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Glide Bait Fishing | A Full Breakdown with Alex Rudd

Big swimbait fishing is alluring and addictive, but not easy on the old ticker. Everyone who has thrown a big swimbait any reasonable length of time has at least one heartbreaking horror story involving a lost giant and a lesson learned the hard way. We sat down with big bait aficionado and ANGLR Expert Alex Rudd to discuss how he approaches glide bait fishing to help you cut down on the learning curve.

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Fishing a Glide Bait: When to Throw a Glide Bait

Early spring when the water temp is in the low 50’s, the bass seem to want those big paddle tail, soft body swimbaits for some reason. But the more we start to move into the high 50’s and low 60’s when the fish are moving into the late pre-spawn, that’s when I want to get the glide baits out. I think it has a lot to do with the fish fattening up right before they go onto their beds.

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I like a glide bait all throughout the spawn though.

I live in Tennessee. In the south, we’ll have fish all over the place. There will be some pre-spawn, some spawning, and some post-spawn. A lot of the time the bass I’m wanting to fish for are spawning in 10-feet of water where I can’t see them and actively fish the beds. So, I’ll just lock a glide bait in my hand because I can draw bites from the big pre-spawners that haven’t spawned yet, I can draw spawners off the bed because they think it’s a bluegill, and then I can get those post-spawners to eat because they are coming off the bed and their instincts are driving them to eat.

Fishing a Glide Bait: Where to Fish a Glide Bait

You can target spots, smallmouth, and largemouth with a glide bait. The spots I’m usually going to try to draw up out of deep water. So, main lake points are good. I’ll target anything with a shelf where it goes from like 5 to 15-feet of water, then has another shelf from 15 to 30-feet. I’m just going to cast it up there and start working it back and you’ll have packs of fish come up and try to kill it.

For smallmouth, I definitely key in on where the river channel swings.

Those big obvious areas where the river channel swings in and there’s a gradual taper. I’ve found that those smallmouth, on bright sunny days, will want to move up there and feed while they just kind of hang out and sun themselves.

With big smallmouth and big spots, they’ll want to spawn beside something big. So, if you find an area with gravely rock and then big boulders, you’ll want to work it past those big boulders and they’ll crush it.

If I’m targeting largemouth, I’m looking for any kind of hard structure. Boat docks, laydowns, seawalls. All of those really obvious places where you think, ‘well somebody’s already hit that a thousand times’. Well yeah they probably have, but they haven’t thrown an 8-inch glide bait at it. It if looks good and you think a fish ought to be sitting there, I’m going to throw that glide bait at it.

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Fishing a Glide Bait: How to Throw a Glide Bait and Why

I’m going to make more than one cast at those areas too. I want to make 5 or 6 casts. I want to change my angles. Because a lot of times when you’re fishing for a bigger than average fish, that fish’s instincts are a little more honed than the young ones. So, you have to mess with the angles to get them to come up and investigate the bait.

A lot of times when you’re fishing laydowns or docks, the fish will come up out of there just to see what it is. I think they do that because of two main factors. There’s nothing that displaces that much water with that kind of signature.

That bait is just so big and pushes so much water that those bass just have to come out and see what it is.

The other thing is, usually when a bass sees something that big, it’s not fake. You have a lot of bass that are conditioned to certain baits and certain sound signatures whether they’ve been hooked before or not. Over time, that self-preservation instinct in their mind flips them into a mood where they don’t want to mess with anything. But when you throw an 8-inch glide bait at them that’s slow moving like that and lumbering, that’s an easy target for them and something they’re going to eat.

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I always want to be able to see the bait when I’m fishing it.

The biggest reason is, I want to be able to see the followers. You have to read their body language. You’ll have fish that come in on it real hot and then pull off of it. You’ll have fish that follow it out and are just lazy and investigating it. Then you’ll have fish that I call trackers. Every time that bait glides, those trackers will follow it and be right on its tail.

In most of my experiences, those fish will eat the bait. Their body language is telling me that. So when I see that, I’ll start to make more distinct movements. I’m not just gliding it at that point. I’ll make a few big twitches and make the bait do a 180 and turn around and look at them. Or I’ll speed it up and make it look like it’s trying to get away from them. And that’s when you can get that reaction bite. That’s the deal. Once you see the fish, you want to get them to react to the bait.

You can catch them in a little dirtier water too where you can’t see them. I’ve done it where they just blast the bait and I never see them. But most of the time, I’m looking for that little bit clearer water where I can see the fish and determine if they’re going to want to actively eat it or if I’m going to have to work them a little to get them to eat it.

Fishing a Glide Bait: Gear to Use

Glide Bait Rod

My rod is a little unique. It’s an 8-foot Extra-Heavy, moderate action G-Rod. But it’s a prototype. The main thing those is the 8-foot Extra-Heavy gives you enough back bone to really toss those big baits. I’m throwing 200 S Wavers, 8-inch Mag Drafts, even a Depps 250 on that thing. Those are anywhere from 8-to-10-inches and 3-to-6-ounces.

One of the other big things about that rod is the moderate action, because a glide bait is really just a giant crankbait. I think a lot of people lose big swimbait fish because they use too fast of an action rod. You have to have the heavy power because your throwing those big baits. But the action can be different. You also want that moderate action so when they bite it, you can drive a hook in but not rip it out. It’s really easy to rip a 2/0 treble hook through a fish’s face.

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When you have that moderate action, it also absorbs the shock of the fish eating it.

And then it drives the treble hooks in and doesn’t rip them out. It’ll load up like a cranking stick, almost to the first guide. The action also helps on throwing the baits because you can load the rod up and really whip the baits out there and get them to go.

Glide Bait Reel and Line

I use a Lew’s Super Duty 300 reel spooled with 25-pound P-Line CXX. It’s a copolymer mix between monofilament and fluorocarbon. It’s neutrally buoyant so wherever you put it in the water column, that’s where it’s going to stay. It doesn’t sink or float. It has a little more stretch than fluorocarbon but not as much as mono and I feel like that little bit of extra stretch in the line helps absorb a little of that shock too. The one thing about swimbait fishing is when you do get a bite, it’s usually going to be a big one and they’re usually going to freak out when you hook them. So, you have to have something that absorbs that shock like the moderate action rod and the copolymer line.

Selecting the Right Glide Baits

My three go-to glide baits are a 200 S-Waver, a Deps 250 and a Megabass I Slide in the 185 and the 262 sizes. The 185 and 262 I Slides are a little bit different. You want to work those baits really hard. They’re still glide baits technically, but you want to work them almost like a jerkbait. I start to fish those baits more towards the post-spawn because the bass seem to be a little more aggressive.

Glide Bait Hooks

One thing I’ll do every time is change my treble hooks. Something like the Owner Zo Wire Hook is what I’ll use most of the time, but honestly, I use a lot of different ones. I like something that’s still a strong, stout hook, but with a little finer diameter so you have a better chance of hooking the fish. Especially with big spots and big smallmouth. They’ll tend to slap at it more than really commit to it and eat it. Those fish will come up out of deep water and hit it but more with the intention to kill it and not eat it right away. I feel like with a little smaller diameter hook you have a little better chance of hooking those fish that just want to slap at it.  

Watch Some Glide Bait Action Below!

Covering the Fishing Rod Basics: Selecting Your Rod System For Bass Fishing

Fishing is a sport which can be done with the most basic and rudimentary equipment. A simple cane pole, 5-yards of line, a bobber, a small hook, and live worm will get the job done in many situations; unfortunately, this low cost option is not realistic as we begin to advance and specialize in our pursuit. The advanced bass anglers in particular and anyone competing in the sport, know how specialized our sport has become over the past 20 years. You can find a variety of technique specific fishing rods and even a full variety of fishing lines for specialized presentations.

There are rods, reels and lines made to work exclusively for Spinnerbaits, Crankbaits, Jerkbaits, Chatterbaits, Frogs, Senkos, Punch Rigs, Carolina Rigs, Drop Shots, Shaky Heads and more. There is so much specialization, even anglers at the highest level of competition are outfitting themselves with 12 to 16 technique dedicated rods. Some of the B.A.S.S. Elite, FLW Pros and Major League Fishing Pros may even keep 20 or more fishing rods in the rod locker, to cover the gamut of possibilities.

But being realistic, I know not everyone wants to own this much equipment and some of the biggest questions for the beginner, intermediate or minimalist anglers are;

Why do we need so many different fishing rods?

What makes one fishing rod different than another?

How many fishing rods does a bass angler actually need to cover the bases?

In this article , I want to shed light on these questions and hopefully simplify the task of selecting a proper bass fishing arsenal. Before we get into my recommendations, we must first examine the characteristics of a fishing rod to learn what makes each fishing rod unique.

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Fishing Rods: Material, Power, and Action

To identify what makes one fishing rod different from another, we must look at three major characteristics: material, power, and action. These are the primary characteristics which contribute to the way a rod performs and also determine what type of lures and situations they are suitable for. There are other visible and not so visible components (including: reel seat, grip, guides, wrapping, color, finish and craftsmanship), but in general the way a rod blank performs has to do with the materials used, the weight rating or power of the rod, and the action of the rod blank.

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So what are the various materials, powers and actions?

Fishing Rod Material

Fishing rods can be made from bamboo, steel, graphite, fiberglass and composite material; but the overwhelming majority of modern manufacturers are designing rods from graphite, fiberglass or a combination of both graphite and fiberglass (called composite).

Each of these materials have their own advantages and disadvantages:

  • Graphite

Graphite is the most common material used when making bass fishing rods and for many very good reasons. Graphite is light, sensitive, responsive and the most effective choice of material when fishing Jigs, Texas rigged plastics, Dropshots, Carolina rigs, Frogs and Spinnerbaits. Some anglers may even opt for graphite when fishing Topwater, Chatterbaits and Rattletraps depending on the fishing situation.

  • Fiberglass

Fiberglass is the second most common material used when making a fishing rod blank. Fiberglass is much heavier and slower than graphite, but also more durable. Rods made from fiberglass are an excellent choice when fishing with live bait, Crankbaits, Topwater and any time an angler wants a slower/softer response from the fishing rod. The drawbacks with some fiberglass; aside from being heavier, is the reduction of sensitivity and fish steering power.

  • Composite

Composite rods are made with a combination of both graphite and fiberglass, which makes them sort of the best of both worlds. The blending of these two popular rod materials, allows the rod blank to respond slower but still maintain some of the rigidity and sensitivity found in graphite. The composite material is also lighter, faster and more responsive than 100% Fiberglass ; and is a great option for Crankbaits, Chatterbaits, Rattletraps, Topwater or anytime you want slightly more sensitivity and control than Fiberglass.

Fishing Rod Power

The next major rod characteristic is rod power; and this is simply the rods ability to handle lure weight, line, and various cover situations. The options here can often be confusing, as not every stick is measured with the same power rating system. Some manufacturers rate their fishing rods with a power number and others classify the rod power as Ultra Light, Light, Medium-Light, Medium, Medium-Heavy, Heavy or Extra Heavy. I’ve found power ratings can vary greatly from one rod manufacturer to another, but the typical ratings are: Medium-Light (4 power), Medium (5 power), Medium-Heavy (6 power) and Heavy (7 power).

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There are some extreme situations where other rod powers may be used, but 99% of the time these are the rod powers a bass angler should consider:

  • Medium-Light (ML = 4 Power)

A Medium Light power is the type of rod a bass angler might use for very small jigs, dropshots, split shots, and other light tackle presentations. I personally avoid Medium-Light because of my primary fishing style, but anyone who fishes lightweight finesse lures often, may want to consider a Medium-Light. In general a Medium-Light is classified as a 4 Power and works best with 4 to 8-pound test and 1/16-ounce to 3/16-ounce lures.

  • Medium (M = 5 Power)

The Medium power rod is popular amongst bass anglers and best with medium weight lures and also when cover and vegetation is minimal. I own a few rods in this power and find them very effective with light weight Topwater, Texas rigs, Shaky Heads, Tubes, Grubs, Jerkbaits and some Crankbaits. The Medium power stick is most commonly classified as a 5 Power and works best with 6 to 12-pound test and ⅛-ounce to ⅜-ounce lures.

  • Medium Heavy (MH = 6 Power)

The Medium-Heavy power rod is the most popular rod power for Bass anglers and will work for an incredible range of lures; it’s the staple rod power for most SpinnerBaits, Crankbaits, Toads, Spooks, Chatterbaits, Casting Jigs, Spoons, BuzzBaits, Carolina Rigs and more. The Medium-Heavy power rod is almost always classified as a 6 Power and will work best with 10 to 17-pound. test and ¼-ounce to ¾-ounce lures.

  • Heavy (H = 7 Power)

The Heavy power is the big boy stick and not commonly used in every area of the country; unless extreme situations call for extreme sized lures and great amounts of leveraging power. The Heavy power rod is the kind of rod we typically want for Flipping Jigs, Punch rigs, Deep Diving Crankbaits, Hollow Frogs and on some occasions very large Topwater baits. A Heavy power rod is often referred to as a 7 power rod; and works best with 14 to 25-pound test and ⅜-ounce to 1 ½-ounce lures.

Fishing Rod Action

Another very important characteristic to consider when selecting a fishing rod is rod action. Some fishing rods are made to react and return to rest very quickly and other rods are made to react and return to rest very slowly; and this is what we call rod action. A few things to keep in mind are; SLOWER rods will typically cast better but have lower sensitivity and less fish steering power; while FASTER rods will typically cast more poorly but have greater sensitivity and more fish steering power.

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There are rod actions which fall between fast and slow and some rod actions which fall beyond these actions; below I will outline these and what each rod action is generally used for:

  • Extra Fast

The Extra Fast will flex only about 10 to 20% down the rod blank, allowing an angler to quickly utilize the blanks power and backbone. These rods are excellent for single hook baits and anytime an angler wants the greatest level of sensitivity, control and the most leveraging power during the hookset; but conversely they are poorer performing rods during the cast and can sometimes pull lures away from the fish too quickly during the hookset.

  • Fast

The Fast action will flex about 20% to 30% down the blank before getting into the rods backbone; providing a good balance of sensitivity and castability for the majority of fishing techniques. These rods are often used for Texas Rigged Plastics, Jigs, Carolina Rigs, Frogs, SwimBaits, Buzzbaits, Spinnerbaits, Rattletraps in grass, Jerkbaits, Drop Shots, Shaky Heads and more. When in doubt about rod action, just remember fast action rods will be suitable for half of the presentations and lures required when bass fishing; and are the most common action found in any bass anglers arsenal.

  • Moderate Fast

A Moderate Fast action will flex about 30 to 40% down the rod blank and should be strongly considered when fishing Spinnerbaits, ChatterBaits, JerkBaits, Spooks, SwimBaits and Squarebills. The Moderate Fast action will provide a fraction of a second slower reaction time than a standard Fast action and be more forgiving throughout the cast and hook set. I believe Moderate Fast action rods are the best choice for power fishing moving baits or for any situation when sensitivity, castability and additional rod forgiveness would all be equally important.

  • Moderate and Slow

Moderate action and Slow action fishing rods are on the slowest end of the spectrum, and will flex from the halfway point of the blank and sometimes down towards the handle. These slower reacting rods are designed almost exclusively for Crankbaits and other treble hook style lures. They are generally manufactured with all Fiberglass construction or sometimes a mixture of materials called Composites. These more flexible design materials offer greater durability and additional flex throughout the rod blank; which improves casting and hooking percentage, but can conversely lower sensitivity.

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My Fishing Rod Recommendations

The process of narrowing down my top 5 recommendations has been somewhat tedious, mostly because we all fish for bass in different parts of the country. The type of power and action required in the South may rarely be needed for fishing for bass in the North. So, in making my recommendations I decided to look at every possible bass fishing situation an angler could face anywhere in the United States and then I placed a strong emphasis on rods which can serve multiple purposes.

With this approach, naturally, some of the more specialized rods have been excluded.

I believe the following fishing rods have the best multi purpose capabilities; and will allow you to cast the majority of bass fishing lures while accommodating the broadest range of presentations. So, here are the five bass fishing rods every angler should have in their arsenal.

  • 6’6” to 6’10” – Medium power Fast action (Graphite Spinning Rod)

A medium power fast action multi purpose spinning rod is an absolute must own; it’s capable of throwing Tubes, Worms, Senkos, Mojo rigs, Drop shots, Shaky Heads, Poppers, Jerkbaits and Light Crankbaits. The medium power fast action will cover almost every sparse cover and deep water finesse situation imaginable. This is the rod many bass anglers start with when first getting into the sport; it’s easy to cast and covers a variety of medium weight bass presentations up to a ½-ounce.

  • 6’6” to 7’1” – Medium-Heavy power Moderate-Fast action (Graphite Baitcasting Rod)        

A medium-heavy power moderate-fast action baitcasting rod may be a surprising choice for some of the experienced anglers reading this article, but I’ve found the moderate-fast action can do everything a standard fast action can do with only a small sacrifice in lure control and fish steering power. This type of fishing rod is great for casting moving lures up to ¾-ounce; including Spinnerbaits, Chatterbaits, Squarebills, Rattletraps and some styles of Topwater. The moderate-fast action is an advantageous choice for presenting moving baits, but when spooling up with 40 or 50-pound braided line, the moderate fast action can become suitable for casting plastics and jigs. Because of the additional rod flex, energy distribution, and forgiveness, this is one of the most versatile bass rods you can own.

  • 7’ to 7’3” – Heavy power Fast action (Graphite Baitcasting Rod)

A Heavy power fast action baitcasting rod may not always be a necessity. There are many areas of the country when this much fishing rod will not be required; however, a Heavy power rod would be an important tool for those anglers who consistently find themselves fishing through the heart of lily pads and matted surface vegetation in the Summer. This is the rod an angler could use for casting  hollow body frogs, flipping jigs and punch rigs up to 1 ½-ounces. It’s probably the least versatile rod of the bunch, but when bass settle into the gnarliest combat conditions, it becomes a crucial piece of the arsenal.

  • 7’6” to 7’11” –  Medium-Heavy power Fast action (Graphite Baitcasting Rod)

For an angler who wants to properly present Flipping jigs, Carolina rigs and Medium Sized Swimbaits; there is no better solution than a 7’6” to 7’11” medium-heavy power fast action graphite baitcasting rod. This is the rod used most often when rigging lures up to 1-ounce. This rod will have a longer handle and plenty of backbone for horsing fish from cover, but can also serve as an open water Swimbait or Carolina Rig rod. I personally prefer the 7’6” as my Multi-Purpose Flipping combo.

  • 7’ to 7’6” Medium-Heavy Power Moderate Action (Composite Baitcasting Rod) 

Last but not least, is the medium-heavy power moderate action rod, also referred to as the crankbait/reaction rod. When casting diving Crankbaits, Lipless Crankbaits or anything else with a treble hook; this becomes a must have fishing rod. The moderate action offers an improved hooking percentage with treble hook reaction lures and the medium-heavy power will provide the weight rating an angler needs to cast medium to large Crankbaits. The longer 7’6” Crankbait rods will handle deep diving crankbaits better because they generate longer casts; but the 7’ Medium-Heavy Moderate is a better all around performer for a mix of shallow, medium and deep presentations.

Covering the Fishing Rod Bases: Summary

So again, not all fishing rods are created equal, they are made from a variety of materials and designed in different powers and actions. Just as every golfer uses a variety of clubs for different golf course situations; every angler will want a few different rods to cover the widest range of fishing situations.

Loaded with this knowledge, you can now get serious about bass fishing; and these 5 rod recommendations will allow you to confidently cover the bases. I truly hope this article helps make you more informed and successful, as you begin to build your angling arsenal. Also don’t forget to add each rod combo and lure into your personal ANGLR Gear database; it’s a great way to inventory your gear and see what gear has produced best. So try it out today and take one more step towards becoming a better angler!

Dropshot vs Shaky Head: How to Know When to Use Each

Likely the two most popular finesse techniques for bass, the dropshot vs shaky head have a lot in common. Both are commonly rigged with the same baits on very similar gear. The two usually weigh about the same and are used to target a lot of the same fish. But there’s one key difference that separates them, a dropshot is primarily a vertical technique and a shaky head is primarily for dragging horizontally.

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Dropshot vs Shaky Head: The Primary Uses

Now, I say primarily in both instances because there is the off chance you see a fish on your graph and drop a shaky head straight under the boat, the fish may bite it. But if you look at the makeup of each bait and how they fall through the water column, you’ll see a stark difference in the efficiency of a dropshot over a shaky head on the vertical fall. A shaky head tends to glide and spiral downward. But a drop shot shoots straight to the bottom. This is extremely important when targeting structure and bass that appear on your graph only briefly as your boat passes by.

Dropshot vs Shaky Head: The Similarities Between the Two

I have also dragged a dropshot on the rarest of occasions. But the beauty of a dropshot is the ability to work the bait without moving the weight. So, dragging it really defeats the purpose. This brings up a common mistake that a lot of anglers make when they first start to fish a dropshot.

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One of the first times I fished a dropshot was while working on a story for FLW with Tom Mann Jr. We were on Lake Lanier in Georgia and Tom was targeting spotted bass in fairly deep brush.

The purpose of the article was to learn a technique from a pro and then pass the info along as a writer. For the young and aggressive power-fisherman I was, that day represents one of the most fundamental shifts in my fishing.

This will sound very obvious to anglers efficient with a dropshot. But for me, this key bit of advice from Tom that day was a gem. I, like many anglers, learned to fish a shaky head before I fished a dropshot. So, I was working the dropshot just as I would a shaky head, bouncing it along. Tom noticed my rod tip loading up and pointed out that,

‘You actually don’t want to feel the bait when you work it. Because if you do, you are moving the weight. That distracts the fish and draws their attention away from the bait. When working a dropshot, you only want to move the bait. So when you wiggle your rod tip, you want to let the bait drop again as soon as you start to feel any tension at all from the bottom’.

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Dropshot vs Shaky Head: Combining the Two

An interesting side note here is that I have actually seen a few guys use the two together by replacing the weight of a dropshot with a shaky head. I’ve done this myself a few times just to experiment with it. One thing that I heard from others who do this and that I also saw myself, quite often the fish would eat the bottom bait on the shaky head. This reinforces the ideal Tom instilled in me that the fish pay attention to the weight and also begs the question, ‘Why not just rig it that way all the time?

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Well again, the shaky head won’t fall straight down.

So you’ll either need to be targeting fish in fairly calm conditions where you have optimal boat control or you’ll need a substantially heavier shaky head. Also, since the invention of the Alabama Rig, many tournaments don’t allow multiple baits with hooks which takes something like this and the double Fluke rig and lumps them in with umbrella rigs. But it is something intriguing to try sometime.

From what little I’ve seen it used, anglers would primarily use this in super deep water situations where they had abnormally long drop leaders of 3-to-5-feet. This would give them the ability to fish a bait on the bottom as well as a bait up in the brush.

Baitcaster vs Spinning Reels: Selecting the Right Setup

I was raised under the tutelage of a straight power-fisherman. My father didn’t own a spinning rod. So, when it came time to step up from the Zebco 33, the more traditional next step of a spinning reel was absent and I was handed a baitcaster. I’m not complaining. I certainly have a huge advantage at times from growing up with a great power-fisherman showing me the ropes. And I can do some things with a baitcaster that are a little tricky for some people because I have had one in my hand for so long. But to say there aren’t huge holes in my finesse game would be a lie. There are stark differences between a baitcaster vs spinning reels. In this piece, we are going to examine a few of those.

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Baitcaster vs Spinning: Fundamental Differences: Drag, Spool Orientation, and Gear Ratio

The fundamental differences in these two types of reels are the drag system, the orientation of the spool, and the gear ratios. It doesn’t matter how nice or expensive of a baitcaster you buy, they don’t make one with as sensitive of a drag system as you’ll find in a quality spinning reel. And that’s what suits the spinning reel so well to finesse fishing. When using light line and small hooks, a super sensitive and smooth drag is essential.

On the flip side, there isn’t a spinning reel out there made to punch a two-and-a-half ounce tungsten weight through matted vegetation, (maybe some offshore saltwater reel, but let’s be serious here). Baitcasters may not have as sensitive of a drag, but it’s much stronger on the top end. And the spools are better suited to fit the line sizes that accompany a heavy drag.

The orientation of the spool allows line to come off the spool much quicker and smoother with less effort when casting or dropping. This is important when both skipping light baits and when vertically fishing a dropshot or shaky head.

Gear ratios are also relativity slower on spinning reels so less line is taken in on each revolution of the spool. This makes fishing anything quickly on a spinning reel much more of a chore than on a baitcaster.

Baitcaster vs Spinning: The Impact of Line Style

Line necessities play a huge role in which of these style reels are best for a given application. If heavy line is needed due to lure size, cover present, or whatever the case may be, its baitcaster all the way. If light line is needed for stealth, to get the bait deeper in the water column, or for highly pressured bodies of water, spinning reels are the deal.

But line also comes into play in another way. The primary frustration with spinning reels is that they cause line twists. This inevitably results in a catastrophic cluster at some point in the day where your debacle is then set aside to be dismantled with power tools when you return home.

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The best answer for this is braided line.

Braid has a construction much better suited to absorbing these line twists without greatly affecting performance. There will still come a time when you notice the effects of the line twists but you can fish roughly 3 or 4 times as long without having to recalibrate. And the first signs of a mishap are typically a far less devastating loop or two when using braid versus the straight fluorocarbon birds nest that sneaks up on you.

One trick for a quick reboot if you start to see the effects of line twists with braid, cut your bait off and drag your line behind the boat while idling. This will untwist the line enough to usually get through the rest of the day.

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Baitcaster vs Spinning: Technique Applications

All that being said, there’s a lot of middle ground. Even the best anglers in the world will fish the exact some presentation on different reels. Some anglers throw a shaky head or a Shad Rap on a baitcaster where others throw it on a spinning reel. Even a step further than that, there are a few presentations like a small swimbait on a jig head where an angler will throw it on a spinning reel with a braided main line and 8-pound fluorocarbon leader over 50-feet of water, and then the very same angler will throw the same swimbait and jig head on a shallow flat with 15-pound fluorocarbon on a baitcaster.

For these ‘middle ground’ techniques, there are few determining factors to help decide which style reel to go with, some we’ve previously discussed.

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A spinning reel is likely the right choice if you need to do the following: vertically drop, skip, fish light line, fish light baits (especially in wind), reel a bait slowly, etc.

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If you’re doing these, a baitcaster is more likely the deal: fishing around heavy cover, fishing heavy line, cranking (95% of the time), topwater (95% of the time), putting a lot of action in your bait, reeling a bait fast, etc.

It’s also important to evaluate your capabilities with each setup when deciding which style reel to use for these middle ground techniques. As previously stated, I didn’t have a ton of experience growing up fishing with a spinning reel, so I can’t skip very well with one. I can actually skip about twice as far with a baitcaster. While other anglers who are proficient with a spinning reel can skip a little farther than I can with a baitcaster, that doesn’t really impact my decision in a tournament situation.

I’ve spent weeks over the last few years trying to get better at skipping with a spinning reel when I’m just fun fishing, so it’s not something you shouldn’t do. But when every cast counts, it’s important to know yourself and not force it only because that’s how you’re supposed to do it”.

Baitcaster vs Spinning: My Favorite Reels

Spinning Reels:

Abu Garcia Revo MGX

Shimano Stradic Ci4+

Baitcaster Reels:

Lew’s Super Duty Speed Spool LFS

Lew’s Speed Spool LFS

Tiger Muskie Fishing in the Pacific Northwest

When a west coast area code popped up on my caller ID, I assumed that it was yet another marketing call, but this time I was definitely wrong. Upon answering, I was met with a booming voice that quickly cut to chase.

“Hey, I heard you know how to catch muskies and I want you to teach me how.”

The voice on the other end definitely wasn’t foreign, AND he wanted to talk about musky fishing, my favorite subject.

That voice belonged to Andy, a resident of the Pacific Northwest that had recently been bitten by the musky bug while on a holiday trip in Wisconsin. He informed me, to my amazement, that many waterways had been stocked in the Northwest with Tiger Muskies. But unfortunately for those locals who were interested, when it came to information, tactics and tackle, real intel was sparse to say the least.

Fishing for muskies in Tennessee at times has felt like I was the first man on the moon; flying a few thousand miles west to explore these new lakes, felt like a one way rocket trip to Pluto.

These were truly some unexplored realms of the muskie universe.

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Heading to the Pacific Northwest for Tiger Muskie Fishing

After a few phone calls and some intense game planning, everything was set in motion. I would take my leave of Tennessee, make a pit stop in Green Bay, ending up Portland. Our tight schedule would leave us with no more than a solid week on the water. Prior to boarding my flight, I nervously packed nearly every musky lure I owned into a few giant shipping boxes; there wasn’t a tackle store for miles where I was going. Extra this, every color of that, I grabbed it all. Andy and I would be starting from scratch. The only info we could find were stories of accidental catches made by anglers trolling for Salmon and Trout, so finding the right lure combination would be tricky.

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After a grueling travel day that was fraught with long TSA lines, screaming babies and one missed connection, I had finally arrived in Portland.

I grabbed my luggage and waited in front of the airport in a relentless downpour that left the locals unphased. For those of you that haven’t been to the Pacific Northwest, it’s wet, if it’s not raining I promise you won’t have to wait long.

My rainy wait didn’t last long as the voice on the phone now had a face. Andy pulled up to meet me with his massive ‘Deep V’ boat in tow. I jumped in and we were off on a tiger muskie fishing adventure I will not soon forget. Andy turned out to be the quintessential “West Coast Dude”, a laid back, Reggae loving, ‘all grown up’ hippie with no inhibitions or ego, but was harboring a growing passion for all things musky. We were definitely the odd couple, but our mutual love for tiger muskie fishing made us fast friends.

A Background on Tiger Muskie Fishing

The tiger muskie is the result of muskellunge (Esox masquinongy) and a northern pike (Esox lucius) cross breed. Tiger muskies have some of the characteristics of both fish. The caudal fins on the tail of a Tiger Muskie are more rounded than those of a true muskie. These “half breeds” do occur naturally in many places, but the Tigers of Oregon and Washington have been stocked by their respective wildlife agencies in an effort to control other invasive species.

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A nice sized Washington state Tiger Muskie!

Lakes that have been stocked with Tiger Muskies in the Northwest generally have massive populations of Squawfish, an invasive species that feeds on the eggs and spawn of Salmon and other game fish. The presence of this invasive species in Washington and Oregon has had a measurable impact on native populations.

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Squawfish, the primary food source of Northwest Tiger Muskies.

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Washington and Oregon Tiger Muskie Fishing in Reservoirs

The waterways and reservoirs of Washington and Oregon are similar in shape and structural complexity to those found in Tennessee and Kentucky. However, when it comes to depth, there is no comparison. Many of these bodies of water plunge to 200-300 feet if not more, giving a cold water species endless staging options to choose from.

The staggering depths that points, break-lines, and drops-offs plunge to can be perplexing at first glance. On southern reservoirs, muskies may hold slightly off the bottom, near points and other structural elements, but with such great depths, holding near the bottom is seemingly out of the question for these Western Tigers.

With this interesting new detail, special attention must be paid to open water areas adjacent to these structural elements.

Some of the largest Tigers we encountered were in open water, just slightly removed from structural contours. Getting comfortable with open water tactics is highly recommended for encounters like those with the Washington and Oregon Tiger Muskies.

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Merwin Lake located in Washington State.

Early on while dissecting these western bodies of water, one point of note is paying attention to waterfalls. Just like creek mouths in the MidWest and South, waterfalls attract bait-fish which in turn draw predators seeking out an easy meal.

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Waterfalls often do not have the defined edges that a creek entering a body of water will, so saturation casting is recommended as muskie staging areas are not always obvious.

Clear Water Tiger Muskie Fishing & Mid Cast Triggers

The assumption that Tiger Muskies are easier to catch or less temperamental than true muskies does not seem to be the case in the West. The fish we encountered seemed as weary if not more so than Muskies anywhere in their habitat range.

Tiger Muskie Fishing in the Pacific Northwest is generally done on extremely clear bodies of water. This can lead to some frustrating moments. Muskies engaged in a “follow” can be easily spotted, but that is a two-way street; large Tiger Muskies could often be observed turning off baits long before they reached the boat. Here in Tennessee, I am always preaching about the importance of “The Short Game” , and with a high percentage of my Southern Muskies coming in the “figure eight”. However, when targeting these western Tiger Muskies special attention should be paid to Mid-Cast Triggers.

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Andy’s first Trophy Tiger Muskie was caught using a Jointed Depth Raider.

The first element of my clear water equation is distance casting. Regardless, if you are targeting shoreline cover or open water areas, longer casts will afford you the opportunity to not only cover more water, but also allows you to add multiple mid-cast triggers. These clear water conditions often mean that the fish you see are not the ones you catch.

These deep, clear waterways also demand deeper presentations. Even with overcast conditions being normal in this region, Tiger Muskies will hold slightly deeper than one might think.

Deeper running cranking baits like the Joe Bucher Jointed Depth raider allow for numerous float ups and restarts with each retrieve. When fishing hard break-lines, start by cranking the lure down to maximum depth then simply letting it rise to the surface; this can yield phenomenal results. Any presentation that has the potential of getting a muskie in a vertical posture is deadly.

The exaggerated depths of these western waters are tailor-made for these tactics.

Utilizing and augmenting a lures sink / rise rate is often critical for generating mid-cast strikes. Simple modifications like hook changes or the addition of weight to a lure is often the first step for getting dialed in.

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Another trophy Tiger Muskie from Washington State.

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Throw Free-Falling Spinner Baits when Tiger Muskie Fishing

These classic lures are versatile tools for dissecting the water column but their action on the fall is an excellent mid cast trigger. Casts can be extended and spooky fish can be kept away from the boat by letting spinnerbaits fall near edges, drop-offs and cover.

Once the lure is away from shallow cover let it fall freely, and play out slack over deeper water. The blade will spin erratically on the fall like a wounded bait fish. At the climax of the fall, aggressively ripping it towards the surface can trigger extremely violent strikes from once weary followers. Playing with different soft plastics as a trailer is a great way to adjust the rate of descent and add an extra triggering element to the free fall.

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Suspended Animation for Tiger Muskie Fishing

Lures that suspend are deadly in clear water and allow many options for causing mid-cast triggers. The suspending version of the Depth Raider and the ERC Triple D allow for lengthy pauses and glider-like presentations. The neutral buoyancy of these lures means wherever you stop it, that’s where it’s gonna stay. In clear water adding multiple extended pauses to your retrieve is critical when presenting to negative or neutral muskies. These pauses are like a high noon showdown between the muskies and your lure, who’s gonna flinch first. During each pause, I like to wait between three and six seconds. This seems like an eternity, but when you go to make that next move it is often met by an intense reactionary strike.

For more info on suspending musky lures click here.

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The Erc Triple D & Joe Bucher Suspending Depth Raider are both excellent clear water options.

Crawling the Bottom with Gliders While Tiger Muskie Fishing

During cold fronts and less than perfect weather conditions, you can’t deny the effectiveness of glide bait presentations. During my trip west, we did encounter a cold front that brought with it some bluebird skies. The effect of the cold front and added light penetration made the muskies a little more sluggish and less than cooperative.

Regardless of where I’m fishing, under conditions like these, I’m going to turn to a glide bait.

My lure of choice is the highly popular 6″ Phantom softail, and in these clearer waters, taking advantage of the screw in weight system is critical. A Phantom with a 3/4 ounce screw-in weight will sink far faster and allow for a slower, more methodical retrieve.

With each cast in clear water, I allow the lure to fall to the bottom before I begin. Once the lure has come to rest, slowly walk it a few feet forward then allow it to again come to a full stop. Strikes using this presentation are often more of a light tick, as the muskie simply picks the lure up off the bottom. If working into deeper water, as was the case out west, vertical jigging becomes an option.

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As the lure nears the boat use vertical jigging to keep the muskies deeper and out of visual range.

I have been fortunate enough to pursue Muskies across their entire habitat from North to South and East to West. The Muskie waterways of North America do vary greatly in terms of structural composition, depths, cover and available forage bases, but one constant does exist.

Regardless of their geographical location, muskies are always looking for the same thing: forage and an advantageous strike.

If you find yourself in a new region, take what you already know about muskies and make slight alterations that fit the situation until you find the solution. For Andy and I, conquering the Pacific Northwest was a hard fought struggle. For my part, I was battling against unfamiliar waterways and a constant barrage of tough conditions. For Andy, it was an uphill climb from novice to proficient. Despite the challenges, we learned together and put some beautiful fish in the boat.

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Swimming a Jig in Shoreline Vegetation For Big Bass

Across much of the country, you’ll find a lot of lakes with shoreline vegetation. This stuff looks good, but it usually all looks good. There will often be miles and miles of water-willow, hydrilla, coontail, milfoil, dollar-lilies, lily pads and the list goes on. The problem? All too often, there’s way too much of this cover to breakdown. Especially with slower presentations. The answer? Search baits. Spinnerbaits, chatterbaits, buzzbaits and frogs all make great search baits given certain conditions. Another such search bait technique, swimming a jig.

Around the spawn, a swim jig can be deadly in shoreline vegetation. As soon as the water warms and the bass come off of their bed, I prefer a frog in shoreline vegetation but even then, a swim jig offers a great alternative when the bass won’t quite commit to a frog. But in the pre-spawn, a swim jig is hard to beat.

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The Technique to Use When Swimming a jig in Shoreline Vegetation

The key when swimming a jig is not simply chuck and wind. You want to put a little action into the bait by working your rod tip. Quick pops of the rod tip also keep vegetation from piling up on the bait during the retrieve.

When you see a bass boil on the bait, it’s best to give just a half second’s pause if you can to make sure it gets the bait in it’s mouth before setting the hook. Sometimes this isn’t possible as the bass engulfs that bait and takes off with it and feels you right away.

If that’s the case then by all means set the hook!

But in thick cover like this, the bass very seldom have the ability to hit the bait coming towards you to cause slack in your line, so if you don’t feel the fish right away, it probably doesn’t have your bait. Snatching it away from the bass makes the fish less likely to bite again. But a couple more twitches after a miss and the bass is more likely to get the bait on a secondary strike.

When fishing high in the water column overtop of the vegetation that is almost topped out, a swim jig strike is more vertical. Similar to a frog bite. However when getting down into sparse vegetation in 3 to 5-feet of water, a bite may come from any side. That’s when you’ll often just feel the weight of your bait go away as a bass swims up behind it and eats it.

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When fishing these lakes with massive amounts of shoreline vegetation, you’ll find that there are certain irregularities that can help you narrow down a pattern.

It may be holes in the vegetation where bass are trying to spawn or points in the vegetation that bass are using to ambush prey. One other key is to look for places where multiple types of vegetation converge. For instance, when water-willow meets lily pads or clumps of reeds in hydrilla lines. Those clues will often help you develop a pattern and eliminate a lot of water.

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Gear for Swimming a Jig in Shoreline Vegetation

When putting together a swim jig setup, you have to take a few things into consideration. The density and depth of the cover you’ll be fishing plays a huge role in deciding whether to use braid or fluorocarbon. I prefer 40-pound braid when possible if the cover is heavy. Braid cuts through most vegetation and gives you the upper hand when trying to keep the bass from pulling you down into heavy vegetation. But in certain situations where the water is extremely clear, the vegetation is sparse and I need to get the swim jig a little deeper, I’ll move to 17-pound fluorocarbon.

Selecting the Right Trailer for Swimming a Jig

You also have to look at what depth you want your bait to reach when you’re deciding which trailer you want to use.

There are two basic styles of trailers for swim jigs, craws and swimbaits. Swimbait style trailers like the MISSLE Baits Shockwave offer less resistance and therefore allow the bait to get deeper in the water column.

Craw style trailers like the MISSILE Baits Turbo Craw have two big flappers which cause the jig to ride higher in the water column, allowing you to fish over vegetation that has grown up towards the surface a little easier.

So, I don’t use the trailer style as much to match the hatch as I do to assist in what I’m fishing. If I want the bait to get down in the vegetation, I go with a swimbait. If I want to fish over the vegetation, I go with the craw.

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You should however use the color to match the hatch.

That goes for the jig and trailer. I’ll use black and blue or green pumpkin when trying to mimic bream and bluegill. When shad are the main forage, I’ll lean towards whites and shad patterns like blue glimmer.

Selecting the Right Rod and Reel for Swimming a Jig

Rod choice for me is typically a 7-foot, 3-inch medium-heavy. That rod size offers enough backbone to get fish out of heavy cover but also has enough tip to make accurate casts and prevent premature jerks that often lead to missing a bass when swimming a jig. A fairly high speed reel is key too to help cover water and catch up to fish when they make big runs. I prefer a 7.5:1 Lew’s Super Duty.

I like to throw a 3/8th ounce swim jig the majority of the time in shoreline vegetation but I don’t really have a favorite swim jig brand, just one main rule: it has to have a big strong hook. I’ve listed a few of the ones I have used over the years interchangeably below. They are all built with quality components and have a good hook.

My Setup for Swimming a Jig

Swim Jigs:

Swim Jig Trailers:

Swim Jig Rod:

Swim Jig Reel:

Swim Jig Line:

 

How to Throw a Neko Rig with Brandon Palaniuk

A lot of hot new techniques and baits come and go. A quick flash in the pan and then we’re on to the next thing. One technique that’s gotten a lot of attention in recent years is the Neko Rig, but it doesn’t seem to be losing traction. If anything, its gaining in popularity as more and more anglers experience its effectiveness, especially on highly pressured bass.

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The Basics of the Neko Rig

The basic Neko Rig consists of a wacky-rigged worm with a weight inserted into one end of the worm, typically the thicker end which is usually referred to as the head. When fished, the weighted head of the worm stays on the bottom while the rest of the bait stands up due to the positioning of the hook in the middle of the bait.

“It’s a completely different look from a Texas-rig or shaky head or anything else,” said MLF Pro Brandon Palaniuk. “It creates that flex in a worm but also allows you to keep the bait on the bottom and keep that tail up.”

Brandon Palaniuk’s Success with the Neko Rig

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Brandon Palaniuk knows a thing or two about the Neko Rig, having relied on it heavily for his 2017 Bassmaster Elite Series win on Sam Rayburn.

“I was using a Neko Rig and a Zoom Ole Monster Texas-rigged to target suspended bass in standing timber and brush piles,” Palaniuk said. “I could idle by those fish and look at my Humminbirds and tell if the fish were actively feeding or if they were just relating to the cover.

“If they were all huddled tight around the cover, I could catch them on the Ole Monster. When they weren’t feeding, they would still relate to the same cover but just be scattered around it. That’s when I couldn’t catch them on the Texas-rig but they would chomp the Neko Rig.”

When the fish were tight to the cover, Palaniuk would cast past the cover with the Texas-rig and drag the bait through the cover. But when the fish were scattered, he wouldn’t throw at the cover but instead randomly throw the Neko Rig around it.

“I like a Neko Rig for more offshore stuff than shallow cover. My three favorite things to throw it around are standing timber, rock-piles, and brush-piles.”

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How Palaniuk Rigs his Neko Rig

Palaniuk puts his Neko Rig together by first putting a band around his worm using the VMC Wacky Tool, then taking a VMC Weedless Neko Hook and running it through the band to where his hook point is facing up and away from the weighted head of the bait.

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“With that weight in the nose of it rigged that way, you can fish that thing right through a brush pile. If you’re patient.” Image Credit: Wired2Fish

“Most of the time I’m working the bait right on the bottom. Just a slow, cross-body pull like a Carolina Rig or football jig and I’ll shake my rod tip just a little while I’m pulling on it. That’s my go-to.”

“The biggest thing to keep in mind is the style of weight to throw with a Neko Rig. I mainly stick to three baits: a Trick Worm, a Magnum Trick Worm and a Fluke Stick. All three of those will have a little different action based on their size and salt content. But the biggest thing that will change the action is the style of weight.”

“If you want your bait to fall quicker and more vertically, throw a VMC Half-moon Whacky Weight. The majority of that weight is centered around the bottom of the weight, so it pulls the worm straight down through the water column. But if you insert the same size weight in a pencil style Neko Weight or like the VMC Skirted Neko Weight, it will cause the bait to have more of a gliding, spiral action. That more even disbursement of the weight in the nose of the worm causes it to want to wander and drift.”

How to Fight a Fish with a Neko Rig

“If you have the right setup, just keep pressure on the fish and let it do its deal. If that fish wants to run, I’ll just let it run as long as there’s not a lot of timber or brush nearby. If there is, you just want to try to lead that fish away from it.

“If one does get hung up, just be patient. Hold steady pressure but let the fish have just enough line so they can still shake their head and move. Just not enough where you’re going to get slack in your line. A lot of times they’ll shake themselves free.”

Brandon Palaniuk documented his win at Sam Rayburn through his video series called BMP Fishing: The Series. We have included it below for your viewing pleasure. It starts off with a bang.

“The very first fish catch is me catching a 8-4 on the Neko Rig at 7:30 AM on the first day of the tournament and I fought it for 3 minutes in a tree.”

Palaniuk’s Neko Rig Gear

7-0 Medium Alpha Angler Wrench

Daiwa Exist 3000

15-pound Seaguar Smackdown Braid

8-or-10-pound Tatsu Fluorocarbon Leader

Zoom Trick Worm

Zoom Fluke Stick

Zoom Magnum Trick Worm

VMC Neko Weight

VMC Neko Weight Skirted

VMC Half-moon Neko Weight

VMC Weedless Neko Hook

VMC Wacky Tool

A Step By Step Guide to Changing Your Boat Propeller With Mercury Marine

Anglers and boaters alike all know the struggle of changing out a boat propeller. Whether you’re removing the boat propeller for maintenance, or replacing the boat propeller for better performance and durability, this process can leave you frustrated and scratching your head.

We’ve been there!

So, we decided to help everyone out by giving you step by step instructions for removing and installing a boat propeller on your outboard engine.

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Removing Your Boat Propeller Step By Step

Removing Your Boat Propeller: Step #1

Before getting to the nuts and bolts of this operation, you must first equip yourself with the tools to get the job done. Now, you’ll need a socket, usually 1 1/16” will do the trick, but if you have a socket set, we recommend having that handy as not all sizes are the same and can vary by manufacturer. Once you figure out your socket size, equip yourself with a 2X4 or 2X6 piece of lumber, this will act as a stopping mechanism to hold the propeller in place and prevent the propeller from spinning when removing the nut. A final piece of equipment you can have at your disposal would be a torque wrench for installing your propeller which we will get to later.

Removing Your Boat Propeller: Step #2

Once you have the necessary tools listed above, you’re ready to dive into removing the propeller. Take your socket and fit it onto the nut, use your other hand to hold the 2X4 in place until the propeller makes contact, creating a wedge. Once the block is in place, you can then begin using the socket to remove the propeller, moving counterclockwise.

Removing Your Boat Propeller: Step #3

Once the nut has been removed, you’re ready to remove the propeller and other pieces. Simply slide the propeller up and off of the drive shaft. Be cautious in this process as to not lose or misplace any of the smaller pieces like the aft adaptor or delrin sleeve. Make sure to note the order in which these pieces were placed prior to removal in the case that they fall out of the propeller during removal. Once all these components are removed, you have successfully removed the propeller!

Now that you’ve successfully removed the boat propeller, you’re ready to perform maintenance like removing grass or fishing line wrapped around the drive shaft, greasing the drive shaft, or simply grab your new propeller and get ready to install!

Installing Your Boat Propeller Step By Step

Installing Your Boat Propeller: Step #1

In the case that you’ve removed components like the aft adaptor and delrin sleeve, the first step of this process would be adding the delrin sleeve to the bottom of your propeller. From there, you can take your aft adaptor and slide it into the top of your propeller. Once your assembly is ready and set inside the boat propeller, you’re ready to slide the entire assembly onto the drive shaft!

Note: It may take some time aligning the assembly onto the drive shaft, simply rotate the assembly until the assembly aligns with the ridges on your drive shaft.

Installing Your Boat Propeller: Step #2

Once your propeller and assembly are back onto the drive shaft, you’re ready to lock your nut back into place. Hand tighten the nut, spinning it clockwise, to save yourself some time before taking your socket or torque wrench to tighten it further. Be sure to keep your 2X4 nearby for this process to act as a stopping mechanism to hold the boat propeller in place and prevent the boat propeller from spinning when tightening the nut.

Installing Your Boat Propeller: Step #3

Once the nut is hand tightened, you may now use a torque wrench to reach the specification of 55 foot pounds of torque. If you don’t have a torque wrench, no need to worry, simply tighten down the nut with your socket. It will need to be pretty snug to avoid coming off when running your outboard. Once the nut is snugly in place, you’ve successfully installed your propeller.

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Congratulations! You’re now ready to hit the open water!

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For more information on this process, tune in as Jared Reichenberger walks you through removing and installing a boat propeller, step by step in this video from Mercury Marine!

Selecting the Right Bass Fishing Lures: Jigs vs Texas Rigs

In bass fishing, there are several baits and techniques that can be hard to distinguish from one another. In this piece we are going to look at two such baits: a jig and Texas rig. Whether you’re pitching shallow cover or fishing offshore, these two baits can be used to target some of the same bass. Let’s look at which works best for each scenario.

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Bass Fishing Lures: Jigs vs Texas Rigs – Fishing Shallow

When I’m deciding between a jig and Texas rig up shallow, a lot of it comes down to whether I’m fishing an exact target or a strike zone. What I mean by that is whether I’m making vertical presentations or dragging the bait along horizontally. If I’m pitching to stumps or bushes, I typically like to fish a flipping jig. If I’m fishing along laydowns, I like a Texas rigged worm. I tend to get hung less with a Texas rig in laydowns than I do with a jig. And I like the big hook of a jig, its vertical fall, and the bulk of the bait around stumps and bushes.

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I also like the jig more in the spring and the Texas rig more in the summer.

I think the jig triggers more strikes when the bass are aggressive and feeding heavily in the spring where as the bass are a little more lethargic and stressed in the hot summer months from the hot water. They will eat a bigger, more aggressive bait like a topwater lure, but they seem to position a little differently in the summer months like in slightly deeper laydowns instead of up around the stumps when they’re trying to spawn.

The in-between here is that I’ll use a Missile Baits D-Bomb or a tube Texas-rigged in some of the same places I’ll fish a jig. These are both a little bulkier and more compact than a worm and have a more vertical fall for fishing around cover. Where I would use an offset worm hook with a Texas rigged worm up shallow, I prefer a straight shank flipping hook when flipping a tube or D-Bomb.

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Bass Fishing Lures: Jigs vs Texas Rigs – Fishing Deep

When talking about the contrast between a jig and Texas rig offshore, we’re looking at a Texas rigged worm over the 8-inch mark and typically a football jig. There are a lot of other jigs that anglers throw offshore like finesse jigs, casting jigs and heavy cover jigs, but the contrast shows up the most between a football jig and a Texas rig.

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For me, a football jig works better in more open water situations with smooth bottoms, rock and little drop-offs. I move to a Texas rig more in grass and brush. Jigs have a tendency to get hung more in brush and also don’t come through vegetation as well as a Texas-rigged worm.

A football jig is easier to keep on the bottom. That’s why I prefer it when fishing areas where I want to maintain bottom contact like drop-offs. When you pull a Texas-rig off of a ledge it has a tendency to glide to the bottom unless you’re fishing it on a heavy weight. As you pull a jig off a ledge, if falls more vertical and can trigger strikes from fish that are sitting close to that drop. A lot of anglers will actually use a magnum shaky head with a worm in situations like this where they want to maintain bottom contact but still use a worm.

Similar to the shallow dichotomy, I prefer a football jig more in the pre-spawn and a worm more in the summer. A lot of that has to do with where I target bass in the pre-spawn, around rock, and where I target bass in the post-spawn, around brush.

Bass Fishing Lures: Jigs vs Texas Rigs – Conclusion

In conclusion, there are a lot of similarities between jigs and Texas rigs both shallow and deep. Honestly, both could be fished in most of the same scenarios, but the key difference is which can be fished the most effectively and where. So the long and short of it, I prefer Texas rigs in deep, dense cover and football jigs in rockier situations. In shallow water, I still prefer the more weedless Texas rig and opt for the jig when pitching to targets.

King Salmon Fishing Alaska: The 3 Best Rivers in Alaska

King salmon or chinook salmon in the largest species in the salmon family. These fish can easily weigh +50 pounds. King salmon can be caught in the saltwater, trolling herring and flashers or they can be caught in the rivers as they return to spawn. King salmon fishing Alaska is some of the best king salmon fishing in the world.

Due to numerous factors there has been a decrease in the number of king salmon as well as the size. If you’re planning on going on a guided trip, be sure to explain to the guide your intentions of the fishing trip. Let the guide know if you are trying to target large king salmon and if you wish to release the fish after catching. This will insure everyone understands the plan and can take care of the fish properly. As a guide myself, I wanted to discuss my three favorite places to catch big king salmon in the Alaska rivers in hopes that you might book a trip and attempt to hook a fish of a lifetime.

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King Salmon Fishing Alaska: The Kenai River

When discussing king salmon fishing in Alaska, it’s nearly impossible to not have the Kenai river come up in the conversation. The Kenai river is home to the world record king salmon caught on rod and reel.

May 17th, 1985 Les Anderson caught the world record king salmon at 97 pounds and 4 ounces on the Kenai River. Les caught the monster fish using a spin and glo with salmon eggs. The same set up Les used in 1985 is still catching 50+ pound king’s today.

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Les Andersons King Salmon – Image Credit: Alaska Sports Hall

The Kenai river, located in south-central Alaska, is around a 3 and a half hour scenic drive from Anchorage. The Kenai is a popular fishing destination due to its close proximity to anchorage, and moderate road access. The Kenai river is 82-miles long and is broken up into three sections the upper, middle, and lower river. Your upper river is predominantly where you will do the majority of your trout fishing. The lower and middle river is where most of your sockeye, silver, and king salmon fishing will take place.

The Kenai river is a large, fast moving river. Many believe the kings are larger on the Kenai due to the fast moving water, salmon have to fight as they work upstream to spawn. King salmon are a difficult fish to catch. It takes time, knowledge, and execution to hook and net a king salmon.

The most effective method for catching king salmon is to back troll using a spin and glo with salmon eggs, or using a sardine wrapped Kwikfish.

The best time to catch large king salmon on the Kenai river is in July. Specifically the last two weeks of July can be the most promising time to fish. During this time of the year you give yourself the best opportunity to catch a king salmon that is in the 40-pound range.

King Salmon Fishing Alaska: The Kasilof River

The Kasilof river is my favorite place to fish for king salmon! I love this place because it’s one of the best kept secrets in the Kenai Peninsula. The Kasilof river is located just a short 15-mile drive south of the Kenai River and is located in the town of Kasilof. This river is a glacier fed river from Tustumena lake and provides excellent scenery, peace and quiet, and rod bending King salmon!

King Salmon Fishing Alaska(2)

The Kasilof river is a drift boat only river.

Meaning when you are king salmon fishing you can not use a motor. The greatest part? This makes it nice and quiet for you to get that true Alaskan wilderness experience. The other fun part of fishing for king salmon in a drift boat is the fish will have a lot more control. This makes it more challenging to land your hook ups.

However, this can enhance the experience as you chase the king down the river maneuvering it out of rapids and obstacles.   

The king salmon on the Kasilof river tend to be a little smaller than your average kings on the Kenai River. A good king salmon in July on the Kasilof river is anywhere from 30-pounds to 45-pounds. You do see 50-pound kings caught as well, just not as commonly as you would on the Kenai River.

King Salmon Fishing Alaska(3)

The best time to fish this river for king salmon will be June 10-24 or the last 3 weeks of July.

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King Salmon Fishing Alaska: The Nushagak River

If you are searching for days full of 25-pound king salmon, the Nushagak River is the place to be. The Nushagak river is what you would call a true Alaskan wilderness experience. There are no roads and it is only accessible by float plane or boat. The most accessible way to the Nushagak river would be taking a float plane from anchorage to Dillingham. Most lodges on the Nushagak are non-permanent structures usually comprised of wilderness tents or yurts.

What the Nushagak river lacks in luxury, it makes up with the high quality king salmon fishing.

The main king salmon season on the Nushagak river will be the first two weeks of July. This river also has some of the largest sockeye salmon and silver salmon runs in the world. Depending on when you schedule your trip you can fish for a number of different salmon species and trout.

King Salmon Fishing Alaska: Takeaways

The Kenai river, Kasilof river, and Nushagak river are my top three recommendations to fish for king salmon in Alaska. Each river provides a unique experience that you will never forget. Each river features world class fishing that provides excellent scenery and wildlife.