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Texas Rig Worm vs Magnum Shaky Head Worm | What’s the Difference?

The Texas rig worm is one of the most basic and utilized tools in the bass fishing arsenal. The same can be said for the shaky head. But the two are not equal. Move up to the magnum versions of these two presentations and they differ that much more. 

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We sat down with ANGLR Expert Tyler Anderson to discuss his take on big Texas rigged worms and magnum shaky heads.

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Texas Rig Worm vs Magnum Shaky Head Worm: What’s the Difference?

Anything over 15-feet is when I’ll go with the shaky head. Less than that, I’ll usually go with the Texas rig. And when we’re talking about big worms, I rarely throw one any shallower than 5 or 7-feet. I might throw like an 8-inch worm shallower than that but not the 10 or 12-inchers. 

The deeper I am, the more I want the weight to stay together with the hook, that’s why a shaky head is so good. I hate pegging a Texas rig. I watched a Shaw Grigsby video once where he explained it. Most of the time, if you peg a big Texas rig weight, it will pop open their mouth when you set the hook.

 In Texas when I’m fishing offshore rock ledges, I’ve found that shaky heads are better. Because if I’m not going to peg the weight on a Texas rig, then the weight is going to separate from the bait either on the cast or while the bait is falling down. Then I miss some of the strike zone if my weight is 10-feet up my line and I pull the bait and can’t feel if it’s actually made contact yet. The shaky head just allows me to have more contact with the bottom in deeper water. 

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Then again a shaky head isn’t as weedless as a Texas rig. 

So if I’m fishing a brush pile, I’ll most often throw a Texas rig but maybe put the bobber stopper 3-inches up the line. 

Texas Rig Worm vs Magnum Shaky Head Worm: When do You Throw it?

When the fish first get out deep in the summer, they are the dumbest they’ll be all year, so I’ll usually throw a big worm. I like a 12-inch big thick trick worm. I know Xcite baits makes a good one and Strike King also makes a good one

As soon as the summer gets going good and the fish have seen more lures, I’ll start throwing skinnier worms or ones with a frilly tail at the end. I like to throw something like the Zoom Ol’ Monster around August and September because a lot of people will just throw the big trick worm all summer. 

Texas Rig Worm vs Magnum Shaky Head Worm: What do You do With a Worm That’s Different? 

If I do use dyes or scents it’s never the tail. If that thing is 12-inches long you don’t want the fish eating the tail. It does you no good. Sometimes I’ll use the markers to do some spirally marking to the head area. 

I’ve done that a few times and can’t say if it definitely increased my catching but it certainly made my lure look different.

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Texas Rig Worm vs Magnum Shaky Head Worm: How do You Fish it?

I almost always throw a crankbait or big swimbait first to pick off the easy ones and then just to clean up a spot, I’ll throw the big shaky head. When I’m fishing rock, I’ll use more of a football-style shaky head and when I’m fishing brush it’ll be more of a round ball head. 

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With a big worm, it’s mostly just a slow drag. 

With a smaller shaky head on a spinning reel, I think the bait stands up a lot. But with a bigger worm on a big shaky head, I highly doubt that the bait is standing up all that often unless you’re throwing a 12-inch floating worm or something like that. So for me, it’s just a slow drag to stir up as much of a mud trail as I can. That’s why I like the shaky head more because the big ball head stirs up more mud than the slender Texas rig weight. 

Texas Rig Worm vs Magnum Shaky Head Worm: What Gear do You Use?

The deeper you get, the harder it’s going to be for the fish to see your line so I don’t usually worry about throwing small line with a big shaky head or Texas rig, I’ll go with 17-pound fluorocarbon. If you’re fishing in 15-feet of water or more, you’re going to have some stretch. 

So, I throw it on a 7’6” medium-heavy in open water. If you get into the brush, maybe use a heavy action rod. Long casts are really key too, so I throw it on a Lew’s Hyper Mag which is the farthest casting reel they make in my opinion.

Rod: 7’6” Mark Rose Medium-Heavy

Reel: Lew’s Hyper Mag

Line: 17-pound Seaguar InvizX Fluorocarbon

Baits: Zoom Ol’ Monster, Strike King Bullworm, Xcite Baits MaXimus Worm

Transitioning from a Novice Kayak Angler to a Tournament Kayak Angler

There’s always a transition as you grow in fishing. From bank fishing to wanting to get off the bank, to getting in a boat. Kayaks are perfect for getting you on the water and off the bank. But as you get better and better as a kayak angler, you may want to test your skills and get into tournament bass fishing

That’s the way I felt getting into kayak tournaments. For one, I’m sponsored by Kayak Bass Fishing (KBF). So I really wanted to show people through my videos how to get into kayak tournaments. So I went ahead and tried it myself. And I had kind of lost interest in fishing big boat tournaments. It’s just kind of a different feel at kayak tournaments than at big boat tournaments.

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The Start of Becoming a Tournament Kayak Angler

The transition for me from a regular everyday kayaker to kayak tournaments was just a matter of reading the rules and going out and practicing so you don’t make the mistakes on the tournament days. Some of the mistakes you might make are mainly with measuring the fish and taking pictures. If the fish flops off the board, how do you prevent that? How do you position the fish properly in the picture? 

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There are just a lot of different rules than there are in the big boat world.

I’ve heard a little bit of criticism about kayak tournaments for going by length. Some people say they’d rather fish for pounds than inches, or people will say what’s the difference in pounds and inches and I say ‘Well you play checkers and chess on the same board, but they’re two different games’. It’s the same with kayak fishing and bass boat fishing. 

In my opinion, the length is a better gauge of who is catching the oldest and most educated fish anyway. A pre-spawn 24-incher is still 24-inches after she spawns. So you don’t lose the weight of those eggs. But I really don’t even argue it that way because it doesn’t really matter. It’s just a different game. 

Does Being a Kayak Angler Make You a Better Big Boat Fisherman? 

I do both about 50% of the time. One of the things that I’ve figured out that is totally different from bass boat fishing that I really enjoy is that you have to catch fish right where you’re at. You can’t run 4-miles down the road to another spot nearly as easily. So you’ve got to do a lot more research, a lot more prep work, you’ve got to understand your area a lot more to catch more fish right there where you’re at. 

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That’s the coolest thing.

And you learn more about being stealthy. Since I’ve started fishing out of a kayak more, I’ve started paying more attention to how stealthy I am in a big boat. I tell every boat angler, spend a month kayak fishing and keep track of how many fish bite your lure right at the boat. Because you’re not spooking them. It rarely happens with a bass boat or a big boat, for some reason you always end up spooking them and you don’t catch nearly as many right at the boat as you do in a kayak. 

So what’s the difference between a big boat and a kayak? It’s got to be the trolling motor. The trolling motor spooks a lot of fish. So I stay off the trolling motor a lot more than I used to when I’m fishing out of a bass boat.

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You Have Graphs on Both Your Kayak and Bass Boat. Does the Graph Noise Make a Difference? 

No. I disproved that this month as a matter of fact. I’m currently fishing a monthly tournament for KBF. It’s the state monthly challenge, which is the best 5 fish throughout the whole month of June. I have 109 and a 1/4 inches. And I’m seeing them on my SideScan swim back and forth less than 15-feet away. 

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I don’t think it has as much of an effect as people say. 

I think it’s primarily the trolling motor. I’ve sat on a mega school on Kentucky Lake where I was just catching them and catching them and a bass boat came by and they stopped biting. Then 15 or 20 minutes later they’d start biting again. 

What’s the Biggest Difference From the Big Boat Tournament World to the Kayak Angler World? 

One thing that I have noticed that’s a lot different and that I’ve heard a lot of people mention is the brotherhood. Because we’re in small boats and because we tend to fish a little more crazy waters like rivers and that kind of stuff, we rely on each other for safety a lot and everybody seems to be friends. There are always going to be a few bad apples, but for the most part, we all take care of each other. 

We don’t mind fishing right next to each other on the same fish either. I rarely, if ever, get angry with another kayaker for pulling up on my fish. In the tournament I was fishing on Guntersville, a guy was paddling by me and was like ‘Dude I’m struggling.’ I already had five good fish and he only needed one more fish so I said ‘Dude get your butt over here.’ He came over and parked next to me, I fired the school up with a crankbait and he threw in there and caught his last fish. 

Kayak tournament fishing is more of a culture that’s like, we’re in this together. It’s almost like a unifying underdog mentality sometimes. We have our problems with big boaters that try to flip us and that kind of stuff. But that doesn’t happen as much anymore because a lot of us carry video cameras and have exposed some of that. But even people from the outside that come in and kind of hangout during an award ceremony, they see it. It’s just a cool culture. 

Kayak Angler: Complete Tour of my Tournament Kayak Setup

Summer Bass Fishing | Flukemaster’s 5 Favorite Summer Bass Fishing Baits

Now that the dog days of summer are bearing down on us, the bass fishing bite can get tough. If you’re looking to avoid those slow days on the water, preparing yourself for the summer bass fishing bite is key!

Gene Jensen (aka The Flukemaster) lays out his 5 favorite summer bass fishing baits.

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Summer Bass Fishing Bait: Topwater

Early in the morning, it’s going to be some sort of topwater bait. First thing in the morning right when the sun starts to break out all the way up until the light starts hitting the water, I’ll be throwing some type of topwater.

Bait examples: Whopper Plopper, SPRO Poppin’ Shad

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Summer Bass Fishing Bait: Squarebill 

The next one I can probably say is one of my bread and butters just for covering water. When you’re not fishing a lot of grass and you’ve got a lot of cover like wood or even if you don’t have any wood, I’m going to throw a squarebill. It’s going to be a small one. The baitfish are typically fairly small this time of year so I’m going to throw something like a 1.5 or 1.0 squarebill. 

Bait examples: 6th Sense Squarebill 

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Summer Bass Fishing Bait: Bladed Jig

There are two chatterbait colors I throw: green pumpkin and black and blue. ½ ounce or 3/8 ounce are typically what I throw the most. This is another one of those moving baits I rely  on heavily. When you have a lot of grass, this is probably the best moving bait you can fish in the grass.

Bait examples: Picasso Tungsten Knocker

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Summer Bass Fishing Bait: Spinnerbait 

Notice a lot of these are search baits. Bass tend to scatter early in the morning and work along the banks so a search bait is typically really good. A spinnerbait looks like a small school of baitfish going by. And it’s an all-terrain vehicle. It’ll go through a lot of different types of cover. 

Bait Examples: Strike King Spinnerbait

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Summer Bass Fishing Bait: Texas Rig

My bread and butter for bottom bouncing. When the bass get deep they get on that offshore cover, those points and humps. A Texas rig worm is awesome for that offshore cover. My favorite color is tequila sunrise for the summertime. My go-to around grass and flipping cover is going to be a Rage Bug. They go on the same Texas rig. No matter what I’m doing. If I’m flipping cover, if I’m Texas rigging off-shore, or if I’m hopping the bottom that Rage Bug is just absolutely incredible. 

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Bait examples: Zoom Worm, Strike King Rage Bug 

For more on Summer bass fishing check out Flukemaster’s video below:

Football Jig Fishing and Learning Curves | Staying Versatile on the Water

A football jig is one of the best big bass baits out there. There is absolutely nothing quite like the thump of a jig bite. Don’t get me wrong, having a bass annihilate a topwater bait or load up like a stump on a crankbait gets my blood pumping too. But nothing makes me want to jack something’s jaw like a bass knocking slack in my line on a jig bite.

Traditionally, a football jig is best suited for colder weather. Not just the dead of winter but in particular the pre-spawn and early post-spawn. I’ve had some of the best fishing days and tournaments of my life fishing a football jig in Costa Series events on Lake Guntersville in February and Wheeler Lake in May. In this article, we’re going to take a look back at those events.

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Football Jig Fishing | Costa Series Southeastern Division: Lake Guntersville – 02/28/2013

On Guntersville, I was fishing rocky points and bluff walls with my football jig anywhere from 10 to 25-feet of water. There was a pretty good stain to the water and a decent amount of current. These two factors were key in my decision to go with a football jig. The current pushes the fish to the bottom where they are able to hide behind rocks and other pick-off points waiting for food to wash by. 

I believe the stained water also pushes the fish to the bottom where they don’t have to rely as heavily on sight to hunt. In swift, stained water, bass have a better chance of success when targeting crawfish moving along the bottom than they do chasing baitfish suspended in the middle of the water column. 

While I proved this theory on day one with 4 of my 5 fish for 26-pounds and 6-ounces coming on the football jig, I also proved it in a lot less exciting way on day two as I delivered 17-pounds and 5-ounces to the scales and my co-angler dropped near 20-pounds on an Alabama Rig. Both my co-anglers threw the Alabama Rig days one and two along with 90% of the competition back then. I fished the same places both days and tried to force the football jig but the current had slowed and the water clarity had improved quite a bit from day one. 

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Day one on the left and day two on the right… I was still catching some fish, but the bite certainly wasn’t as consistent on day two. 

Day one my co-angler only had a couple of bites. But my day two partner smoked me with the A-Rig and I was too stubborn and ignorant to adjust. I was reluctant to throw the A-Rig on principle and that arrogance cost me money and a shot at a top 10 as I fell to 15th for the event.

Video from Guntersville Costa Series

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Football Jig Fishing | Costa Series Southeastern Division: Wheeler Lake – 05/09/2013

For our final Costa Series event of 2013, we made our way to Wheeler Lake in north Alabama. I only had one full day to practice and decided to check the bluff walls right away. I wanted to go shallow since I knew there should be a few fish still trying to spawn but thought I had better rule out the bluffs first. The little shelves on the bluff walls of the river are perfect for smallmouth, spotted bass, and largemouth to move up from deeper water, spawn and then return to deeper water without having to travel far. Once I made it out to the river, I also noticed the water was moving and there was a pretty good stain, so you know what I went with. 

The great thing about a football jig is that it can be used to cover the whole bluff.

I would throw the bait up to the bluff wall and it would often land on a shelf anywhere from 1-to-5 feet deep. If I didn’t have a bite from a spawner, I would gently pull the bait until it fell from that first shelf to the next one a few feet further down. 

It was imperative to do this slow and easy so as not to move the bait far from the vertical bluff between the shelves. If you go and look at the aquariums at Bass Pro Shops, you’ll notice the bass hanging alongside the rocks and in little crevices in the bluff wall itself. That artificial habitat was created to mimic the very same style bluffs I was fishing. I would let my bait fall on a semi-slack line: slack enough so as not to pendulum the bait away from the wall but tight enough that I could tell when the bait stopped. Often times while doing this I would feel a thump or just see my line start swimming off to the side where a fish had bit the bait on the fall. 

On my one full practice day I got a few bites in the first hundred yards so I picked up my trolling and moved to another bluff. Two bites almost immediately. So I picked up and moved another ¼ mile. Another bite on my first or second cast. And almost all of the bites I was getting were 3-pounds or better. I sampled miles and miles of bluff wall that day trying to figure out exactly where the better concentration of bigger fish were and I had one of the best problems I’ve ever had fishing, I couldn’t dial anything in because they were everywhere. I was only setting the hook about every 4 or 5 bites but all the fish I was catching were solid with the occasional 4-to-5 pounder mixed in. I finally gave up after who knows how many bites and just elected to run around and fish as much water as I could on day one. 

Unfortunately, when day one came, the bite slowed way down. I was devastated.

There was no way I had hurt them by catching what I had caught along 6 or 7 miles of bluff wall two days prior. I tried to keep my bait in the water and not get rattled and run around too much but that proved difficult knowing all the places I had gotten bites the previous day. The water was still stained, the current was still on (though possibly not as strong and that may have been the culprit but I can’t say for sure). I scratched out 14-pounds and 1-ounce and ended the day well outside the top 10 with a quite nauseous feeling as though I had let a good tournament slip through my fingers. 

On day two I picked up where I had left off but the bite was still much slower than it had been on that magical practice day. With a little over an hour to go in the day, I made long run to the back of Elk River but as soon as I shut the boat off I knew I had made a mistake. It just didn’t feel right. 

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I ran back to the bluffs and caught three fish between 4 and 5 pounds in the last hour on the football jig to weigh 19-pounds and 11-ounces and finish the event in 18th. 

Looking back I’m still not sure what changed. I caught the fish late on day two up near the bluffs and beside laydowns, though I had fished those exact laydowns and several more like them during the tournament. I wasn’t as diligent about checking generation schedules back then as I am now and the most likely culprit was a change in current. 

I do remember catching a few fish when the bite was slow way off the bluffs in 20-feet of water near the boat. Perhaps they moved out and suspended and a jerkbait, spinnerbait, swimbait or scrounger would have been a better presentation when they weren’t biting the jig as well. Another learning experience where the main takeaway was that I needed to become more versatile. 

Video from Wheeler Costa Series 

Shaye’s Football Jig Gear

The rod and reel I used in these videos have been discontinued. My current big football jig setup consists of the following gear. 

Rod: Fitzgerald Rod Vursa Series – 7’ 6” Medium Heavy 

Reel: Lew’s Super Duty 7.5:1

Line: Seaguar InvizX 15, 17 or 20-pound test (Depending on cover and water clarity)

Jig: Nichol’s Football Jig 1/2 to 3/4 ounce (Depending on current and depth) 

Trailer: Strike King Rage Craw

Tokyo Rig Fishing | A Tokyo Rig Breakdown with Flukemaster

We sat down with ANGLR Expert and bass knowledge treasure trove Gene Jensen (AKA The Flukemaster) to get his take on the Tokyo Rig. Here’s what he had to say about one of his new favorite bass fishing techniques.

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The Action of a Tokyo Rig

A lot of people think the Tokyo Rig is just a short leader dropshot, which it kind of is, but you don’t get the same action as you would from a dropshot. The action is just a little bit different. And it’s different enough to make a difference in the catch rate. 

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I went from fishing a dropshot down in Florida to a Tokyo rig and went from catching 2 or 3 an hour to 40 an hour. 

The difference to me is the weight itself goes down in the mud and keeps the bait up above the silt and gives the fish an easier target. Other than that, I can’t put my finger on it. All I know is the bass destroy it. A month later, my son had a high school fishing tournament on Lake Lanier with all spotted bass and he finished 6th fishing the Tokyo Rig. 

3 Ways to Apply a Tokyo Rig

You can do a lot with the Tokyo Rig. My favorite three applications for it so far are fishing grass lines, flipping docks and punching grass. I like to drag it up to grass lines and shake it kind of like you do a dropshot where you don’t move the weight and only move the bait. Or I’ll punch it like a normal punch rig but the difference is that it really does penetrate a whole lot easier than a regular punch rig. 

What I’ve been doing lately is fishing it under docks. It gets pretty silty under docks, especially post docks, but bass like to hangout around those wooden posts. If you throw a jig in there it’s going to sink right down in the silt where the Tokyo Rig is going to stay up above the silt. It still acts just like a jig but the bass can get to it a lot easier.

My favorite three style baits for it right now are some sort of creature bait like a Strike King Rage Bug, a Zoom Brush Hog or Baby Brush Hog and then a big worm. Larger profile baits. 

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You’re still kind of finesse fishing it but with bigger baits. 

I just kind of think of it as power finesse fishing. It’s really one of those things that I tell people you just have to try it. I just tried it one day and was amazed at how well it worked.

Gene’s Tokyo Rig Gear

Rod – 7’3″ Med Hvy Fate Black 

Reel – 8.1:1 Concept A 

Line – Seaguar AbrazX 

Lure – VMC Tokyo Rig 

Baits – Zoom Brush Hog or Baby Brush Hog & Strike King Rage Bug

 

A Video on How To Tokyo Rig with Flukemaster

Spring Fishing Got You in a Slump? Here’s How to Bust Out

I should have known my Spring fishing was doomed the moment I answered this question at the end of a recent fishing presentation.

“You pretty much always catch something, right? Do you ever get skunked?”

My answer was honest. It does happen on occasion, I said, though I couldn’t recall the most recent skunking off the top of my head.

On my very next trip, the fishing gods served up a helping of humble pie as I returned home empty handed. It was a somber reminder that even diehard anglers get whooped from time to time.

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What Causes the Spring Fishing Slump?

Now that I think about it, most of my skunkings have happened in the Spring. Here in Idaho, like many places, sSpring is marked by unpredictable weather. Rain, wind, fluctuating water temperatures and river levels can make it hard to plan and execute your tried-and-true fishing strategies.

I followed up my goose egg trip with one that got canceled by storms and another that only produced tiny panfish. It was official… this was a slump. But slumps are made to be broken, and I was determined not to let this one last. With a free Saturday on the horizon, I dialed up my go-to fishing partner, Caleb.

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It was time to go Spring fishing slump-busting on Brownlee, a Snake River reservoir on the Idaho-Oregon border.

I loaded my boat with bass, crappie, and catfish gear. No matter what was biting, I was going to be ready. That’s one of the keys to summer fishing, bring a variety of gear so you can adapt to changing conditions and give yourself the best chance of putting some fish in the boat.

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Breaking the Spring Fishing Slump

It was a crisp, clear morning as we arrived at Brownlee. In a welcome sign, Caleb landed two monster crappies right off the boat launch while I was parking the truck.

“We’re not getting skunked today, boys!” he announced.

I took a few casts and reeled up a hilariously small crappie. The skunk was off, but my slump was still intact. We motored off in search of Brownlee’s famous flathead catfish. My hard luck continued as Caleb reeled in one 19-pound monster, and then another.

“Next one’s yours,” he said. “I can feel it.”

Like a baseball player mired in a hitting slump, the key to turning things around is patience and a positive outlook. I stayed loose by taking in the sights and sounds and enjoying Caleb’s run of success.

And then, like a hanging curveball in the heart of the plate, my opportunity arrived. A fish bumped my lure once, twice and then BOOM! My rod doubled over as it ran for deeper water.

Big flatheads play the slow game, hugging the bottom while you gradually work to regain your line. Caleb seemed even more giddy than I was, nervously scanning the water for a glimpse of this big cat.

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Photo Credit: Missouri Department of Conservation

Finally, the flathead surfaced. A huge, mottled green head and gaping, whiskered mouth never looked so pretty! At 13 pounds, he wasn’t our biggest catch of the day. But Caleb and I agreed, the slump was history.

We closed the day with some more big crappie for the frying pan, and I also wrangled a big channel catfish on my ultralight rod. The bite was never red-hot, but we worked hard enough to make it a successful day. Which, ultimately, was the important lesson this whole experience refreshed in my mind. 

Sooner or later, every angler hits a slow patch. When your slump comes, use persistence and a positive attitude to send your slump packing.

3 Tips to Bust Your Spring Fishing Slump

  1. Bring a variety of gear so you can adapt to changing conditions!
  2. Keep working hard and try new techniques if the bite is slow!
  3. Stay positive and be ready for anything, a big fish might come when you least expect it

Power Drop Shotting | A Power Shotting Rundown with Justin Lucas

Power shotting is essentially power fishing a drop shot on heavier gear. Though this power drop shotting technique has gained popularity in bass fishing nationally over the last few years, it has been an ace in the hole for MLF Bass Pro Tour pro Justin Lucas for over a decade.

In 2007, while fishing an FLW event on the California Delta as a co-angler, Lucas used the power shot to put a 13-pound, 9-ounce bass in the boat. More on that monstrous fish catch in a minute. 

First, let’s run through the power shot with Lucas.

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Power Drop Shotting | The Basics of Power Shotting

I don’t really upscale my line super high or use really big hooks, nothing like that. But I do go from a 6 to 8-pound test leader to 12 to 15-pound test straight fluorocarbon on the baitcaster. I I use a 2/0 offset Fusion hook with a ¼-ounce weight 95% of the time. 

I use a really short leader between the weight and the hook, only 6 to 8-inches. If I’m going to dropshot on a baitcaster, I’m doing it because I’m pitching around shallow cover in 2 to 4 feet. So you don’t want the bait too high up in the water column. And with a longer leader like 15 or 18-inches between the weight and the worm, you’ll get that weight hung up all day long on whatever wood or grass you’re fishing around.

The length of the worm is a pretty good judgment on how long I make my leader. Like this year I used a Berkley Maxcent Hitworm a lot and that’s about 7-inches long. So I would put that worm on my hook and then put the weight wherever the tail dropped to.

When Do You Change From Drop Shotting to Power Shotting?

It all depends on how shallow I’m fishing and if the cover is thicker. If I’m fishing 4-feet or less, I’m going to power shot with a baitcaster because I won’t need to pull line out to let the bait hit the bottom. Like at the Potomac (when Lucas won the Elite in 2016) I was fishing a drop shot in 4 to 8-feet. With a baitcaster I would have had to pull line off my reel and my bait wouldn’t fall straight down. But in 1 to 4-feet of water there’s enough slack line when I pitch out that it’ll fall straight down without me having to feed it any line. 

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Then I’ll also use it whenever I’m fishing around thicker shallow cover, usually in the spring. 

A dropshot is so deadly around beds, so I like to use it where I know fish are spawning but I can’t see them. I like to pitch that thing around instead of a wacky rig or whatever everybody else is doing to show them a little something different. It’s just something we grew up doing at the Delta that worked really well. 

The Revo Stx 8:1 will work but I really like an MGX 8:1 because it’s built to cast lighter baits. When you’re talking about a ¼-ounce weight and a 6-inch worm there’s not much weight there on 15-pound line so you need a reel that will cast really well.

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Tell Us More About Power Drop Shotting That Big One? 

The fish were up spawning. It was a full moon and they had just moved up on beds. A lot of big females were up. The water was pretty dirty and it was a lower tide. We were fishing down a stretch where we knew they were spawning but couldn’t see them. We were pitching that power shot around. 

When you’re going around fishing behind people who are fishing with 20-pound fluorocarbon and a creature bait, you’re just going to get a lot more bites and with that power shot and catch some big ones in the spring. 

That was just what happened there. It was a community area that probably a bunch of people had fished throughout that day. That fish had probably seen several baits that day but not a dropshot pitched right in front of it. There was a little pocket in the reeds and it was just a perfect little circle for a fish to be spawning in even though I couldn’t actually see her on the bed. 

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The fight was insane. 

She was dogging me. She had me around a bunch of tules but I finally got her in. I caught that fish on my last cast of the day and I culled out a 12 and a half incher.

Justin Lucas’s Power Drop Shotting Gear

Power Drop Shotting Rods

7’3” Medium Heavy Abu Garcia Fantasista Premier 

12 to 15 pound Berkley Trilene 100% Fluorocarbon

Power Drop Shotting Reels

Abu Garcia Revo Stx 8:1 

Abu Garcia REVO MGX 8:1

Megabass Magdraft | Megabass Swimbait Fishing With Chris Zaldain

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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 6-inch

Seaguar InvisX 15-pound

Orochi XX Perfect Pitch 7’2″

Shimano Metanium 7.4:1

Megabass Magdraft 8-inch

Megabass Magdraft 8-inch

Megabass Destroyer Mark 48

Seaguar InvisX 25-pound

Shimano Curado size 300

Jerkbait Fishing for Post-Spawn Bass with Chris Zaldain

Bassmaster Elite Series Pro Chris Zaldain is one of the most proficient anglers in the world at jerkbait fishing. We sat down with Zaldain to talk about what changes he makes to adapt a jerkbait to post-spawn bass fishing.

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What’s the Difference Between Jerkbait Fishing in the Post-Spawn Versus the Pre-Spawn?

In the pre-spawn when the water temps are in the 50s, it’s a jerk, jerk, pause deal for slow, fat, and lethargic fish. In the post-spawn when you’re dealing with 60 and 70 degree water, you have to speed that joker up. It’s more of a rapid set of jerks followed by a short pause. Jerk, jerk, jerk, jerk, quick pause, jerk, jerk, jerk, pause.

I use the same rod, reel, and line setup but instead of the original Megabass 110 jerkbait I love the 110 Magnum. Basically it’s about an inch longer and has a wider stride to it, a lot like a soft plastic jerkbait. It has a more lateral movement and I believe in the post-spawn that wider, almost underwater walk the dog technique drives those big fish nuts and triggers them into biting.

Post-spawn fish are exhausted and don’t want to go out of their way to track something down. So, this really fast moving jerkbait with real wide glides is moving a lot of water but not moving forward. That quick, lateral movement is what you want.

With that 110 Magnum you stay in the strike zone a lot longer. If you jerk the original 110 10 times, you’ve moved that bait 10 feet or so from whatever you’re targeting. With that Magnum you’re getting twice the lateral movement and only moving the bait maybe 5 feet in 10 jerks.

Jerkbait Fishing the Post-Spawn: What do you Target?

I like to target any windblown bank near where they’ve just finished spawning. I’ll start at the spawning flat and go to the first point coming out and eventually make my way to the main lake points.  

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Docks and shade are also really important in the post-spawn.

These fish have been in the sun for weeks looking for bedding areas and bedding. So, a lot of times they hang on that first big piece of shade like a dock or a laydown for a week or so. If you add a little wind to that then you have the perfect post-spawn scenario to throw that Magnum 110 into.

The bass are also guarding their fry in these shady areas after the spawn and a jerkbait is a great bait for triggering those bass who are trying to protect their fry from bluegill and other predators.

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Do you Relate This Style of Jerkbait Fishing to Fishing a Glide Bait in the Post-Spawn?

Absolutely. I get questions about glide bait fishing a lot. A glide bait is just an oversized jerkbait. The beauty of a glide bait, no matter if it’s the spawn, pre-spawn, or post-spawn is that it triggers those big bites with that super wide glide. It stays in the strike zone two or three times as long a crankbait or spinnerbait.

Do You Use a Jerkbait to Catch Fish Relating to the Shad or Herring Spawns Jerkbait Fishing the Post-Spawn?

For sure. That’s another great way to use a jerkbait in the post-spawn. You hear a lot of people talking about how bad the post-spawn is and how hard the fishing is but there are a lot of things going on in the post-spawn that can really give you an advantage, like targeting that shade or like fishing shad spawns and herring spawns or even a bluegill spawn.

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So, a jerkbait matching the profile of all those bait fish is the perfect choice to capitalize on those baitfish spawns. Photo Credit: Garrick Dixon

Jerkbait Fishing: Zaldain’s Post-Spawn Gear

Megabass Ito Vision 110 Magnum

Shimano Metanium 6.2:1

Seaguar InvisiX 12 or 15 pound

Megabass Destroyer Oneten 6’ 11”

Wacky Rig | How to Fish a Wacky Rig with Bassmaster Elite Chris Zaldain

A wacky rig is perhaps the most subtle, natural, and non-invasive presentation we have at our disposal as anglers. One of the best to ever employ a wacky rig is Bassmaster Elite Series pro Chris Zaldain. We sat down with Zaldain and had him give us an in-depth look at his wacky rig setup and how he fishes it throughout the year.

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Wacky Rig: Focusing on the Technique

The wacky rig works particularly well in clear water. It’s a very finesse, slow presentation. It’s not your typical cast and reel presentation like a spinnerbait or crankbait. They’ll bite a wacky rig when the bite is wide open and they’re biting everything. Now, when the bite is tough, they’ll still bite a weightless wacky rig. That’s the beauty of it. It doesn’t matter what mood the fish are in.

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If they’re in a negative feeding mood or a positive feeding mood, you can always get bites on a wacky rig.

Five-inch stick baits like a Senko work the best because they are heavily salted. I find these baits more effective when weightless wacky rigging than any other worm. The heavily salted baits have a nice shimmy when they fall and it takes less time for the bait to hit the bottom which is important in tournament situations.

I use 15-pound Seaguar Smackdown Flash Green for my main line and a 4 to 6-foot, 8-pound test Seaguar Tatsu leader. I tie those together with an FG knot with about 25 wraps. One thing that I will do when throwing a wacky rig is I’ll leave about a 1/4-inch tag on my braided line when I tie that FG knot. Then I’ll twist that tag end until I make a fuzzy little ball out of it.

For the guys that fly fish, that’s called a strike indicator.

When I skip that wacky rig under a dock or a shady tree or just up on the bank, that hi-vis green line with that shorter leader and that fuzzy little ball helps me detect those subtle bites. A lot of times when a wacky rig is falling, a fish just inhales it or grabs it real slow and then starts to swim off with it or swim towards you. With that little strike indicator I can detect those bites because it sticks out in the water like a sore thumb. Most of those bites on a wacky rig you won’t even feel, so bite indication is key for landing those fish.

A reel set is also important when setting the hook. We’re dealing with small, sharp hooks with a small diameter. So you don’t need a lot of power to set that hook. I just like to reel into the fish when I get a bite and let the rod load up. The rod is important too. I like a short rod with a short butt for skipping the bait and maneuvering the fish out of cover. That short butt doesn’t get hung up on your clothes or hit your arm when you’re fighting the fish. I use a Megabass F4 6’ 8” Ronin Orochi XX. That rod loads up really well too on the reel set.

I almost always use a Trokar Neko Hook with the pro v bend in size 2 with an o-ring or collar on the worm. That v in the hook holds the worm in place really well. If I’m fishing really heavy cover like timber or a lot of grass under the water that I can’t see, that’s when I’ll go with the weedless version. But 80% of the time I’m just going to throw the non-weedless version. That works really well.

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How to Fish a Wacky Rig During the Pre-Spawn

You can catch bass on a wacky rig all year. But there’s one special time where nothing else will get bit. There’s a short window where fish go from a pre-spawn feeding frenzy to actually going on the bed where a wacky rig really shines. The fish are done eating the big swimbaits and the big jerkbaits. They’re done eating, they’re just up there shallow looking and waiting. Waiting for the moon phase or the water or weather to get just right so they can actually start spawning. And when those fish are shallow in that cruising mood, they don’t bite. You can see them, big ones everywhere. But they just won’t bite. That’s when I pick up a wacky rig.

How to Fish a Wacky Rig During the Spawn

A lot of times you’ll see a pattern during the spawn where you’re going down a bank and you start to see clearings. Not necessarily sight-fishing where you can see the fish. You’re just going down the bank and you’re seeing clearings. I’ll see a dark spot mixed with a light spot in a clearing and I know that’s where a bed is.

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I won’t see the fish, but I’ll blind cast that wacky rig to that clearing and I know there’s a bass within 10-feet or so.

When they’re spawning, the key isn’t the cover, but those clearings. That’s when that weightless wacky rig is really going to payoff. When you’re working against ‘the book of bass fishing’. The book of bass fishing tells you to fish all the heaviest cover you can find. But in that spawn mode, you want to fish the voids. The areas that are clear.

How to Fish a Wacky Rig During the Post-Spawn

In the post-spawn, bass are very lethargic. They’re recovering from the spawn and they don’t have the energy to go out and chase things around. In the post-spawn, you have a lot of fry guarders too and if you switch from a salted stick bait to something more like a trick worm or a floating worm, that works really well around fry guarders.

Chris Zaldain’s Wacky Rig Setup

Trokar Neko Hook

8-pound Seaguar Tatsu

15-pound Seaguar Smackdown Flash Green

Megabass F4 6’ 8” Ronin Orochi XX

Trokar Neko Weedless

Shimano Stradic Ci4+ 2500 6:1

O-ring or collar

Heavily salted stick worm

Trick worm