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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!

Bass Fishing Ohio: Top 5 Places for a Weekend Trip

When the state of Ohio is brought up, football is the first sport that comes to mind and what most people associate the Buckeye state with. But, what a lot of people do not know is the hidden secret of the quality bass fishing Ohio has to offer!

Ohio is home to quality College fishing teams, numerous high school and youth fishing programs, many fantastic tournament series like the Fishers of Men series and the Great Lakes Largemouth Series. It is also home to Bassmaster Elite Series Professional Hunter Shryock and MLF Bass Pro Tour Professional Fletcher Shryock. While overshadowed by some of the great fishing that can be held in the state just south of the Ohio river, bass fishing Ohio can and still produces big bass, so here is the Top 5 ‘need to visit’ destinations in Ohio for a weekend fishing trip.

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Bass Fishing Ohio: Alum Creek Lake

This Columbus area lake kicks off our list at number 5 in Ohio. Alum Creek is a very fun lake in my personal opinion. The lake can be broken down by north and south sections using the Cheshire Road bridge running just about mid-way through the lake. The northern half of the lake forks off into the river and is a more stained, shallower part of the lake. The southern part of the lake is deep, clear, rocky water. Generally speaking, the northern part of the lake holds more largemouth and the southern part of the lake holds more smallmouth. This creates a lot of diverse opportunities at this fishery.

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One can finesse smallmouth in the southern half and decide to turn their engine north and go flip the banks for largemouth.

This is a lake I have had a lot of experience on and really is a unique lake that gives anglers from all backgrounds a chance to flaunt their abilities or improve on techniques they may have never tried or have lower confidence in. This lake provides an enormous amount of offshore structure for the deep-water fishermen as well as plenty of lay downs and submerged vegetation for the shallow water guys. With the large population of both large and smallmouth and the diverse fishing opportunities, this lake is a great destination for a weekend getaway trip. And with Columbus mere minutes away, there are plenty of opportunities for things to do while you’re not on the water, or at least that’s what you can tell your significant other.

Bass Fishing Ohio: Knox Lake

Knox Lake is a… well it’s an interesting lake in Ohio. The reason this lake rolls in number 4 on the list is because Knox Lake is rather small. Knox is only 469-acres and is one of the few lakes in Ohio that have a higher minimum catch length for keeper bass than other bodies of water. This makes Knox Lake Ohio’s ‘Trophy lake’. This is because the minimum catch length is 18-inches. This also is why Knox Lake records more catches over 18 inches than any other inland lake in Ohio.

The lake itself is not very big or very deep and only just recently allows idle speeds with engines to get around the lake, but if you’re looking to go to Ohio and catch a big bass, then Knox is a great place to spend your time. With 11.4 miles of shoreline and various bottom compositions loaded with endless amounts of flooded cover, this lake is made for the fisherman who likes to just put down the trolling motor and throw a jig at everything in sight.

Bass Fishing Ohio: Portage Lakes

Coming in at number 3 on our list is actually a chain of lakes. Portage lakes is made up of 5 lakes in Summit County, Ohio (Akron, OH). The “lake” in total is 1681 acres and has 38 miles of shoreline. This makes for a great weekend bass fishing destination as you can dissect a few of the lakes in the chain on one day and then finish off the rest the next day out.

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With varying depths and different habitats throughout the lakes, this is a great lake to go fish your strengths.

ODNR has the numbers and size of fish in the lake listed as “Excellent” and with good catch rates reported by anglers this is just a lake to go to just fill the boat with fish. Jerkbaits, crankbaits, chatterbaits, and Texas rigs are strong options to keep tied up and prepare you for the diverse fishing situations you will find on the Portage Chain of Lakes.

Bass Fishing Ohio: Mosquito Creek Lake

Mosquito Lake rolls in at number 2 on this list as the best inland lake in Ohio (in my humble opinion). Mosquito is a 7,421 acre lake, making it one of the larger inland lakes in Ohio and it is located in Northeast Ohio. Mosquito lake is a shallow grass fisherman’s dream. Weed beds, lily pads, standing structures like docks, and submerged timber and stumps hold quality largemouth for most of the year. In 2018, Mosquito lake showed out at bass tournaments where it regularly took 16-pounds or more to win.

For a lake in Ohio, this is a pretty good statistic as many lakes in the state take around 10 to 12-pounds to win a single day bass fishing tournament. So, if you enjoy shallower water grass fisheries or have a smaller boat, then Mosquito is your perfect storm! Mosquito lake is known as a very productive topwater lake, more specifically, a fantastic frog fishing lake. With grass beds and seas of lily pads, this lake sets up perfectly for throwing topwater and gives bass a variety of ambush points.

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These same areas are favorite targets for flipping and punching baits as the topwater bite dies off, or to throw spinnerbaits or vibrating jigs over and around the weed beds. This lake is somewhat of a mirror opposite to our top ranked lake, but shows that Ohio is home to a variety of fisheries. In 2016, this lake was even featured as one of the host lakes for the Major League Fishing Summit Cup qualifying rounds. So, if you’re interested in some great shallow water grass fishing and want to see the best Ohio has to offer, then Mosquito Lake is a must visit.

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Bass Fishing Ohio: Lake Erie

Finally, we saved the best for last. When composing a list of the best lakes in Ohio, I believe it is impossible to leave out Lake Erie. Honestly, Lake Erie could probably make this list as number 1 and 2 by separating main Lake Erie from the bays and harbors. Lake Erie not only ranks on top of my list of best lakes in Ohio, but also ranks nationally as one of the best bass lakes in the country. Lake Erie, while known for its unbelievable smallmouth fishing, has a large secret that gets overshadowed by its hard-fighting bronze back brother.

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Lake Erie has phenomenal largemouth bass fishing.

I was even tempted to list Lake Erie Harbors and Bays as number 2 on this list, but for a weekend trip you can have a dream of a day catching endless amounts of 3-5 pound smallies then turn around the next day and put a 20-pound sack of largemouth bass in the box. Lake Erie even has its own tournament series dedicated just to the green fish, the Great Lakes Largemouth Series. In east and west Harbor, it is not unheard of to throw green pumpkin shaky heads and sexy shad crankbaits in the springtime for a 50 to 60 fish day. Then the Sandusky bay, which is large enough to be considered a lake of its own, does not have the outstanding numbers like the harbors, but it makes up for it in size. But, don’t let all of this talk fool you for one second.

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The smallmouth bass fishing on Lake Erie is only rivaled by a few juggernaut fisheries in the world!

Ohio provides numerous areas with easy access to the main lake where you can target these insane schools of smallmouth. Ohio sits in one of the best parts of the western basin and is home to Kelly’s Island and the Bass Islands which are known for historically attracting and holding large populations of smallmouth, and the occasional brute largemouth, on the shoals that sit between the surrounding the islands. Be prepared to have to dig through the massive sheepsheads that are mixed in with the smallmouth and hold on the same structure. For your weekend trip to Erie, your keys baits are dropshots and tubes for the main lake smallmouth and black and blue and green pumpkin colored flipping baits for the shallow watered bay and harbor largemouth. Lake Erie is an elite fishery and has countless reasons as to why you need to give this lake a visit if you are in Ohio. This is why Lake Erie is and will forever be the number 1 lake in the state of Ohio.

You can watch an episode from the ANGLR Tour on Lake Erie below!

Bass Fishing Ohio: Final Thoughts

Ohio, can be a tough state for bass fishing, yet it still has some fantastic fisheries that are a lot of fun to fish. From catching largemouth in 6-inches of water to dropshotting smallmouth in 30-feet, Ohio provides all the opportunities an angler needs to really develop all of their fishing abilities as well as just fall in love with the sport of fishing. Just remember your licenses, and the rules and regulations for each lake! Good luck, take a kid fishing, and tight lines!

How to Fish a Chatterbait From a Kayak

One of the first things a kayak angler will hear from other anglers, is that fishing from a kayak is riddled with limitations and disadvantages. As kayaks continue to advance, this is becoming less and less the case. Even before kayaks became extremely stable fishing platforms, there have been a few presentations that are well suited for this type of fishing. One of those baits is a vibrating jig or bladed jig, more commonly known as a chatterbait. So, let’s dive into how to fish a chatterbait from a kayak.

How to Fish a Chatterbait: The Basics of the Lure

Chatterbaits were developed as a mix between a traditional jig, swimbait, and spinnerbait. One of the most prominent characteristics of a chatterbait is it’s distinct blade that’s on top of the jig head that creates vibrations as it’s retrieved. This lure has become extremely popular due to its versatility and effectiveness in a wide variety of situations. On top of versatility, it can be modified by adjusting the blade or adding different trailers that will alter the action of the bait.

How to Fish a Chatterbait: Focusing on the Basics From a Kayak

The biggest differences between fishing from a boat versus fishing from a kayak is a majority of the time fishing from a kayak, you’re sitting down. There are some techniques where this presents challenges, but for chatterbaits, it’s great. When fishing out of a kayak, you’re really close to the waterline. Baits like the chatterbait work best when fished with your rod tip low or pointed at the water. This allows the bait to swim at the correct depth and run true while running through the water. Keeping your rod tip low also allows you to feel how the bait is running and gives you a better sense of what’s in that area in terms of rocks and other structures.

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Setting the hook with a chatterbait is usually really straight-forward, however, in a kayak you need to be careful and manage your movements to avoid rocking the kayak and disturbing the water

Most fishing kayaks these days are plenty stable but if you’re the type of angler who likes to set the hook like you’re swinging for a homerun, you can still have issues. Remember that even the most stable kayak can be tipped, but with these newer kayaks that are highly engineered, they’re stable as possible. Once you’re comfortable with your kayak, you’ll know it’s limits.

How to Fish a Chatterbait: Setting the Hook and Landing a Bass From a Kayak

Overall, the hookset with a chatterbait is really simple. Depending on how the fish hits the bait, you may only simply have to raise your rod tip and maintain pressure on the line. Depending on the time of year or the weather conditions, fish will strike a chatterbait differently. In early spring, around ice out here in New England, bass tend to move slower and as a result, the strike feels as if you’ve snagged something or the bait caught some weeds. In the warmer parts of the season, bass can become more aggressive and it will feel like your bait was hit by a truck (that’s the fun stuff).

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When landing a fish caught on a chatterbait, you’ll want to get the fish into the boat quickly.

That doesn’t mean over power them, but the longer a chatterbait is hooked in a bass, the more likely the bass is to throw the hook. One way to give yourself a major advantage, make sure your kayak and kayak accessories are out of the way. There are a lot of really neat looking accessories that can be rigged on a kayak but the more you have, the more objects your line can get snagged on, so make sure you keep things tidy and out of the way. Consider the direction you cast the most and be sure to avoid mounting things like fish finders in the way. Accessories can be your best friend and then quickly turn into your worst enemy while trying to land a giant bass.

There are a wide variety of different chatterbaits on the market, so get in a kayak and give them a try, you won’t regret it!

 

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.

Selecting the Right Kayak Fishing Rod Holder for Your Kayak

Featured Image Credit: Anthony Shingler

Out of curiosity, I created a Facebook poll for the members of the Clarksville Area Kayak Fishing group to see how many guys use a kayak fishing rod holder while bass fishing. Definitely not a statistically representative sampling, but since I only use them to hold rods I am not casting, it was an interesting way to learn more about possible uses. If there is anything kayak anglers love to talk about more than fishing, it is how they set up their equipment.

Bobby Brown started the poll with “rod holders are for storing rods, not for fishing”. Now since this guy is a fan of the Ned Rig, I thought that maybe he would use one to dead stick it; it is the only way I could fish a Ned Rig… cast it, put the rod in a holder and forget about it while you eat a snack; then reel it in and get back to fishing with something else.

Kayak Fishing Rod Holder: The Options Often Used

I wasn’t surprised when 79% of the responses were the same since the majority of kayak tournament anglers use holders for equipment while underway. Most of them are stored vertically in holders integrated with standard or modified milk crates, YakAttack BlackPack’s,  the Hobie H-Crate, or any number of creative pvc solutions.  

Several anglers prefer to use the “tube” designs that can easily be attached to GearTrac using one of the mounting designs on the market.  This allows the angler flexibility to store the rods vertically or horizontally to avoid overhanging trees or low bridges.  A friend, Ben Meredith, uses this type of design to secure his equipment while unhooking, measuring and photographing fish.

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When other anglers started to respond that they, “use rod holders while out on the kayak”, I was curious and reached out for more information.

It seems that there are many ways to fish while using them. KBF allows trolling in their bass tournaments, Trophy Catfish Kayak Anglers (TCKA) director Ron Himmelhaver uses a four rod holder setup to chase monster catfish and several guys who responded to the poll will drop worms or minnows while paddling. Ben even has a spider rig setup for crappie fishing that he uses on his kayak, not something I had even considered as an option.

Kayak Fishing Rod Holder: The Crate System

My first kayak, a Jackson Big Tuna, had a Ram Mount attached. It was more than enough to paddle around the local creeks. Within a few months, I decided to fish tournaments and I needed more rods.

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I replaced the Ram holder with a mutated milk crate because I wanted my equipment in front of me; the boat allowed for this setup to be efficient.

Kayak Fishing Rod Holder: The Crate and Cooler in One

It was not pretty, but it was highly functional; in my Hobie PA14, this setup would never work, so I opted for an Engel Dry Box with attached rod holders. It has a lid with latches that I use to store tackle, but can be used as a cooler on hot days. In the Outback, I have an H-Crate because of the types of water I fish in that boat, and I use it to get others involved in kayaking. The crate system is easy to load and unload, making it perfect for anyone to bring some gear along.

It will take you a few trips to decide what is the best setup, but you can start by asking yourself what types of water do you plan to fish and what fits your style.

Just remember to consider horizontal versus vertical storage options if you fish a lot of small water, how many rods you carry and what path you take to get there. Are you using the rod holders to fish, for trolling, or just to transport from one location to another launch?

In the end, it is up to you the angler to decide what works for you. Sit in the boat, paddle/pedal it for a while and see what fits. Your first setup will most likely not be your last and companies are now realizing the kayak market is growing, so you have a lot of options to pick from.  

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

A Basic Guide to Kayak Fishing Nets

Kayak fishing nets aren’t always the first thing that comes to mind when deciding how to outfit your kayak or prepare for a day of fishing, but they play a major role in landing fish. When you speak with other anglers, you’ll most likely hear mixed results around if they use a net or not. If you’re an angler who uses a net, or one that wants to start using a net, here are some key tips for you.

Kayak Fishing Nets: Size Matters

When selecting a kayak fishing net, always keep in mind what kind of fishing you’re going to be doing. You’ll want to make sure that the net you select is more than wide enough to fit your intended species with some room to spare. Nets can be your best friend, but they can also ruin a catch by knocking a fish off the hook if it’s not wide enough. You want to make sure that you select a net that is going to give you the biggest advantage possible. If you select a net that’s too wide, you could be constantly dealing with snags on other pieces of gear, potentially even expensive rod and reel setups.

Kayak anglers need to give special consideration to the impact a new piece of gear may have on the rest of their set up.

Depending on the size of the kayak that you’re fishing out of, you may want to consider different handle lengths. When you’re searching for different fishing nets, you’ll notice that there are a wide range of options for handle length, so here are some things to consider:

First, consider your style of fishing.

Some kayak anglers tend to be more animated with their hooksets and other movements, if you’re one of these anglers, you’ll know that space is valuable. Longer handles offer an advantage for grabbing fish further from the kayak but they also take up more real estate when not in use.

Secondly, you need to consider how the net will fit in your kayak with either pedals or your paddle.

For anglers who paddle, longer handles can more easily be stowed out of the way. Anglers who fish out of pedal drive kayaks will want to be careful with longer-handled nets as they can easily become tangled or interfere with your drive. If you have a pedal drive and still prefer a longer handle, there are plenty of companies who make kayak attachments that can aid in stowing a net handle out of the way while remaining accessible when needed.

Kayak Fishing Nets: The Right Net Material

One of the biggest differences between cheaper and more expensive nets, is the material the net is made out of. More expensive nets are typically made out of rubber material or have a rubber coating on them. This is beneficial for a few different reasons. The first, it’s better for the fish as it doesn’t harm the slime coat. Cheaper, nylon nets are more abrasive and tend to scrape a fish. Uncoated nylon is also fantastic at getting treble hooks caught in it which is no fun when you’re trying to make your next cast. Nets made of a rubber like material also tend to last longer as they aren’t as susceptible to fraying and getting snagged.

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There is never any shortage of thoughts or opinions when it comes to an angler’s preference so go try a variety of nets and find what works best for you!

Tournament Kayak Setup: Developing the Layout to Fit Your Needs

It is tournament day and your kayak loaded with gear is in the water. There are still five minutes until the official launch…one final check is in process. The tournament kayak setup mental list playing; phone/camera in the right pocket of my NRS Chinook, Ketch measuring board attached with a lanyard, Diet Pepsi, snacks, water, tackle, lucky duck, depth fin…. dang it.  Coming back from the truck, attaching the depth finder… paddle, net, identifier, flag and light, truck locked (again)… keys in the left pocket of the Chinook, with my wallet. Extra bump board stowed, maybe rain… so the rain suit is on board… toilet paper in the hatch (‘cause you just never know).

Time to push off from the ramp, “here we go”.

Pull up to any site where kayakers are launching, you will find them attaching widgets and gadgets to fit their style and deck space. These moments are the culmination of a lot of work, decisions, trial, and error. If it is the first tournament you have ever entered, congratulations; you will learn what you forgot soon enough. If, like many of us, it is August and you are at your twenty-fifth tournament, there is no doubt you have spent countless hours developing the layout of your kayak.

Tournament Kayak Setup: Maximizing Accessibility and Space

I am a manufacturing engineer by profession so I approached setting up my Hobie PA14 as a project. I had two goals in mind; use as much space as possible and make everything accessible.  

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I needed space because I am not a light packer and I needed it easily accessible because I am too old to be climbing all over to reach equipment.  

I began by making a mental list of all the tackle and boxes in my arsenal, lay out all of the rods I think I might need, choose a depth finder, grab my net and paddle… then sit down in the kayak to map out an imaginary day fishing.

Tournament Kayak Setup: Using Mounts and Rails

Before you can catch ‘em, you have to find ‘em, so I looked for the best depth finder location.  My Hobie has predetermined wire routing and the H-Rail system gave me the ability to move the finder close so my old eyes could see the Lowrance Elite TI7.  If you don’t have the H-Rail, YakAttack makes it easy to mount almost anything with their GearTrac, so it becomes a matter of where you want to put it.

After mounting that unit on the right, I chose to mount my net holder (YakAttack RotoGrip) on that side since I am right handed.  Now, some guys like their nets behind them, some beside them; I chose in front of me so I didn’t have to turn to get it.  To be very honest, I lost three nets in trees or choppy water with it behind me, so it was not only that I struggle to turn around during the fight; I wanted it where I could see it fall over.  You can carry one of hundreds of nets, but after losing a few I started picking up the Frabill rubber net from WalMart; cheap and effective.

Mounting the paddle opposite the net and depth finder made sense to me because it makes it easier to step in at the ramp. I could survive with no net in my pedal yak, but I carry a Bending Branches Pro Angler Carbon paddle because my style of fishing often lands me in the shallowest areas of a lake. There are also times where the wind keeps the kayak from being responsive so to overcome these obstacles, this paddle is light and easy to manage one handed in case I need it while fighting a fish.

Tournament Kayak Setup: Find What Works for You

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I travel thousands of miles each year, often with little sleep, so I felt that I needed a “system” because I still remember how unprepared I was to fish my first tournament.

Sitting in the garage was the start of that system. I reached for gear in my tackle boxes and bags, picked up rods and put them back, grabbed the net and paddle. Then, fishing a few days on the water helped me to refine the setup.

Now, it is the same on every trip. I have an order to loading tackle and rods, attaching the depth finder, net and paddle; reducing the time it takes to load and unload allowing maximum time on the water.  A place for everything and everything in its place.

Bass Pro Tour Stage 5: Recap with Dave Lefebre

Featured Image Credit: Josh Gassmann

Stage 5 of the Major League Fishing Bass Pro Tour at Smith Lake is a wrap. ANGLR Expert Dave Lefebre made it through the Elimination Round and finished 33rd in the Knockout Round. We caught up with Lefebre for a little Q&A recap of his event.

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Bass Pro Tour Stage 5: Finding the Right Bites

I thought I was on the fish to win for about the third time this year, so Smith was kind of disappointing. But it went pretty good really. I think this is my fourth time going there and it’s been totally different every time. I’m always excited to go back because I want to build on what I did the last time but I never can get the same thing to work twice.

I saw the shad spawn deal happening, but I don’t like doing that. It can burn you bad. I knew it was happening and I knew if I couldn’t find anything else in the morning, that I would have to try it in one of the few places I found it. But those places seemed like community holes to me. I felt like everybody found the same ones I did.

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So, I just spent my two practice mornings trying to get bit just fishing around.

On day one, I went to my first shad spawn place right near the ramp and nobody was there. So I started on a point that I thought somebody might fish that was 100 yards away. I was sitting there Power-Poled down for about 20 minutes and then Rojas pulled up on that shad spawn place and proceeded to jack them. He caught like a 4-something and a bunch of other ones. And I was catching them too but it was tough not to have all that to myself. Faircloth and Tharp also fished in that same area.

Bass Pro Tour Stage 5: What was Dave targeting?

In the morning, even though I didn’t witness an actual shad spawn where I was fishing, I was still fishing around a lot of bait. That whole creek was loaded with bait. I was covering a ton of water with a white Terminator Swim Jig. It seemed like you could have done that all day but I didn’t feel like I was catching them quite fast enough, so I just started point hopping with a Yamamoto California Roll worm on a 1/8th ounce Hammer Head shaky head by Fish Head.

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Bass Pro Tour Stage 5: Dave’s Lesson Learned

I think I caught 28 fish the first day, 24 the second day and 12 on the third day. I had the second or third most fish after the first two days. I strictly tried to catch numbers until the last day and that’s where I screwed up. I think I could have easily made the top 10 if I had just stuck to my game plan. I found fish that were 40 miles away in practice and I decided to run to them. But once that didn’t work I couldn’t fall back and catch enough of the little fish to keep up.

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On that day I just let curiosity get the best of me and get in my head. Photo Credit: Josh Gassmann

If we hadn’t had that weather delay I believe I would have been fishing the Championship Round. I had my mind made up that I was just going to continue to do what I was doing and pace myself. But I had to sit there and think for an extra two hours and ended up changing my mind in the truck.

I had practiced way up in a place where I won a Tour event with FLW and had some enormous bites up there in practice. One was a 7-pounder…. on Smith… and then another 5…. I just couldn’t get it out of my head during that weather delay and I couldn’t imagine myself not going there. But I think that lightening just pushed all those largemouth down. A lot of the guys that didn’t catch them that day were the largemouth guys.

I think that’s the coolest thing about this format is that it is so different. When I left FLW and went to BASS a few years ago, all of a sudden it was no net time. I was so used to using a net. So I went out and practiced landing fish without a net on these lakes up here where I can catch 200 a day. Practiced landing big smallmouth all different ways. I had to change and evolve and that’s what’s so cool about this. It’s like we’re all babies again and our senses have all opened up and we have to learn how to compete all over again.

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I should have stuck to my game plan. Photo Credit: Phoenix Moore

Bass Pro Tour Stage 5: Table Rock Up Next

I’m looking forward to Table Rock next. That’s one of those places where I always go with the mindset of catching numbers anyway. It’s one of the few places where I really go expecting to catch a hundred fish or more that week. I think it’s a perfect location for this format.

Dave’s Primary Gear for Smith Lake

Shaky Head

Bait: Yamamoto California Roll

Jighead: 1/8th ounce Hammer Head

Rod: 13 Fishing Envy 7’4” Medium Heavy Moderate Action

Reel: 13 Fishing Concept Boss 8.1

Line: 10 pound test Sufix Advance Fluorocarbon

Swim Jig

Bait: White Terminator Swim Jig

Rod: 13 Fishing Envy 7’3” Medium Heavy Fast Action

Reel: 13 Fishing Concept Boss 8.1

Line: 50 pound test Sufix 832