BassWestUSA - January/February, 2010, Page 26

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Hemphill advocates throwing a spoon with whatever you’re comfortable with. “Believe it or not, I usually use spinning gear,” the veteran angler admits. “I can control my spinning reel with my index finger. I use a G. Loo- mis 843, which is a 7’ rod. I have strong wrists and get better snap with a spinning rod. My line is usually 10 to 12 pounds – I like 10 in deep or clear water. With spooning, mono or fluorocarbon doesn’t really matter.” What about the line tangling with the hooks; that dreaded bane of spoon anglers? “It’s one of those inevitabilities,” Thompson concedes. “Once you get into a rhythm, though, it doesn’t happen as much. It’s trial-and-error and it takes a little bit of practice. I’ve also found that a barrel swivel attached to the split ring reduces line twist and won’t cause any problems with the spoon’s action.” If his quarry is chasing bait in the trees, Hemphill doesn’t let a spoon’s ex- posed trebles deter him from going in


after them. He notes, however, that a heavier spoon offers a decided advantage when fishing timber. “When you set a smaller spoon into wood, you usually have to break it off. With a heavier spoon, you can work it and it will almost always come free.” Hemphill adds that even when fish- ing submerged wood, it’s still important to first find the forage using your electronics before wetting your line. And as for those rumblings that spoon anglers are more often than not snagging their fish? “In a real aggres- sive bite, you’ll snag some,” Hemphill states. Usually, though, foul-hooks are few. Thompson has found the same to be true. “You have a much better chance of a fish biting your bait than snagging it. It hap- pens but it’s not common. For every 15 to 25 bass you catch, you might snag one or two. It doesn’t happen anymore than with Rat-L-Traps or ripbaits.”


Tell most bass anglers you caught your fish on blade baits and they’ll think

Spinning TailS & Blading FiSh

you have a funky way of describing spin- nerbaits. Try talking about tailspinners and you may be met with a befuddled ex- pression, which in some ways is just fine with pros like James Smiley of Orange, Cal- ifornia. He’s been enjoying success with Lucky Craft’s new Spin Board, which is a hybrid of sorts between a blade bait and a tailspinner. “Lucky Craft put them on the market right after the 2009 ICAST show,” says Smiley, “but the pro staff had them be- fore then.” Smiley, who lived in the Pacific Northwest until moving to Southern Cali- fornia two years ago, has found them to be productive baits for SoCal’s bass. He has discovered those fish have a propensity for relating to shad and as a result spend much of their time suspended in open wa- ter. When that happens, he’s been able to pick a few off by throwing an American Shad Spin Board 35H, which weights 3/16- oz on 6-lb fluorocarbon. Using a Dobyns 703 spinning rod, Smiley will let it sink as deep as 60 feet and then rip it off the bot- tom. “You have to be graphing fish for this to work. Also, if it doesn’t hit bottom, they won’t eat it. When you do get a bite, you’ll see your line flick.” For darker water, he opts for casting gear, using Dobyns 733 or 734 rods with 12-lb fluoro and 55H or 70H Spin Boards in Chartreuse Shad. “The Spin Board is one of the few baits that you can fish fast in deep water,” Smiley continues. “It triggers lots of reac- tion strikes. You can fish it faster than an LV 500. It gets to the bottom faster and you can rip it faster.” Smiley, who is at- tempting to qualify for the BASS Elite Se- ries through their Central Opens is quick to add there are times that, if you’re not ripping it, you won’t think there’s a bass in the lake. “It’s an efficient bait,” Smiley states. “It almost never tangles with the hook. If that becomes a problem, you can adjust where the line attaches to it.” Like one of its predecessors, the Heddon Sonar, the Lucky Craft Spin Board comes with three line-tie holes. “If you’re ripping it, use the front line-tie,” Smiley advises, “and if you’re vertically jigging it, use the center one.” Smiley attaches his line to the bait using a locking snap: “It helps the bait to shimmy a little better.” Although he’s only 22 years old, it’s been hard to miss the meteoric rise of Fol- som, California’s own Justin Lucas. After winning back-to-back Co-Angler of the Year honors on FLW’s Western Division National Guard tour, Lucas went pro in the same se- ries in 2009 and held his own while also fishing the FLW Tour as a co-angler. Re-


January/February 2010