ers swim by lazily will drive you nuts. Then on the flip side the excitement of a big fish turning and heading for your bait is heart pounding experience! A 7 pounder lived on a particular cypress tree on the river; it took me 2 years before she finally fell for a Senko. Talk about determination. Curse or blessing you be the judge ….
Until next time….Stay on em!
When I hear the name Skinny Bear in the fishing world I think of some of the best jigs ever made, but when I got a package in the mail recently from Skinny Bear it turned out to be some the best looking swimbaits I have ever seen.
Company: Skinny Bear
Sizes Tested: 3.5″ / 5″
Colors Tested: Ghost Minnow, Ayu Shad, Smoke Ayu, Shad
Lure Type: Soft Plastic
Lure Style: Boot Tail
MLO Rating: 4.5 out of 5
With a fishing market flooded with swimbaits it always impresses me when I get a chance to see and fish something just a bit better than the rest. The baits I tested from Skinny Bear were the Swimming Shad Eye Swimbaits in the 3 1/2″, and 5″ the colors were Ghost Minnow, Ayu Shad, Smoke Ayu. Skinny Bear has over 19 colors to choose from in their Swimming Shad Eye arsenal, but my favorites were the Smoke Minnow, and Bluegill.
The Ayu Shad color pictured above was another color I was impressed with, it looked good out of the package and even better in the water. The package that the Swimming Shad Eyes come in are awesome and keep your baits straight, but when you try to put the baits back in the package after a trip it can be a challenge due to how tight the package is, but once you get them aligned and all the way in the package they will be good until your next trip.
Colors pictured above are from top to bottom; Ghost Minnow, Shad Smoke, and Bluegill.
The Swimming Shad Eye Swimbaits come with silver eyes on them and after several weeks of using the baits I did not have one eye peel off. I really think having good eyes on a swimbait are key to getting bass to want to bite it, and the Swimming Shad Eye Swimbait has some good reflective eyes.
I was very impressed with the scale pattern on the Swimming Shad Eye, it looked even better in the water. Skinny Bear payed very close attention to detail with scale imprint, it is very clean and stops around the head and the tail sections which really helps give these small swimbaits life.
The tail of the baits was another area Skinny Bear payed close attention too with adding imprinted tail rays to give the bait a very realistic look.
When I was ready to go fish it was time to choose a hook and I went with the Owner 6/0 Twist Lock that has the spring that you screw into the nose of the bait.
When using a the Twist Lock style hook make sure you insert the spring into the nose all the way to the hook eyelet and then lay the hook on outside the swimbait so you will have an idea of where you need to run the hook through the swimbait.
The Swimming Shad Eye has a slit on the belly of the swimbait which allows the hook to easily pass through to the top of the bait.
With the 6/0 hook rigging on the 5″ swimbait you have a perfect weedless match-up for the Swimming Shad Eye.
Once your done rigging your Swimming Shad Eye Swimbait it should look like the picture above, a weedless set up, or an A-Rig ready to fish swimbait.
Pros: I found the colors to be some of the best I’ve seen in a small plastic injected swimbait, the detail of the bait is top notch from the scales to the eyes this is a very well thought out swimbait.
Cons: I was not a huge fan of the packaging, once you got the swimbaits back in the bag it worked fine, but it took some time.
MLO Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Chasing largemouth bass for well over 37 years you definitely learn a thing a two. One thing you learn quickly is that if you can catch big bass consistently, you become somewhat of a fishing icon. In my world this has happened to me multiple times, but what is the truth behind people who catch big bass consistently? Well it’s time to spill the beans and spell it out.When it come to bass fishing, I have become so obsessed at times that it seems like almost nothing else in the world matters but fishing. I was just telling a friend the other day that looking back on my days of hunting for big bass, I was definitely obsessed, almost as if I was under a spell. But this focus isn’t why I really catch big bass consistently.
I believe the true reason why any person can be a consistent big bass catching machine is due to the amount of time they are willing to spend on the water. This is by far the truth of why I have been able to catch so many large bass in my “career.”
When I would catch a large bass in the past, and it got in the newspaper, I would often tell people that it should have read, “Mike Long, 12 lb bass, 42 hours.” Unfortunately, the news reports would only state your name and weight of the bass. Play this idea out and you start to arrive at a better understanding: If you fished fifty hours over a week and caught one bass over ten pounds, and then you did this each week for a month, and caught a total of four bass over ten pounds, and no one realized how much time you had invested overall, you start to look like the king of big bass fishing. All they see is that you caught four fish over ten pounds in a month and think you’re on to some secret technique that yields big fish all the time.
“Time on the water” is a phrase you will here at almost any bass seminar, or in any article you read about catching big bass. There is a reason for this: it is the truth! When I look back on my life and what I have experienced in bass fishing, it all has to do with how much time I was willing to invest and spend on the water hunting giants. If I really look back at the time I spent though, it did not always pay off.
I have caught hundreds of bass over ten pounds, but if you do the math for 37 years and how many hours invested in each fish, I have not done that well.
There are lots of “Big Bass Hunters” here in California. The main reason for that is all the lakes have potentially world class Florida strain largemouth bass in them that are fed almost pure protein Rainbow Trout that are easy to catch and easy to digest. We call these trout “candy bars” because they just melt in a bass’ mouth. The difference is in perspective. Big bass hunters that spend more hours on the lake understand that chucking a trout imitation swimbait for ten hours a day, five days a week, will put them in a high percentage bracket to catch a bass over ten pounds. So if a weekend big bass hunter comes in and spends two weekends chucking a swimbait and finally gets a big bass over ten, who was better? the guy who spent 50 hours for one ten pounder, or the guy who spent 40 hours for one. I think you get the point.
If you spend lots of time doing something in life, you also figure out some short cuts, and in the world of big bass fishing we all want that short cut. Basically the longer you spend sitting on a rock pile you start to recognize patterns that will help you on the next trip and so on…
This is what makes me who I am. I spend lots of time on the water, take good notes and pay close attention to the factors that truly drive the big bass to move around and feed. The weather, moon, and sun are the primary factors that make big bass migrate in a lake to feed and the more time you spend on the water, the more you will recognize the patterns.
Now after years of taking notes, and building basically a big bass map, with a schedule of when some of those big bass should be stopping in an area to feed, you’re in a better position to catch big bass. Simply put, all that the time you spent hunting these big bass will put you in a higher percentage bracket for catching them. You might catch two, or three over ten pounds in a 50 hour week, or even two over ten in a 20 hour weekend. You have now evolved to the next level of big bass fishing. And even though you have done some homework from years of hunting, the one primary factor still is time on the water.
Here in San Diego, California, we had a big bass fishing legend named Lunker Bill Murphy. This guy fished every chance he got. He was a structure fisherman who loved to sit on two or three rocks piles during a day, while stitching crawdads, worms, or jigs and this man did some serious damage on the big bass. Growing up watching this man, I recognized one thing right away though. He spent more time on the water than any other fisherman by far, no one came even close. Yes, you could say he was obsessed.
So at an early age I understood that to catch big bass consistently you have to spend lots of time on the water. The question though, is does this truly say you are the best? I guess that’s all dependent on how you want to look at it.
I’ve got to go now and get some lures ready for tomorrow, I smell rain in the air.
Now that the days are getting shorter, and the waters are cooling down, the bass are starting to move into areas of the lake that are very rocky. This is a great time of the season to toss a jig and catch some of the larger bass in the lake. Growing up in San Diego California where the reservoirs are deep and clear most of the year, and the fishing pressure can be overwhelming on these smaller bodies of water, fishing a jig in deep water is a must at times.
Colors matter with jigs and I always try to keep it simple; clear water I use brown and greens, dirty water black and purple. You’ll find with the brown jigs, sometimes due to water clarity, the bass might want a little color with brown skirts. When I get jigs made for a trip, I always get straight brown, and at least 1/4 made with brown and green, and another 1/4 brown and purple.
Having some purple, and green mixed in your jig skirts is good if the bass slow down on hitting straight brown. I have had many days where the brown/purple jigs have out fished all other colors. In my experience it seems during the brighter part of the day the mixed color brown jigs work better and the solid brown jigs get bit better during lowlight. When the rains come and turn the water a dirty, or muddy color, I go to a black jig. I also prefer a black jig skirt with a little red flash added and the same with the jig trailer.
Now that I have some jigs made with the colors I want it’s time to get some rattle accessories and some trailers. Adding a rattle was an experiment for many years and I’ve found that I have had much greater success while using rattles on my jigs than without.
The rattle arms are normally sold seperate from the rattle chambers, so it’s up to you to pick the color for the rattle chambers (black, or clear). Even the size matters; some rattle chambers come with two ball bearings, or three. It’s all up to what you want to use, since I believe they work the same.
The body rattle chambers are another item that will be sold as a harness and rattle set that you will have to put together.
Now it’s time to start adding your rattles to your jig. Make sure if you add the arm rattles and the body rattles your going to have to make sure the body of your jig you are using will have enough room to allow both. If not, some trimming with a pair of scissors, or exacto knife, may be required. Once you have completed the rattles, it’s time for a jig trailer. I always try to match natural colors, starting with green, when choosing a jig trailer. If I plan on stitching my jig at a moderate search speed, I will use a twin tail trailer. If I plan on stitching my jig at a slow speed, or deadstick a ledge or rock, I’ll use a natural crawdad looking trailer.
Where I live, the water never gets cold for very long and is usually clear, so I always have used soft plastic trailers instead of pork trailers. The times I have used pork, it was very dirty water where I felt I needed a little extra scent to attract a bass to my jig.
The placement of the plastic jig trailer works best when you place it at a slight upward angle. This will let promote the claws to float upward and look very natural when the jig is in the water. Using a trailer with salt in it will help the trailer claws float a little bit better too.
Above picture is a shot of a jig in the water with a natural crawdad trailer. I have always felt that a jig should rise off the bottom as much as possible, I believe it helps it to get bit easier and look much more natural than a jig and trailer that just lays on the bottom.
When choosing a Fall and Winter jig, I prefer a football head, I like the way it moves through smaller rocks and pea gravel bottoms. It is this wider head that will work like a small bulldozer pushing rocks and sand making some disturbance on the bottom to help attract bass.With the wider head it keeps my hook straight up not rolling over catching rocks and snagging up like a round, or swimming head jig will. I also look for a jig head that has a bevel where the eyelet is. The lower the eyelet, the less likely it is to get stuck in the rocks. I have had much more success clearing rocks with the lower seated eyelet, that when using the eyelets the stick way above the lead head.
As for weight size, I almost always use a 3/8 ounce jig in depths of 1′-25′ and when fishing deeper waters 25′-40′ I’ll use a 1/2 ounce jig.
Above is my go-to lure during late Fall and Winter months. It is a 3/4 ounce football head in a bass candy color, a green skirt, and a flash of metallic green and orange. This is my deep water wrecking machine. As for the trailer, I always use the Castaic Craw trailers in the same colors. I have fished this big jig as deep as 100′ and can feel the structure on the bottom, but this lure is highly effective for those big bass hiding in that 30′-60′ zone as well. This jig keeps great contact with the bottom, as well as scratching rocks and making a lot of noise to call the big bass over. A few words of warning when using a heavier jig: if a bass charges to the surface and tries to shake her head above the water, you better bury the rod in the water, and reel like a mad man to keep the heavy jig set in the bass’ mouth. I recommend a high speed reel when using 3/4 -1 ounce jigs or heavier. Jig bass can bite violently and also make some crazy runs and charging the surface. A high speed reel will help you gain ground quickly and keep the situation in control.
As for a rod I am a huge fan of the Dobyns DX 744 for jigs up to 1/2 ounce. It is a 7′-4″ medium-action, four power rod that is the work horse rod of the Dobyns family. For the heavier jigs (3/4-1 1/2 ounce) I recommend a Dobyns DX 784. You get four more inches of rod over the DX 744, with the same power, but with a better hook setting ability in deep water. As for line I mainly go with Maxima 15lb. fluorocarbon line.
One last thing… if you’re fishing a spot and losing a lot of jigs, you’re probably in the right area. Buy as many jigs as you can and bring some extra line and have some fun! (Jigs used in this article were Skinny Bear Jigs and a few hand made heavy jigs)
Back in the summer of 1979 I walked out into the backyard of the house my parents had just purchased and met a tall, gangly kid with a shock of red hair. He was holding a fishing pole, a bucket, and the widest smile I had ever encountered in someone my age. Only seconds after he had introduced himself as Mike Long, he asked me if I wanted to help him catch some crawdads.
The house we had just purchased sat no more than 50 feet from a creek that meandered the length of Poway, California, surrounded by Sycamore and Scrub Oak, which were home to Opossums, Raccoon, and Red-tailed Hawks. Having lived in the suburbs almost my entire life, I was out of my element among all this natural wonder. As strange as it all was though, I was about to get a master’s class in nature and Mike Long was the first and most notable of all the professors I’d ever have directing my education.
I’ve known Mike for going on 32 years, and enjoyed the privilege of having first hand access to the vast amount of information he gathers about his chosen hobbies. He taught me to fish for Catfish, Rainbow Trout, Crappie, Sunfish and of course, Large mouth Bass. He pulled me up and around hill and dale, all the while, teaching me about what to do and when to do it. He never asked anything in return, just friendship and I was more than happy to oblige.
Though time and distance have always come between us, we’re kindred spirits. We enjoy the same things and share many of the same beliefs, the least of which is our passion for the outdoors. Eventually college, and then a career in advertising pulled me away from Southern California, but I kept up with his adventures in the great outdoors.
When fate and my father’s illness brought me back to San Diego in late 2010, one of the first people to welcome me back was Mike Long. We began toying with the idea of a website to share his knowledge and the site you find yourself on now is the result of many such conversations.
While we’ve talked almost daily since I’ve returned to San Diego, it actually wasn’t until this past September that we actually got together on a lake to do some fishing for largemouth bass.
Mike chose the body of water we both grew up fishing, Poway Lake, located in San Diego’s North County. It’s a small reservoir, made smaller by consecutive years of drought, stocked with Rainbow Trout each winter and Catfish each summer. It has a good population of Largemouth Bass, Sunfish and Bluegill to keep everyone happy no matter what your particular passion.
It had been almost two decades since I last fished for bass, but Mike promised he’d take it easy on me and show me what to do. In fact, he even brought a few spinning reels for me to use since I’ve not used a bait caster in a very long time. First thing Mike did was get the lay of the land, or water to be more precise. Choosing a few possible spots, we made our way across the lake toward the first area he wanted to try, a deep water channel. As we arrived, I looked around and noticed there were a dozen or so other fisherman on the lake. From the look of it, they were doing a bit of fishing, but not a whole lot of catching. That isn’t unusual for this lake, especially for those fishing for largemouth bass.
The thing was, much like when we were kids, I had a secret weapon. I had Mike to show me the way. He quickly tied on a 4″ Robo worm in Aaron’s Magic color, using a simple drop shot rig and told me what to do. I’d like to say I quickly landed my first bass in 20 years, but that wouldn’t be true. What is true is within 30 minutes on the water, Mike DID land our first fish… a 3 pounder, very small by Mike’s standards, but a whopper in my book. Keeping with Mike’s teachings, we moved around, eliminating water, trying to find where the fish were. We moved to shallower water near a point. Mike landed a few more, small bass, while I couldn’t seem to get the hang of the proper action necessary to catch a fish… any fish… heck I was willing to land a shad if it would take me out of the skunked column.
He kept explaining what he was doing and why it was working. Mike had landed 3 other bass while he was explaining the intricacies of fishing this particular lake, at this particular time in the day, in this particular season. It was akin to listening to Stephen Hawking talk about cosmology while orbiting the Earth on the space shuttle. If I remember half of what he told me, I’ll be three times the fisherman that I am now.
Finally, I put it all together and I landed my first bass of the day. Less than a pound, but it was a pound more fish than I’ve caught in 15 years and I was quite excited. A few more casts and I caught another fish, this one almost breaking 2 lbs. I figured if I kept at it, by the end of the day I might have enough fish that, combined, would weigh as much as the smallest fish Mike would catch that day.
We broke for lunch and it gave me the opportunity to ask Mike the questions that I would imagine most people would ask him if they had the opportunity.
Ed: When we were kids, we fished for a lot of different kinds of fish, but mostly for stocked trout and catfish. Did you ever think you’d make your mark as a trophy bass fisherman?
Mike: Not at all, I just wanted to fish more than anything else in the world, i did not care what species of fish as long as they put up a fight.
Ed:This lake (Poway Lake) has been our “home” lake for over 30 years and it’s changed a great deal since we started fishing here back in the late 70s. What’s changed for the better? What’s changed for the worse?
Mike: Lake Poway is a small lake where kids can learn to fish and that has gotten better over the years with some added structure. On the downside the lake is infested with quagga mussels which are killing the ecosystem and I’ve seen a huge decline in the numbers of big bass in the lake.
Ed: Of all the local lakes, which is your favorite?
Mike: San Vicente Reservoir
Mike: It is a deep semi-clear reservoir that offers lots of different types of shorelines from steep hard rock to large boulders, to flat shallow bays and offshore islands. It also has large blue catfish over 100 lbs and some giant bass.
Ed: What drives you to hunt big bass?
Mike: Catching big bass is the end game of big bass hunting. And what drives me is the never-ending challenge of trying to figure out where the bass are in the lake and what to catch them on. It’s always a game with the payoff being landing that big bass.
Ed: Was coming close to the record a positive experience?
Mike: The day I caught the 20-12 was the most peaceful day of my bass fishing career and nothing else mattered that day. It has been a positive experience, especially since it has only been done a handful of times.
Ed: Is there anything you would have done differently knowing what you know now about that whole experience?
Mike: The first time I weighed the big bass she weighed over 22 lbs, so I have learned the first weight is the official weight. I never leave the house without a verified scale. Who knows what would have happened had I known to bring the right scale that day.
Ed: We’ve talked a little bit about tournament fishing, and I know you’re a pretty competitive guy, but you refuse to fish competitively. Why is that?
Mike: Raising a family costs lots of money these days and trying to get kids through college and finding a new job has been a huge challenge of survival this year, so tournament fishing has taken a back seat until there is some money available to fish them right.
Ed: When we were kids, you used to keep a notebook, filled with data from our fishing trips. I know you’ve converted all that information into a spreadsheet. Do you ever let anyone peruse that information?
Mike: My data is my data. I have spent years collecting it and don’t let anyone have access to it. I do, however, teach people how to build a spread sheet and convert their data into a useful form that will help them in their pursuit of giant bass.
Ed: Why did you choose this format (a website) to share your information?
Mike: I love the World Wide Web. It’s amazing what you can learn from different people, all over the planet. I wanted to be part of this global classroom… doing my part is to simply share as much as I know about bass fishing. If I can help others to learn and see things a little differently in their pursuit of big bass, this website will be a success in my eyes.
Ed: Is a book out of the question?
Mike: One of my goals is to write a book, and in fact, I have my first more than halfway done. Hopefully I will finish it soon and have another way to share what I know with people who are willing to learn.
Ed: What does the future hold for you as an outdoorsmen?
Mike: Lots of adventure, taking my abilities on the road and traveling the globe in pursuit of giant fish is my future goal. Sharing that with everyone would be the icing on the cake. I LOVE to catch fish and I hope that desire never changes.
We spent the rest of the day simply figuring out where the fish were and what they’d likely bite. I honestly can’t remember how many fish Mike caught that day, but I can tell you he beat me by a country mile. This isn’t unusual of course, and I doubt many people can keep up with him when he gets in a groove, but it was fascinating to see someone so knowledgeable about a given pursuit put it into practice. After spending a day on the lake with him, he’s still every bit the kid I met over 30 years ago. Maybe a little grayer, and a little thicker around the middle, but still loves what he does and loves sharing what he knows with everyone he meets. 30 years later I can safely say that I still learn something every time we spend time together.
He’s still the professor and I’m still the student.
Everyone who fishes for bass has a “go to” lure, or a special technique, a secret lure, or special color, or size bait that when fishing gets tough you need a secret weapon to tie on. And the longer you fish, the bigger the bag of these tricks. Sometimes you can barely remember what is in your bag of tricks and at times your lure, or technique works so well you don’t ever want to talk about it, not even with your best fishing buddy. All kidding aside, when it comes to swimbait fishing I have a few secret swimbait techniques that will, by far, help you catch more and larger bass when times get tough and the bass go deep.
Here in California in the deep water reservoirs we fish during the Winter months, and parts of the Summer months, we chase suspended fish as deep as 80 feet and some even deeper in the case of the bottom fish. Basically we hunt for bait and fish with our fish finders, and once we find some bait and fish that look good on the graph, we attack them vertically with 1/2 ounce spoons and ice jigs. Its just like a video game with the goal to drop your lure vertically in the water in front of the boat and graph while watching it fall on the graph and once you see it in the target area you begin to pop the lure upward. This looks like zig zag line with another line running through it and if things work out correctly you hook up quickly. But over many years of practicing this technique, I never hooked a bass over 5 pounds and I knew there had to be some big fish down deep around the smaller bass. I could see the big fish marks on the meter and at times while dropping an underwater camera down deep I could see the big bass, so I knew I had to think outside the box if wanted to catch these deep water giant bass.
Back in the late 90’s I use to have Jason Scott, one of the former owners of Castaic Baits, send me four, six, and eight inch trout swimbaits without any internal rigging systems in the baits at all. I just wanted a plastic swimbait painted with no hook and no weight. My goal was to get these baits down to where the big bass were hiding during the winter months. My idea was to nose hook these lightened swimbaits and to vertically drop shot them with a 3/4 ounce, or 1 ounce weight.
It took a few trips to really dial in this heavy drop shot rig and to figure out what pound fishing line to use. 15 pound fluorocarbon is what I found to work best for me.
Now it was finding a big mark on the fish finder and testing it out. The first thing I found was when using the larger baits (6″ and 8″) I would get lots of tail bites and very few hook-ups. I could see teeth marks on the tails and I knew once I found the bigger bass that they could inhale the entire swimbait, so I had to rethink what I was doing and this took some time. Quite some time, actually. Well over two years of trial and error to dial this new deep water technique in and increase my big bass hook-up percentages. The number one thing I learned is to be patient. I tried not to use tail stingers because when I did I hooked lots of good bass in the gills and killed them, so the goal was to nose hook my baits and find the right hook.
I have always felt, throughout the years, that the deeper the bass, the easier they are to catch, as long as you can get the right bait in front of their face. This is an area where I worked hard to make the bait look as life-like as possible. I paid close attention to the gills, eyes, fins, and tails.
I have found, through trial and error over the years, that a swimbait with a natural straight tail, or a slim boot tail works best when drop shotting in deep water, I can’t really say why… I just go with what the bass want in my world. When I first used the Castaic swimbait, I would fold the tail backward and glue it together to give it a natural look, it seemed to help and I got more hook-ups on the folded tail vs. not folded.
This drop shotting a swimbait should be called “drop shotting a still bait” because the bait just needs to get in the deep water area where the bass are holding and sit still and look lifelike and balanced. I truly believe in the years of doing this that you really need to pay attention and make sure your bait is balanced correctly and sits horizontally in the water. This is why I always start with a plastic bait that has no internal rigging — or weight in it at all — first. And when I rig this plastic only bait, check to see if it floats horizontally in the water. If it doesn’t, I will add nail weights as ballast till the bait sits flat in the water and looks as natural as possible.
There are quite a few companies such as MattLures, Rago Baits, and Jackall, that make some great swimbaits for drop shotting. The picture to the right shows two of the most productive lures I’ve ever drop shot in deep water with. The Jackall Clone Gill which is a 2 1/2″ bait that flat out gets bit at all depths due to it’s small size and lifelike colors and the MattLures Gill which is a 4 1/4″ bait that has an incredible lifelike appearance and has been, for me, one of the best big bass secret weapons I’ve ever drop shotted in deep water. In fact in the last four years I’ve caught more big bass drop shotting the MattLures gill in waters as deep as 80 feet than any other swimbait.
As for the hook I like to use, I almost always use the same size and style when heavy drop shotting in deep water. I prefer the Owner Weedless Wacky Hook size 1. I have tried lots of hooks and had the best success with the Owner Weedless Wacky. It has a weed guard on it which does help keep the bait on the hook and out of trouble when drop shotting in structure.
There have been times on the larger swimbaits when you will feel a fish grab the lure in deep water and you go to set the hook and miss him, but in most of these cases I’ve found if I just let my bait fall back in the same zone I got bit in, that the bass will come back and bite it again. At times I believe if your patient you can almost create a feeding frenzy with these deep water bass, which when you find them seemed to be schooled up in large groups.
So exercising some patience and keeping your bait in the correct zone is one of the keys to successfully catching some of these big deep water bass while deep water drop shotting.
When it comes to swimbait fishing there is one question I hear all the time… “Is there a swimbait for every occasion?” As a student in the game of swimbait fishing, I believe the answer is yes. There have been many fishing trips I’ve taken in my life where all I could bring was a backpack. This limited what I could take and no matter what season of the year, I always pack at least one swimbait for the trip. So having a swimbait for every trip is something I have been practicing for years and I have learned that the question is not, “is there a swimbait for every occasion,” but instead what style of swimbait will work for every occasion.
Over the years, I have used many different brands of swimbaits and I always preferred a swimbait that had a slow rate of fall, that was around 6″-8″ in length, had an internal rigging system, and most of the time a hook coming out of the back. The hook out of the back is always a preference for me because of slow-rolling on the bottom. I love to cast a swimbait out in deep water ,let it sink to the bottom and slow-roll it back uphill hitting as much structure as possible along the way. But I have learned from trial and error, over the years, that not all swimbait shapes, with a hook on top, are good for slow-rolling over rocks and branches.
I look for swimbaits that have broad, round heads. Most swimbaits have a very narrow, oval shape and these shapes will hit structure and turn on their side easier letting the hook grab structure. This will either compromise your hook point or snag stucture and you lose your bait.
Most swimbaits have a distinct profile and shape, so finding a swimbait with a wide, round head can be tough. Some of the broad head baits I’ve found are built to have a hook come out the bottom, but over the years i’ve learned how to modify these swimbaits to get the hooks where we want them. So with the bottom hook design if you run a small piece of a coffee straw vertically through the middle of your swimbait, you can now run your line from the bottom, through the middle of the bait, to the top, and then tie your hook. Now you have a broad head top-hook bottom bumper.
Another thing I’ve learned over the years is the difference between boot-tail style swimbaits. We often forget how important the tail of a swim bait is; it is the engine of the bait and dictates how much vibration the bait will put out. The larger the tail, the more kick and vibration it will put out and also how much drag the bait will have; which is important in how slow or fast you can retrieve a swimbait. And in my years of swimbait fishing and talking with others, I would say it’s safe to say that the boot-tail is the most popular tail of any swimbait ever made. What’s nice about a boot-tail is that it lifts the bait as it swims. The larger the boot tail, the more lift you will get from the rear of the bait. This is great if you’re bumping the bottom where you don’t want the swimmer to bury into the bottom structure, but rather ricochet off with just the lower jaw of the swimbait hitting the bottom structure.
The boot-tail style of swimbait is also great for burning it just under the surface where the tail will lift and V-wake the surface, while the head and mid section run just under the surface of the water. This presentation is deadly if the bait is built and balanced correctly. The boot tails can be designed in many different shapes like the few shown above. Others feature teardrop, oval, round, triangular, or figure- eight shapes, and some are even square and every style swims just a bit different, so it is very important to pay attention to what your using.
In the picture to the right, you can see grooving on the tail. It does two things: first it gives the tail a life-like appearance in the water by simulating the rays on the trout tail and second, as the tail moves in the water, the grooves give the tail a slightly different movement action and vibration.
Over the years, I’ve really had the best success in boot-tails with an oval grooved shape tail about the size of a quarter in the a 6″-7″ baits, and the size of a half dollar in a 8″-10″ swimbaits.
In order to have a swimbait for every occasion you might need to field modify it a bit. If I have a 6″ broad head or wide-head swimmer with a hook coming out the back and it has a hook and a 1/4 ounce of weight added, this swimmer should work great for surface burning and slow rolling down to 5′ of water. But if I need to get deeper, lets say 20’plus, I need some more ballast and that’s why I always have some tungsten nail weights of 1/4 oz and 1/2 oz. in my travel bag and in the boat. This will allow me to add weight to get my swimbait deeper and also adjust the ballast to be able to get the nose of the swimmer down, which I believe is a huge key to my success while slow rolling on the bottom of the lake and bumping structure.
As you can see in the picture to the right this is what I like in a perfectly balanced swimbait for bottom bumping. You want to add just enough weight to get your swimmer to the bottom and be able to slow retrieve it while just barely scratching and bumping, but not dredging, the bottom. Almost like the low gravity of when the man was on the moon running and jumping, this is what you’re looking for while adjusting your swimbait with tungsten nail weights. The ideal is to swim through the zone touching once in awhile, but not snagging on the structure and compromising or losing the swimbait.
When I decide I want a swimbait that I might slow roll off the bottom occasionally, I look for a bait that has very thick pectoral fins that are pointed downward. These fins help balance the bait when you let it rest on the bottom and slowly retrieve it back in. You know the fins are correct when you set the swimbait on a flat surface and sits perfectly without falling on its side.
So I believe it’s safe to say there really is no single swimbait for every occasion, but more of a style that will work for most occasions. Sometimes I clean my boat up and I’m amazed at all the different baits that accumulate over a season, but one thing I always recognize is it’s normally one style that did the best out of all the others swimbaits all year long.
Crawdads or rainbow trout? This is a question I ask myself every year around this time when the days are getting shorter and the nights are getting colder. I always wonder what the bigger bass are doing and what they really want to feed on during these colder days. Where I live here in San Diego, California our Fall and Winter months can be one of the best times of the year to to catch a few really fat healthy bass, maybe even that one trophy you have been chasing all year. I myself have caught a 17-2 out of Lake Jennings Ca. in November on a jig as well as an 18-1 out of Lake Poway Ca., also on a jig. Both bass were very deep; the Jennings bass was in well over 50′ of water while the Poway bass was caught at around 40′ of water. I find that during the colder shorter Fall/Winter days the bigger bass seem to be deeper, gorging on crawdads every chance they get. But once in awhile, I hook a good bass well over ten pounds on a swimbait during these same periods.
Every year is just a bit different and this year has been one of the hottest on record. It is almost Halloween and the air temps are in the 90’s while the water temps are still around the mid 70’s and a bit higher at some lower elevation lakes, so even though the days are getting shorter there is still some unusually warm water to be found and even some top water action still going on during the day. Typically this time of the year the water temps are in the low 70’s and the nights are really cold and clear so the bass are typically deeper where the water temperatures are a bit more consistent.
These deeper bass seem to be mainly feeding on crawdads and even with trout stocks starting they still remain very focused on slowing down and feeding downward on crawdads. I believe the cooler water decreases the bass’ metabolism and encourages the large female bass to slow down and start loading up on calcium-rich crawdads. I have seen this scenario play out year after year and that is why I prefer to use a jig with a crawdad trailer from October through March. Historically for me throughout this these months the jig has always been a high percentage go-to lure in the colder water. But every now and then, after a few trout plants have been put into the lakes, I’ve noticed some short windows of oppurtunity where some of the bigger bass seem to want to chase some trout over feeding on crawdads.
This is where I scratch my head trying to understand why these big bass have a slight change in their diet during the cooler months. I want to understand what triggers these bass to change their feeding pattern, if I can understand some of what influences this change then I might have a chance of being at the right place with the right lure and hooking a good bass.
One thing that I’ve noticed over the years during the Fall and Winter months is on clear, sunny, warm days with little to no wind that around 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. I have witnessed some monster bass up shallow in 2′- 10′ of water just sitting on some shallow warm rock piles as still as possible as if they were sleeping. I believe that after eating crawdads for several days that these hard shell crawdads are very hard to digest and load up in the bass’ stomach and intestines, thus pushing these huge bass up shallow where the warm sun can help to warm up these bass and help to increase their metabolism which will help to push these crawdad shells through the bass’ digestive system just a bit faster.
And if the weather stays warm during the Fall and Winter months for more than a week, I have seen some huge female bass start to set up on shallow structure and ambush anything that will swim by and this typically is one of the freshly planted rainbow trout that are such an easy target for these frisky bass. But I’ve also noticed they don’t seem to want to expend too much energy or travel too far to catch one of these trout. This is where the game gets interesting. Now where some of these bass are set up on shallow ambush structure you now have a strike zone and it is up to you to discover what the range of that zone is.
As I have written about on MikeLongOutdoors, when a cold storm approaches where I live, it will push some monster bass out of their deep hiding areas of the lake and put them almost on the bank for a brief period before the cold storm arrives. This is when these bass seem to be very frustrated and highly aggressive. These short windows of opportunity before the storm arrives, with falling barometer readings, have historically been great times for me to be tossing a swimbait over a jig and the results, at times, have been very good for a large bass on a swimbait. But these monster storms don’t come in every week and the bass always seem to move back to their deeper winter crawdad areas and now it’s back to scratching my head trying to figure out why, and where these big bass are again. But truthfully I love this part of the game almost as much as the payoff!
When looking at my notes and talking with other swimbait and jig fisherman, I have noticed that these big bass will definitely at times come out of the deeper winter waters and chase and eat the swimbaits. Too many people have shared their stories that say the same.
One of the greatest things to happen in my world of learning and sharing info has been FaceBook. I have met thousands of people from all over the world who share the same passion as me in pursuing these monster bass. I have gotten well over a thousand emails and private messages from people wanting to pick my brain and for me I have picked their brains too. I can’t even begin to tell you how much I have learned about bass characteristics around the globe. Now I’m asking you for your brief stories on this topic of crawdads or rainbow trout. I can’t wait to hear your thoughts.
I would like to say I’m always on the latest train when it comes to swimbaits, but when it comes to the glide-bait style swimbaits, which have been around awhile, I have missed this train quite a few times and even when I get on it I’m a little lost. I’m just an old school guy who loves to bump a swimbait off the bottom, or structure targets and the glide style swimbait is just a totally different style. Jerry Rago made me a few glide baits well over ten years ago and I fished them hard, but always fell back on my strength bottom bumping a swimmer. But bites change and you have to change with them or you will be left behind and the glide style swimbait is getting real hot again. So this time I hope I got on the train at the right time to get to lunkerville.
Company: Rago Baits
Weight: 4 oz.
Length: 7 1/2″
Lure Type: S-motion
Hinge Style: Single Joint, Drop Pin
MSRP: About $75.00
MLO Rating: 4.5 out of 5
I’ve got to say Rago Baits is once again setting the bar with the new handcrafted Rago GlideGill lure. It is a very durable bait made out of resin and weighted perfectly for the glide motion style of fishing. I found that if you retrieved the Rago GlideGill at a slow to medium retrieve that the Gill would do a slow steady 1′ wide S-motion and when you pumped the reel handle at different intervals you could make the Rago GlideGill glide left an right as far as 3′ and sometimes even farther.
At a length of 71/2″ and a weight of 4 ounces this is a medium-size bait that you’re gonna need a light swimbait rod or a medium-heavy 7′-6″ rod and at least 15 pound line. You’ll want to spool up with fluorocarbon line when working the GlideGill back in. The glide motion is best worked from the reel handle, not so much in the rod so you want zero line stretch. You’ll find when using this reel handle technique that the length of the glide will depend on when you turn the reel handle to stop it and turn the bait to its next glide direction. It glides while your not turning the handle.
The top of the Rago GlideGill has the Rago scale pattern painted on the bait which gave the bait a very realistic look in the water.
The bottom of the Rago GlideGill has an orange breast paint job, while the belly has a pearl-white skin. On the front view of the Rago GlideGill you can see the pectoral fins as well as the grooved gill plate which really gives this Gill some definition and life.
Most glide baits are single jointed baits and the GlideGill has a new patented V-joint hinge system that works really well and is extremely strong. I have quite a few glide-baits that I have been field testing and this new V-hinge style glides just a bit better than them all.
Rago Baits made it very easy to replace the tail with the removal of one screw. This is very convenient if you break a tail, want to try another color or different tail size.
The following link is a cool video of the Rago GlideGill in action with Oliver Ngy and Ryan Crandall:
Pros: It’s very durable, casts great, and has the Rago Baits new hinge which gives this bait incredible glide action. It’s a very stable glide bait.
Cons: I would like to see the eyes placed farther off the bait and I want to see some more colors.
MLO Rating: 4.5 out of 5
When I was a young kid many years ago Mepps Lures Company each year would put about six of their best spinners in a cool little box with lots of pictures of giant trout and pike caught on their spinners with those pictures plastered all around the box. I gotta say it would get me all excited and pumped up looking at all the pictures on the box. Then, looking at the spinners inside, I couldn’t wait to get to the lake and fish the spinners. There was a feeling of excitement that was hard to describe.
That’s the exact feeling I got when I received my Mystery Tackle Box in the mail. I was very excited to open the box and see what baits were inside and look at the lures and could not wait to try them out.
Company: Mystery Tackle Box
Founder: Jeremy Gwen
Price: $15.00 per month subscription
Lures: Multiple new lures each month
MLO Rating: 5 out of 5
Mystery Tackle Box is a monthly subscription service that introduces anglers to quality new lures and techniques for just $15 a month. Not only do customers receive cutting edge tackle at an incredible value, but you also experience the excitement of receiving a package every month.
The Mystery Tackle I received had five awesome lures and baits inside starting with a WackOJig which is a revolutionary jig head that will change the way you fish a “wacky” rig. Along with the WackOjig were some 5″ Sick Stick wacky worms, that were perfect for the jig head. I also received a cool Strike King football head jig for going after the big girls, along with a Raptor Tail Chunk to put on my jig as a trailer. Last but not least was a Chatter Frog Micro which I was very impressed with.
The best part of the Mystery Tackle Box is the cool cards that come inside the box that briefly describe the lure, or bait, and have a link to a webpage where you can learn more about the bait along with a video review and demonstration.
If your new to the sport of bass fishing, or have been in the sport for years, I really think you’ll enjoy the Mystery Tackle Box. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve said “I should have bought that lure,” and didn’t. Now, I have a chance to get one each month as well as some great how-to use information on techniques and a full lure description.
Pros: How can you go wrong getting well over $20 of lures for $15 and how-to info that will help your fishing game immensely.
Cons: Found none, great idea!
MLO Rating: 5 out of 5
“How to catch larger bass,” is probably the most common topics of discussion whenever I meet fisherman. Well, this is a question that can’t be answered in one sentence, but I will do my best to provide an answer that can get you on your way to catching larger bass.
The first thing you have to do is commit some time on the water. This is by far the most important thing you must do in order to catch larger bass. If you’re not there on the water you don’t have a chance to catch any bass at all. So trying to get out on the water early and staying till dark is a must. This has been the one major factor that has helped me catch some giant bass. There have been days when I started to recognize patterns that the bass were in and this helped me because then I knew the next day what to expect and how to prepare to catch these giants. Sometimes it was just as simple as bringing a new lure to try to see if I could catch a few more bass or some larger ones.
Another very important element in locating and catching larger bass is learning about and studying the ecosystem of the lake or stream you’re fishing. There is an old saying: “match the hatch”. Well, this is exactly what you want to do and by understanding your lake’s ecosystem you’ll understand where the bass are and what they prefer to feed on.
Understanding and finding an ecosystem in your lake or stream takes a little time invested, but the payoff can be huge. Where I live, here in Southern California, we have small, deep resevoirs that are built to hold drinking water so the water is very clear and clean and not as full of nutrients as many other dirtier, darker-colored lakes. These clear waters are full of phytoplankton, which rely on minerals found in the waters they live in, such as iron, nitrate, silicic acid, and phosphate. They then absorb energy from sunlight through the process of photosynthesis. The sun’s energy allows the phytoplankton to convert the minerals in the water to a source of food they can use to survive. These plankton are the foundation of food chains in the lakes I fish with minnows, shad, small bass, and small panfish eating the plankton and larger bass eating the smaller fish and so on. There are also other parts of the food chain that drive the ecosystem where I fish and they include the crayfish, sculpin, and aquatic insects that live both in and on the water. By understanding what’s in the food chain where you fish, you’ll slowly start to put the pieces together of how the ecosystem is driven in the waters you fish. Once this is done, you’ll spend more time in the right areas at the right times and you’ll start catching larger bass due to matching the hatch.
In the lakes where I live the favorite food bass hunt throughout the year is crawdads. These crawdads, which are high in calcium content, give the bass a healthy bone structure and the calcium is also key for a female bass in the development of eggs. Crawdads are something that are easy for bass to hunt and catch while exerting very little energy.
So when you want to really catch some of the bigger bass in the lake you need to match the hatch with a jig or any other crawdad imitation. Even using live crawdads caught from the same lake you plan to fish is an awesome game plan to catch a bass of a lifetime. Two words you need to remember when fishing a crawdad, or a crawdad imitation lure, are slow and deep. These two words are key in catching large bass. As a bass ages, it becomes weary when hunting and begins to hunt at a slower pace, much more of a sit and wait ambush mode. The bigger bass understand to not to move to0 quickly around potential prey, to just sit, or move at a snail’s pace to avoid threatening the prey. So by fishing slower and deeper where these giant bass feel much more comfortable is key in catching these keystone predators of the food chain and the king of the ecosystem of the lake or stream.
Another huge factor in catching large bass is knowing where the prime ambush areas are and understanding the timing of these areas. I’ve found where I live, with water clarity being 15′-20′ on average, I need to fish during the low-light periods for ultimate success in getting some of the monster bass to eat. Once I’ve found a few structure-oriented ambush areas that I feel are key spots, I try to figure out the right direction to set up on these key spots to present a bait correctly through the key structure area while paying close attention to the speed of the retrieve. Then it’s all about the timing of these key spots which is driven by the sunrise-sunset and moonrise-moonset. I have found in my years of keeping data that the hour before and after both the sunrise and the moonset are beneficial times to be on a key spot. My records show that well over 75% of the bass I’ve caught over 10 pounds were caught around these time frames.
Sometimes catching a bigger bass is as simple as just fishing the biggest lure you can that matches the hatch and in some cases is even larger than the prey. In the world of swimbaits here on the West coast we have been matching the hatch with Rainbow Trout swimbaits with an average size of 8″-12″ and the occasional 13″-16″ monster swimbaits. Our mantra is go big or go home. When chucking these monster lures it takes the right tackle along with some fitness and endurance to chuck and wind these big lures all day. But keep in mind to fish slow and deep even though this is hard to do when you’re all pumped up to toss these big lures. It’s hard to slow down. So remember next time your out on the water and wanting to hook some larger bass try paying close attention to what’s going on above the water as well as under the water and slow down and fish deeper. Good Luck!
I’m going on that fishing trip of a lifetime. When I retire I’m going to travel. When I have the time and so on and so on. One of the most influential person I ever met was a guy I knew for only a week. He had a machine shop that our company was interested in buying. His name fails me right now, but its not relevant to his story, we talked shop and we talked about fishing. He talked about finally being able to retire so he could go on a fishing trip he had dreamed of for so long. I was in my late 40’s and could relate to his eagerness to fulfill his trip. I found myself feeling the same way and thinking, “Yes, when I retire”
Fast forward one week. I’m in the machine shop office and I answered the phone. It was my new found friend. This would be the second time I ever talked to him and it would be my last. He started by saying hello, then went on to say, “remember that fishing trip we talked about? It’s not going to happen.” When I asked why he began to cry and he explained that after some routine tests he had the prior week, they found some spots on his lungs. Cancer was found, a date was given, and all I could do was listen. He said, “It’s not fair Danny. I worked my whole life to be able to fish and do all the things I dreamed of. It’s not fair, Danny.” His voice crackling again. My words of comfort didn’t come easy and I’m sorry was all that I could say. He said, “Don’t wait. The time may never come so do what you love now. Make time and find a way because nothing is guaranteed.” His words still ring in my head and the life he planned after he retired was gone.
This one brief encounter with a man I barely knew changed my whole outlook and what I would do regarding living in the moment. I’m not going to tell everyone about my own health issues and problems because we all have a story to tell. I decided at 56 that I would step away from my job of 38 years and pursue my passion for Bass fishing plus some other things on my bucket list that I loved. My kids were all gone and I didn’t have the responsibility of raising a family plus my wife was very supportive and still enjoyed her work. My short-lived friend from the machine shop passed away shortly after that phone conversation 16 years ago and his story stayed with me all these years.
I guess my whole point is don’t wait, do what you love, pursue your passions. Life is too short and things will get in the way. I’m not saying quit your job, but don’t put off that fishing trip or that day on the water with a friend, child, son, daughter. The time may never come when you retire or when you have the money. Until next time my friends, enjoy the great outdoors, don’t wait !
Every now and then you find a bait you like and that’s exactly what I found with Pro Swimbaits line of custom swimbaits. I field tested two sizes the 5″ and 7″ inline Pro Wake swimbaits. The first thing I noticed right away about the swimbaits was the incredible paint schemes the baits had they looked fantastic out of the package.
Company: Pro Swimbaits
Lure: Pro Wake
R.O.F.: (5″-5′) (7″-10′)
Style: Soft Plastic Inline Swimmer, Boot Tail
Custom Paint: Yes
Weight: (5″- 1 oz) ( 7″-1.9 oz)
Colors Tested: Baby Bass, Ghost Trout, Sexy Ghost Shad
MSRP: See Website For Current Pricing
MLO Rating: 4.5 out of 5
I have been tossing swimbaits for a long time and I have seen how hard it is for swimbait makers to create a new lure that is not like any other swimbait that has come before it. I truly believe as a bass fisherman we benefit from this drive the swimbait makers have to make the lures better than ever and just when I think I’ve seen a particular style of swimbait top-out , out comes a new twist to it and that is exactly what Pro Swimbaits has done with there Pro Wake inline swimbait series.
I got a box from Pro Swimbaits with some different sizes and colors in it like Lavender Shad, Sexy Ghost Shad, and Baby Bass and the field test lake was crystal clear so the colors of the baits really stood out. I was very impressed with the brightness of the colors on the Pro Wake swimbaits they really looked good in the water and the texture of the baits was top notch very flexible bait which shows while they swim in the water.
As you can see by these pictures of the Sexy Ghost Shad and Baby Bass the bar has been lifted. These colors just looked incredible in the water. What I liked was after tossing the swimbaits all day and catching fish on them the colors looked just as good as they did when I first tied them on.
One of my favorite types of swimbaits is the ones that separate from the hook, the “inline” style swimbait. This style swimbait helps keep the hook in the bass’ mouth by not having the weight of the bait shaking the hook free.
As you can see from the video the Pro Wake swimbait looks great in the water. You can also jerk the bait during the retrieve which I was shocked how well it looked walking the dog underwater.
Pros: Great colors to choose from, the Pro Wake Swimmer casted far in the wind and swam very straight. And after catching bass all day on the swimbait it still looked really good.
Cons: It was hard during low light hours of the morning to find the hole at the nose of the swimbait to run the line through.
MLO Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Doing a review on Lunker City’s 10″ Fin-S-Fish was real easy for me since I have years and years of experience with this bait. It was one of the first swimbaits I used to catch lunker bass with when I was younger and is still to this day a go to bait for me for large bass.
Color: Rainbow Trout
Weight: 1.8 oz. (w/hook)
Lure Type: Jerk Bait
MLO Rating: 4.5 out of 5
The 10″ Lunker City Fin-S-Fish comes three to a package with one custom 8-0 long shank hook that works perfect with this large bait and for the price of $6.59 this is by far one of the best deals out there to catch giant bass. This is one of the oldest and largest jerk baits on the market and once you tie one on and start to rip and jerk it you’ll quickly understand why some of us in the big bass world have kept this lure a secret.
The Fin-S-Fish is 10″ from the nose of the bait to the tip of the tail and is 1/2″ wide. The narrow design of this giant jerk bait really helps give this bait life in the water. Lunker City uses a good plastic that is very flexible as well as durable. I have caught numerous toothy bass on one bait.
The 8-0 hook that comes with the Lunker City Fin-S-Fish is 3 3/4″ long and perfect for this 10″ monster jerk bait.
Once you Texas Rig the hook through the nose of the bait you bring the hook back up through the bottom and inside of the bait where the slit is and then out the back where there is a small channel that helps keep the Fin-S-Fish weedless.
As you can see by the picture above the hook width matches the Fin-S-Fish height perfectly so your hook-up ratios will be very good. Once you’ve rigged the Fin-S-Fish your ready to fish it, I like to use a medium action rod, with 15-18lb flour-carbon line. The retrieve on the lure is where the fun begins, you can let the bait sink to the bottom and slow pop the bait off the bottom, or my favorite retrieve is to work the rod tip with continuous downword strokes towards the water making the Fin-S-Fish walk the dog and pop out of the water. This lure can be rigged so many different ways, you can use a nail weight to help the bait sink faster and deeper and then rip and jerk it. You can also side-rig the bait which really gives this bait a wild effect in the water and if you want to work it in deep water fast try rigging it with a heavy Carolina rig and working the 10″ Fin-S-Fish in the deep water channels where I have had some monster over ten have jumped all over it.
Pros: Great price for such a large versatile jerk bait, easy to rig and fish. Really good plastic very durable.
Cons: Only one custom large hook comes with the three baits in one package, so don’t lose it!
MLO Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Growing up and living here in Southern California one of the best jobs you can have, in my opinion, is being a weather forecaster mainly because it’s almost the same weather here all year long with an average air temperature of around 72 degrees. What an ideal job! But all kidding aside, we do get some good, cold winter storms roll in from northwest from time to time and we have some years where we get what is called an “El Nino” season where it will rain hard every two to three days from January until April due to unusually warm ocean water around the equator pushing to the north. These storms are normally warm and loaded with moisture and, when they mix with cold air loaded with ice from the northwest, the warmer air will melt the ice high in clouds and pull a large percentage of the water out of the clouds making fishing very interesting.
So, first let’s begin by looking at the true definition of weather: The atmospheric conditions that comprise the state of the atmosphere in terms of temperature and wind and clouds and precipitation. In the world of fishing weather it’s one biggest driving forces that make fish move in the water columns from deep to shallow water and vice versa. Fish always look for stable conditions. One of the reasons for this is the way they mentally map out an area where they’re going to hunt, feed, or spawn and when the water level drops, or rises quickly, or weather changes drastically, most fish will back off and suspend and wait till these situations stabilize before they will begin to remap a hunting, feeding, or spawning area. So when you have a really cold-air winter storm start to move in, you’ll notice a change in how the fish start to act and feed. There are two factors at play here: barometric pressure and low-light conditions.
Barometric pressure is an atmospheric pressure as indicated by a barometer and the atmosphere is basically just air surrounding the earth. When you have water in the atmosphere you have low pressure which will be measured by a barometer. The more water that’s in the air, the lower the barometer reading will be and so on. So whenever you look up and see a blue sky, this is a high pressure light-air condition and when you look up and see clouds in the sky this is a low-pressure condition with lots of water and ice floating in the sky. But, due to Earth’s gravity, these clouds have weight and want to fall towards the earth. And what determines the weight of the clouds are their size of the clouds and elevation. The higher in elevation the cloud is in the sky, the more the water molecules in the top of the clouds freeze and sink down towards the earth. This frozen water really weighs the cloud down. So when we get a cold storm from the north-west, with hundreds of miles of clouds packed together that are high in elevation, it’s like a freight train in the sky that has carts loaded with water and ice and as it moves closer to land you start to see the barometer readings drop. This is how it all begins in our world of fishing in relation to cold air and atmospheric pressure on the water.
So now we have this huge mass of cold and wet air that we call a storm moving towards the lake. The atmosphere is being pushed which creates heavy atmospheric pressure in front of the storm which is shown by a drop on the barometer. As a result, the fish, which use an internal swim bladder system that gives them the ability to control buoyancy and stay at different water depths, begin to feel the affect of this pressure that is in front of this cold air storm rolling in. The swim bladders are internal and filled with an oxygen gas mixture. The less gas that’s in the bladder will allow the fish to sink and with more gas in the bladder the fish will rise. The swim bladder is much like our lungs except most fish cannot expel the gas out as quickly as we can let air out of our lungs. This means that the fish needs time to slowly absorb the gas from the swim bladder to the outer glands. And as a fast moving cold storm approaches, the fish feel the pressure on their bladder first due to the added water pressure resulting from the increase in atmospheric pressure on the water. This increase in pressure starts to compromise the fish’s buoyancy in the water and starts to make the frustrated fish move to shallower areas to help relieve some of the added water pressure on their swim bladder.
To better understand this situation, if a fish is suspended in a lake is sitting at around 20 feet using it’s swim bladder for buoyancy, it has adjusted and is comfortable sitting at 20 feet with 20 foot of water weight pressure above it. But ,when you quickly add atmospheric pressure like a storm moving in and putting added pressure on top of the water, this adds to the water weight above the fish which makes the fish very uncomfortable. The fish will then start moving around and trying to find relief from this new added water pressure. In a few hours or more, the fish can start to adjust and absorb some of the bladder gas and find some relief from the new pressure rolling in overhead by the approaching storm. So, as you can see in this huge game of adjustments, which is change in a fish’s environment and will put the fish on the move until it can find some stability which may take some time for the fish to adjust to.
Now with lots of suspended fish getting frustrated and moving toward the shallows to find some relief from the pre-frontal conditions the bigger the fish the more affected it is. I have seen some monster fish move up shallow swimming around in just a couple of feet of water and most of the time these fish are very aggressive and easy to catch. I have found the pre-frontal dropping barometer window that will push fish shallow to be very small and length depends on how cold the approaching storm is along with the storm size and speed. But typically where I live the pre-frontal fishing window is around 3-6 hours and then the fish seem to adapt and adjust to the new atmospheric pressure overhead.
The other factor of having clouds overhead is the low-light condition. Fish love to hunt and feed under low-light conditions. Hunting out of a shadow is much easier than on a bright sunny day condition where small fish tend to hide until there are low-light conditions. The one factor you need to pay attention to after a storm has arrived is to look for stable conditions. If a storm rolls in and you get 2-3 days of steady clouds and rain, the fish will adapt after about 48 hours. But as soon as anything changes drastically, all bets are off and the fish will go back to a holding pattern till conditions stabilize. This is by far a very frustrating time as a fisherman because every atmospheric disturbance is a mixture of things and tend to always be just a bit different than any other before it. So finding tiny windows like in a pre-frontal falling barometer, or when the storm stalls over your area for a few days and conditions stabilize where you can find small productive fish catching windows where the fish are willing to bite is all part of the challenge of paying attention to change. Knowing how to read a barometer and understanding what kind of storm is in the atmosphere is all part of the homework you need to do to understand when and where you need to be.
But here in Southern California, we get the majority of our storms throughout the year from the West or Southwest and these storm are built off warmer waters so the clouds are thinner and warmer with no ice at the top of them. These storms tend to stretch for hundreds of miles and since the density of lower, warmer, thinner clouds is less they won’t push the barometer readings as low and these storms tend to be slower moving also so the fish have plenty of time pre-frontal to adjust to a slower change in the atmosphere. What I normally look for with type of weather is the shallow low-light condition. Typically the weather is very steady and the fish have had plenty of time to adjust and are in the shallows hunting and feeding. This has historically for me been a great time for a swimbait mid-depth (5′-10′) or on the surface. I have had some great times under theses conditions and landed some giant bass.
Some storms are packed with winds from all different directions and, once again, the rule of stable conditions in the fishing world applies. The fish will ride out the winds and wait for conditions to stabilize offshore suspended and as soon as the conditions stabilize the fish will start to move shallow and explore the inshore areas once again and begin their hunting and feeding ritual.
I have found that even on clear blue sky during a high-pressure weather pattern that the fish will look for stable conditions and once again if the weather stays in a stable pattern for more than 48 hours you can start to pattern the fish and find them to be much more predictable in their daily migration routes from deep to shallow water and vice versa and now it’s more about the timing of their movements with low-light conditions along with the moon, and sun phases.
So next time you watch the news and see that the weather is changing you’ll know how to change with it and catch more fish.
MattLures is at it again and this time he has created one of his best hard resin bass swimbaits to date. The new MattLures 7″ WakeBait bass weighs in at 2.5 ounces and was built to trick and catch the big ones!
Bait: 7″ Bass WakeBait
Swim Style: S-Motion/Surface Wakebait
Composite: Hard Resin
Weight: 2.5 oz.
Custom Paint: Yes
Hinge Style: Drop Pin/Screw Eye
MLO Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Test driving new lures is always a blast for me and this new MattLures wakebait bass was awesome. Believe me these pictures don’t do this paint job justice, it is just incredible how life-like the paint job looks on this swimbait.
This is by far one of the best bass wakebaits on the market. I found at a slow to medium retrieve this swimbait had an incredible surface waking action, the top of the tail just slightly stuck out of the water while the first section of the bait ran just under the surface and stays very straight.
This three piece bait has plenty of flexibility to help it wake and having the first section being half of the baits body length gives the Mattlures Wakebait Bass great stability in the water so the last two sections can go to work and wake the surface.
MattLures worked really hard to make a new joint system for his wakebait bass that has concave sections where the following sections will fit inside and what I really like is how he painted the sections all the way around giving the wakebait a life-like look as the sections move.
I still can’t believe how real the paint job looked, its detail is awesome especially the pelvic fins and the head and body markings, he even added a splash of gold in the paint to highlight the green. MattLures has really been paying attention to detail over the years. When you run your finger along the sides of the bait you can feel the scales as well as the lateral line I was very impressed with this.
I have always been a huge fan of eye sockets that tilt downward and that is exactly what MattLures has done by tilting the eyes down and using a signature real-life MattLures eye.
MattLures used a super strong material for the tail that you can stretch all you want and not rip it, he also made it with a two wood pin system that you can remove if you needed to replace the tail.
As you can see by the picture above the MattLures Wakebait floater just sits under the surface, it is a very buoyant lure.
The WakeBait will come in four colors; light bass, dark bass, striper, and smallmouth and will be officially released later in the year, but if you pre-sign up at http://www.mattlures.com you can get on a waiting list to be one of the first to drive this new Mattlures 7″ Bass WakeBait.
Pros: Very well built durable bait from the internal rigging harness to the tail, MattLures has designed a new almost unbreakable resin that should give these swimbaits years of life. Also I like how all the fins were built to take plenty of abuse, there not built to thin very thick and durable and the paint job looks incredible!
Cons: The bait was built to be a wakebait with basically one speed, I found I wanted to rip and jerk the bait sometimes but it did not respond very well to that technique, but with a slow-medium retrieve it swam exactly how it was designed.
MLO Rating: 4.5 out of 5