The Chicken Rig

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Mike Iaconelli

The chicken rig is basically a weedless version of the Neko rig. It’ll let you fish this deadly bait setup in almost any type of cover no matter how thick or nasty.

The parts I use to build it are simple and straightforward. I start with a VMC Finesse Neko Hook.  I like the No. 1 or 1/0 size with the bait I’ll recommend in a minute but you can go up or down depending upon the size of the bait you’re using.

VMC Finesse Neko Hook
VMC Finesse Neko Hook

The Finesse Neko Hook is perfect for a chicken rig. It’s super sharp, the shank is just the right length and it has a couple of fluorocarbon barbs on it to hole the bait in place.

VMC Half Moon Wacky Weight
VMC Half Moon Wacky Weight

My weight is a VMC Half Moon Wacky Weight. It’s a nail weight with a kind of nub on the end. I generally prefer the 1/16-ounce size, but if I’m fishing deeper I’ll go as heavy as 3/16-ounce. It just depends. Stick it in the fat end of the Flute and push it into the dimple. Make sure it’s straight into the center of the worm. This’ll make the weight flat with the plastic.

Berkley Powerbait Flute Worm
Berkley Powerbait Flute Worm

A Berkley Powerbait Flute Worm is my go-to bait. It’s fat on one end and has a thin, straight tail on the other. It also has a series of three ribs on it that’ll help you rig a chicken rig correctly. It comes in three sizes. I usually start with the 5 .7-inch size and then go down or up as necessary.

My color choices vary. I try to match the hatch as much as possible but I also make sure that the fish can see the bait. They don’t have a lot of time to strike it so I want to help them as much as possible.

The Chicken Rig
The Chicken Rig

I thread the hook about two-thirds of the way down the worm and Texas rig it. I use the ribs as a marker. It’s important to keep the hook in line with the bait. You can twist the worm around the shank of the hook to help. A perfectly straight, in-line hook placement will give you a natural action and help avoid line twist.

This rig will drop the plastic down at an angle, but no two falls will be exactly the same. When it’s on the bottom the worm will stand straight up. Just a little rod shake will make the tail wiggle.  It’ll look exactly like the real thing.

I’m not going to cover tackle right now because so much of it varies by where you’re fishing and how big the fish are that you expect to catch. That said, this is a finesse presentation so I use spinning tackle. And, as you know by now, I use Abu Garcia rods and reels exclusively and I never use any brand of line other than what’s made by Berkley. I’m a professional. I only use the very best.

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

It’s a little difficult to make things clear about the chicken rig in a blog so I’ll give you one more tip. Go to my YouTube channel and watch the video I filmed in the shop. That’ll help with the details. (Subscribe while you’re there, so you get all the good stuff automatically.  It’s free.)

There’s really not much else to say about the chicken rig. Like I said before, it’s a super effective, weedless version of the Neko rig. Try it the next time you want to fish one in heavy cover. You’ll be amazed at how efficient it is under tough conditions.

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Ike In The Shop - The Chicken Rig
Ike In The Shop – The Chicken Rig

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Why I Color

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Mike Iaconelli

OK, so I like to color. But I don’t do it with a coloring book and I don’t use crayons. I do it with nearly every lure I own and with a variety of Spike-It products.

Some weeks ago I wrote a blog telling everyone how and why I modify lures on the fly. The basic idea behind that is that I’m a big believer in matching the hatch, especially when I’m fishing clear water or heavily pressured fish. Over the years I’ve come to realize that the closer you can come to the real thing the more bites you’re going to get.

All the tips I gave you in that blog are still good, but there’s some new — or at least new to me — products that’ll help you make color changes in just a minute or two when you’re on the water. I want to tell you about them.

Sometimes all it takes is a subtle change in color to trigger bites. Maybe it’ll match the hatch, maybe it’ll help the fish see your lure or maybe it’ll give you confidence. It doesn’t matter why you do it. What does matter is that you do it and that you do it quickly and efficiently. The products made by Spike-It help with that.

One of their creations is called Blade Dip. It’s a liquid, lacquer-based dip made from transparent dye that comes in a wide-mouth bottle. It dries super quick so you can use it almost without missing a cast. And, it’ll work on almost anything. Spinnerbait blades, single spinners, terminal tackle and plugs all come to my mind.

Spike It!
Spike It!

Blade Dip comes in 10 colors and it’s all the same so you can mix colors to create your own look. One color that I’m especially excited about is their white. It has an opaque finish so it’ll mute an underlying color or it’ll make a base to mix a new color.

Two other products that I really like are their Jig-N-Dip and their Jig-N-Coat Powder Paint.

The Jig-N-Dip is super good for painting raw jig heads while you’re actually fishing. It dries instantly. Buy them unfinished and then color them in whatever color works best for the day or the hour you’re fishing with them. It also works great on sinkers when you want to make a perfect presentation.

The Jig-N-Coat Powder Paint is a little different. You heat your jig head, or whatever else you want to paint, and then dip it in the powder. It puts a thin plastic covering on the head. You can do this quick with a cigarette lighter in your boat or you can do a more permanent job at home if your wife will let you use the family stove for your fishing lures.

The last thing they make that I want to highlight is their LumaPearl Paint. It’ll cover darn near everything — metal and plastic —and it’s long lasting, but not permanent so you can change things around when conditions change. And, it smells like garlic. How great is that?

There are several other great products they make that helps us all match the hatch, and they all come in lots of colors. I’ve put a collection of them in a Flambeau Outdoors box that I keep right in my boat. It’s small, portable and available to help me catch more bass.

The products I mentioned, along with everything else they make, costs less than $10. They’d make a great stocking stuffer “for the angler in your life.”

Make a serious effort to match the hatch the next time you go fishing. You’ll catch more fish.

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Backwater Buzzbaits

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Mike Iaconelli

I had another experience fishing the Upper Mississippi River that I want to talk to everyone about. It was late summer when it happened but I think it’ll be pretty much universal as long as there are bass back in really skinny water.

There were some places in the backwaters and sloughs that were super shallow — I’m talking less than 2 feet of water — that were holding a good number of keeper bass. The thing was, though, that they were so choked with thin, slimy vegetation and drift that had washed into the water that it was hard to get anything back to the fish.

After several attempts with different lures I finally found something that worked perfectly, and it wasn’t all that specialized. I was able to use it right out of the box. It was a Molix Lover Buzz SS Mini. This lure had all the features I needed for the situation I faced.

Molix Lover Buzz SS Mini
Molix Lover Buzz SS Mini

For openers it’s an inline design. That makes it different from most other buzzbaits. It’s come through stringy vegetation and small wood like it wasn’t even there. The blade keeps turning no matter what. And, even when something did foul the blade I was able to shake it loose with just a twitch or two. I didn’t have to jerk hard and ruin the whole cast.

And, it weighs in at only a 1/4-ounce so there isn’t a big splash to scare the bass when it hits the water. All around, it’s the perfect lure for a shallow, topwater bite.

On the day I was fishing color really mattered. My best combination was a black skirt and a silver blade. I tried all sorts of other color combinations but they didn’t work nearly as well as black and silver. I’d tell you why that was if I knew. But, I don’t and so I can’t.

VMC Ike Approved Trailer Hook
VMC Ike Approved Trailer Hook

I was getting a number of short strikes so I armed it with a No. 1, VMC Trailer Hook. That solved the problem and didn’t cause me any problems with hangups.

My rod was a 7 foot, 6 inch medium action, Abu Garcia Ike Finesse Series Spinning Rod. I wanted the extra length so I could make long casts and I wanted the softer action to help me get solid hooksets when my lure was way out there.

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

My reel was an Abu Garcia REVO IKE Spinning Reel, 30 size. I spooled it with all braid, 10-pound-test Berkley X5 Braided Line. There was no need for a leader of any kind so I didn’t use one. When bass zero in on a buzzbait they aren’t paying attention to anything other than the ruckus the blade is making. Line visibility means nothing.

Here’s the lesson from all of this: When you’re targeting really shallow bass that are hard to get to because of the condition of the water, think about using a Molix Lover Buzz SS Mini. I always keep a couple of them in my boat. You should, too. And, a pack of VMC Trailer Hooks won’t hurt anything, either.

Berkley X5 Braided Line
Berkley X5 Braided Line

Go catch ‘em!

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Suspended Bass in Rivers?

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Mike Iaconelli

Life’s crazy, man! A few weeks ago on the Upper Mississippi River I had an experience that might help you sometime in the future so I’m going to tell you all about it.

Usually you find river bass shallow. That didn’t happen to me, though. They were deep and they were suspended. It sounds crazy but it’s true. I caught them in two types of places and with two different lures.

Here’s how it went down…

The first place I found them was out in the main river over the channel. They were suspended anywhere between 10 and 30 feet deep. They weren’t moving much, either. They were just hanging out down there.

It wasn’t that they were relating to anything other than the baitfish — shad. There was no cover at all and no structure other than the channel, and it was way below them. They were holding right in with the baitfish so tight that it was hard to see them with my electronics.

And I’m telling you there were tons of them. They were thick like there was nowhere else for them to go and so every bass in the river decided that the channel was the place to go and hang out for a while. I can’t get over it. Really, I can’t.

The other place I found them was in the marinas and anywhere — like along the bank in the main river — there was a big boat moored over deep water. One thing about their location that intrigued me was that they seemed to like barges the best, and the heavier they were loaded the better. There weren’t as many in the marinas and under the boats but the numbers were still good.

Rapala RipStop
Rapala RipStop

Matching the hatch was the key to catching them. I fished with a Rapala RipStop hard jerkbait in the #9 size. It’s right at 3 1/2-inches long. My color choice was Moss Back Shiner. Taken together the size and color made my lure look exactly like the local shad population.

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

But the real thing that made it so effective was that it behaved like the real thing. The RipStop will stop on a dime and in some cases actually back up a little bit with a wiggle. It’ll do that because it has a lip on the back as well as on the front, and because it has a special weighting system in it.

My RipStop only weighed 1/4-ounce so I went with spinning tackle because I could make long casts. The trick was to keep the bait above them They’d eat it like crazy that way but if it was below them they wouldn’t give it so much as a second look.

Berkley X5 Braided & Trilene 100% Fluorocarbon Leader
Berkley X5 Braided Line & Trilene 100% Fluorocarbon Leader

 My rod was a 7 foot, medium action Abu Garcia IKE Finesse Spinning Rod. I mounted a size 20 Abu Garcia REVO IKE Spinning Reel to it and spooled-up with 10-pound-test Berkley X5 Braided Line as my main line. And, I made a long leader out of 8-pound-test Berkley Trilene 100% Fluorocarbon.

Sometimes they’d get conditioned to my RipStop — in both places — and so I switched to a Berkley Powerbait Power Swimmer Swimbait. They’re small. I used the 2.8-inch version. The plastic is really responsive so they look and feel like the real thing. My color was French Pearl. Just like with the RipStop, I wanted to match the hatch.

Berkley Powerbait Power Swimmer Swimbait, French Pearl
Berkley Powerbait Power Swimmer Swimbait, French Pearl

My head was a 1/4-ounce, VMC Finesse Half Moon Jig Head. It gave me just a little bit of shake and shimmer which was just what I needed to attract bites.

I fished my Power Swimmer with the same rod, reel and line that I used for my RipStop.

VMC Finesse Half Moon Jig Head
VMC Finesse Half Moon Jig Head

And the same thing happened with the Power Swimmer that happened with my jerkbait when it came to getting bites. They’d hit it if it was above them but would ignore it if it was below them.

So here’s the thing: Don’t ever get trapped into rigid thinking about bass fishing. I know river bass are supposed to be shallow but no one bothered to tell the Upper Mississippi River bass that. They were deep. I guess they didn’t know any better.

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The Soner Euro Cup

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Mike Iaconelli

After some street fishing in Paris late this summer, we moved on to Spain. We — Becky, myself and the youngest kids — spent a couple of days in Madrid before I fished the Soner Euro Cup on Lake Cigara near Madrid. My partner and I won it! How cool is that?

The Euro Cup was a really exciting experience for me. There were something like 125-130 boats with two man teams in them. As best I can remember there were something like 25 or 30 countries represented, some of them from thousands of miles away.

And, as you might expect, all of those teams were made up of high-quality bass anglers. They knew what they were doing. The competition was as good and as fierce as in any tournament I’ve ever fished.

The whole thing was a really big deal. It was like all the excitement and big-time doings that surround a Bassmaster Classic. The crowds were huge and enthusiastic. The rules were pretty much the same, too. There was a five fish limit for each of the two days of the event with the most weight winning. It goes without saying that we were all looking for the biggest bass we could find.

Lake Cigara
Lake Cigara

Lake Cigara is an interesting body of water, not at all what I expected. The best way I know how to describe it is to call it a desert-type lake. It looks like Lake Meade or Lake Havasu here in the United States. There were flooded canyons everywhere, sheer bluff walls, a ton of rock of every size imaginable and very little wood. I’m not sure how big it is but I’d guess it’s in the 30,000 to 40,000 acre range.

The biggest thing for us was that the water was super clear. You could see the details on the bottom at 10 feet or more. We wanted to find bass that were shallow and feeding. To do that we knew we needed to find stained water.

We found that up in the river that feeds Lake Cigara, but we could only fish about a 2 mile stretch of it. After a day of prefishing — that’s all we were allowed — we found a pretty good bite in that stretch of stained water anywhere the river channel swept up against the bank where there was rock. Big or little rock didn’t matter. It just had to be rock.

Once they moved into those areas the fish were really picky about chasing lures. The lure had to be on the bottom, grinding right into the rock. Running anything close to the bottom or even a little bit above it was a waste of time. The other fish in the river would come up and eat it, and the bass wouldn’t touch it.

There were only six or seven channel swings that met our criteria so we had to use a first bait and then a follow-up bait on the next pass over the swings. We made pass after pass all day long on both days.

Missile Jigs Ike's Mini Flip Flipping Jig
Missile Jigs Ike’s Mini Flip Flipping Jig

Our first rig consisted of a 1/2-ounce Missile Jigs Ike’s Mini Flip Flipping Jig in black-and-blue, actually I think it’s called Bruiser. It falls fast but it’s more compact than other 1/2-ounce jigs so it worked perfectly up in the river. And, just as important, it has a 60 degree line tie so you can keep it down in the rock without it hanging up all the time.

Berkley Powerbait Chigger Craw

We used a trailer on the jig. It was a 4-inch, Berkley Powerbait Chigger Craw in black-and-blue. We cut it off at the third segment so that it would fit on the jig and we removed the crazy legs. Basically, it ended up being a chunk with some small appendages.

Abu Garcia Ike Power Series Casting Rod and Abu Garcia REVO IKE Casting Reel
Abu Garcia Ike Power Series Casting Rod and Abu Garcia REVO IKE Casting Reel

We used the European version of my Abu Garcia Ike Power Series Casting Rod in the 6 foot, 6 inch medium heavy model. My reel was an Abu Garcia Ike REVO with an 8.0:1 gear ratio. My line was 15-pound-test Berkley Trilene 100% Fluorocarbon. The high-speed gear ratio was critical. When the bass picked up the Mini Flip they’d run right at our boat most of the time. A quick line pickup helped get a solid hookset.

Berkley Trilene 100% Fluorocarbon Line, Green
Berkley Trilene 100% Fluorocarbon Line, Green

After we made a pass over the swings the bass started getting used to seeing what we were throwing and so we switched to a followup bait. It was more of a finesse-type presentation.

Berkley Powerbait The General Worm
Berkley Powerbait The General Worm

For starters we Texas-rigged a 5-inch Berkley Powerbait – The General Worm — a soft plastic stickbait — on a 3/16-ounce VMC Ike Approved Finesse Rugby Jig. We used a color called Ike’s Magic. It’s real dark on top, almost black, and has a bluish pearlescent bottom. Just like before, we wanted a dark presentation because the water was stained. That helps the bass find what they’re looking for when they’re feeding.

VMC Ike Approved Finesse Rugby Jig
VMC Ike Approved Finesse Rugby Jig

Because this was more of a finesse presentation we used spinning tackle. We used an Abu Garcia Ike Finesse Spinning Rod. It was 7 foot, 4 inches long with a medium action. My reel was an Abu Garcia REVO Ike model in the 20 size.

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 spooled my reel with 10-pound-test Berkley X9 Braided Line as my main line and a long leader made with 10-pound-test Berkley Trilene 100% Fluorocarbon.

Berkley X9 Braided Line
Berkley X9 Braided Line

That’s what we did and how we did it! The lesson here is that quality fishing techniques will work all over the world. Don’t let anybody tell you any different.

Street Fishing in Paris

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Mike Iaconelli

Those of you who follow me know that I’m a big advocate for urban fishing. I’ve filmed countless TV shows and posted I don’t know how many videos and blogs about it over the years. The reason I do that is because it’s how I grew up in New Jersey and because there’s better fishing in our cities than many men and women think. It’s a truly untapped resource. 

And, nowhere is that more true than in Paris, France.

Abu Garcia
Abu Garcia

My experience over there started with Abu Garcia. We’ve developed a new series of rods designed just for the European market. They’re part of the Ike Series and they consist of four casting rods and nine spinning rods.

They are three-piece so they transport easily and they have unique actions designed for the way they fish in Europe. That’s mostly from the bank because there are huge problems getting a boat in the water or motoring around in one. In most places, a boat is just not feasible.

Zander

My fishing in Paris was exactly like they do it — from the bank targeting predator species. That’s what they call perch, zander, pike, and bass. They’re all similar to — but not the same as — what we have here in the United States. In case you’re wondering, zander is a kind of like walleye.

Flambeau Ike Ritual 50 Backpacka
Flambeau Ike Ritual 50 Backpack

So anyway, I packed a couple of spinning rods and some other essentials like lures, line and snacks into my Flambeau Ike Ritual 50 Backpack. I grabbed it because it’ll hold everything you need for the whole day and it has hands-free rod storage. All you have to do is pack it, put it on your back and start walking towards the nearest water.

In Paris, the nearest water was the Seine River. It runs right through the center of the city. Regardless of that, I can tell you that there are tons of fish in it, including some really big ones.

Here’s how we caught some of them…

Our first target was yellow perch. However, French yellow perch aren’t like the yellow perch we have here. I caught one that weighed over 3 pounds and another one that weighed about 4.75 pounds. That’s big, and they fight like smallmouth. 

Berkley Powerbait Power Swimmer Swimbait

We caught all our yellow perch on a Berkley Powerbait Power Swimmer in the 2.8-inch size. We used that small size because the baitfish were really small in the river. And, we selected Rainbow Shad as our color because it matched the hatch. We put the Power Swimmers on a 1/8-ounce VMC Finesse Half Moo

VMC Finesse Half Moon Jig
VMC Finesse Half Moon Jig

My rod for that setup was a 6 foot, Abu Garcia Ike Series medium-light action rod, one of the ones we designed for their market. My reel was a 20 size Abu Garcia REVO Ike Spinning reel. I spooled the reel with 10-pound-test Berkley 5X Braided Line as my main line and an 8-pound-test Berkley 100% Fluorocarbon leader.

We fished for them in the current breaks around seawalls and bridge pilings or anything else that was breaking the current.

Abu Garcia REVO IKE Spinning Reel, Abu Garcia REVO Ike Spinning Reel
Abu Garcia REVO IKE Spinning Reel, Abu Garcia Ike Travel Spinning Rod

Chub were next on our target list. Once again, I have to say that they aren’t like our chubs. They’re bigger, more aggressive and they like topwater plugs. Yes, you read that right — they like topwater plugs.

Our tackle started with a 7-foot, 4-inch medium-light Abu Garcia Ike Travel Spinning Rod. Like before it was one of the ones we designed for the European market. We mounted the exact same reel on it that we used for the perch and spooled it with the same line except that we didn’t use a leader.

Rapala Skitter Pop
Rapala Skitter Pop

Our lure was a Rapala Skitter Pop, size 5. At 2 inches it’s really small which was exactly what we wanted to match the hatch. There was a cicada hatch going on at the time. The chub were attacking them like crazy. Our color choice was Frog because it sort of looked like the cicada, at least to us. But, the color wasn’t the thing. It was the size.

It was an amazing experience. The chub would come up from underneath and absolutely explode on our Skitter Pops. It was one of the most fun times I’ve ever had fishing.

I know most of you will never fish the Seine River in Paris. Nevertheless, it’s important for me to tell this story. I want every angler who reads this to think about the opportunities they have right in their home town or city and to realize that bass aren’t the only fish that are worthy of our efforts.

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Save Plastics, Save Money

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Mike Iaconelli

One of the questions I get all the time is how to keep a plastic bait from sliding down the hook. I get it. Ruined plastics don’t catch bass and they can get to be expensive over time. Here’s how I’ve learned to solve that problem: Use a screw-type, spring looking bait keeper when you thread your plastic on your hook, but not in the way you might think.

You know what I’m talking about. It’s a screw looking, spring-like bait keeper with a ring on top. Some people call it a hitch hiker. The way it’s supposed to be used is by attaching the ring on top of the screw to your hook and then screwing the spring into your plastic. This keeps the plastic on the hook.

Hitch Hiker
Bait Keeper (aka Hitch Hiker)

But there’s another way that works even better, and it’s more versatile. Don’t attach the ring on top to the hook. Just screw the entire bait keeper into your plastic, all the way in until the ring is buried and out of sight.

Then push your hook through the inside of the screw and out the bottom. This won’t interfere with the way you rig your plastic. It’ll work anyway you want. But, what it will do is keep the bait from sliding down the shank of the hook. And don’t worry about it interfering with your hookset. It won’t.

Hook Through the Nose
Hook Through the Nose

These bait keepers come in a variety of sizes. Make sure you have a few of each and don’t pay much attention to what size the manufacturer puts on the package — large, medium or small. There’s no standard. The sizes will be different from one manufacturer to the next. 

I know this sound crazy but it really does work. Practice with some of your old hooks and baits. Once you get the hang of it your fishing will be closer to hassle free and you’ll save a lot of money that you can use to buy other fishing stuff. 

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Click Here to See Exactly How Mike Does it

 

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The Free Rig

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Mike Iaconelli

One of the great things about fishing
is that everything old will become new again if we wait long enough. And so it
is with the free rig, a new technique that’s really a take-off of the old Texas
rig.

We’ll talk about building a free rig
first and then we’ll talk about what it does and why it’s so effective.

The idea behind this rig is to create a finesse type of presentation but with weight so that it’ll get to the bottom quickly and so that it can be handled by conventional tackle. That’s easy enough to do if you do start with a sinker that has a tear drop shape and that has a circular line tie on the top of the bait.

Dipsey Weight
Dipsey Weight

Back in the day we called these
sinkers Dipsy Weights, or sometimes just plain ‘ol catfish sinkers. In my
opinion the best ones have round metal eyes on top. Some anglers like a swivel
below the eye. That’ll help keep your line from twisting. I like the ones that
are called drop shot sinkers. 

8MM Black Bead
8MM Black Bead

Run your line through the eye and then add an 8 mm black bead so that it’s between the weight and the hook. You’ll want your hook to be a regular or light wire model. Avoid heavy hooks. You don’t need them and they’ll interfere with the finesse movement of the plastic bait.

My strong preference here is a VMC closed eye drop shot hook. They offer
several models. Any of them will do the job. Match your hook to the
size and thickness of your plastic.

Berkley Powerbait Mantis Bug
Berkley Powerbait Mantis Bug

You can use any bait that’s made on planet Earth but my choice is almost always a Berkley Powerbait Mantis Bug. It’s a 4-inch bait that has lots of appendages. It has all the features you want and it seems like you get the best performance from a free rig when you use a creature bait like that.

Color is optional. If the water’s
clear or close to it, I go with something that looks natural and that matches
the hatch. If the water’s a little stained or even darker than that, I go with
black or something that has enough color to it that they can find it. There’s
not much noise with this technique so you need to give the bass some help.

What happens when you cast a free rig
is that the weight drops down the line to the hook and bait. This gives you
easy casting, long and accurate. But when it hits the water the weight slips
back, up the line and separates from the hook and bait. The weight drops
straight down — fast — while the bait falls leisurely towards the bottom.

I know that some anglers say this rig
is efficient anywhere but in my experience it’s at its best in open water or
sparse cover. Places like long, wide flats running out from points or near
creek mouths are perfect.

Pete Gluzsak and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DabVT2t4gxU
Pete Gluszek and Shin Fukae

There’s a good video on the free rig
done by FLW professional angler, Shinichi (Shin) Fuqua,
for The Bass University. It’s only 5 minutes long but will give you a complete
explanation of how this rig is put together, how it works and why it works.
Click here to watch it.

Tip: Mess around with a punch skirt on
your plastic. Depending on how you rig it, it’ll act like a parachute on the fall
and it’ll make your plastic look like it’s breathing, kind of like a jellyfish.

Make the free rig a part of your bass fishing arsenal. It’ll give ever more pressured bass something new to look at, and bite.
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Rising Water, Rising Fish — Falling Water, Falling Fish

Rising Water, Rising Fish — Falling Water, Falling Fish thumbnail
Mike Iaconelli

This spring has been unbelievably wet. It seems like it rains every other day, sometimes not even every other — just every single darn day. The lakes and rivers are high. The fishing is tough but it’s still possible to catch them if you keep a few basic things in mind.

First, when water rises the fish will rise with it. They’ll follow it all the way in as far as they can go. They don’t care about houses, campgrounds or baseball fields. But, the good side of that is that their locations are predictable. They’ll usually be found in the thickest, heaviest and nastiest cover they can find. And so, that’s where you should be fishing.

I flip and pitch that kind of cover. I go right into the middle of it and worry about how I’m going to get them out after I hook them. It’s about first things being first. 

For years my most productive baits were jigs, Texas rigged plastics and, more recently, a punch rig. But that was then. Things have changed.

VMC Tokyo Rig

The VMC Tokyo rig is my go-to setup now. It has everything you need except for the weight — you’ll want to pick your own depending upon conditions — and a plastic bait. The thing that’s so great about the Tokyo rig is that it holds the bait up, off the bottom regardless of how much muck and mud is DOWN there. That’s important because bass won’t root through the mud to get something. They aren’t scavengers. 

Berkley Powerbait Jester Craw
Berkley Powerbait Jester Craw

My favorite bait is a Berkley Powerbait Jester Craw. It’s basically a creature bait with flappers, several appendages and a ribbed body. I don’t care how dirty or muddy the water is that you’re fishing, the bass won’t have any trouble finding this one.

A much tougher situation than when the water’s rising is when it’s been high and starts to fall. The bass move out with it but they don’t necessarily follow the water line exactly. In most cases they go back to the original bank line regardless of how shallow or deep it might be at any given time. I’m guessing they sense a measure of security when they do that, something they know. 

The best bait for this scenario, bar none, is a heavy spinnerbait. It’ll give off plenty of thump and is easily controllable by almost any angler.

Molix Venator
Molix Venator

My preference here is a 5/8-ounce Molix Venator. The wire is flexible and so it has a lot of thump. That’s what I’m looking for in a spinnerbait under these conditions. As good as it is right out of the box, though, don’t be afraid to customize it with different blade combinations. Sometimes that makes a big difference.

You’ll notice I haven’t said anything about color. That’s because I’m a firm believer in matching the hatch. Whatever the bass are eating in your waters is what you should try to match. That’s true for any plastic or hard bait that I’ve talked about in this blog.

Tip: Learn to search the Internet for information about lake levels, where they’ve been and where they’re going. If you can’t find information about water levels where you’re fishing, ram a stick down into shallow water and check it periodically. That’ll let you know what’s happening and how fast it’s happening.

Don’t let this bad weather get you down. There are still plenty of fish you can catch.       

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Ike Talks Tokyo Rig

Click Here to listen to Mike talk about the Tokyo Rig

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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.       

Toyota
Toyota
Pure Fishing
Pure Fishing
Flambeau Outdoors
Flambeau

 

 

 

 

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 https://theikefoundation.org.

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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