Lucky Craft Blade Cross Bait

Here is some more fusion.  The Lucky Craft Blade Cross Bait you have to check out.  This thing really fuses the jerkbait, underspin, spinnerbait, and swimbait thing together.  I really like how neutrally buoyant this thing feels in general. It sinks out, but any slight tension flattens the bait out and you can get a near suspend with any bow or wind in your line.  Very senko-ish in feel.  You can rip rip rip and then stall this thing and just be totally stoked at this jerkbait, flash, spin, stall stuff this bait produces. You can slow grind out and transition out of your jerkbait cadance, and get more swimbait style.  Just slow grind it along, mindfully.

The Lucky Craft Blade Cross is pretty impressive.  They make a 110 size which tells me there has to be bigger / saltwater size of these things!  I want a 200 or 300 series!!!

The Lucky Craft Blade Cross is pretty impressive. They make a 110 size which tells me there has to be bigger / saltwater size of these things! I want a 200 or 300 series!!!

 

I think jerkbaits catch fish all year long, but as winter sinks in, and then again right before Spring springs….the jerkbait is king.  I can see smashing fish on the Ozark lakes on this bait.  Where ever you have a good reaction bait bite.  Lake Mead/Havasu come to mind.  I can see the herring eaters going nutty about this bait, especially those spotted bass herring eaters that love spinnerbaits and jerkbaits so much.  Lanier, Clarks Hill, Murray, Keowee, Hartwell —those lakes come to mind as well suited for this bait.  All clear water lakes, that is for sure.  And anywhere you know fish react to jerkbaits, well shoot, I would just tie one of these on and give a try, because this thing fishes sick.  There is no doubt you’ll enjoy and appreciate this bait.  It almost has a glide bait feel to it, and has so many other influences, I was impressed.

Purchase

CLICK TO PURCHASE

This is a modern twist on jerkbait, spinnerbait and swimming baits and if you think about it, is a bit of a sister to the spy bait thing.  The spy baits have the props and the whirring of their blades creates a new unique vortex.  So does the Blade Cross Bait.  Very unique swim signature and profile. Lucky Craft makes quality baits and this is no exception. I notice these things tend to be low in quantity and stock in Tackle Warehouse often.  That is usually a good indicator.

Fusion of jerkbait, spinnerbait, underspin and swimbait.  Pretty rad bait.

Fusion of jerkbait, spinnerbait, underspin and swimbait. Pretty rad bait.

 

Purchase the Lucky Craft Blade Cross Bait HERE

The Gambler Burner Worm

I will admit it, I was a snob when I saw and heard about swimming worms.  I can think of 3 times the swimming worm was relayed to me as the bait, and I foolishly tried to make it a bigbait / swimbait bite without putting it into context.  When you fish Okeechobee, you will inevitably get around the Speed Worm bite.  Well, as you progress, you’ll migrate to the Magnum Speed Worm, and rig it with a jumbo offset worm hook and 1/4 – 1/2 ounce weight pegged and learn to swim, stroke, hop it thru the various grasses.  The big worm and special tail swim really well, and fish eat the heck out of it.

The Gambler Burner Worm tail.

The Gambler Burner Worm tail.

 

The Gambler Burner Worm tail (left) vs. the Zoom Magnum Speed Worm tail.  We used to modify our Magnum Speed worms with a small piece of copper tubing to make what is now OEM on the burner worm.  Just saying.

The Gambler Burner Worm tail (left) vs. the Zoom Magnum Speed Worm tail. We used to modify our Magnum Speed worms with a small piece of copper tubing to make what is now OEM on the burner worm. Just saying.

I found the swimming worm to be an effective technique on Okeechobee, Lake Seminole and Lake Dardenelle.  Dardenelle in the shore grass, over stumps and wood, and anywhere I could find grass the was submerged due to river levels.   Gambler doesn’t need my advice to create great products.  This company lives in South Florida and knows grass fishing way more intimately than me.  You have to appreciate the Gambler Burner Worm as a derivative of the Magnum Speed Worm.  The tail has a larger groove cut out of it, and it thumps and flaps better than the Magnum Speed Worm.  It is fatter than the Magnum Speed worm, but only measures approx 7″ in length.  It’s a fatty worm, that swims really good.

Purchase the Gambler Burner Worm from Tackle Warehouse:

gambler-burner-tackle-warehouse

I highly recommend you learn how to swim a worm.  You arent’ fishing for 10 pounders.  You are fishing for 3 – 5 pounders.  I really like 50# braid, a 1/4 or maybe even 3/8 ounce weight pegged and a 5/0 Owner Offset Worm Hook Texas Rigged.  You fling your Burner Worm way out and swim, stroke, hop it back much like you would a rattle trap in grass, or a vibrating jig.  The high stick retrieve.  Yo-yo it back while swimming it.  Let it fall and bury up in the grass and then lift up, reel it along and drop your rod tip and let it sink back down.  Fish tend to woof it and there’s no doubt when you’re bit.  The Texas rig nature makes hook ups pretty much 95%.   For those headed to South Florida this Winter, this is a swimming worm I’d have on board for Florida.   Gambler’s colors rock too.

Full worms compared.  Gamber Burner on top, Zoom Magnum Speed Worm below.  Texas Rig, with pegged weight.  Swim it and don't hate.  This is tournament swimbait fishing.

Full worms compared. Gamber Burner on top, Zoom Magnum Speed Worm below. Texas Rig, with pegged weight. Swim it and don’t hate. This is tournament swimbait fishing.

The Strike King Tour Grade Rage Blade Swim Jig

The Strike King Tour Grade Rage Blade Swim Jig.  Say that 5 times fast!  Look, it’s a fair assessment.  This thing is a fusion of vibrating, swimming, stroking, grinding styles of jigging up fish.  Chatterbaits, vibrating jigs, or whatever you call them…….. get bit.  Swim jigs are a whole other universe of topics, but hell yes they catch fish, and in themselves fuse swimbait fishing into jig fishing.  So, connecting, fusing, and borrowing is the name of this bait. I was asked what I thought of this bait, so here goes.  I feel like this flavor of vibrating bait gives off a different vibration and vortex. It’s quite fishable and an innovative work around from Strike King.  My understanding is the Z-Man people have brought legal actions against anyone copying their “Chatterbait”.  It looks to me like Strike King found a way around it from a legal/design/patent perspective and likely has a bigger legal team!

Purchase from Tackle Warehouse:

tackle-warehouse-rage-blade-swim-jig

 

Where would I fish it?

  1. Okeechobee
  2. Okeechobee
  3. Okeechobee
  4. Eufaula
  5. CA Delta
  6. Chickimauga
  7. Guntersville
  8. Every other lake and river!

The truth is, where ever you swim a jig or vibrate a jig, this thing is going to work too.  It’s new and fresh, and has a slightly different swagger.  Would a bigbait version of this make sense?  I believe a big vibrating jig would be worthy of putting together. In fact, I’m 200% sure guys have done this since Bryan Thrift smashed them on it on Okeechobee in the early 2000’s and thus launched the Chatterbait (to me anyway).   The wave of the future is clearly ‘bigger’ is better.  The conventional bait companies like Strike King have caught swimbait fire and the natural progression every company needs to be thinking is how to handle the “XXL” or “Super Sized” size of baits.  Look at the 10XD crankbait from Strike King.  Why stop there?  You just go down the line, and make every lure bigbait:  spinnerbait, buzzbait, topwater, jigs, vibrating jigs, spoons (Ben Parker, aloha, and super work on your Magnum Flutter Spoon), WORMS, etc, etc etc.   The horse has left the stable, and the universe of swimbait and bigbait is influencing.  The Strike King Tour Grade Rage Blade Swim Jig is sadly only available in 3/8 and 1/2 ounces which, don’t get me wrong, are excellent sizes and choices. I’m just keeping a pulse on when companies like Strike King go big and where.  Rods, reels, terminal tackle, line and baits have to match up remember, and that is the funky transition we’ll be in until the big companies get it right and make it all and affordable system for the masses.  Then it will truly all be there.   Until then, it’s the innovative anglers who are charging harder, tweaking conventional tackle to make it bigger and badder or just flat out making their own baits.  And then matching rods, reels, line, hooks, rings, etc as it happen.

I would throw thing thing out and make a ton of bottom and rock contact in a non-grass lake.  I would run parallel or whatever angles, even uphill to make this thing cling and clank off as much rock, woods and stuff as possible.  There is a good high stick pump you can use to reel snatch your bait along, letting it make bottom contact a lot but still swimming it.  Rod tip to down to 10 clock (reeling the entire time) and snatch up to 12 oclock and back down to 10 oclock and so on…pumping, grinding and waiting to turn sideways into a full pull against a 8 pound pre-spawn fatty on some perfect staging area you know.  In the grass, braid braid braid and same high stick retrieve.  I would snatch it along like a rattle trap and/or make the most contact with the grass while still being able to snatch and keep my hook clean.  High stick is how I retrieve, a lot.

The Rage Blade from Strike King.  Capitalism is a vicious beast.  Chatterbait it is not, but vibrating jig, yes.

The Rage Blade from Strike King. Capitalism is a vicious beast. Chatterbait it is not, but vibrating jig, yes.

The Strike King Rage Blade strikes me as a bait you can fish deeper and have more control over at depth.  It doesn’t take much to get this thing running right and with the weight in the blade, it tends to have a truer fall and pickup.  If your fish are tuned into the Chatterbait, you  might want to give the Rage Blade a try, it’s gonna be slightly different.  It fishes very true, is extremely weedless as far as what you can fish it thru, and seems to be a pretty well designed bait, even if it was influenced by the Chatterbait.

Take a look at the Naked Rage Blade (variation on the Scrounger Head).  I gotta believe this would be a good thing to have handy in the swimbait + chatter cricket department.  I know guys throw a ton a paddle tail style swimbaits on Scrounger heads.  This is the same application, but with a fresh vortex and vibration.  How about a Lake Fork Magic Shad Swimbait?  In case you don’t know, fishing a Lake Fork Magic Shad on a vibrating jig or Chatterbait (remove skirt, just the swimbait tail) plus the jig head, is a frickin’ killer.   The Scrounger and Naked Rage Blade give you fresher and move vibrant and lively swim to your paddle tailed swimbait of choice.

Don't worry how goofy these vibrating jigs look.  They catch fish really well.

This thing has a helicopter look to me.  It just fishes nice and clean, and I know these things will catch them. You’re gonna benefit from not losing fish or letting them throw the bait so easily too.  I think that is something to explore.

The Picasso Bait Ball Extreme

You have to check this thing out.  The flying/swimming V.  I messed around with the Picasso Bait Ball Extreme over the summer.  Talk about a cool derivative of the Alabama Rig.   There is a V4, V6 and V8 Model of the Picasso Bait Ball Extreme.  I fished and filmed the V6 series.  You basically have dummy baits that are coupled with hooked baits at the endpoints of the V.   The fun thing is the shape and inherent light weight/neutrally buoyancy of this rig make it geared toward grass fishing and definitely busting fish/surface breakers that are chasing bait.  You don’t have to reel like crazy to keep this thing up top. You can make the baits pop out of the water, creating your own fleeing school of baitfish or herring.

 

Can you feel the vortex?  You can bet the fish can sense the vortex behind this rig and will sense it has a different signature than other Alabama Rigs.  V for Vortex.

Can you feel the vortex? You can bet the fish can sense the vortex behind this rig and will sense it has a different signature than other Alabama Rigs. V for Vortex.

 

Stalingrad.  The Vortex Formation, stalled, has a better fall than the Alabama Rigs with the 5 star clusters.

Stalingrad. The Vortex Formation, stalled, has a better fall than the Alabama Rigs with the 5 star clusters.

Rig from the Above Video:

Picasso Bait Ball Extreme

Picasso School E Rig Ball Head 1/16 ounce

KVD Swim-N-Shiner 4″ Swimbait

1/16 oz Picasso School E Rig with a big ole fat 5/0 hook.  Get there. KVD Swim N Shiner, but whatever you swimbait of choice, I think you can worry more about where to fish than your soft swimmer of choice.  Just match the hatch and get after it.

1/16 oz Picasso School E Rig with a big ole fat 5/0 hook. Get there. KVD Swim N Shiner, but whatever you swimbait of choice, I think you can worry more about where to fish than your soft swimmer of choice. Just match the hatch and get after it.

You have screws to mount your dummy baits.  The outside bait rigged with a 1/16ounce and 5/0 Picasso School E Rig Jig Head

You have screws to mount your dummy baits. The outside bait rigged with a 1/16ounce and 5/0 Picasso School E Rig Jig Head

You can add whatever swimbaits or jigheads you want to this rig to match your application. I can see putting a bunch of Skinny Dippers or even just the same above rig depending on how thick the grass, and go cover some water in Okeechobee.   With braid, you can rip even top hooked swimbait thru grass and effectively fish.  Don’t let top hooks fool ya, they are weedless when fished mindfully and with aid from braid.   If you needed to sink this thing out, I think a more standard Alabama Rig would make sense, unless the flying V gave them a different look than the 5 Star cluster look?    I can see throwing the V6 or V8 version all the way in the very backs of creeks and pockets and creating a fleeing school of bait effect on ANY lake or river system.  You can fish this thing like a spinnerbait and cover water.   I really would fish braid even in the clearest water.   I can see adding a Robo Worm Robo Minnow or Keitech Swing Impact Fat baits in a more Herring pattern and fishing this thing fast n furious up shallow on red clay points, high spots and way offshore sweet spots.  You could up this thing to 6 or 8 bigger 6-7″ soft swimbaits and literally create a good herring ball that might call ‘em up somewhere between Keg Creek and the Monkey Islands!

Swimming V.  The V-6 Picasso Bait Ball Elite, swimming along in formation.

Swimming V. The V-6 Picasso Bait Ball Elite, swimming along in formation.

 

The over under flying V performed by the RAF!  V-6 Elite Bait Ball from Picasso.  Fishes skinnier than your normal a rig and changes your formation.

The over under flying V performed by the RAF! V-6 Elite Bait Ball from Picasso. Fishes skinnier than your normal a rig and changes your formation.

Click to Purchase:

Picasso Bait Ball Extreme

Picasso School E Rig Ball Head 1/16 ounce

KVD Swim-N-Shiner 4″ Swimbait

 

 

The Okuma Komodo 364

Wading, on a Tuesday afternoon.  Braid, Okuma Komodo 364 and a top hook Huddleston 68 with the barb pinched down.  Shallow water trophy hunting, White River, Arkansas.

Wading, on a Tuesday afternoon. Braid, Okuma Komodo 364 and a top hook Huddleston 68 with the barb pinched down. Shallow water trophy hunting, White River, Arkansas.

I’m realizing where I’ve made miscalculations and misjudgements in my fishing at times.   I’m a huge fan of big fat round reels. I am born and raised on Don Iovino “doodling” where short Phenix Rods, w Excalibur Handles and round Abu-Garcia reels where how you caught fish in Southern California.   Now, at a macro level, understand that Iovino was both right and wrong.  At that same time, a guy like Dean Rojas was smashing fish with reaction baits, challenging the finesse only / shaking 4″ worms on 8 pound line in >20 feet of water to get a bit.    My point being, I’ve made mistakes in REEL SELECTION at times.  Low profile reels tend to be way more easy to fish.  They weigh ounces less than the big gold Shimano Calcutta TE or D Series.  Low profile reels have way better gears than they used to, they have quicker gear ratios and line pickup speeds, and can handle all your bigbaits. I like the slowness of the round TE 400 for specialized Huddleston fishing. I can’t see myself not having a few 400 TEs in the boat with me, but the 300 Series of low profile swimbait reels continues to grow on me.   Anywho, besides ergonomic and aesthetic advantages, they tend to have faster gear ratios.  I suppose I need to say, the Shimano Curado 300 is and will remain a sick ass low profile swimbait reel that can handle bigbaits and big fish.   However,  Shimano is no longer in the position they enjoyed historically.  Insert Okuma.

Okuma provides a great value product.  They have made outstanding rods in the bigbait fishing department for years.  The Guide Select Series has been what I and many other recommend to beginning swimbait fisherman.  I know Mark Rogers and Mike Bennett a little bit, and know these guys charge hard and do a lot of hardcore charging.   They keep hardcore swimbait fishing happy and treat them with respect and aloha.  Check out what Oliver Ngy (Big Bass Dreams)  and Kevin Mattson (Bass King)  fish with.   Okuma wisely has decided to engage subject matter experts and figure out ways to partner and team up with them.  The result is what can be seen and felt in the Okuma Komodo 364.   Let’s be honest., the Okuma reels couldn’t compete in the quality department years ago, but now they can.  They’ve proven it now for the last few years, and the work of buys in both salt and freshwater are all the validation you should need.

Slinging a Huddie 68 at a 45 degree upriver angle. Fishing it back down and across.  Sometimes stalling to a 45 degree downriver or more angle retrieve back.

Slinging a Huddie 68 at a 45 degree upriver angle. Fishing it back down and across. Sometimes stalling to a 45 degree downriver or more angle retrieve back.

You need a few 300 Series, low profile reels in your swimbait game.  Skipping 6″ Weedless Huddlestons under docks was a favorite past time of mine for years.  Low profile reels and dock skipping make a lot of sense.  A new trend in my Triple Trout fishing is fishing the 7-8″ Triple Trout on the Curado 300. The quicker gear ratio (vs the Calcutta 300 or 400) made fishing the Triple Trout way easier.   So, I find the mid range hardbaits to be an outstanding application of the 300 Series of reels.  What Kevin Mattson and Oliver Ngy have really opened my eyes to is the application of the 300 series, with the Komodo 364 to the megabaits, the bigger bigbaits like the Slide Swimmer 250.  The Slide Swimmer 250 and the magnum glide baits like the Roman Mades, Gan Craft and big Rago Glideaor, need to be a staple in your swimbait fishing, as are the Huddleston Deluxe, Triple Trout, MS Slammer and the rat baits of your choice.

The base of the Bull Shoals Dam, and the genesis of the White River trout fishery.  Big browns live here.  Don't fish here.  You might get your arm broke.

The base of the Bull Shoals Dam, and the genesis of the White River trout fishery. Big browns live here. Don’t fish here. You might get your arm broke.

Here’s the deal, you can spend $250 on a Curado 300 and be happy. Shimano is not a company that can be engaged if you are interested in fishing for a living and want to partner with them in any shape or form.  Just leave it at that.  Fish their stuff, and be stoked, it’s awesome. Or you could spend $ 220, buy an Okuma Komodo 364, and align yourself with a company and group of guys the welcomes and engages the swimbait fishing community and subject matter experts. When there are alternatives out there, like Okuma and Abu Garcia that are making great value products that are high quality,  capitalism and free markets take their course.   I would definitely recommend the Okuma Komodo 364 now after fishing it hard. I haven’t caught the uber giants with it yet, but I did fish the gamut of my favorite mid size and magnum sized baits, and have wipped some nice fish.  I keep a pulse on what reels guys are really catching their fish with, and the Komodo 364 across both salt and freshwater continues to impress and amaze.   Check out Okuma’s facebook page to get a pulse on their community and O’hana HERE.

Blazing July Heat, 50 degree White River, and the Slide Swimmer 250.  The Okuma Komodo 364 has the guts to lob megabaits.  And the gearing and quality to do it 50B times in your lifetime.  Low profile, quicker, and easier on your wrists.   Talk about putting english into a Slide Swimmer and cutting current.

Blazing July Heat, 50 degree White River, and the Slide Swimmer 250. The Okuma Komodo 364 has the guts to lob megabaits. And the gearing and quality to do it 50B times in your lifetime. Low profile, quicker, and easier on your wrists. Talk about putting English into a Slide Swimmer and cutting current.  Notice the fish’s mouth got a little tore up, but Karma came around quick, notice my thumb bleeding on my right hand. She gouged me good as I tried to pick her up at one point.

 

The Promar Net is my livewell and definitely served it's purpose in spades this day.

The Promar Net is my livewell and definitely served it’s purpose in spades this day.

 

2nd Slide Swimmer fish. Notice how gold and orange this fish is vs. the above fish.  This one was way smaller, like a 23" fish.  The above fish was >30" and my biggest brown ever.  I love the GoPro.  Shots like this are random and just fun.

2nd Slide Swimmer fish. Notice how gold and orange this fish is vs. the above fish. This one was way smaller, like a 23″ fish. The above fish was >30″ and my biggest brown ever. I love the GoPro. Shots like this are random and just fun.

For what it’s worth, I highly recommend you invest in a Komodo 364, a spool of 65 or 80# braid, and pair it with the swimbait rod of your choice and application.  Braid and the low profile bigbait reel with the faster gear ratio have changed my fishing.  It works and is my system for many baits now with the exception of slow rolling Huddlestons , fishing for the ‘one’ in some super clear / super pressured situation.   I use florocarbon leaders where applicable.  Braid gives you WAY MORE control and play with your hardbaits.  You can make turns and stalls and cut water WAY BETTER than with mono or floro.  There is only usually a foot or two of line actually in the water ahead of the bait, because you tend to ‘high stick’ your rod tip on your retrieve with braid.   You don’t have the line sag and drag challenges you do with mono or floro.

Click HERE to purchase the Okuma 364 Komodo.