BIG BASS

The definitive South African trophy Bass fishing site

 

NEW LURE TRENDS

In this section, I would like to concentrate on info one would not normally find in the more conventional local Bass angling publications and sources (which do have their place but, hey, let's start thinking a little more laterally!):

 

A. THE BIG LURES

1. With the latest Bass fishing trends in recent years seemingly concentrating on finesse tactics such as Mojo rigs and Undershotting (Dropshot), perhaps this article by Rob "Swimbait" Belloni will be an eye-opener:

www.calfishing.com/freshwater/san_pablo_monster/index.html

 

It describes how he hooked and landed a Bass of over 15lbs on a large lure (the "MS Slammer") more commonly used for Striped Bass, Musky and Salmon.

 

2. While on the subject of large lures, also check out www.castaicsoftbait.com which will show you details of the Castaic Soft Bait Trout, another popular mega lure which has accounted for many large USA Bass.

 

This lure is the all-time favourite of "Fish Chris" Wolfgram. For "Fish Chris'" tips on how to fish this lure, visit www.trophybassonly.com/id102.htm.

 

Here are photos of some of the successful Big lures:

 

The original Castaic Soft Bait Trout is 9" long and weighs in at 4.5oz. It has a hard head and a soft body. A firm favourite of many trophy Bass anglers! The lure has since been redesigned with a slightly slimmer or flatter profile to help it "swim" better. The new models are available in 6", 9" and 12"(!) sizes from J&T Tackle - they have all the new models in stock right now!

For advice on how to improve rigging your Castaic Trout, click here.

 

 

 

The 9" Osprey Talon (7" and 12"(!) sizes also available, comes in a wide variety of colours, including Light and Dark "Rainbow", "Shad", "Pearl White", "Bass" and "Carp"). This is a very successful plastic "Swimbait" shown here in Dark "Rainbow" colour. An updated "Pro-rigged" version (with two sets of hooks) is available from BassWorldWest. Click here for more info on the "pro-Rig" Osprey.

 

 

The 9" MS Slammer, a handmade wooden lure with a soft plastic tail end also available in 7'' and 12" sizes. This lure has accounted for many trophy Bass.

 

 

The world's first truly weedless swimbait, the Mission Fish available in 5", 7" and 9" sizes. Great for Bass that love weedy cover and stickups. Integrated head and hook come with each bait. Each bait is hand poured which increases softness and adds realistic fish like colors. The weight is integrated into the head of the bait - leaving the hook to be rigged weedless in the pouch of the swimbait. 

BassWorldWest and www.tacklewarehouse.com also stock the Mission Fish. For an alternative way of rigging this lure, click here.

 

 

Examples of the Basstrix range of soft plastic "Swimbaits".

 

 

The Optimum Swimbait, made of soft plastic, has also been successful for Big Bass.

 

Be prepared to pay well over R200 a piece for some of these lures (with the crazy Rand/ Dollar exchange rate!) or, as a possible alternative, how about using a big saltwater Rapala Super Shadrap? Its cheaper (about R70 - R90 or so) and available locally - just change the stock saltwater hooks with Gamakatsus or VMCs. Promise to let me know when you connect with your monster!

 

"Yes, but will these lures work in SA?" I can already hear someone ask. Perhaps someone has already found out while you were wondering! The only way to find out for yourself is to give it a go! Think of this when you next throw your "finesse" lures ... Perhaps its time for a change!

 

You won't find these Big lures anywhere locally, so you will have to order from the following sources directly:

  • for an amazing range of "Big Baits" including Castaic, Mission Fish and Rago! Just click on "Swim Baits".

  •   You must see this great range of swimbaits and other lures! Its the famous Mission Fish range!

  • www.castaicsoftbait.com  Check out the new Castaic Soft Bait website!

  • www.msslammer.com Mike Shaw's site. He manufactures the MS Slammer.

  • www.mattlures.com Premium Swimbaits for trophy Bass - great "Bluegill"-type Swimbaits!

  • www.huddlestondeluxe.com This is a must-see!

  • www.worldwaters.com (carries the Optimum and Mission Fish range of swimbaits.)

  • www.cabelas.com (one of the best Internet mailorder sites - fast and reliable. You can get the Castaic Soft Bait Trout from them, but I do not know if they have the new models yet.)

  • J&T Tackle

  • Remember the original wooden AC Plugs and Minnows in 5", 7", 9" and 12" sizes?

AC Plug

AC Minnow

Click on the pics to go to the Original Allan Cole AC Plug website.

These "old" design lures have many monster Bass to their credit and the new versions, still made of wood (hand crafted and hand painted), are said to be "tank-tested" to ensure they run true.

 

Some proof that the "Big Baits" or "mega lures" really work!

This is "Fish Chris" Wolfgram with a 3lb Bass taken on the big 10" Basstrix Swimbait - just for those of you who thought big lures won't catch "normal" Bass!

 

 

Another photo of "Fish Chris", this time sharing the pic with a 9lb 10oz beauty! The Bass slammed the 9" Castaic Soft Bait Trout lure clearly visible near the Bass' lower jaw.

 

 

Just to prove that not only monster Bass find the Castaic Soft Bait Trout appetizing, "Fish Chris" displays a "long, skinny" 6-pounder caught on the Trout.

 

 

A great night catch on the 9" MS Slammer! US Basser, Nicolo Raffo, with a 11lb9oz monster. Nico is a regular on "Fish Chris'" Fish Talk Forum at www.trophybassonly.com.

 

 

Naoki Kohira, a Fisherman's Warehouse pro-staffer with 9lb Bass taken on the 9" Osprey Talon in April 2002 at Ikehara Dam, Japan.

 

 

This is the current Lake Perris, California (USA) record 18lb Bass! This monster was caught by Will Steele (a visitor from Idaho) on 28 December 2001 on the latest of the "mega lures", the Rago Generic Trout, seen hanging from the Bass' jaw. What an amazing fish (not to mention the lure)!

 

 

A closer look at the Rago Generic Trout (wooden body and plastic tail), a rare item available from Jerry Rago in 9" and 12" sizes. Truly a hand-made work of art!

 

Not long after, Rob had a chance to test his new acquisition and came up with this 13lb7oz big momma on the Rago Generic Trout caught on 20 January 2002 at Coyote Lake, California (USA):

What a catch! This is Rob's account:

"I threw my Generic Trout out for 2 casts but it didn't feel right so I put it away. I really was committed to the jig. The close bank was getting shady and it felt crummy. At 4:15 I looked across the lake and decided to go hit it since it had some sun on it. I pitched the jig down about 200 feet of shoreline, nothing. I had this feeling, and I know this might sound like I'm making it up, but I really had this feeling that I needed to be on this one tree right as the sun went over the hill. I stalled out on a bare bank waiting for the sun to set. As it started to go over the hill I moved to the tree and made 2 casts with the jig. Nothing ... I grabbed my big plug rod, you know, the [Calstar] 800L with the 30lb triple fish [mainline] and the 30lb sugoi fluorocarbon leader. I tossed the Generic Trout way past the tree and fished it back slowly. Nothing ... I cast again but closer to the bank, only about 10 feet different from my first cast. I reeled it even slower knowing that the fish probably were going to have to sense it more than see it because the water was so murky. Right as the lure came into view ( I was running it about 6 inches down ) something happend very fast. That something was a huge bass that I think was right under the bait the whole time. She absolutely demolished the lure. Her tail flipped out of the water as she hit it. I was totally shortlined. I probably had 3 feet of line from the tip of my rod. She promptly fixed that problem by diving and pulling about 15 feet of drag. I let out a whoop that Robert heard all the way across the lake. The fight was only probably about a minute and a half but it seemed like an eternity. Finally she came up and I turned her head and lipped her. More whooping and hollering. I thought I had a 15+ I really did. I filled my livewell and layed her in gently. Then I rowed like a bat out of hell for the other side of the lake. Robert was waiting and took some killer pictures of her. We weighed her and she hit the scale at 13lbs 7oz. Incredible fish and a really beautiful fish. She had the big eyes that big fish seem to get when they get old. After a quick photo session I released her and Robert and I watched her take one or two slow kicks and then zip out of sight. Awesome.".

Rob's site at www.calfishing.com and his "Trophy Fishing Forum" are "musts". Any Basser interested in improving his chances of connecting with the trophy Bass of a lifetime just has to visit this site!

 

There has, since mid 2003 been a proliferation of "big baits" and "swimbaits" which have been successfully used to entice monster Bass. To quote Rob:

"The momentum behind big bait fishing has built slowly over the years, but now it's boiling over in 2004 as more and more anglers decide they are after the fish of a lifetime, willing to make 1000 casts to get one bite. Willing to fish lures up to 16" long. Willing to spend 100 dollars for the ultimate trout hardbait. Willing to put long hours firing out 8oz baits. All of this in pursuit of GIANT BASS. Your time on the water is worth more than anything."

To assist you in making an informed choice, Rob designed the most comprehensive guide you can find anywhere. You just have to see it!

 

At my last count, 24 soft plastic/ rubber swimbaits from Castaic, 3:16 Lure Co, Osprey, Jerry Rago and Storm), and 21 hardbaits (including models from Jerry Rago, Castaic, MS Slammer and Alan Cole imitating trout, bluegill, baby bass, shad and rats!) were listed for review ...

 

The legendary Mike Long with a big Bass taken on the Rago Bluegill.

 

 

After all said and done ... I would recommend the following Swimbaits which would cover most situations and definitely produce results:

  • Jig-type Swimbaits: The 3:16 Lure Co Mission Fish weedless range from 4" - 9". The choice for heavy cover where any other Swimbait would hang up.

  • Soft Plastic Trout-type Swimbaits: The 8" Huddleston Deluxe Swimbait (in ROF 5 and 12). To read about the history of this lure, click on the link. Some have called this lure "the best sinking swimbait of all time". Reported to work really well in clearer water.

  • Hardbait Trout-type Swimbaits: The 9" MS Slammer. Many Swimbait anglers would say this lure could be termed the "best hard or surface swimbait". Reportedly works really well in discoloured water and at night or water subjected to any "condition" such as wind, rain, chop or low light.

The above Swimbaits are quality products - they are not cheap ($35-00 US and under), but are not ridiculously expensive either (Swimbaits can cost up to $300-00 US!).

 

A cheap Trout-type Swimbait which will work is the 8" Megabait Charlie Sr.

 

Bluegill and baby Bass-type Swimbaits are:

This is only my opinion (from reports and reviews gleaned from many different sources and from what I have seen, heard, read and experienced) about what would probably be the best to start out with, but it may be a good point of departure if you are really confused by the volume and variety out there!

 

... And here's where you can get these lures:

 

 

BUT what if the waters you fish do not have trout ? ... This is not much of a factor except, perhaps, in relation to your confidence level!

 

"Fish Chris" Wolfgram has caught big Bass on Trout-type Swimbaits in waters which do not contain trout and Rob "Swimbait" Belloni says:

"Bass are bass, they like to eat other large fish no matter where they live ...".

Most of Rob's Bass that have been caught on Swimbaits in waters which do not have Trout, have been on the 9" MS Slammer or the 5" Big Hammer. The 5" Mattlures Bluegill and the 5" Mattlures Baby Bass are also the confidence lures of choice for waters which do not have Trout.

 

But it is important not to limit yourself in terms of what you feel confident with ... Fishing is by no means an exact science and there are no fixed rules.

 

Some more advice from Rob "Swimbait" Belloni:

"The most important thing is to not think in terms of limitations. If you think something may work, go and try it. And expect that the bigger the lure you use, the longer you will go between bites. Throwing a big bait on any lake (trout or not) for one day is rarely an indication of the potential. Throwing a big bait for 5 or 10 trips will give you the real clues about what the possibilities are...

 

With the [MS] Slammer, I always look for condition. That could be things like wind, rain, chop, low light or night... If you see condition, throw the bait. If its flat calm and sunny, try something else...".
 

Also, do not discount Trolling for Bass!

 

Check this out: Not your usual Bass Angler (Jerry Rago), with not your usual Bass caught on not your usual Bass lure from not your usual Bass boat using not your usual Bass technique!

To find out more, click on the pic!

 

 

Make a point of regularly visiting the Fish Talk Forum and the Trophy Fishing Forum for up to date tips and reports from anglers based mainly in California, USA in relation to fishing these relatively new "big" or "mega" lures. There's no real reason we can't do the same in this part of the world, especially in waters containing Florida strain Bass!

 

For more photos of Bass caught on these "Big Baits" or "mega lures", click here.

 

For more pics of these "Big Baits" or "mega lures", visit:

 

Some advice from regular Big Swimbait users:

 

* "Fish Chris" Wolfgram:

"... right off the bat, I have to tell you that you are facing the toughest part of fishing swimbaits effectively, and that is catching those first few big fish, and thereby gaining the confidence needed to just keep fishing them.

I must say that I fished swimbaits (mainly the 9" Castaic trout) more last year (2002) than I ever have. I also caught far fewer fish (total numbers), than I can ever remember. But I also caught far more double digit bass (27) than I ever have also, which of course was my goal.

I guess I would have to say that I averaged about 1 fish every 3 days, or 30 hours on the water (for most of the year) and most of those fish were over 10 lbs.
I probably sighted, on average, 10 double digit bass per trip (most were followers) and had an average of one "swat, bump, tap, etc" every trip. This is where the fallacy of swimbaits having a low hooking percentage originates. I don't believe these half-hearted attempts really count as "missed fish". Because believe me, when that big momma hog decides she wants to eat that trout, she won't have any problem inhaling it in one big gulp ! And when she does, your hooking percentage will be very high ! Probably 90% plus !

Set up a "milk route" of spots, and work through each spot, making 3 to 5 casts on each stop. No need to fish one spot for hours. If a hog is there and looking for a trout, she will hammer it the first time she sees it..... or she won't hammer it at all. Do make as many rounds through your spots, as many times as possible during the course of a day though, as you never know when a monster bass will move up to feed ...
".

 

* Brian:

"Throwing the plug [swimbait] all day without a follower would be pretty brutal. I think most of us would pick up a jig or a worm after 6 hours of trout hucking dead water. You can usually expect at least 5 followers per day, sometimes more (hundreds). As for bites, 5 trout plug bites a day would be excellent. Typically you can expect 1 to 2. 3 would be above average.

It's good that you decided to throw trouts more, but don't limit yourself. You can get burnt out if you throw trouts every day for a week without a follower. If nothing's happening after a few hours, pick up another rod for awhile. I would suggest throwing trouts every time it gets windy. If it's calm and bright, do something else cause your chances of trout plug fish are pretty slim. Focus on windy afternoons, early mornings and late evenings.
".

 

* Phil:

"Well, there's always going to be days where it's almost impossible to get them to hit swimbaits. In my experience, I would say the days that it's tough to get a bite would be calm sunny days. I've spent hours on end throwing trouts in weather like that and the results have been pretty poor. On the other hand, just about every cloudy, stormy or windy day that I dedicate myself to throwing them, I catch fish, or at least get some sort of action.

I wouldn't say that you should only throw them on stormy days, but it's definitely a great way to build confidence.
".

 

* Rob "Swimbait" Belloni:

"The time to get excited about big bass is after they are in your hand. Getting excited before that is seldom good. Even Ike doesn't scream when he hooks them, he waits until they're in the boat.

Big bass are equipment breakers. It takes a long time to realize this for a lot of people because it takes a long time to get a lot of bites from big bass. Sounds stupid but it's very true. What kind of equipment were you using? Rod, reel, line, knot?

Big bass make you lose your form because you get excited. No one talks about form but form is really important in fishing. I see people fishing swimbaits when I'm on the lake and one look can tell you if a guy knows what he's doing or not.

Your rod should always be under you armpit, always. If your rod butt isn't long enough to go under your armpit, its not a good rod for swimbaiting. Big bass can pull your rod tip down faster that you can blink and that's a missed bite when that happens most times. You said one of your bites almost got the rod out of your hands. That should never happen. The fish should hit and the butt of the rod should already be wedged under your armpit where it can't be pulled up so that you have immediate positive hooksetting action the second the fish strikes.

With baits that have the hook on the top (like ROF 12 or 16 Hudd) your line should be below your rod tip and you should have the rod just about pointed at the bait at all times. When I say that the line should be below the rod tip, I mean that if you look at the rod tip, the tip of the rod and the line coming out the tip of the rod should form an upside down V shape. If your line is above your rod tip forming a right side up V shape, you're out of position for a good hookset. Your set with a top hook bait should be about 2 to 3 o'clock.

Watch the Butch Brown videos on www.huddlestondeluxe.com if you need to see it in action.

For baits with the hooks on the bottom (like Slammer or ROF 5 Hudd) you should have the rod out to the side ready to sweep set like with a rattletrap. Setting upward with baits like that just knocks the fish's mouth open.

Anyway, these are just things to think about. Losing big ones sucks but losing them over and over again by making the same mistakes sucks worse ...
".

 

* Don Osborne:

Check out Don's  tips and techniques here.

 

So take heart! After all, do want one big HAWG of a lifetime or a couple of runts?

 

 

Alternative Rigging methods for some popular Swimbaits:

  • Click here for advice on how to "Trap Rig" a Stocker Trout.

  • For advice on how to improve rigging your Castaic Trout, click here.

  • For an alternative way of rigging the Mission Fish, click here.

  • Go here or on the pic to find out how to rig the 8" Huddleston Deluxe ROF 0 or ROF 5 Swimbait with a Frog Hook (most guys use a Gamakatsu 4/0 double Frog Hook or an Owner 6/0 double Frog hook) on the belly.

Some guys just use a bent paper clip around the hook and push the paper clip into the belly of the lure, but this method (attributed to Ron Sanchez Jr) utilises a small (1/8") rare earth magnet to hold the hook! Novel idea!

 

This is what Ron has to say:

"I have been working on this setup for a while now. The first thing you need to do is get some magnets. I found the perfect ones at Radio Shack, the Rare Earth 1/8" magnets model #64-1895, they come in a package of two which is perfect since that's how many you will use for each setup. 

After this you need to make sure that you have a nail with a flat head the same size as the magnet. I heat the nail head up to make a hole in the bait where I recess the two magnets (together) down into the bait. Next I take a little bit of worm glue (I use Pro's Soft Bait Glue) and put this into the hole before I put the two magnets in. Then place the two magnets inside and put a little bit more glue around the edge of the magnets. 

After this I take a little bit of white fingernail polish and paint the part of the magnet that is showing, to camouflage it. 

Then I place a 6/0 Owner Frog Hook onto the Hudd. This is a sweet setup ...".

To check out the bent paper clip method of rigging, go here.

 

Rigging belly hooks may, however, cause unintended and fatal damage to the gills of Bass, so alternative rigging methods are being investigated. "Fish Chris" Wolfgram's method (just released - 2007 - see below) is probably the best route to go ...

  • You can also place a 1/0 (2X Gamakatsu or Owner) stinger treble on an 8" Huddleston Deluxe ROF 12 or ROF 16 Swimbait by attaching it to the top moulded-in single hook with mono, braid or nylon coated wire (60 - 90lb test) and crimps. Check out this article on Placement of Stinger Hooks by Bill Siemantel and Michael Jones and also carefully check out the Butch Brown video clips for stinger hook placement on the Hudds ...

  • "Fish Chris" Wolfgram (www.trophybassonly.com) has developed a better method to rig the Huddlestons - a method he has tested extensively and which is safer for, and does not cause undue damage to, trophy Bass you want to release! This is the method I will use in future. Click here or on the pic for a step-by-step explanation with photos!

 

 

 

Must see VIDEO Clips

You just have to see these Video clips

(click on the pic and then on the Butch Brown links)

of big Bass taken on the Huddleston Deluxe Swimbait!

 

To read about the history of this lure, click on the link.

 

 

Thoughts on repairing plastic Swimbaits:

Before long, some Big Bass will probably put a tear or two into your expensive Swimbait! What to do?

 

To repair soft plastics such as worms and swimbaits, get a small butane torch or go to www.cabelas.com and check out the Pro Weld plastics welder (just type the phrase into the search engine on the Cabela's site), a nifty battery operated tool! This heat welding seems to work better than the superglues which are generally used ...

 

 

REMEMBER YOU HEARD IT (AND SAW IT!) ON THE BIG BASS WEBSITE FIRST!

 

 

B. ANOTHER UNUSUAL LURE

 

 

The Castaic Soft Bait Sunfish was the first of a range of "species replication lures" (a forerunner of the Castaic Soft Bait Trout). The head is made of a hard plastic which contains the dive plane, hook and eyelet. The body is made of plastisol (a strong soft rubber) and has a patented joint which gives it the unique swimming motion.

Reviews of this lure have been fantastic. People have been amazed at the the detail of the lure. The real shock is in watching it "swim" on retrieve.

The "Sun Fish" Soft Bait is about 4.5 inches long and weighs in at 1oz. This makes it much smaller than the "Trout" version, but just as realistic and a great lure for Bass used to feeding on sunfish or bream (Tilapia)! Most SA Bass of whatever size should be suckers for this lure. A still smaller "Baby Sunfish" is also available.

 

Order from www.cabelas.com.

 

 

C. THE "STITCHING" TECHNIQUE AND LURES

Before anyone gets the idea, that this site is only locked into presenting the big lure techniques, here is something to "balance the equation", so to speak.

How many of you have heard of Bill Murphy?

He's been catching Big Bass like this one for about 30 years on spinning tackle and plastic worms (specially designed worms called "Muscle Worms") ranging in size from 4" up to 11" using a technique he calls "Stitching". To get a complete idea of all the "ins and outs" of this technique, you would be advised to check out Bill's book, "In Pursuit of Giant Bass". See details in the Reviews section.

Anyway, here are some details:

 

This is what a Muscle Worm looks like and this is how you rig it:

 

 

Interestingly, you use split shot (instead of the normal worm weights) and you use a "baitholder" style of hook, rather than the usual Bass-type of worm hooks.

 

This is the "Stitching" technique:

 

 

Hope you find this all interesting and informative! For further details, and to order the book, Muscle Worms, baitholder hooks and split shot, try www.lunkercity.com.

 

 

D. THE "ALBERTO" (OR MODIFIED ALBRIGHT) KNOT

OK, I know this section is called "New Lure Trends", but I recently came across a most helpful and interesting article about this knot which is not only easy to tie, but excellent for joining different diameter leaders to mono and/or leader-to-braid line connections. Braid is becoming very popular with a lot of anglers, also trophy Bassers who use braid (spectra fibre, such as Tuff Line Plus or Berkley Whiplash) with a fluorocarbon (Seaguar) or mono leader. Go to www.stripersonline.com/Pages/Articles/article_arby_albertos_knot.shtml to find out more and to see how to tie this knot step-by-step.

 

Just for the record, my all-time favourite knot which I use for all other purposes in all my fishing, whether I am using braid, mono or fluorocarbon, is the Uni Knot. This versatile, easy to tie and strong knot can also be tied with a double line for strength that must be experienced to be believed.

 

For more on this and other knots with diagrams showing how to tie them, go to http://www.landbigfish.com/knots/default.cfm.

 

For some new knots with reputedly extremely high knot strength, check out http://www.japantackle.com/line_system.htm.

 

 


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