Owner ST-66 Treble Hooks and Saltwater Swimbait Fishing

I am a huge fan of Owner Hooks. I have had a journey with treble hooks, as most of us have had. You go thru the balance of:   Uber sharp points, short shank/non fouling, hook strength and ability to handle 80# braid or a giant fish, or both.  I came around to the ST-66 Owner Treble Hooks as I refined my 8″ Huddleston rigging.  I like to call it the Southern Trout Eaters rig.  Reality, its a derivative and fusion of others rigs from friends my own flavors.  Super small, sharp, XXX strong and well balanced hook was what drew me to the ST-66 for a small profile that would complement the Hudd vs. stick out and go against the flow. 

The fish have literally beaten the eyes out of my hard and soft baits lately. You are sticking your bites with braid and ST-66. Remember, you gotta match your braid with strong hooks, because you can bend hooks and hook points EASY.

Now, as I’m getting salty, and fishing for saltwater bass, tuna, yellowtail, halibut and bay bass, to name a few target species…I’m going thru my tackle and saltwater-ize-ing it all.    I am putting the 1/0 , 2/0 and 3/0 sized ST-66 on my Triple Trouts.  I am replacing the Owner Hyper Split Rings, with larger Hyper Wire Split Rings.  #8s and #10s in cases.  Big ole split rings that require fatty split ring pliers these to work right:  

I noticed Kevin has ST-66 on his baits too. Gold bar Triple Trout. That other bait is MC Swimbaits’ Slug. Cough Cough. If I fished for big bass in freshwater, I wouldn’t look at that slug for big ones, cough cough. Corey makes some killer baits and has pioneered things that make a lot of sense.

I really believe in the Hyper Wire Split Rings and ST-66 combinations for any baits with hanging trebles.  They are heavy, and tend to make your bait sink a little quicker than lighter wire ST-36 hooks, but they are geared for whatever fishes you encounter (hopefully).   The Slide Swimmer 250 comes stock with big ST-66s, to give you an idea of how well they match w bigbaits.  

 

Good calico bass fishing is as satisfying as any largemouth bites I’ve ever been on. Great swimbait eaters. You have to search and work. I catch little ones around home, but there are good ones to be had at these local islands, LA County, Santa Barbara, Mexico, etc. That search is what drives me these days.

 

Weedless Saltwater Swimbaits

Solid Mexican Calico Bass on the MC Swimbaits Viejo weedless swimmer. Kelp colored bass and bait.

Cover shot!

Fishing the kelp in the saltwater, is a lot like fishing massive grass beds like you’d find in Franks Tract at low tide, or Lake Seminole or Okeechobee.  Your bait often comes out of the water, and you need to be prepared to drop it into holes and gaps.  Expect it.  Expect a fish ‘tracking’ your bait while its out of the water.  You need to choose your casts wisely.  Choose good swim lanes where you get  to run your bait thru juicy spots and long pools of water.  The guy who can cast the furthest, is off the front of the boat, and covers the most water with the best presentation will catch the fish.   Be ready, followers abound, and they tend to be big or bigger or way bigger, depending.  Your fishing partner needs to be on their toes when you hook one.  There’s usually more calicos around than the hooked one who are fired up and will bite.  

Weedless Saltwater Swimbaits are great for the saltwater kelp or any vegetation I suppose in salt or brackish water.   Also, if you’re hunting a big one a grass lake in the freshwater. I have to say, the boot tailed/paddle tailed/cut tailed swimmers, that are long and slender get bit really well.  You might give the 3-5-7 pounders a different look with the following couple?  

Split Belly

The following two baits both have a split belly.  Split belly baits are synonymous with weedless swimbaits.  It helps hide/hold the hook and make the bait more low profile and less likely to snag.  The beauty of things like the Weighted Owner Beast Hooks, 10/0 is a good choice w 1/2 oz, because it fits a lot of swimbaits with split bellys really well. 

 

MC Swimbaits Inshore Weedless swimbait

Kevin and everyone I know that fishes the MC Swimbaits refers to Corey.  Corey Sanden is the guy behind MC Swimbaits.  He is credited with many innovations, baits, and developments in the world of saltwater bass fishing.  The heavy floro leader attached to braid, for example, I believe Corey is credited with. The only downside of braid is that sharp teeth will cut it.  Calico Bass have sharp teeth, so do the 10+ pound largemouth bass and trophy spotted/smallmouth bass.  You can cut braid on a bass’s teeth, if they inhale/choke your bait deep enough.   Many calico bass have been lost by the braid cutting against the fish’s teeth, hence the 12″ floro leader of 50 or 60# 100% floro.  Corey is in a position to design weedless baits and make modifications from a place of authority.  

Long, skinny, split belly and sorta penny colored is always good for calicos 

Magnum calico choked the MC Inshore swimmer

Kevin fishes Corey’s MC Inshore Swimbaits exclusively. I have now fished it quite a bit too.  Great running and fishing bait.  Pairs up nicely with the Owner and Trokar weighted swimbait hooks out there. Kevin does a lot of damage, and is all about the tons of MC Swimbaits plastic Kevin carries around.   Slender profile, yet beefy, nice little boot tail.  Great colors and offerings.  Very resilient and will last multiple fishes.  Catches big ones.   The split belly helps make it hold and rig on a screw lock style hook really well.

 

I love trying new baits, other peoples’ gear, new gear, new setups. Believe me, I wanted to fish one of Kevin’s MC Swimbaits to get a feel for them. Yeah, they work! Daiwa Tatula HDs are a great wider than normal/bigger spool bass reel, built w saltwater grade components. Casts a frickin mile reel.

Shellback Customs Swimbaits

Chad Yates came onto the weedless swimbait scene with his Shellback Customs series of swimmers.   His bait is fatter/wider than the other weedless baits.  It has the largest profile, and a large paddle tail.   The Shellback Customs baits have a really neat slender profile in the water.  They have a really tight body movement yet, loud, obnoxious and vibrant tail doing some good thumping and displacing mad water. 

Shellback Custom Swimbaits in a safety / garibaldi orange

 

 

Extremely resilient bait

Check out Chad and his baits on Instagram: http://instagram.com/shellback_custom_swimbaits

 

Kelp burying fools

Saltwater Grade Spinnerbaits for Calico Bass

Not a giant fish, but I don’t get tired of ‘keeper’ sized bass of any flavor. Daiwa Tatula HD reels, 65# Braid, and Low Down Customs 8 footer.  Times they are a changin’. 

 

My longtime friend Brett Woodward, from Dana Point, who now lives in Laguna Niguel, gave me my first calico bass exposure.  Brett is a really good hook and lethal as a team partner.  Brett got me hooked on slow rolling spinnerbaits in the kelp for calico bass well over a decade ago now, from his Boston Whaler. 

Kelp = Hard Grass

If you’ve never felt or touched Pacific Ocean kelp, you may not know its super hard.  Hard grass, like the good kind of hydrilla you look for on Okeechobee or Seminole.  Hard grass means your bait doesn’t muck up in it while fishing.  Hard grass means really fishable grass.  Hard grass means it’s healthy and likely has an entire ecosystem of life living under/within it.  

Box O Saltwater Grade Spinnerbaits

Spinnerbaits are really ‘old school’ in the freshwater bass world, especially over grass.  Spinnerbaits are weedless and fish really well in the grass, and do a great job of creating a bait ball/chaser rig.  It makes a ton of sense to fish them in the kelp.  I am sure lots of guys are throwing swimbaits in the kelp, including myself.  I feel like the spinnerbait is a go-to to ‘catch a fish’ and see if any little calico bass are around or sorta see how aggressive the fish are.  

I am new to calico bass fishing.  I love to throw weedless swimbaits.  Believe me.  Braided line, Owner screw lock hooks, and weedless paddle/boot tailed swimmers are key part of my progression as a fisherman, swimming bait fisherman.   However, the spinnerbait gets down and can be slow rolled.  It get’s in the funky zone where you lose visibility, where there are deep shade pockets created by the kelp stringers.  Calico bass are aggressive and bold, but they aren’t dumb.  They have been picked over pretty good around Dana Point area, but it’s still really fun fishing.  You have to work hard for smaller fish I feel like than 10-15 years ago, but then again, what place gets better over time?  

Here are some thoughts on spinnerbaits I carry for saltwater bass fishing:  

WarBaits Spinnerbait HD 1 oz

I like all things WarBaits.  They have a no-nonsense 1 oz spinnerbait that keeps it simple, keeps it heavy duty, and has one heck of an Owner Hook that dwarfs most spinnerbait hooks.  The colors and durability are awesome and the baits will catch ‘many’ fishes before the wire and bait become useless.  Highly recommend them.  Here is a link to an Instagram video I made fishing the Warbaits HD 1 oz Spinnerbait somewhere near Trestles:  https://instagram.com/p/BRlhPf4B91e/

Nichols Pulsator Depth Finder Spinnerbait

Nichols is a favorite of mine. I’ve caught many spinnerbaits fish on Nichols bass. I love their colors, painted blades and fishability of the double willow spinnerbaits they make.  I realized they make a 1 oz version, made with heavy wire, dubbed the Nichols Pulsator Depth Finder.  Nice and compact, nice hook, but nowhere near the Owner hook on the Warbaits HD Spinnerbait.   Really cool color combinations and a good choice of 1 oz weights. 

The Warbaits Spinnerbait HD 1 oz come with a big and stout 10/0 and 3X Strong Owner hook. The hook is ‘significantly’ beefier gauge and reaches way further back than any other spinnerbaits I own. Beast of a hook on a beast of a spinnerbait.

Blade Runner 1.5 oz

I have fished the Blade Runner 1.5 and it definitely is heavy duty and the flat sided nature of the bait make it keel very well.  Keels tend to work well or work against you.  I find this 1.5 oz bait is really easy to throw and I liked having the turtle shell/willow combination.  Heavy duty Wire too. 

Blade Runner Guppy Spinnerbait 2.5 oz  

Maybe the guys wanted to build a better mouse-trap?  I just noticed Blade Runner makes a 2.5 oz spinnerbait now?  Check out the Guppy.  It says flat bottom, so maybe this bait has less keel and is even more a deep creeping thumper.  Will get some and advise. 

Revenge Heavy Duty Spinnerbaits

Revenge makes really good baits in general.  They have all kinds of spinnerbaits.  They make a heavy duty and a deep runner that are saltwater worthy.  I find the Heavy Duty have heavier wire and are more geared to salt than the deep runners.  I have always liked the way Revenge distributes the weight of the spinnerbait into the body shape of spinnerbait.  Most spinnerbaits are all head.  Revenge has a good sized body and is a compact bait.  I like gold shiner color! 

Notice the body resembles a baitfish and the weight is distributed to more than just the head of the spinnerbait

 

 

 

 

Saltwater Bass and Cut Tailed Triple Trouts

Saltwater bass fishing is really similar to freshwater bass fishing.  I’m getting better at using weedless swimbaits, hardbaits, and lead head/big swim jigs to probe the depths.  I have spinnerbaits and jerkbaits in my game.   You rarely fish super shallow, for any period of time, but if you are fishing shallow, you’re likely looking over your shoulder for a wave.  Boiler rocks, crashing waves, beds of kelp—these are where big calico bass live.  

I had the chance to fish some water near the Mexico/US Border with Kevin Mattson.  We took his boat and he got us around fish, and did the heavy lifting.  Great trip.  Here are some highlights and things I’m confident to share: 

Cut Tailed Triple Trout

If I wasn’t so dumb, I would have picked one of these up sooner and committed to it.  The cut tailed Triple Trout floats, which means it can be fished extremely slow.  Much slower with the an awesome waking action you only get when you burn the standard Triple Trout.  You get a great wake at a much slower speed, is the net net.  You can ‘stall’ it around the sweet spots and let the bait dead stick a little to draw a bite.  Very ideal for grass fishing and a little theory of fishing truth I like to call ‘rate of stall’.  You can fish the Cut Tail Triple Trout around grass pockets, laydowns, big shade spots—-and really milk the spot.  You spend a lot of time with your Triple Trout  making killer S Turn surface wakes vs. burning it for 3-5 feet before it gets waking on the surface.  And it fishes much slower and can be twitched/jerked.  I am getting blown up on calico bass in the kelp around Dana Point, and recently smashed some good ones with Kevin: 

The Cut Tailed Triple Trout comes in a few sizes.  I like the 8″ and the 10″ Models. I have a couple of sweet ones Scott has made me.  You can get them at Tackle Warehouse or you can order them directly from Scott’s website:  www.tripletrout.com   They have a similar, yet slightly looser action.  More joints = more clack and more foldability of the bait.  The tail is really lazy and whips around nicely.  

I fished mine on 80# PowerPro and upgraded my hooks to Owner ST-66 Trebles, and Owner Hyper Wire Split rings.  I direct tied my 80# Braid and always use Fitzgerald Braided Line Paint.  I have been fishing the Cut Tail on a Daiwa Lexa HD 300.  I am exploring a bunch of low profile saltwater grade bass reels.  I’ll do a review on them at some point.  The Lexa is good, but I’ve blown it up a couple times.  I have to admit, being a back seater cramps my bigbait lobbing style.   I have the 8:1 which makes it fish fast, but you lose that torque and low end.   If you are good with your rod and have the drop on the fish, you can make it all work, but I wonder if I’m setting myself up for disaster on a really big calico bite or one that gets me out of position.  Too fast of gear ratio and big fish that live around heavy cover can spell disaster.  That is what makes bass fishing fun, a lot of times.  Fishing around visible structure, and literally, yanking them out from their ambush spots.  Calico bass are no different. 

 

We threw the 8″ standard Triple Trouts and caught some fish, but the better quality, and most action was on the Cut Tail. 

 

The ROF 0

Perhaps video is better than words, pictures and blog posts.  I find the STE Rig, matches up with the ROF 0 quite well.   The ROF 0 is really misunderstood.