The 2019 Bassmaster Classic Part 4: The Ike Foundation

The 2019 Bassmaster Classic Part 4: The Ike Foundation thumbnail
Mike Iaconelli

We had a huge success with The Ike Foundation at the Bassmaster Classic Expo presented by DICK’S Sporting Goods. I couldn’t be happier with what Becky said about things. (I wasn’t there because I was fishing all three days.)

As I’m sure most of you know, The Ike Foundation is a charity set up to get kids fishing early. The idea is that if we get them started early, when they’re little, they’ll fish all of their life. But, even if they don’t, they always have positive memories of fishing and the outdoors. That’ll keep them on our side even if they aren’t out on the water.

The Ike Foundation
The Ike Foundation

That’s super important because the anti-types aren’t going to go away and temporary wins for us won’t guarantee final victory. We have to work at preserving this wonderful sport every single day — no exceptions.

So anyway, we had great support from the fans and from our sponsors, Toyota and Pure Fishing. They understand the importance of bass fishing and, frankly, they put their wallets in front of their mouths.

I’m told that the Paint-Your-Own-Bait booth was an especially big hit. That’s where the kids paint and design their own baits. They can do anything they want. Well, pretty much anyway. It’s interesting to see what they come up with. Some of it is really creative and some of it is really realistic.

Another thing is that we gave away 500 Flambeau tackle boxes with Ike Starter Kits in them. I’m especially proud of that program. It’s one thing to talk fishing. That’s all well and good. What we do, however, is give them the basic starter tools they need to go out and actually catch a fish. That matters even more.       

Pure Fishing
Pure Fishing
Flambeau Outdoors





The final thing I want to do here is remind everyone reading this that The Ike Foundation is a real charity that relies on the support of our sponsors, our fans, and the entire fishing community, really.  There are lots of volunteers who generously donate their time and resources and all the proceeds of The Foundation go right to the kids. 

Out website is at

If you can help us by becoming an amBASSador, pledging to take a kid fishing or contributing anything, please do. And sign-up for the newsletter, too, to learn about the events and groups we sponsor. There are several things scheduled for this year. There’s plenty of opportunity. And, we’re an IRS registered 501(c)3, non-profit foundation. Gifts to the Ike Foundation are “fully tax deductible to the maximum extent allowed by law.”

Our mission is to get more kids fishing and in the outdoors, especially youth in areas where those activities are not readily available. Help us if you can.  We appreciate your help!

We’re done with the Classic roundup. Next time we’ll catch a few bass.


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Ice Fishing Lures for Warm Water Bass

Ice Fishing Lures for Warm Water Bass thumbnail
Mike Iaconelli

I was fishing earlier this winter — ice fishing actually — up on Mille Lacs, Minnesota when something struck me that I want to share with you. I may have talked a little about it before but it’s worth mentioning again.

Fish are coldblooded, prehistoric creatures. They don’t know what a lure is supposed to do or why it was invented. They have no ability to think or reason. A fish will bite something because it looks like food or because they’re predators and they can’t help themselves. What they do is simple and straightforward, even if we don’t always understand it.

So anyway, back to the Mille Lacs trip.

We were supposed to be fishing for walleye and yellow perch. We caught plenty of them, too. But in the mix was a surprising number of bass — nice, healthy ones. The lure we used was a Rapala Jigging Rap Ice Jig. They come in five weights and sizes, and in at least 10 colors.

Rapala Jigging Rap Ice Jig
Rapala Jigging Rap Ice Jig

Basically they look like a small minnow with flat sides. You tie them on through a loop on their back that’s in a place that allows them to hang perfectly horizontal when they’re in the water. They have one treble hook on the bottom just below the line tie and a single hook in front and another one in the back. To top all of that off they have a wide, flat plastic tail.

They are a true engineering marvel.

There’s nothing especially tough about fishing with them. Just drop them straight down below your boat and jig them up and down. If the water’s cold, go slow and easy up and even slower and easier going back down. When the water warms increase your speed accordingly.

But do not, under any circumstances, rip them when you pull them up. These baits are designed to be jigged slowly. They are not blade baits. If you pull them up too fast, you’ll destroy their unique vibration.

And, when you let them down do so on a semi-slack line, and watch it carefully. You want them to fall semi-freely so you get the benefit of their unique spiral, but you also want to be able to set the hook in an instant. Dropping them down properly is as much art as it is science.

Most of your bites will come on the fall.

The reason I’m talking about them now is because they are more than ice fishing lures, no matter what their name implies. They are dynamite baits when bass are suspended in schools. It doesn’t matter how deep they’re holding or how cold or warm the water is where you’re fishing.

Abu Garcia Delay Series Casting Rod & Abu Garcia REVO series Casting Reel
Abu Garcia IKE Delay Series Casting Rod & Abu Garcia REVO series Casting Reel

When you’re fishing one of the bigger and heavier Rapala Jigging Rap Ice Jigs I’d suggest a 7 foot, 6 inch Abu Garcia IKE Delay Series Casting Rod — medium action. I pair it with a 6.6:1 Abu Garcia REVO IKE Casting Reel. It’s spooled with straight 10, 12 or 15-pound-test Berkley Trilene 100% Fluorocarbon.

With the smaller and lighter lures I drop down to a 7 foot Abu Garcia Ike Delay Series Casting Rod. I use the same reel but I lighten up my line to something between 8 and 12-pound-test.

Berkley Trilene 100% Fluorocarbon Line
Berkley Trilene 100% Fluorocarbon Line

I always fish my Jigging Raps with straight fluorocarbon line. Never use a leader. You’ll get better action and catch more bass that way.

Give a Rapala Jigging Rap Ice Jig a shot this summer when the bass school up offshore over deep water breaks. That’ll show them something they’ve never seen before, and just might put a few giants in your livewell.

Just When You Think You Know It All…

Just When You Think You Know It All… thumbnail
Mike Iaconelli

Just when you think you know it all something comes along that you’ve never heard about, not even thought about. That’s what happened to me this winter on the Upper Mississippi River when I was fishing Pool 2. I was introduced to the tumble rig.

We were fishing near a power plant with a warm water discharge. Typically that’s where you find a lot of fish in a small area, and that’s exactly what we found. But, even though we were catching fish, the bite wasn’t anything close to what we expected.

That’s when the fellow I was fishing with said we should try a tumble rig. Somewhat embarrassed, I told him I didn’t know what that was and probably didn’t have the tackle to rig one. No problem, he had what we needed.

The idea was to fish suckers, a swimbait or a plastic minnow on a live line but make them look dead. All you really do is hook them, cast them out and let them tumble along the bottom with the current. It was amazing! We immediately started catching more fish and bigger fish. Honestly, I can’t remember a fishing day turning around so quickly with only a change of bait.

We fished in a fairly strong current but I’m thinking it’ll work just as well in a reservoir or when the wind is making current. If the current isn’t strong enough to move the bait, you can always help it along a little. But, I mean just a little. Think natural when you fish a tumble rig.

The one problem with it is that it will twist your line. But we solved that by using a VMC Spin Shot Hook. There are three models to choose from — the Neko, the Wide Gap, the Power Shot. They’ll all work depending on what bait you choose and how you hook it. Grab the one that works for you.

VMC Spinshot HooksWe hooked ours in a variety of different ways. Open point worked best — nose or back — if the bottom was relatively clean. If it was covered in drift and other stuff, we Texas rigged the hook with the point skin hooked. And sometimes we just skin hooked the bait almost anywhere.

Berkley Powerbaits
Berkley Powerbaits

We were using spinning tackle so we tried not to bury the hook too deep because it was difficult to get a good hookset that way.

Our swimbait choice was a Berkley Powerbait Power Swimmer Swimbait. It looks good tumbling along and it feels natural when they bite it. We also used a traditional Berkley Powerbait Jerk Shad. I’m thinking, though, that you could also use a Gulp Jerk Shad, a Gulp Alive Jerk Shad, a Powerbait Jerk Shad or a Powerbait Maxscent Flatnose Jerk Shad. They all look and feel natural.

My rod was an Abu Garcia Ike Finesse Series Spinning rod. The 7 foot medium action and 7 foot, 6 inch medium heavy action worked best for me.

Abu Garcia IKE Finesse Series Spinning Rod & Abu Garcia REVO IKE Spinning Reel
Abu Garcia IKE Finesse Series Spinning Rod & Abu Garcia REVO IKE Spinning Reel

I’d suggest a 20 or 30 size Abu Garcia REVO Ike Series Spinning reel — your choice. I used both.

The best line setup is 6-10-pound-test braid to fluorocarbon leader (long) or a straight fluorocarbon spool. I like the straight fluorocarbon best because I helps keep the bait down on the bottom where it needs to be to attract the better size fish. All my lines are made by Berkley, either X5 or X9 Braid or Trilene 100% Fluorocarbon.

Berkley 5X Braided & Trilene 100% Fluorocarbon lines
Berkley 5X Braided & Trilene 100% Fluorocarbon Lines

I know this sounds crazy to some of you. A dead minnow tumbling along the bottom? Really? Come on Ike? We know better.

It goes against everything we know as anglers. I’ll be the first to admit that. But I’m telling you that this is a super good technique. I don’t write about anything that doesn’t catch fish. That’s not who I am, and I’m telling you this is the thing.

Give it a try. Let me know what you think.


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A Super Short Delay Is a Good Thing – Part 2

A Super Short Delay Is a Good Thing – Part 2 thumbnail

Last time we talked about the two rods in my Abu Garcia Ike Delay Series that are designed for twitching techniques. This time I want to cover the other five models. I’ll detail what they’re designed to do and why I recommend you take a close look at them when it’s time for you to upgrade.

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I may have mentioned this before but it’s important enough to repeat: The name Delay was no accident. The idea behind these rods is to make them hesitate just a little bit before you feel the bite and set the hook. But, I don’t want you to get the wrong idea about that.

This is a big deal with treble hook lures. If you set the hook too quick, you’ll get a shallow hookset or jerk it out of the fish’s mouth. Neither one of those things will put it in the
livewell or give you a long and thrilling fight. A tailwalk is a great thing to
watch, but not when she throws your lure 20 feet off to the side.

For Rabble: Delay 6' 6" Casting Rod
For Rabble: Delay 6′ 6″ Casting Rod

The first three of the five I want to cover here are designed with a 50/50 bend to them. The last two have a 60/40 bend. The reason for that is that the first three are for lighter lures that have less resistance when they’re retrieved. The last two are for heavier baits that pull hard when you retrieve them.  

The 6 foot, 6 inch model is designed specifically for squarebill crankbaits. It’ll throw them easily and allow you to work them in and out of heavy cover, which is where you should be fishing them most of the time. It has a normal butt. You won’t be twitching a square bill very often and you don’t need a lot of leverage with these lures. A short butt doesn’t do a thing for your fishing with these baits.    

Delay 7' Casting Rod
The Workhorse: Delay 7′ Casting Rod

The 7 foot version is my all-around rod. You can do almost anything with it. It has a normal butt for the same reasons as the 6 foot, 6 inch model.  It’s a great choice for those who can only afford one rod or for those who want to try one of these out before they buy more. 

My 7 foot, 3 inch design is for medium weight and medium running crankbaits. It has a longer butt that’ll give you just a little more leverage. That makes a huge difference over the course of a long day’s fishing.

The 7 foot, 6 inch rod is designed for heavy lipless crankbaits. With
its longer length and longer butt you can throw one of those things a mile, and
do it all day long without fatigue or muscle cramps.

Delay 7'11 Casting Rod
For Deep Dives: Delay 7’11 Casting Rod

My final design is a medium heavy 7 foot, 11 inch stick that I designed specifically for deep-diving crankbaits. It’s the perfect choice if you like to crank deep ledges, creek channels or main lake points with a Rapala Ike’s Custom Ink DT Series Crankbait.

I designed the Ike Delay Series rods
for specific purposes and for lures that are armed with treble hooks. They’ll do exactly what anglers want them to do when they’re on the water. I suggest you give one a try the next time you upgrade your tackle. And, they don’t cost an arm and a leg. They retail for $149.99.

Which rod is right for you? In this video, Mike lists the specific baits that work with each rod, so you can match your preferences to the right rod.

Check it out. The Delay Series discussion starts at the 9:30 point.

The Full Lineup
The Full Lineup





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for fishing and fun content.

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see every adventure video.

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Iaconelli’s website

A Super Short Delay Is a Good Thing, Part 1

A Super Short Delay Is a Good Thing, Part 1 thumbnail

Recently I received a really good report from a friend who’s a serious recreational angler about one of my rods — the 6 foot, 4 inch, medium power, moderate action Ike Delay Series made by Abu Garcia. I thought I’d share some of his experiences with you and give you my perspective on why they should be in your rod box.

He fished jerkbaits for smallmouth
with it. Here’s a mix of what he had to say and what I have to say.

First, let’s talk about the length and the handle. At 6 foot, 4 inches it’s short enough to be used comfortably by anglers who aren’t 6 foot tall or better. That’s a big deal because as you create a cadence with that shorter length you don’t slap the water with the tip and you aren’t dealing with a piece of equipment that’s heavy and unwieldy. 

Another thing — I learned this many
years ago from Larry Nixon — is that the shorter length slows you down. You don’t
move the lure as far with a twitch as you would with a longer model. My friend
is 5 feet, 8 inches tall so the shorter length suited him perfectly and, like
most of us, he has a tendency to speed up his presentations at times. The
shorter length helped him deal with that, too.

The last thing is this category is the
short handle. This
makes it easy to twitch with and the handle doesn’t slap against your forearm
or get caught in your elbow. It also helps balance the rod in your hand. That
might not make much difference during the first hour you’re fishing a jerkbait
but it’ll make a huge difference at the end of the day. And, my friend also
commented that it didn’t get all tangled up in his heavy clothing. (It was cold
where he was fishing.)

Abu Garcia Ike Delay Series Casting Rod – with soft tip

The second thing I want to talk about is the delay action that the soft tip gives you on the hookset. This rod is part glass so it has a soft, parabolic bend to it and a springy tip. This allows the fish to take the bait completely in its mouth before you feel the bite or are able to react to it. At the same time, though, the spring in the tip drives the hook home, clean and with force every single time. 

Don’t worry about the soft bend, though. The butt is plenty heavy enough to handle a big fish. My friend was especially impressed with this aspect of the rod because his bite was out, off the end of big laydowns. He had to move his fish away from the tangle of wood quickly or he would have lost them.

There’s also a 6 foot, 8 inch model that’s basically the same except for the length. It’ll meet the needs of taller anglers or those who want to make longer casts, or in unusual circumstances handle heavier lures. I like to call both of these rods twitch rods because they’re made specifically for baits that are retrieved with a twitch or a jerk. They’ll handle walking sticks, prop baits or any other lure as easily as they handle jerkbaits. Give one a try if you get the chance. You won’t be sorry.


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London Here I Come

London Here I Come thumbnail
Mike Iaconelli

Ok, so we’re in London, England, this time. This was the first time I’ve ever been there and I have to say that it’s awesome, really cool for a guy from Philadelphia. I’m going to go back in the near future and take Becky with me. There’s no doubt that she’ll like it as much as I do.

Let’s talk fishing: Our targets are English Pike, Barbel and European Yellow Perch. You saw most of it on TV last night but I’m guessing you’d like to hear a little more about exactly what we did and how we did it.

English Pike

 English Pike
English Pike

They are basically like our Northern Pike except that they live in England. A big one will weigh 30 pounds. A giant will tip the scales at 40 pounds, maybe a little more. There are reports, however, of some in the 50 pound class but those reports can’t be verified. They’re either too old or the scales weren’t certified.

Berkley Powerbait Hollow Belly Swimbait
Berkley Powerbait Hollow Belly Swimbait

We fished the Thames River for them on this trip. It was cold and the fish were very lethargic. That made catching them a challenge,
but we did manage a few.

VMC Ike Approved Heavy Duty Weighted Swimbait Hooks
VMC Ike Approved Heavy Duty Weighted Swimbait Hooks

Our primary lure was a Berkley Powerbait Hollow Belly Swimbait — 6-inch version — rigged on a VMC Ike Approved Heavy Duty Swimbait Hook. The hook was a 5/0 and the weight was 3/8-ounce.

We used the big 6-inch version of the swimbait. These fish feed big so we wanted to match the hatch as close as possible

This was tough fishing. The only way we could get a bite was to slow roll the swimbait along, right on the bottom. And when I say slow roll, I really mean
s-l-o-w. It was just barely moving.

Abu Garcia IKE Power Series Casting Rods & Abu Garcia REVO IKE Casting Reel
Abu Garcia IKE Power Series Casting Rods & Abu Garcia REVO IKE Casting Reel

We managed to catch several with our best fish weighing 24 pounds. In the English Pike world that’s not real big but it’s not a dink, either. They fight hard even in the cold water. We had a ball catching them. It was a fun part of the trip.

My rod was a 7 foot, 6 inch medium heavy Abu Garcia Ike Power Casting Rod. I mounted a 6.6:1 Abu Garcia REVO Ike Casting Reel to it and spooled up with 17-pound-test Berkley Trilene 100% Fluorocarbon line.



I’m guessing very few of you know much about the barbel. I didn’t either until I went to London and fished for them. The best way I know to describe them is that they’re kind of like a small carp. They like heavy current, feed on the bottom, and they don’t bite artificial lures much. A good size one will weigh in the teens.

We went after them in the River Wandle just south of London.

VMC Spinshot Dropshot Hooks
VMC Spinshot Dropshot Hooks

Our rig was basically a Carolina Rig, not really much different from what bass anglers fish with all the time. We used a No. 2 VMC Drop Shot hook, a sliding weight, a swivel and a stop. Our main line was 20-pound-test Berkley 5X Braided Line. We attached a short leader — something like 2 feet long — using Berkley Trilene 100% Fluorocarbon to it using the swivel in between the two.

Berkley 5X Braided & Trilene 100% Fluorocarbon lines
Berkley 5X Braided & Trilene 100% Fluorocarbon lines

Our bait: This is the part where I don’t want you to laugh, at least not too hard. We used Spam. I’m telling you — it worked. A giant gobbled it up, I mean right now. You could almost hear her smacking her lips together in delight as she fought to stay out of our boat.


We only caught one but it was a true monster. We didn’t put it on our scales but I’d guess it weighed in the high teens. It was definitely pushing 20 pounds.

Question: Do you think channel cats would eat Spam? I wonder…

European Yellow Perch

European Yellow Perch
European Yellow Perch

European yellow perch aren’t much different from the yellow perch we have over here. They look about the same and have the same general lifestyle and feeding habits. But, there is one major difference. They grow much bigger than ours. A lot of them you catch will be in the 3 pound class and a true giant may go up to 6 pounds. You won’t see that in the United States or Canada. Ours just don’t grow that big.

We were cursed with a nasty cold front the day we went after them. That made the fishing really tough. We didn’t catch any.

I’d like to tell you something different but, as you know, my shows are real, authentic in every respect. We don’t fake anything. We’re proud of that. And, we have tough days just like you. Every angler does. It’s nothing to be ashamed of and it’s nothing you should lie about. I won’t, not ever.

Abu Garcia IKE Finesse Series Spinning Rod & Abu Garcia REVO IKE Spinning Reel
Abu Garcia IKE Finesse Series Spinning Rod & Abu Garcia REVO IKE Spinning Reel

We fished the canals and waters around Canary Wharf. It’s a really cool place — lot of shops and financial institutions. I have to say that visiting it was worth the whole trip to London.

I fished with a 7 foot, medium action, Abu Garcia Ike Finesse Series Spinning Rod and a 20 size Abu Garcia REVO Ike Spinning reel. I spooled my reel with 6 and 8-pound-test Berkley Trilene 100% Fluorocarbon Line — straight fluorocarbon — no braid, no leader.

Berkley Powerbait Ripple Shad & VMC Finesse Half Moon Jig
Berkley Powerbait Ripple Shad & VMC Finesse Half Moon Jig

Our lure was a 3-inch Berkley Powerbait Ripple Shad on a 1/8 or 3/16-ounce VMC Finesse Half                                                             Moon Jig.

London is a really neat place to visit. It’s historic, but modern at the same time. The fishing is good despite our struggles with the European Yellow Perch. It’s different from what we have here in the States. And, if you decide to take some time off away from the water there’s plenty of other things to do with your family before bedtime.



Story courtesy of B.A.S.S. Communications

B.A.S.S. officials announced major schedule changes Thursday for the 2019 Bassmaster Elite Series, responding directly to concerns voiced by anglers about the previous slate.
The trail is now set to visit Alabama’s famed Lake Guntersville on June 21-24 and Cayuga Lake in New York on Aug. 22-25.
When the Elite Series schedule was announced in July, two events were originally planned for the Western United States on the California Delta and the Columbia River in Washington. But after listening to anglers’ concerns about travel expenses and time away from their families, two venues that are more conveniently located to the anglers were selected.
“While it is our goal to take the Bassmaster Elite Series to new venues across the country, we are also very sensitive to the needs and wishes of our anglers,” said B.A.S.S. CEO Bruce Akin. “Many of them had legitimate concerns about the travel demands of our original schedule, and that was the basis for this decision.
“We are confident we’ve chosen two great fisheries.”
Scottsboro, Ala., will be the tournament headquarters at Lake Guntersville, which ranked ninth on the 2018 list of BassmasterMagazine’s 100 Best Bass Lakes. It has been the site of 22 major B.A.S.S. events, including the 2014 Bassmaster Classic. The lake is known for giant largemouth and aquatic grass that makes for excellent summertime fishing.
The official practice period for the Guntersville tournament will begin Tuesday, June 18. The competition days will be the following Friday through Monday (June 21-24).
Cayuga, which is New York’s longest glacial finger lake at just under 40 miles, ranked 13th in the Northeastern Division of Bassmaster Magazine’s 100 Best Bass Lakes. The fishery has hosted three major B.A.S.S. tournaments, dating back to 2012.
The Cayuga tournament dates of Aug. 22-25 were chosen specifically to cut down on anglers’ travel time. The Elite Series already has an event scheduled for New York’s St. Lawrence River on Aug. 15-18.
The official practice period for Cayuga will begin Aug. 19, the day after the St. Lawrence event ends.
“Guntersville is widely known as one of the best bass fisheries in the country, and it’s very centrally located for many of our competitors,” Akin said. “Cayuga is also an excellent fishery, and the timing of that tournament will allow our anglers to make one great trip to the Northeastern United States.”
The Cayuga event will be hosted by The Village of Union Springs with weigh-ins held at Frontenac Park. The City of Scottsboro, Ala., will host the Guntersville Elite event, which will be held at Goose Pond Colony Resort.