Featured Image Credit: Chad Hoover
When I first started fishing kayak bass tournaments seriously, I heard the names of anglers who others liked and respected. I wanted to know the anglers at the top. As more time passed, I was fortunate to meet all of them. I made friends on and off the water with many and still enjoy those friendships today.
I still remember the first time I talked with one of the more respected kayak anglers, Jody Queen.
We ended up at the same ramp in La Crosse, Wisconsin while pre-fishing for a KBF event two years ago. He and long-time friend, Brian Aliff, were getting their kayaks ready to launch. He had no idea who I was or where I was from, but he talked to me as if we had known each other for years.
That is just the kind of guy Jody is to people. Not only is he one of the most consistent competitors in the kayak world, he is just a cool dude who is willing to share.
Z-Man Jackhammer: Jody Queen’s Favorite Bait & Technique
I gave him a call the other day, curious about his favorite technique – looking for some info from a master. Having talked with him at different events, I thought he was going to tell me a jig.
During an event at Cedar Creek in Kentucky, we talked about his success fishing grass edges with a swing head jig, and he had talked about jigs a lot at other events.
I was a bit surprised when he told me a chatterbait, more specifically, the Z-Man Jackhammer.
Then he told me about last year.
“I made over forty thousand dollars with the Z-Man Jackhammer last year! I fished jigs and other things, but that bait has become my favorite. I won the Hobie TOC on Lake Oauchita in Arkansas with one. I learned a lot about chatterbaits this year; I fished it almost constantly. I grew up fishing jigs, but I fished the chatterbait all year.”
Then told me about his success, specifically, about getting the Z-Man Jack Hammer to “hunt”.
Jody’s Lesson on the Z-Man Jackhammer
If you use a Z-man Jackhammer on a flat like I did at Oauchita, I am usually throwing it in around five feet of water. I am usually fishing in water where I can get the bait back. I would find a stump or log off the bottom partially submerged on a flat and I will throw just past them, and as soon as it hits the water — and it’s a timing thing — have the reel engaged as soon as it hits the water and pop it real good. It will do a quick flip and a half circle. Then when you start reeling it will straighten out again. I caught 104-inches fishing it just like that on Rodman Reservoir (including a 9-pound 2-ounce largemouth – see video of Jody and Cory Dreyer on the water).
Jody prefers to throw the Jackhammer on his Cashion rods because of the sensitivity in the rod that allows him to feel the vibration from the blade run all the way down to his palm. The carbon fiber handle allows Jody to feel the moment that blade stops moving, so he’s ready for the hook set instantly. Jody uses rod model F90474B as his choice rod for the Z-Man Jackhammer. This rod, as every other rod in the Cashion line is proudly made in the U.S.A.
It is a reaction strike you are going to get, like a spinnerbait bumping off a piece of structure.
I think the spinnerbait has a more lumbering action; they don’t have that hunting quality. The Z-Man Jackhammer will hunt anywhere you pop it. You can be in the middle of a sandbar, you want to make it hunt, pop that bait and it will veer off 6 to 7-inches before it straightens up again and you can keep doing that and it looks like it is hunting all over the place.
Some trailers make it hunt better than others. You can offset that trailer too, if you want it to really wide hunt. During the KBF National Championship, I was taking a Z-Man Diezel Minnow and bringing the hook out of the back, a little offset. It would run straight as long as I reeled it slow, but as soon as I sped it up, it would shoot off to the side. Those fish would just slam it! As soon as it started hunting to the side, they were just Slammin’ it!
Green pumpkin and black and blue down south — I use Diezel Minnows, and paddle tail trailers. If I want to keep it higher in the water column, I use the paddle tail diesel minnows. If I want to drop, I use the razor shads. I usually use the ⅜ ounce… throwing ’em in the grass, throw ‘em in the junk. If you pull it out of the grass and they don’t bite it, let it fall back in again. When you jerk it out of the grass, they will hit it hard.
Darker waters, darker blades… if they seem to be hitting shad, I will throw a whiter bait with a shinier blade. You can match the hatch with them really well.
Using Electronics To Increase Bites on the Z-Man Jackhammer
Jody and I also talked about his continued growth as an angler. He shared his experience learning how to better utilize electronics.
This year was a huge learning curve for me with electronics. I just got my first electronics a couple of years ago, and Kristine Fisher helped me out a lot.
I pulled up next to her and she was crushing them like she always does. She told me to “look right here, this is my waypoint and this is my stop sign”
I said “what do you mean stop sign?”
“I use the stop sign to show me where to put my boat to hit the waypoints. I used this on Oauchita to mark spots. I marked over 70 waypoints… then I just went around and around, dropping baits on those points.”
Rus Snyders talked at the Trail Championship this year about marking the grass line every twenty-five feet. He said if I found a cut, I would back up and mark where the lines went in; he was drawing a line to fish.
Finding the active fish is the next challenge… one way to tell when you are looking at your sonar if you are looking for bass, flip back to regular sonar and get an orange-ish or yellow return it is most likely a bass. Carp do too, but they stack up different than crappie and bass. I asked him if he minded me sharing this.
He said “No, go right ahead. I want everyone to catch fish, I want everyone to have fun”.
Jody is one of the few guys on the kayak trails who doesn’t fund his fishing with a day job.
“This is what I do for a living… this year coming up will be my third year doing this for a living. This is what I do.”
But that’s not all …
A Little More Info on Jody Queen
Jody is quite the artist and has another passion he is quick to share with you. He has always created art, but had never done it as a source of income until a few years ago. A serious accident involving his wife, led him to a gallery that displayed some of his art to generate income.
He has turned that into an effort to help others in his community and now lives at a 33,000 sq. foot school, the Ramsey School. It houses a non-profit organization that provides a platform for local artists.
“It is a very depressed area around here, and there are a lot of local Appalachian artists, talent that does not know how to market themselves, and do not really have a place to display their work.”
“We are an outreach for those young artists (or established artists) who cannot move outside of the area. We give them a place to display their work. We have been doing it for ten years, and the state is now starting to recognize… we are starting to see grants coming in. I think we have a message to share with the world. My wife keeps everyone in line, and helps to write grants. She is the business part of it.”
Check out the Ramsey School, look for Jody Queen on Facebook and YouTube.
This article was contributed by an ANGLR Expert
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