The 9” MS Slammer is the first swimbait I ever committed to and was the first swimbait I ever saw fished. The 9” MS Slammer was developed in Central California, very closely with Lake Santa Margarita. Mike Shaw, the ‘MS’ in MS Slammer, lived in Atascadero and developed the bait, and tested it by casting, trolling and targeting big striper and big bass. Rob Belloni, was early on the bigbait scene, got to throwing Mike’s bait because he fished Lake Santa Margarita often as a Cal Poly SLO student. Cal Poly is where I met Rob, and Rob introduced me to the MS Slammer. The MS Slammer has been catching trophy fish quietly and not so quietly since the late 90s.
Rob McComas was early on the bigbait scene too, he just lived across the US, and was fishing Mike’s 9” MS Slammer on the trout fed lakes mountain lakes of Western North Carolina in the 90s. Rob was not only featured, but was a key figure in the ‘go ahead’ and production of Southern Trout Eaters. His footage is some of the best of the film, incredible topwater bites, big flushes…really capturing how it is with the MS Slammer and how it works and fishes. Rob has really opened my eyes to wood bait fishing and how to apply it. He fishes laydown trees and shade lines and focuses on and thoroughly dissects spots where the fish live. It’s a slower paced, more thorough approach to structure fishing.
The 9” MS Slammer is an absolute workhorse. A bait you can tie on and fish all day and night and never have to adjust or fix. Its a killer night fishing bait, probably one of the best and the first bait I reach for when night fishing. It’s literally slaughtered big fish, I mean 12-17 fish in a single night and in broad daylight out West. It is a staple. Wood baits are killer. Each bait is unique. It has its own swim, own vortex, own buoyancy properties and tendencies. Wood bait fishing is so roots. The beautiful thing about wood is all the differences in wood and how you get a really bulks and bigbait that doesn’t necessarily weigh that much. 9” MS Slammers don’t weigh but X ounces, and they get an A+ in fishability. Just easy on you to fish and killer baits, and because it floats, you can fish intimately around wood, boulders, structure of any kind, just stalling and killing the bait along with swimming it along to keep it around the sweet spots longer.
There are various retrieves and styles of fishing around the 9” MS Slammer. The most common method is a relatively slow and steady grind, making the single jointed top water bait swim fluidly and clacky, move a lot of water, throw a big wake, and have a brilliant tail that licks the surface and compliments the jointed swim. You can stop the bait and walk the dog or just pause it, and the buoyancy of the bait makes it do a 180 or so and it’s a cool way to change it up on ‘em.
You can definitely reel the 9” MS Slammer and fish it 4-12” inches under the surface. Rob McComas has some excellent retrieves he uses to keep just the top tip of the tail above the surface while the entire bait is under the water swimming along with a small disturbance on the surface for the tip of the tail sweeping along back and forth. Rob uses the 9” MS Slammer as a deflection bait too, making contact with the wood and rocks and things purposely to draw bites.
Gear for the 9″ MS Slammer:
Line: P-Line CXX Xtra Strong, Moss Green, 25 or 30#
Hooks: Owner ST-36 Stinger Treble Hooks, 2/0 front and back
Split Rings: Owner Hyper Wires, size 7 front and back.
Strengths: The strength of the MS Slammer is its fishability. You can use various retrieves and styles of fishing the bait (wake, twitch, slow rolled, etc) and change things up cast by cast as you approach your targets. The bait rarely fouls up when casting or needs any sort of maintenance. You will need to change tails every so often, but just find yourself a good swimming 9″ MS Slammer and hang onto it.
Notes: You may fish the bait with a snap. It might change how you fish the bait and might work for some instances. I like to fish without a snap wherever possible, but understand that wood baits are unique and each one a different animal, so don’t be afraid to tinker and find what works best and makes your bait swim best.