“Whoa whoa whoa! Did you just say you’ve never fished a jig??? Really???” Tell any experienced jig fisherman that you’ve never fished a jig before and you’re more than likely to hear those words – followed up by a headshake in disbelief. And there’s a good reason for it too.
Jigs are responsible for ungodly amounts of fish and can be used in a variety of conditions from ice out to ice in. They’re also known for producing big bass – really big bass. Now don’t get me wrong, a 12 incher will suck them down too, but there’s something about a jig that really appeals to the big girls.
As for versatility, you can pitch them, flip them, punch them, cast them, swim them, hop them, and drag them. The more ways you learn how to fish them, the more lips you’ll pierce. One thing’s for sure – you’ll never hit the water without jigs once you learn how to fish them.
One of the coolest aspects of our Bull Nose jigs is their size. They’re the perfect “in between” size of a full sized jig and a finesse jig - yet they’re as tough as nails. They’re built to winch fish out of whatever cover you throw them in…period. Tip the Bull Nose Jig with a Craw D’oeuvre and you have a presentation that appeals to every bass under the sun – so be prepared to give your jig rod a workout.
If you looked at 100 serious jig fishermen’s jig boxes, you’ll find they all have a wide variety of colors to suit all conditions. But regardless if they fish clear water or dirty water, or what part of the country they live in - one commonality you’ll always find is the color black/blue (unless of course they keep secrets in a separate box…which many of them do).
We’re no dummies either. As a matter of fact, we keep a variety of black/blue shade combos handy to tackle any water or light conditions that can arise. The results…success on the water.
If you’re a seasoned jig fisherman, I don’t have to explain the combos shown in this article. But if you’re a newbie to jig fishing – well, there’s a damn good reason why the seasoned jig fishermen keep these color combos under lock and key. Soon you will too.
Don’t worry…your secrets are safe with us ;)
The Bull Nose Jig that is. One of the most commonly asked questions we get about this awesome little jig is which of our baits makes the best trailer for it. This of course is a loaded question with many variables because the conditions in fishing change day in and day out (kind of like “what color do you like best?”). So there’s no one single best answer for that loaded question other than “The one that’s working best that day”. That being said, I’ll give you my simple formula for how I decide which trailer I’m going to start with when I hit the water.
The 2 things I take into consideration are:
(1) The size of the profile I want to show the fish.
(2) The rate of fall that will trigger the most strikes.
I also know that if I rig 2 rods up with different size profiles and fall rates, it’ll help me narrow down what the fish are responding best to more quickly.
Here are some simple guidelines.
Small profile/medium fall = Craw D'oeuvre on a 3/8 oz. Bull Nose
Small profile/fast fall = Craw D'oeuvre on a ½ oz. Bull Nose
Small stocky profile/medium fall = 3.5" Texas-Rig Jig on a 3/8 oz. Bull Nose
Small stocky profile/fast fall = 3.5" Texas-Rig Jig on a 1/2 oz. Bull Nose
*A Bull Nose tipped with a 3.5" Texas-Rig Jig will fall just slightly slower than a Bull Nose tipped with a Craw D'oeuvre as the TRJ is just a little more stockier than the Craw D.
Medium streamline profile/medium fall =Trimmed Bully Grass Devil on a 3/8 oz. Bull Nose
Medium streamline profile/fast fall =Trimmed Bully Grass Devil on a ½ oz. Bull Nose
Large profile/slow-medium fall =Trimmed Conviction Craw on a 3/8 oz. Bull Nose
Large profile/ medium-fast fall =Trimmed Conviction Craw on a ½ oz. Bull Nose
Large Profile/slow fall = Diesel Craw on a 3/8 oz. Bull Nose
Large profile/medium fall = Diesel Craw on a ½ oz. Bull Nose
As for trimming these baits before rigging them on the jig, for the Conviction Craw and Bully Grass Devil I generally snip about ¾" off the baits to get the exact profile I’m looking for. For the Diesel Craw I snip about ½", for the 3.5" Texas-Rig Jig I’ll either just snip the skirt off or just leave the skirt on (leave the skirt on if you want an extra bulkier profile). As for the Craw D'oeuvre, I just rig it right onto the jig because the little Craw D is compact enough. Unless of course the water temps are below 45 degrees, then I’ll snip about a ½" off it and trim the jig skirt down on the jig as well for a real down sized presentation.Well that’s it! Our recipe for rigging up our Creature baits on the Bull Nose Jigs is now on the table. So the next time you feel like “gettin’ jiggy with it”, use these guidelines as a reference when you’re rigging up your jig rods to do some flippin’ or pitchin’ and be prepared to have your drag tested the next time you hit the water.
Wacky rigging a Sick Stick is by far one of the easiest ways to catch bass. It doesn’t make a difference if you’re 5 years old or 95 years old, the technique is super simple and equally as effective.
The first thing to realize about Wacky rigging the Sick Stick is that the Sick Stick is not designed like the hundreds of other stick baits out there. In other words, fish it like a Sick Stick, not like other stick style baits. The Sick Stick was specifically designed with a square core, round ribs, and neutral buoyancy for specific reasons. There are multiple different ways to fish the Sick Stick, but when it comes to Wacky rigging it, there’s a method to the awesome madness. When rigged correctly on a weighted Wacky Head with the corner of the square core facing downward (see diagram below), water deflects off of both sides of the square core as the bait drops which creates a unique pulsing thump that bass feel on their lateral lines. The pulsing thump combined with the seductive wobble it creates turns bass into slobbering fools. The neutral buoyancy of the Sick Stick allows the angler to easily adjust the rate of fall and action to suit the mood of the bass as the day progresses.
Create a super slow drop with a subtle wobble to a quick drop with an erratic wobble, all by simply changing the weight of the Wacky Head. Pretty cool right?
There are a lot of different Wacky Heads on the market but we designed our own because we don’t like the weak little hooks that come on the majority of them. Plus we also prefer a more stout weed guard so we can Wacky fish in and around cover without getting hung up. That’s why we came out with our Jacked Wackers…not just to be able to cast where the fish like to hang, but to be tough enough to get them out of what they’re hanging in.
Here are some general tips to help you decide which size Jacked Wacker to rig your Sick Stick on to suit the conditions.
3/32 oz: Slow fall / tight subtle wobble. Great for dead calm days with little or no winds, or when subtlety is the key to getting bit. Shallow water (5 ft. or less). The slow fall allows the Sick Stick to stay in the strike zone longer during the drop which is crucial when targeting lethargic bass.
1/8 oz: Medium fall / wider wobble. Great for when fishing in 12 ft. or less. An all-around versatile drop rate and action to help you key in on the mood of the bass.
3/16 oz: Fast fall / erratic wobble. Great for fishing deeper water, covering more water more quickly, and targeting active bass or going for a reaction strike.
A personal trick I like to do is put a small drop of PRO’s Soft Bait Glue on the hook of the Jacked Wacker after I rig the Sick Stick on it. It keeps the Sick Stick exactly where I want it to sit on the hook so I know I’m always getting the best action possible.
The Sick Stick and Jacked Wackers were made for each other. Put the two together, rig them correctly, and you’ll be a bass’s nightmare. Just cast it out, let it drop, if you don’t get hit on the initial fall, raise your rod tip and let it drop again, repeat until your Sick Stick gets crushed. It doesn’t get any easier than that.
Knowing what you’re throwing is the key to keeping you slaying. The more ways you know to fish the 4.8" Swinging Hammer, the more ways you’ll consistently put pigs in the boat. Whether you’re fishing in a foot of grassy water or a 30 foot hole, the massive side to side swagger of the Swinging Hammer has proven to grab the attention of big fish…and who doesn’t love catching big fish right? So let’s go over some of the ways to draw in the big girls with this powerhouse of a swimbait.
Weightless: When the bass are responding best to a slow presentation, rigging the Swinging Hammer on either a 5/0 or 6/0 EWG hook (preferably with a screw lock) and ever so slowly reeling it just beneath the surface creates a seductive “waking” action that is perfect for drawing strikes in shallow water, especially if you’re doing it over submerged grass. Or, slow reeling near the bottom can be equally effective when fishing it weightless in less than 4 ft. of water for drawing massive strikes from big fish. Remember, true pigs (we’re talking big girls folks) don’t want to burn excess energy chasing down a meal, so when you’re Swinging Hammer comes to a crashing halt, set the hook hard because it’s not a tree!
Weighted swimbait hooks: Weighted swimbait hooks come in all shapes, weights and sizes. When choosing a weighted swimbait hook for the Swinging Hammer, make sure the hook is at least a 5/0 and no bigger than a 7/0 and preferably with a screw lock (starting to see a pattern here?). As far as weight choices go, that all depends on depth, wind, water clarity, and mood of the bass. Having swimbait hooks with multiple weight options in your terminal tackle box will keep you covered for any situation. We personally keep a variety of 1/16, 1/8, ¼, 3/8 and ½ oz weighted swimbait hooks in our boxes so we’re ready for anything. Also, any time we’re threading the nose of the Swinging Hammer onto the screw lock, we always put a drop of Pro’s Soft Bait Glue on the threads before twisting the nose all the way up. Bass hit this bait with a vengeance so this will definitely increase the amount of fish you catch per bait before the bass totally destroy it.
Chatterbait trailer: The amount of action and vibration the Chatterbait/Swinging Hammer combo puts off is just ignorant and it drives the fish nuts! If you’re fishing in stained or muddy water and you want to make sure they hear your bait coming, this combo will send tasty chills down their lateral lines and they’ll be able to find your bait blindfolded. Again, put a drop of that glue on the hook shaft of the Chatterbait before you slide the Swinging Hammer up it because the bass are going to try to rip the rod out of your hands.
Spinnerbait Trailer : When you see this combo in the water you can pretty much rule out any small fish. If you’re fishing a double willow blade Spinnerbait with a Swinging Hammer on the back, it looks like 3 bait fish swimming together waiting to get engulfed. We recommend either a 3/8 or ½ oz Spinnerbait with a big hook and of course do the drop of glue trick on the hook shaft before sliding the swinging Hammer up it. Rigging a Swinging Hammer on a spinnerbait brings the average spinnerbait presentation to a completely different level…the kind of level that pigs love. Can anyone smell bacon?
Swim Jig: Don’t even get me started on this topic! Bite about ¾ of an inch off the head of the Swinging Hammer and rig it on a swim Jig. Wham! Pair either a Kitchen Sink or a Green Pumpkin Light Blue Swirl Swinging Hammer with a green pumpkin or gill colored swim jig and you have the perfect bluegill imitator (don’t forget about biting off ¾" to create the stockier profile of a bluegill). We all know how big bass feel about having bluegill near their spawning areas, so throwing this combo is like throwing a chunk of meat at a wild Pit Bull! Definitely make sure you have a stout hook on your swim jig!
Alabama Rig: If you haven’t seen 5 Swinging Hammers on an A-rig then you haven’t lived yet. You’ll call bass in from 5 states away with this bad boy! If you have the shoulders to hoist this rig all day, then you have the shoulders to carry the winning bag to the scales. It’s all about the turbulence peeps, it’s all about the turbulence.
For the 4th entry of our 7 part series, were going to go over yet another way to utilize the subtle effectiveness of the Sick Stick, and this time it’s Drop shotting with a 2/0 EWG hook rigged weedless. This is one of my personal favs because most people don’t even think of doing it, so it’s a presentation the bass rarely see. Yet it’s an extremely effective way to target bass in and around cover with a somewhat finesse presentation. Try throwing an exposed drop shot hook into a brush pile, timber or grass and you’ll wear your patience out before you ever get to wear out a fish. But with this weedless method, the playing field between you and the bass is now leveled.
Being that you’re going to be using a 2/0 EWG hook for this method, you can afford to use “heavier than norm” drop shotting gear to get the fish out. So you can put away your noodle rod spooled with 8 lb. line! My personal set up is a 7'3" Med action spinning rod, a 3000 series reel spooled with 20 lb. braid, topped off with an 8 foot section of 12 lb. Fluoro leader. The combination of my line choice and the 2/0 EWG hook allow me to set the hook a lot harder than you could with a normal drop shot set up. Plus this helps me to get the fish’s head facing in my direction quickly and allows me to keep ample pressure on them to wrestle them out of the cover. I also use a heavier drop shot weight for this technique, like a 3/8 or a ½ oz. Lean Drop, because the heavier weight helps hold the bait in position as I wiggle it.
Working this rig: Like I said earlier, this technique is one of my personal favorites because being that the Sick Stick is rigged weedless with the hook point tucked back into the bait, this rig is virtually snag proof and I can throw it anywhere. If I’m casting this rig, I leave about 18 to 24 inches between the Lean Drop and the Sick Stick to compensate for the angle I’m fishing at. If I’m fishing vertically under the boat, I stick with 8 to 12 inches of space between the weight and the bait. After the cast, I do something I call the “kill twitch” method with the Sick Stick. Once I can feel the weight on the bottom, I’ll gently pick up on the rod tip to remove the slack from the line (without moving the weight from the bottom) and give the Sick Stick a few tiny twitches with my rod tip. After the twitches, I’ll slowly lower my rod tip and ease the bait back to the bottom as if it were dying. Sometimes I’ll let the bait sit for as long as a minute before I raise the rod tip up and start twitching again. I’ll let the fish tell me how slow they want it, and then I’ll just repeat that speed as I work the bait back across the targeted area. If you have a little stain to your water, you can insert a small glass rattle to the tail of the Sick Stick to add a little sound to your twitches.
If you’re new to this technique and want to give it a try, use coupon code SSDS during checkout when you purchase any Pro Pack of Sick Sticks . You’ll not only save $1.99 off each Sick Stick Pro Pack, but we’ll toss in 3 Lean Drops and 3 2/0 EWG hooks (for each pro pack you purchase) to help you get started with your new technique. It’s simple, it’s effective, and you can even do it while your chomping down on last night’s leftovers…that’s how easy it is!
**WARNING contains explicit language at the end. This video captures the raw excitement and emotion anglers have experienced when fishing PTL, and we didn’t censor it. From top level anglers to bank fisherman, NOTHING beats the rush of catching big fish! We’d like to give a special thanks to a few channels for keeping their cameras rolling during these PTL moments.
Now for the 3rd part of this 7 part series, we’re going to go over fishing the Sick Stick on a Skakey head so you have something else new to play with in 2014. Some of you might already use this technique but you’d be surprised at the number of people out there that only think of wacky rigging when stick baits come to mind (which is the main reason for this 7 part series).
The Sick Stick is extremely versatile but many people get “one track minded” and overlook the other multiple rigging options. We want to make sure everyone is taking full advantage of every fish catching opportunity the Sick Stick offers and make sure everyone knows how to present the bait to the fish according to the conditions at hand. The more you know, the more successful you will be.
By now, pretty much everyone that wets a line knows how effective Shakey head fishing can be. And those who have heard of it but have yet to apply it are definitely missing the boat (and a bunch of fish). When bass are relating tight to the bottom or just in the mood for a nose down/tail up presentation (hmmm…that even just sounds intriguing), dragging the Sick Stick on a Tick Shake is an excellent way to give them exactly what they’re looking for. Bass are already big fans of Sick Sticks so showing it to them Shakey style can definitely be the ticket when the time is right.
The weight of the Tick Shake you’ll use will vary depending on the depth you’re fishing and the wind speeds you’re dealing with that day. But it can be fished in 2 feet of water on an 1/8 oz head, 20 feet of water on a ¼ oz head, 50 feet of water on a 5/8 oz head, or any weight and depth variation in between. As long as the weight is heavy enough so you can feel bottom, you’re golden. And don’t forget that the Tick Shakes have that sweet 5/0 hook on them so feel free to lean back on those bass as hard as you want when they pick it up (that’s my favorite part)!
Shakey head fishing with the Sick Stick is easy. Just cast it out, let it hit the bottom, and work it back slowly with a combination of shakes, little hops and of course pauses (a lot of hits happen during the pause so make sure you don’t forget that part). There’s no rules here so just experiment with the cadence of your retrieve and let the bass tell you how they want it that day. And if the bass are feeding on the bottom, they’re gonna eat it!
On November the 16th, we held a small “PowerTeam Lures only” Kayak Tournament and the event turned out to be a blast to say the least. The tournament was being held on a small 22 acre pond behind our property that can only be accessed by kayak or small Jon boat. So to avoid making it too crowded, we only invited 7 people.
The rules of the tournament were simple and kept everyone on the same playing field;
1) $25 entry fee
2) No electronics
3) Anglers could only bring 2 rods, one spinning and one casting, and their own terminal tackle (skirted jigs were allowed with one of our craws as a trailer)
4) Only PowerTeam baits were allowed and we provided a mixed bag of baits to each competitor.
5) Winner would be the guy with the biggest 3 fish limit.
Being that everyone had the same tools to get the job done, it was up to the anglers to figure out which bait and color the fish were responding to best, according to the conditions. Then afterwards at our place, there would be a hearty southern BBQ meal, drinks, and a bonfire waiting for the guys after the event.
Onto the list of competitors…
Joe Underwood, The die-hard angler and professional smack talker.
Wayne Mills, Fishing enthusiast that always has a great time no matter what.
Brian Vincent (AKA Vince), Fishing addict and social media guru for The Appomattox River Company.
Chuck Wrenn, The walking dictionary of fishing knowledge.
Aaron Dryden, The river smallie connoisseur and hardcore jokester.
Luther Cifers, The man, the myth, the legend and owner of YakAttack.
Matt Anderson, Excellent multi-species angler who’s missing a few screws (and the only competitor nutty enough to launch his kayak by sliding down a steep 70 ft grass hill plunging into the water…and did it successfully!)
The day of the event was the first day after a really tough 3 day cold front so the guys definitely had their work cut out for them. There were zero winds, complete overcast skies, and raw damp air that you could cut with a knife. But even though the conditions were less than favorable, it seemed like everyone was there to have a good time regardless of what the bass were going to do. Which is exactly what happened.
At 4 pm after a long day of grinding it out in the tough conditions, Joe Underwood lived up to all of his smack talk by catching the biggest limit by dragging an Okeechobee Craw, Craw D'oeuvre on the back of a Northstar custom jig and winning the tournament, the cash, and the bragging rights that came along with it. I think the bragging rights was what he was mainly after…and his smile in this pic says it all lol!
After everyone got off the water and wrapped it up, the guys headed back to our place for the “after event festivities”. Everyone gathered around the bonfire to warm up with some pulled pork sandwiches, BBQ chicken, baked beans, drinks and nonstop laughs that carried on until the following morning. To me, this is what fishing it’s all about! Good times, catching fish, and most importantly, the camaraderie of everyone involved.
After all was said and done, the event was a complete success and everyone had a great time. Needless to say, it looks like this was the start of something new. More good times to come!
Smallies, Smallies & More Smallies!!!
When I get the itch for a good time and some awesome smallmouth fishing, one place always comes to mind. And that place is the north branch of the Susquehanna River all the way up near the top of PA. Twice a year I make a 450 mile trip up to Mike’s Guide Service to get my smallie fix along with the total “Mike” experience that keeps all of his clients coming back year after year. Not only does Mike put you on great fish, but he keeps you laughing and entertained the entire time you’re catching them. This trip was no different than all the others I’ve made up there…nothing but a great time!
If I sat here and typed out all of the details of the trip I’d end up with a blog pages in length. So instead, we’ve condensed the non-stop action into a short 4 minute kick ass video, and I’ll let the video do the talking for me. But what I will say is, the 3.5" Food Chain Tube and the 3.5" Craw D'oeuvre in the color Susky Slayer are absolute animals on the Susquehanna River and accounted for 60 % of our fish. Due to the air temps dropping into the 20’s overnight, the fish were pretty much locked onto the bottom presentation for most of the day until it warmed up so those two baits were spot on. The other 40 % came either on a 4.8" JP Hammer Shad twitched slowly as a jerkbait on a weighted 1/16 oz 5/0 swimbait hook in still water (every hit on this bait was bone jarring), or a 4.8" Swinging Hammer rigged on a ¼ Owner Flashy swimmer for a moving presentation.
I’ve always fished with Mike in the late winter/early spring so this trip was my first “Fall” fishing experience on the north branch. As I figured, it was pretty much the same as the fishing in the early spring… a lot of fish, a lot of good fish, and a lot of cool memories that keep me re-booking before I even hit the road to go home. And after 130 smallies in 2 ½ days of fishing, I’m already counting down the days until the next trip up to Mike’s. The pre-spawn can’t come fast enough! Enjoy the video!
When Luther Cifers from YakAttack called me and told me about this big event called the Boondoggle down in Florida, it sounded like way too much fun to pass up. Unfortunately, Luther couldn’t make the trip himself this year, but being that he knows I’m a newbie to the salt water scene, he hooked me up with Matthew Vann of Sails and Tails Kayak Charters to pal around with down there to guarantee I get on good fish. And to top it off, he even offers to lend me his Hobie Pro Angler 14’ for the adventure. How could I say no to that? Count me in! A few days later, I find out that my good buddy Brian Vincent (who is just as much as a newbie to the salt water scene as I am) had signed up for the Boondoggle event as well so of course we paired up as a team for this adventure. An adventure that would be completely new to the both of us. Road Trip!!!
We take off at 3:30 am and arrive in Pensacola, Florida with just enough time to rig up and take an hour power nap before Mathew Vann met us at the launch as the sun was beginning to set. Matthew armed us both with a heavy duty offshore rod that was spooled with 85 lb braid, 60 lb Fluoro leader, a 3 oz lead egg sinker, a heavy 5/0 Circle hook, and a quick rundown on the Bull Red plan. The anticipation of landing our first ever Red fish was growing by the second as we paddled our way to 3 Mile Bridge. As soon as we got to the bridge pilings, Matthew quickly started throwing our 4.5" Chartreuse Grub on a ¼ oz jig heads and began supplying us with 8” to 12" trout which we rigged up on the heavy rods for bait. After about an hour learning curve of us getting used to the circle hooks, Brian hooks up and this time it was on! As I yell over to Matthew to alert him, my rod gets slammed at the same time and I hook up as well. Doubles!!! What a way to kick off the night! We both land our first ever Reds at the same time! Needless to say that the addiction began immediately.
Some more time goes by, some more break offs due to sharks, and then Boom…Brian hooks up again on the opposite side of the bridge. Meanwhile, about 50 yards away on the other side, I had caught a trout for bait and as I dropped it down on the heavy rod I could hear the excitement of Brian wrestling his fish. Then….Ba-Bam! I hook up a split second after my bait hits the bottom and the fish feels huge!
I fight the fish to the side of my yak, bear hug the beast and drag it into the yak. I wasn’t losing this pig! My heart was racing as I quickly paddled over to Brian and Matthew for some pics. Second doubles of the night! How cool is that!!!
Shortly afterwards as the rush of the entire moment begins to finally settle, the lack of sleep combined with the long drive begins to kick in. So we pack it in for the night, head back to the hotel and pass out for a couple hours before the sun comes up. Matthew had some unexpected issues to deal with the 2nd day but he gave us a list of what we needed from the tackle store so we could hit the bridge again by ourselves that evening. We hit the store, grabbed what was on the list, headed over to the State Park where the Boondoggle was being held and set up camp.
With nothing but big fish on the mind, we get back on the water around 4 p.m. and struggle with a tough bite until the sun went down…and then it all changed. I had the magic hand with catching the trout that night so I kept Brian and I supplied with trout by dead sticking our Chartreuse Grub on a 3/8 oz weight next to the pilings. The sharks were a bit of a pain in the ass this night because they would keep stealing our baits or cutting our lines. But after about 5 lost baitfish each, Brian finally hooked one, wrestled it to the yak and we got our first glimpse at what was stealing our baits. It was only a small Black Tip shark but its feisty attitude more than made up for its size. Brian hooked it and fought it, I landed it and took the hook out of its mouth, and we sent the little bad ass back into the drink after snapping a pic or two. Team work!
In the mix of the pesky sharks, Brian and I still managed to get our Red Fish fill for the night!
Back at the campsite we hung out for a couple hours, met some cool fellow Boondogglers and before you know it, the sun began to rise 3 hours later (Ouch!). Off to the next adventure!
All pumped up for our offshore trip in the Gulf with Mathew, we followed him and two of his buddies to the next destination. When we arrived at the launch site, Brian and I stopped and stared at the blue waters that met the sandy white beach. It looked like a postcard…only this post card was for real. We then unloaded the Hobies off the trailer like we were late for a flight. Matthew’s 2 buddies, Brandon Barton and Josh Slager, helped us rig up like we had been friends for years and gave us some helpful tips as we prepped for the adventure at the water’s edge. It was obvious that we were in good hands with great people.
Although the most powerful fish I had ever fought wrapped me up and broke me off in structure 70 feet down (still thinking about that fish!!!), the day was a complete success and we all caught a limit of tasty Red Snappers! My buddy Brian took big fish honors this day with a massive Snapper that measured in just under 30 inches and weighed in at a hefty 17 lbs! I can attest for the battle that these awesome fighting fish put up because I had to chase Brian about 40 yards to stay up with him just so I could take some pics of the fish that dragged him like a pack of dogs. What a beast!
When we arrived back at the beach and pulled out our catch, we got surrounded by people snapping pics with their cell phones who seemed to be just as excited about our catch as we were. It felt like we were on stage with an audience…what a great final touch to the day!
Back at the campsite for our last night, we enjoyed a couple drinks with Matthew, Brandon and Josh who were soaking up the Boondoggle spirit and appeared as though the day was just another day at the beautiful blue water office. But to Brian and I, it was an incredible trip that we’ll never forget. New fish, a new experience, and new friends that all share the same exact passion as we do. And that’s what the Boondoggle is all about. Boondoggle!!!
The next morning we woke early, broke down our campsite and sluggishly loaded the truck for the long drive home back to VA. Although we were sad to leave our new friends and the big fish heaven that had granted us with such an amazing time, getting back to our wives that we’ve missed so much had taken over. At that point, the 800 mile drive home didn’t seem so far just thinking about that the big smiles that were waiting for us back home. We couldn’t wait to cook our fresh catch for our families and share with them the sweet treasures that the Florida Gulf had to offer. Ooooh sooooo tasty!
Well that’s it! Our first Boondoggle experience is in the books. And I can assure you it won’t be the last! I’d like to say thanks to my good buddy Brian Vincent from the Appomattox River Company for pairing up with me for this cool adventure. We went into this trip knowing zero about what we were doing but pulled it off as a team and even managed to catch big fish! A big thanks to Matthew Vann of Sails and Tails Kayak Charters for putting us on the biggest fish of our lives and turning us largemouth bass boys onto some powerhouse species of salt water fish. You rock Mathew! And a very special thanks to Luther Cifers of YakAttack for turning us onto the Boondoggle, hooking us up with Mathew Vann, and lending us 2 Hobie Pro Anglers armored with all the YackAttack gear needed to make our trip that much more perfect. We missed you buddy!
For the 2nd entry of this 7 part series we’re going to go over fishing the Sick Stick on a finesse version of a Carolina rig. This technique covers the gap between split shot rigging and the standard Carolina rig. Granted when most people think of Carolina rigging, they think of 7'6" medium heavy casting rods and ½ to 1 oz weights. But the technique of Carolina rigging isn’t necessarily locked into the traditional heavier gear that has been passed along from generation to generation.Thinking outside of the box and using the same principles, except with lighter gear (remember, we’re talking finessing here folks,) will add yet another deadly technique to your bag of tricks when you’re on the water. Not to mention this set up is very effective during a tough bite. For the anglers out there who have the patience for Carolina rigging, or in this case finesse Carolina rigging, this simple technique will be right up your bassin’ alley.
Once again, we’re using the same rod, reel and line set up as mentioned in the 1st entry of this series (Rod - 7'3" Medium action Omen, Reel - Shimano Stradic CI4 3000, Line - 20 lb. Spiderwire Stealth, Leader line - 12 lb Yozuri H2O Fluorocarbon). This is my personal set up but as always, you can use your favorite brands of choice that you’re comfortable with. So let’s move on to the rig itself and we’ll start from the bottom and work our way back; On the business end I rig a 5" Sick Stick weedless on a regular wire 3/0 EWG hook. This tasty package is tied onto the end of a 24" to 30" section of 12 lb Fluoro leader line which leads to one end of a barrel swivel. From there I slide either ¼ or 3/8 oz weight (depending on the wind) onto my 20 lb braided line followed by a glass bead which is then tied to the other end of the barrel swivel.
Throwing this rig on a long sensitive spinning rod not only allows for greater casting distance with the lighter weights, but the sensitivity of the rod combined with the zero stretch of the braided line will allow you to detect the slightest of hits…which is crucial during a tough bite. And if you use a tungsten barrel weight vs. a lead or brass weight, the sensitivity is unmatched.
Working the bait; make long casts to cover lots of water and keep the retrieve simple. Slow dragging wins the race here so don’t rush it. After the bait settles to the bottom from the cast, slowly drag it about a foot or so, pause for a few seconds, and then repeat. *Note: slowly put tension on the line each time before you begin to drag again to feel for “spongy” weight. Just in case a bass gently picked the bait up during the pause and just sat on it.
Finesse Carolina rigging is a great technique for fishing points, humps, drop offs and flats because it's a slow lazy “bait presentation” that is a sure shot to spark their interest. It’s just an easy technique to fish all day, plus it’s a great way to get fish to bite when other techniques fail. So give it a shot, it just might become one of the staples in your bag of bassin’ tricks.
Entry #3 soon to follow…
This is going to be a 7 part series discussing 7 different ways to effectively fish the 5" Sick Stick. And to keep it simple, each technique can be performed with the same rod, reel and line. This way the only thing you have to worry about is swapping out the “business end”. We’ve decided to break this series up into 7 individual articles because we want to keep it simple and we don’t want to overload your brain with too much information all at once. Each of the 7 parts will be kept short and sweet to make sure everyone is taking full advantage of the versatility that the 5" Sick Stick has to offer, and of course catching the most bass on it as humanly possible. One of the coolest things about the Sick Stick is that it can catch bass regardless if the fish are aggressive, neutral or just shut off. If you know multiple ways to fish it, you can effectively catch bass during any 3 of the mentioned moods. Enough of the introduction, let’s move on to the meat and potatoes of The Bass Never Get “Sick” of it: Part 1.
Working the bait; Make a long cast and let the bait slowly free fall to bottom. Let it sit for 10 to 30 seconds, or even longer when the bass are really negative, before you begin to work it back to you. Working it back to you should consist of a mixture of slow short drags with pauses, little hops with pauses, and a couple sharp snaps of the rod tip (and yes, each snap is followed by pauses). Fishing the Sick Stick rigged like this is super easy, it’s virtually snag proof which means you can fish it in various types of cover, and most importantly, it’s extremely effective. As a matter of fact, when I’m teaching complete newbies how to fish, this is the rig I set them up with because you really can’t mess it up (unless of course they work the bait too quickly). But it’ll catch them fish and I don’t have to spend time trying to get them unhung from snags…it's "win win" for both parties!
So that’s it! The 1st part of the 7 part series is in the books. Soak it up, apply it, and go stick some bass with this easy technique. You never know, it might just become one of your favorite ways to fish the Sick Stick…It’s definitely mine.
River Smallie Addiction
If I only knew the caliber of the brown gems that swam in the James River here in central VA, I never would have waited so long to take advantage of them! I’ve been living here for 3 years now and just recently discovered the awesome river smallies that lurk less than an hour away from my home. And after 4 different outings to the James in the past 2 weeks, I could kick myself in the ass for not exploring that beautiful river sooner. I guess I’ll just have to make up for lost time. Anyway, enough with the could have, should have, would have…let’s get to the fun stuff.
So my wife, myself and two great friends from PA that were down to visit us all grab our yaks and hook up with my buddy Aaron Dryden for our first ever James River float. Aaron, a Pro Staffer for Wilderness Systems Kayaks, is a veteran yak angler on the James and being that the 4 of us had never taken our yaks out on any river before, he was more than happy to show us the ropes. Not knowing what to really expect, I traveled light with just two spinning rods and a 3.5" Food Chain Tube Kit. I figured river smallies + Food Chain Tubes = good times right? Exactly! Within the first hour of the float after catching a few smaller fish, I cast my Susky Slayer Purple Flake tube into a 5 ft deep pocket between 2 boulders. The bait settles on the bottom and a couple seconds later there’s nothing but heavy weight on the end of my line, and then the weight starts moving to the right! I immediately slammed back into what ended up being my biggest fish of the day, a beautifully thick 19" 4 lb. 4 oz. smallie that quickly ran out into the current and took me for a ride about 40 yards down river. What an absolute blast! Not to mention one hell of an introduction to the James.
That could have been my last fish of the day and I would have been completely happy with the outing. But about an hour later after a few more smaller fish, I laid into another 18.5" brute that had the same exact attitude as the big one I had caught earlier. Another awesome battle that left me with an ear to ear smile until the end of the day. What more could I ask for?
So of course after a first time experience like that I just had to go back to the river before the holiday weekend was over. This time a new fishing buddy of mine named Jesse shared his stretch of the river with me and once again, the river did not let me down. As matter of fact, it was even more of a rush! I had to paddle my way up and through some fast tricky water to get to where I needed to go but the end result was WELL worth the exhausting effort.
Still bouncing the Susky Slayer Purple Flake Food Chain Tube off the bottom on a ¼ oz. FCT jig head (hard to put that down after my 1st river experience), the highlight of my day was locking into a beast of a James River bronze back which ended up being my new personal best smallie as well as a VA citation. How cool is that?!?! Fighting that 21" bull in white water on medium action spinning gear was an experience that I’ll definitely never forget! And the best part is, I caught the whole thing on my GoPro camera so I can re-live the feelings of excitement anytime I want to look back at the day. Very cool!
Okay, so at this point I am officially addicted to the James River smallies and I’m already thinking about when I can go back the very second I step foot into my truck for the ride home.
A few days later, the “fishing itch” takes over and I couldn’t help myself but make my way back out to the James to fish that section of white water again. This trip making it a trifecta, the river again treats me to a fun filled day that is topped off with yet another powerful 18.5" brute that was a complete expert at using the white water to its advantage.
The power of these big river smallies still “Wows” me every time I lay into one! And again, the Susky Slayer Purple Flake Food Chain Tube manages to fool the big girls that rule the river. Three is a charm!
Sunday rolls around and a couple of friends of mine ask me to go fishing and ask me where I want to go…like they even had to ask that question lol! Yes, you guessed it, the 4th outing to the river is under way. So bright and early I pick up my buddy Vince from the Appomattox River Company and we drive off to James river ramp where we meet our friend Dave. I think they were about as amped up as I was as we all scrambled to unload our gear and get on the water for the early morning bite.
The weather was beautiful but the bite was definitely tougher than expected. We we’re catching fish slowly and steadily throughout the day but the size just wasn’t there. I of course stuck with old faithful (like at this point I even have to say what I’m throwing) which again paid off big about an hour before we ended the day. After catching 3 back to back fish on consecutive casts, I hook up with a powerhouse that ends up coming unbuttoned after peeling her share of line off my reel. Argggggg!!! Are you kidding me? I blew my chance after all these hours?!?! Man if that doesn’t mess with an angler’s head I don’t know what does! I quickly re-tie, hit my Food Chain Tube with an extra shot of Hog Tonic (it’s a confidence thing), and continue to cast in the same area as I play the missed opportunity of “the one that got away” over and over in my mind. Then, about 5 casts later my tube gets thumped again as I let it drop into a dark shadow behind a river boulder! My heart skips a beat at the thought of a second chance and I set the hook like a violent spaz out of pure reaction. Slamming back with a vengeance ended up being a damn good thing because once again, after another awesome battle, I landed yet another beautiful 19.25" James River smallie! The big fish streak continues, and so does the high that comes along with it!
Looking back at my first 4 outings on the James River brings nothing but anticipation for the next trip. Great scenery with peaceful views, great friends, and powerful river smallies to round off each day. As a matter of fact, I should probably stop typing and get my ass back out there to wrestle some more of those bronze beauties. I can just hear the drag peeling now…..
Drop Shotting the Sick Stick in Standing Timber
When most people think of drop shotting, 4 to 8 lb line, tiny hooks and small baits come to mind. But drop shotting doesn’t have to be as “finessy” as most think. Granted the technique was originated as a means to catch pressured or negative bass, but the actual drop shot technique is just a method to present your bait so that it hovers slightly off the bottom. The rule book never stated “Your bait and hook have to be tiny!”. So what if you’re in a situation where you have negative fish that are either buried in or close to snaggy cover such as thick brush, stacked laydowns or standing timber? Tossing an exposed hook and light line into the cover can be a recipe for disaster. So what do I do in these situations? I go in after them…but I use the correct gear to get them out. My set up for fishing this way consists of a 7'3" Medium action spinning rod and a reel spooled with 20 lb braid topped with a 8 foot section of 12 lb Fluorocarbon leader. This combination gives me just enough strength to successfully work (not horse) the bass out of the wood. As for the business end, I opt for a Sick Stick in green pumpkin with purple flake for two reasons. 1, because it’s a very natural looking color and looks like a fat night crawler to the bass. 2, with subtle movements of the rod I can make the offering appear as a super easy meal to catch, and eventually tease the bass into submission. Now for the hook and rigging for this type of cover; I tex-pose the Sick Stick on a 2/0 EWG regular wire hook and make sure the point of the hook is buried well into the bait to prevent getting hung up in the wood. I use the same knot you would use for standard drop shotting (Palomar knot then run the tag line back through the eye). The 2/0 EWG hook gives me a deeper hook set plus it also allows me to set the hook much harder so I can get the bass’s head facing in my direction to give me a jump start on getting them out of the cover. I generally start with the hook about 12 to 16 inches above the drop shot weight.
So let’s move forward to “working” the bait. Remember, we’re after negative or pressured bass that have a strike zone that’s very small (small as in an arm’s length away). The only way you’re going to get the bass to strike is to keep the Sick Stick in the strike zone long enough for that bass to finally break down and eat it. Soaking the bait (motionless) in the same spot for minutes at a time followed by a couple really slow, lazy twitches, and then soaking again will make the temptation too irresistible to pass up. With enough persuasion, the bass will eventually move up and engulf the bait. But if you work the bait out of the strike zone too quickly, you just blew your opportunity on a catchable fish. And this is where Hog Tonic plays a major role in this game. I don’t just want the bass to strike the Sick Stick, I want them to lock onto it. So every bait I throw has been marinated in Hog Tonic for several minutes if not hours before use. A lot of the times in these situations the hits will be extremely subtle and I want the bass to hold on long enough for me to detect the fish and have time to rear back on them. So now the fun begins! Once I give them a stout hook set, I keep my drag set just heavy enough to give me just the right amount of power to more or less “guide” the fish out the cover with authority vs trying to horse them like I had my flipping stick in my hand. The heavier line definitely allows me to put substantial pressure on them while the long 7'3" medium action rod has enough play in it to prevent me from bending out the hook during the tug-of-war in the cover. The technique is definitely rewarding if you can discipline yourself to do so (see the attached video which was filmed in 20 ft of water in standing timber…out of a kayak!).
So at the end of the day, what’s the moral of the story for all of this? It’s simple! Keep an open mind and think outside of the box! Get out of your comfort zone and tweak techniques to suit the situation and conditions your dealt with even if it means going against the grain. Don’t be the person that says “Hey, I wish I would have thought of that”. Be the creative one and beat the fish at their own game! A very wise and experienced angler once said “The fish are always there. If you didn’t get bit, that just means you weren’t smart enough to figure them out that day”. So don’t let the fish outsmart you. I mean, after all…they’re just fish right?
We now have Football style Shakey heads on our website called Tick Shakes that are the perfect complement to the 7" Tickler. The heads boast a 5/0 Mustad hook which fits the worm perfectly and allows for plenty of bite when you drive that hook into a big bass’s mouth…a must for when you’re hauling in hogs! They’re available in Green Pumpkin or Black and come in 1/8 and ¼ oz sizes. The powder coat paint is double baked for durability and you will NEVER find a blocked eyelet…it’s our guarantee.
This entry is a little late but I finally had a chance to sit down and write a blog about the day I caught my 11.46 lbs personal best bass and how I caught it. Each year a couple of my buddies make the drive from PA to VA for a shot at one of the giants that lurk in Briery Creek reservoir, and this year we all decided to fish from kayaks versus boats. Briery is an addictive body of water with good reason and it’s only short 15 minute drive from my house. The lake record is 16.2 lbs and that alone draws people from all over. Plus there’s no question that a new state record is swimming somewhere amongst all the standing timber that fills the reservoir as well (it’s literally a flooded forest). So my buddies come down the night of March 23rd and we head out to Briery the following morning around 11 a.m. A bad cold front moved in right before the guys showed up with air temps dropping into the high 20’s at night so the water temps were in the mid 40’s when we got to the lake. Not the conditions we were hoping for but you have to play the cards Mother Nature deals you. We had just released the new 4.8" Swinging Hammer and I had been dying to get that bait on the water and introduce it the Briery bass. I was using the color Money and had it rigged on a Falcon Tackle ¼ oz weighted swimbait hook fishing it on 30 lb braid with a 20lb Fluoro leader. Although the water was cold, I figured some big girls were going to be scouting out bedding areas in the shallows so I concentrated my efforts in 2 to 8 feet of water in dense timber.
Now here’s where all hell breaks loose! I’m firing off the Swinging Hammer and bumping as much timber as I can on each cast (at Briery you can easily bump a dozen trees in a single cast). During a long cast my swimbait suddenly comes to a dead stop on a tree in 3 to 4 feet of water. Convinced that I got hung up on the tree I was bumping against, I yank back on the rod 3 times trying to free the bait from the tree, and the next thing I know, the tree I’m stuck on slowly starts swimming! Then in a matter of seconds, line starts peeling off my reel and my kayak is taken for a drag. I thought for sure I must have foul hooked a big carp because this thing was so powerful. Then about 40 feet from me, this giant mouth shakes at the surface and I now realize I’m fighting the biggest bass of my life through standing timber and I’m doing it out of a kayak! Talk about almost having a heart attack! I thought for sure this pig was going to wrap me up in the trees and break off. But through pure luck, every time the fish went around a tree, it turned around and came out the same way it went in. What a miracle! After a battle that felt like a heart pounding eternity (even though it was probably only a matter of minutes), I grabbed the beast and hoisted her on to the kayak. WOW!! My buddies quickly came over and were freaking out just as much as I was about the size of this monster. We put her up on the scale, took some pics and measurements and put her back in the water. She was exactly 25" long, 21.5" around and weighed in at a massive 11.46 lbs! Needless to say I was still shaking for at least 20 minutes after the whole ordeal was over. What a rush and what a cool way to start a trip! Not only did I catch my new PB bass, but I did it on our brand new Swinging Hammer swimbait and had 2 great friends with me to share in the whole experience. Good times! It’s been a month since I caught that fish and the experience still plays over and over in my head on a daily basis…just like it happened yesterday.
Cold water, hot smallie action!
February fishing has its ups and downs, that is a fact. We go outside and it might be 20 degrees or it might be 70 degrees. But just because you are bundling up or taking it off doesn’t mean that the fish are feeling what you are. I’ve gone out when it has been 76 degrees and when it has been 30 degrees all in the last month. The difference in the water temperature has been 3 degrees from both days. Why is this important you ask? Well I know for me, and for most bass anglers out there, we tend to move faster and fish faster when it is warm out. A 2 degree jump in water temp isn’t going to put those fish on the feed bag and fire up their metabolism. They might move slightly shallower, but they aren’t in the back of the coves or creeks getting ready to spawn (YET!) Fish are sluggish when the water is still cold regardless of the air temperature. They don’t want to move fast or far for a meal. And when they do move for a meal, they want it to be substantial enough to sustain them for a good while before they have to eat again. All you have to do right now is look onto wherever you get your fishing information from, and you will see that there are some HAWGS being caught right now and most are taken on bigger baits. So how do you get yourself one of those hawgs? Simple, SLOW DOWN and think outside the box. Finesse techniques may work for numbers right now, but that isn’t going to get you that big bag or that kicker fish you need to take that tournament or your personal best. You should be throwing something big enough for a bass to want to eat it and not have to eat again really soon. If you are reading this blog, you are probably a big fan of Power Team Lures already, and here’s what I would be throwing if I were out there right now.
#1- PowerTeam Lures 10” Ribbon Hinge worm. This worm has the right action that says “I’m alive, so eat me” but still doesn’t put fish off by being too active like a lot of ribbon tail worms. The subtle action that’s halfway between a straight tail worm and a ribbon tail will call them in with water displacement and won’t appear out of its natural cold water element. Pair it up with some Hog Tonic to get them enticed and really think its FOOD! Texas rigging with a slow drag or subtle hop on the main lake points, creek channel swings, and the first 1/3 of creeks are where you are going to find those big fish right now that are looking to eat. Don’t neglect steep rip rap banks either. If you have temperatures that are fluctuating, the bass will move up on the rocks to warm up because the rip rap will hold heat better than other types of structure. The bottom of the banks where the rocks meet the lake bottom can be a great place to catch them!
#2- 4.5” Conviction Craws and 4.5” Texas Rig Jigs. The subtle action on the appendages of these baits won’t look out of place because the craws are cold this time of the year too! I fish these 2 baits multiple ways. I like them on a football jig as a trailer and on a Carolina rig too. But the best way I’ve found to fish them is on a football shaky head, dragged along the same places as the Ribbon Hinge worm. I pair mine up with a ½ oz to a ¾ oz jig head and a 7’3” MH rod, 6.4:1 reel and get a good distance off the bank so I have plenty of area to cover. If you think the fish want more subtle bait, I like to cut or pinch the top skirt half off the Texas Rig Jigs so the skirt is only underneath the bait and it looks like the little legs underneath the tail section of a live crawdad.
Just experiment with retrieve speed, hops and shakes, or straight dragging speed until you find what the fish want. Fluorocarbon will help out a lot when it comes to these techniques. I prefer 14 lb for these techniques. The limited stretch will help you feel the subtle bites this time of the year. It also helps to “fool” the fish into thinking its live bait, as they can’t see the line.
Power Team Lures Pro Staff