There are fewer specialists these days touring the larger bass fishing tournament trails than in previous decades. There was a time when the Denny Brauers and Tommy Biffles of the world made a good living with one rod on the deck. In both their cases, a flipping stick. For others it may have been a crankbait or a frog. But now you have to be versatile to even survive on tour, much less thrive.
It seems though that those who win more often than not still have the edge on some technique. Though they can do it all, they still have the upper hand given the right situation. As versatile as Kevin VanDam is, should a crankbait come into play, he can still lock it in his hand and kick in the teeth of the competition. If you can get one blow up on a frog, Dean Rojas can get 10 and bury you with his expertise.
So can be said about Chris Zaldain when it comes to a swimbait, his favored Megabass Magdraft to be exact. As diverse and good of an all-around fisherman as Zaldain is, let the conditions align for his swimbait to leave the deck and enter his hand and you’ll be in for a home run hitting highlight reel. We sat down with Zaldain to discuss the ins and outs of his favorite technique.
Chris, tell us about the Megabass Magdraft swimbait.
Megabass Magdraft | Selecting the Right Size
“There are 3 sizes to a Magdraft: 6, 8 and 10 inches. Being the tournament fisherman I am, the 6-inch Magdraft gets the most play because you get the most bites on it. It catches big ones still, but it also catches numbers. I catch a lot of 3-to-5-pound bass on that size. The 8-inch I mostly bring out as a tournament fisherman when we go to a fishery that has an abundance of gizzard shad in the system. Places like the Tennessee River or any of the big fish lakes in Texas. Every time I set the hook on the 8-inch Magdraft it’s likely to be in the 4-to-10-pound range.
I typically bring out the 10-inch version only when I’m trophy hunting outside of tournaments. This is my 8th year as a professional tournament fisherman and I may have broken out the 10-inch version a couple of times in a tournament situation.
The two main colors I throw are the albino in stained water and then the white back shad in clear water.
When most people think of swimbait fishing they think of only clear water. But because of the Magdrafts signature head to tail wiggle it gets a lot of bites in stained water too. The 2019 Bassmaster Classic in Knoxville was a great example of that. The water clarity was maybe 2-1/2 feet but because of that wiggle the fish were able to feel my swimbait and search it out in the water and once they got close they were able to see that albino color and come up and eat it.
Megabass Magdraft | Do Bigger Baits Really Draw Bigger Bites?
Absolutely. We’ve all heard ‘the bigger the bait, the bigger the bass’ and that’s absolutely true. A great example of that happened in the Bull Shoals/Norfork Elite Series a few years ago. I had a really good limit on the 6-inch version and to see if I could get a bigger bite I broke out the 8-inch version and I ended up catching a big one.
I rarely catch a 3-pounder on the 8-inch, those bites are usually over 4. But I do get less bites on the 8-inch for sure. I don’t care what bass lake it is in the country, if I throw the 6-inch Magdraft all day, I think I can get at least 8 bites on it. But if I throw the 8-inch all day, I might get 1 or 2 bites. So there are a lot fewer bites on the 8-inch but they are going to be big.
Megabass Magdraft | What Are Your Ideal Conditions for Throwing a Magdraft?
The Magdraft light comes on in mind when it’s sunny to partly cloudy and about a 10 mph wind. The more sun penetration I have, the more those fish are going to be able to see it. If a fish is 20 feet away from a swimbait and it’s cloudy, they just don’t see it as well. I don’t care if the water is crystal clear, they just don’t see it as well if it’s cloudy. So the optimal conditions is a 7-to-10 mph wind so it breaks up the light penetration but there’s still plenty of light and sunny with just a couple of clouds in the sky.
As far as cover, I fish the most obvious stuff in the whole lake.
Yes, a million boats have fished that spot before me, but 99 percent of those anglers fish a spinnerbait or jig or crankbait. Still to this day not a lot of people throw a swimbait. So when I introduce a bait that isn’t thrown often to a spot that is fished often, my chances of catching the big one have gone up tremendously. That obvious spot obviously has fish on it, it’s a community spot for a reason. But you have to show them something different.
I don’t care if it’s spawn, pre-spawn or post-spawn, main lake points are what to look for. I’m a big believer that the biggest fish in the lake relate to the main lake. So I’m always going to start on the main lake then just fish the most visible stuff as possible like I said earlier.
Megabass Magdraft | How Do You Fish the Bait?
Slow and steady retrieve, just enough to keep the head and tail wiggling. I’ll hardly ever burn it. Whenever I can, I like to position my boat close to the bank almost like I’m fishing from the bank. Then I cast my bait out to deeper water and let it sink towards the bottom.
As I reel my bait in, it stays in that deeper water and in that strike zone longer.
I also have a lot of fish follow the bait when I’m fishing a swimbait. And I get a lot more of those followers to commit when I’m fishing the bait deep to shallow than any other way. I feel like the fish thinks it has trapped that baitfish and a lot of times it will go ahead and commit.
Megabass Magdraft | Do You Ever Modify Your Magdrafts?
One thing I’ll do is weight the swimbait down a little if I want to fish it a little deeper. I don’t weight the 8 inch at all. Never have. But for the 6-inch version I’ll use an Eagle Claw Pagoda Nail Weight in the belly if I want to get the bait just a little deeper.
Straight out of the package, the 6-inch Magdraft works best in 4 to 6 feet of water. I’ll use a 1/16th ounce tungsten nail weight in the belly to get it to go deeper. A 1/16th ounce weight doesn’t sound like much when you’re talking about a bait that weighs more than an ounce but it’s just enough to throw the balance of the bait off and when you do that it will stay down in the 8 to 10 feet range.
Zaldain’s Megabass Magdraft Gear
Megabass Magdraft 6-inch
Megabass Magdraft 8-inch
This article was contributed by an ANGLR Expert
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