BassWestUSA - January/February, 2010, Page 12

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Fishing the mcstick

more of a slight knocking sound, as opposed to the high pitch of glass or bb’s. Like all other SPRO products, the McStick is nearly bullet- proof; the construction is state of the art. From the material it is molded from, to the hook hangers, to the extra strong split rings and three size five Gamakatsu treble hooks, this thing is built to catch big bass.

by mike mcclelland

my part of the country, when winter starts to turn to spring, the water is still cold and bass are lethargic. While not literally frozen, their cold blooded nature creates a need to conserve energy, to spend less than they bring in. The result of this brutal time of year is that bass often suspend, either in open water, or in relation to some type of vertical obstruction. When cold air and water are the rule of the day, some anglers turn to deep water and finesse tactics; I go another route, espe- cially if I want to catch winning fish. I turn to the Spro McStick. Wintertime and early prespawn fish are notorious for hanging out in the middle of the water column, and when cool water and the right conditions converge, I catch them on a stickbait. The best time for me to rely on a stickbait is when the water falls below 50-degrees. When the water temps dip that low, bass can become almost dormant. That is until a warming trend occurs. When a warm spell passes through and the water tempera- ture climbs a couple of degrees, bass find a reason to move around a little bit, and their desire to chase a bait increases. Don’t get me wrong, they’re not aggressive by any means, but you can force them to strike a stickbait. The key is to take advantage of their temperament. They are mean, territorial, curious, and will attack anything that looks slightly edible, at any moment. The McStick is made for just these moments.

It took us more than a year to finalize the bait, I tested it throughout the year, and when we were done, we had what I had long been searching for; a stickbait that cast well, had just the right combination of wiggle and flash. Best of all, it was construct- ed with the best components available; SPRO spared no expense in parts and effort. For me, I needed a bait that had a tight wiggle, one that would flash, and would suspend at the level that I stopped it at. In cold water, all of those characteristics are triggering mechanisms, and they are what separate a great stickbait from the others. The McStick is designed to suspend at a flat, to a little bit of a nose down at- titude, that way it has a more natural ap- pearance in the water. A bait that sinks tail down does not look natural to a bass, and in cold water one that rises when paused is also not a normal action for a dying bait- fish. We built the McStick to suspend by in- corporating a weight transfer system that has two weights that slide to the tail of the bait for casting, then drop into a chamber near the nose when the retrieve is started. This transfer system creates the right atti- tude of the bait, yet gives it a subtle rattle,

» equipMent for the MCstiCk

» ConstruCting the MCstiCk

I use a 6’9” Falcon medium action baitcasting rod with a light tip and one of two different Quantum Energy reels, depending on the water temperature. If I am fishing in the late prespawn, I use a 6.3:1 retrieve reel, but in the cold of the winter, I use a 5.1:1 model, because it causes me to slow down. One of the best stickbait anglers I know once told me that the most common reason anglers don’t catch larger fish on stickbaits in cold water, is because they are fishing too fast; a slow reel helps me solve that. Line is important to the technique as well. Many anglers choose to use fluorocarbon for their jerkbaits, as do I, when the water is warmer. I use 10 to 15-pound-test Sunline fluorocarbon if I’m really moving the McStick. However, in the cold of the late winter, I want the bait to suspend, so I choose monofilament in 8 to 10-pound-test. I try to match the water color, so if the water has a green tint to it, I throw green line, but I mostly use clear. The reason I use the monofilament in the winter is because of the fact that fluorocarbon sinks, it sinks below the bait and creates an unnatural drag to the action, which means less bites for me, especially from big, tournament winning fish.

The most important things to remember about fishing a stick- bait in the late winter and early spring is to slow down, and to pause the bait long enough to generate a response from inactive bass. All of this; however, starts with the cast. It is important to make as long a cast as possible to allow the McStick to perform as it was designed. The optimal part of the re- trieve is the middle portion, when the bait is at its maximum depth. Because it is diving at the beginning of the retrieve and rising at the end of it, it is important to line up so that you cast past your target, reaching the de- sired depth by the time the bait gets there. I begin my retrieve by winding the bait down eight to ten turns of the reel handle to get the bait into three to five feet of water, then I pause for five to ten seconds. After that initial pause to allow the bait to settle into the right position, I methodically pull the bait forward with the rod tip one to three feet. Following that motion, I pause

Com Photo by BASS

munications

» retrieving the MCstiCk

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January/February 2010