Bass GEEK 3: TX rig bluegill swimbaits, Bank veggie tales, Finesse swimbaitin

Welcome to Bass GEEK #3! Because you know you are one….

Been gettin’ these out every other month, s’posed to be every month, workin’ on it…and these GEEKS seem to be takin’ on a life of their own. This one’ll fer sher fill yer bassin’ hangry….

[If you’re gettin’ this for the first time, it’s probably cuz a bassin’ bud signed you up for the BassBlaster!]

Today’s Geekin’ Out

1  Proving Grounds: Cali


College bass-head Josh Shapland digs in this time with finesse swimbaitin’:
How much more West Coast does it get? lol Finesse swimbaiting is a great way to catch really pressured fish when they’re extremely keyed on bait. I’ve done especially well post-frontal on clear deep reservoirs, but I never discount throwing it whenever bass are keyed on bait regardless of the situation.

For setups, I go real finessey. I like a 6′ 6″ to 7′ rod in a M or ML action, and a decent lightweight spinning reel — because I need my setup to be as sensitive as possible for these light bites. I always use 10-lb braid mainline with a 6-8 lb fluoro leader that’s usually about 6′ long.

The first approach is my favorite. I call it “mini-Hudding” because it’s essentially fishing a 3-4″ swimbait (I prefer Keitech Easy Shiners or Fat Impacts) like a Huddleston. I fish these excruciatingly slow and always keep bottom contact.

The swimbaits are rigged on a 3/16-oz tungsten ball head. The light weight keeps me fishing it slow. Depending on conditions, I’ll usually keep my rod tip lightly twitching and pumping.

Another approach to this mini-Hudd technique that you can do with a medium baitcasting setup with 10-lb fluoro is to slow-roll these little swimbaits on underspins and keep bottom contact the whole time.

When things start heating up in the spring and summer, I go weedless. My favorite approach during this time is an Owner Flashy Swimmer and a 3.8″ Keitech on a Powell Max 705CB Rod with a faster reel (7:1) and 12-lb line. I love to fish like this along deep weedlines when fish get really finicky.

Whenever I fish these setups on deep structure, I always carry Pocket Knockers with me. I’m not sponsored by them or anything, just the things have saved me hundreds of dollars’ worth of tackle while fishing deep structure and they’re only about 2 bucks a 3-pack. If you’re fishing the finesse swimbaits right, you’ll get snagged a fair share of times, and it adds up when you’re using those tungsten jigheads!

2  Proving Grounds: Japan


GEEK in the ultra top secret world o’ Japanese bassin’ wants to be anonymous, so for now he’ll be represented by that symbol. Today. it’s all about the Gills:

Here in Japan “Gill” soft plastics are getting r-e-a-l-l-y detailed. I bet manufacturing folks in the US would find it impossible to make, at least from a cost perspective. They are super carefully designed and crafted with amazing weight balance.

Have a look at this bluegill swimbait, the Imakatsu Javagill:

What’s cool about it is its incredibly lively action and also the fact that it’s snagless Texas-style rigging. You can put your bait in the most complicated cover you can find.

Other manufacturing companies are making a similar-style bait. This Gill Flat is the most complex-form soft-plastic I’ve ever seen:

That has a more fanatically-designed inner structure, and the package contains an additional inner float and even spare eyes.

[Kumar note: I’m no swimbait expert, but the action of that bait in the video is SICK!]

3  Swimbaitin’ 

Wayne Campbell of Swimbait Universe givin’ us the ‘gill 411:

Some of the best swimbait fishing of the year — for both numbers and size — can be had right now. This builds confidence for newcomers and pads stats for some of the more-seasoned guys.

The bass have finished spawning (mostly) have returned to deeper water in preparation for the next big feed…the bluegill spawn. If you see bluegills spawning, you can bet bass are nearby just waiting for one to slip up and venture outside the protective zone of the bedding area. The areas are relatively easy to spot — just look for clusters of the little craters they create for their beds.

I have a few favorite baits this time of year, but none elicit violent, predatory strikes quite like the Mattlures Hardgill. The realism and versatility of this bait has brought me and many others some of the biggest fish we’ve caught.

I typically start by working angles on the outside edge of the bluegill beds: parallel to the front (both directions) and the edges (sitting deep and casting shallow). At that point I’ll transition slowly behind the beds, sometimes even beaching the boat. I’ll then cast deep and retrieve uphill, fan-casting across the entire bed area.

My retrieve varies from a slow crawl, to a stop/go, to an all-out burn. I prefer a moderate/fast swimbait rod (my own build), a 7.1:1 Daiwa Lexa 300L and 17-20lb P-Line CXX.

Some other baits to consider for this approach are the Mattlures Hammertail (pictured after an epic bite!), Toxic Baits Wade Hoggs, Jackall Gantarel, Bull Gill or the Savage Gear 5″ and 6″ offerings. Any soft baits get an application of Megastrike to help prolong the life of the bait and cover any unnatural smells.

4  Terminatin’ Tackle


by Jay and the Terminator, who’s all about gear that’s terminal:

Is the VMC Neko Hook the best hook in the world right now? Being used all over the Elite Series because it flat pins ’em, so we asked VMC: “I’m a friend of Sarah Connor. I was told she was here. Could I see her please?”

Hey — Terminator dude, quiet man, dang!

Actually we asked why the hook was all that. Some ingredients:

> 3-degree tweak equals better hook placement in a fish’s mouth, which equals less lost fish/more fish in the boat.

> Chemically sharpened, making it “sticky” sharp.

> Black nickel coating for less visibility underwater.

> The bend of the hook is forged, which strengthens the hook — critical in a smaller-diameter hook.

> Resin-closed eye so the line will never slip through the crack.

[^ the weedless version.]

BUT does any of that explain the excellent pinning percentage — which some Elites say is around 100% — in the roof of the fishes’ mouth? The real reason seems to be: “Phased plasma rifle in the 40-watt range.”

NO man, come on! This Terminator dude ain’t even focused.

Anyhow, seems like the main deal is the ratio between the length of the shank and the hook gap, along with the exact bend and shape of the hook. So part science, part nature…like guess who:

5  Bankin’ it 

IN bass stalker Brian Waldman again with some great tips:

> Pay close attention to vegetation types and their location. One pond I fish has several patches of pencil reeds that grow adjacent to firmer bottom, ideal locations for spawning bass and bluegill, while the areas where the cattails are growing up are slightly deeper and in softer-bottom areas.

> Pay attention to bottom composition along the shoreline shallows as you walk. In cases where you can’t determine possible spawning areas from shoreline vegetation, substrate and angle of banks (suggesting flats) can indicate key areas to spend a little extra time.

> Knowing where bluegill bed in your lake or pond is valuable because when bass are finished spawning and start to feed again, chasing bass in bluegill spawning areas can be one of your best location options. Floating trick worms or wacky rigs fished in and around these areas, as well as prop baits, get a lot of attention.

> On larger reservoirs, take advantage of being on foot by fishing behind marina areas or even behind boat docks when possible. They are favorite areas for spawners and post-spawners, and anglers on foot often get better shots than anglers in boats targeting these areas. Before casting, figure out how you’re going to play your bass so you have a plan if he heads for cables or other obstructions.

> Fish tight and parallel to walkways running along the bank. Bass will often spawn just outside these areas, and a careful and quiet approach can help you bring some nice fish to hand.

> Expect larger females to stage out off the ends of docks over deeper water. Pitching slow-sinking soft plastics, either lightly weighted or rigged wacky, to the ends of dock corners will sometimes get you the biggest fish.

> Never pass up boat ramp areas on larger reservoirs, especially later in the day or during the evening after boat traffic has settled down. By now, lots of tourneys have released a lot of bass in these areas, and studies show that a good percentage of these released bass will hang around for a month or 2 before finally vacating out…plus they’re usually off-limits to tourney participants.

6  YouTubers

OH high school bass-head Zach Stacy tells us what he’s clickin’ on and why:

Tournament season is kicking in to full gear for most of us, and in this video @Apbassing gives some pointers on practicing for tournaments.

One thing that Alex shows us is that practicing for a tournament is more than just fishing. He spends a lot of time driving around looking at his graphs for areas he might want to fish during the tournament. Alex also emphasizes that catching the fish is less important than figuring out where they are.

He is fishing a wacky rig which can often a great technique to figure out where the fish are.

I like this video because I find myself wanting to power-fish when I am practicing. But Alex shows us that slowing down and fishing something that can find fish is the way to go when fishing a body of water you are unfamiliar with.

7  Lunker Lore 

Josh Alwine — scribbler of Lunker Lore and High Percentage Fishing — with some pig melon wisdom:

Florida-strain largemouth growth potential

> To maintain its weight, a bass needs between 5-7 lbs of food annually for every 1 lb of body weight

> To GAIN weight, a bass needs 10 lbs of edible protein for every 1 lb of growth

> A bass would have to consume 10,000 averaged-sized threadfin shad to reach 10 lbs

> Maximum growth potential is achieved when world-class Florida-strain genetics are in the presence of vast amounts of forage with moderate water temps that stay between 70-78 degrees

> Heavy weed cover can reduce the feeding efficiency of bass and thus reduce top-end growth potential

[Josh included this shot of a 5-yr-old pond bass that seems to have been raised in optimal conditions:]

You a GEEK?
Still lookin’ fer more geeks. If you’re obsessed in a GEEK way (fine deets) with ANY part of bassin’ — jigs, cranks, line, weird Howell/Clunn headwear, whatever — hit me back. But fer sher lookin’ for:- TX, FL and Gville what’s hot/not experts
– Bass boats and ‘lectronics geeksSTILL no Bass GEEK apparel yet…dang it!

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Jay Kumar’s BassBlaster is a daily-ish roundup

of the best, worst and funniest in bassin’, as curated by me — Jay Kumar. I started, co-hosted Loudmouth Bass with Zona, was a B.A.S.S. senior writer and a bunch more in bassin’. The Blaster is the #2 daily read on any given day in the wide world o’ bass so thanks for readin’!

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