Top secret! The Tiny Child Rig

Top secret! The Tiny Child Rig thumbnail
Mike Iaconelli

This rig is basically a weedless version of the Ned rig. At the same time, though, it has a completely different look to it.

The weedless part is a big deal. We all know that the Ned rig is one of the hottest finesse techniques around. And for good reason. It catches bass by the ton. But we also know that it’ll hang on anything and everything in the water. And, even with a weedless hook hangups can be an issue. The tiny child rig solves those issues.

You’ll need four things to build this bad-boy:

VMC Finesse Neko Hook
VMC Finesse Neko Hook
  1. We’ll start with the hook. I like a VMC Finesse Neko Hook in a size 2 or a size 1. It has just the right bend off its shank, and the hook point has a 3 degree offset that really helps with hooksets. The other thing I like about this hook is that it has an adjustable fluorocarbon bait keeper on the shank. That keeps the bait on the hook which makes fishing easier and saves money at the same time.
  1. Next, you’ll need a bait. I prefer a Berkley Powerbait Maxscent The General Worm in the 4-inch size, or a Berkley Powerbait Flute Worm in the 4.7-inch size. If you pushed me, I’d have to say that my favorite is the Flute Worm.

    Berkley Powerbait Flute Worm
    Berkley Powerbait Flute Worm
  1. Now you’ll need a nail weight. My most favorite is the VMC Half Moon Wacky Weight in the 1/8-ounce size.
  1. Our final component is a small bottle of Super Glue. Any brand will work as long as it’s strong, waterproof and dries fast.

Putting the tiny child rig together is easy: 

  1. The first thing we need to do is shorten our plastic bait. If I’m using The General, I’ll cut it off at about the ring (egg sack) and keep the thickest end. If I’m using a Flute Worm, I’ll cut it off at the last ring closest to the tail. Again, I keep the thickest part. Either way, I end up with something around 3 inches long, or maybe a little better than that.
  1. The next step is to Texas rig your bait with the VMC Finesse Neko Hook. Do that from the skinny end, not the fat end. This is important. Don’t put you hook through the thickest end. You’ll understand why in just a minute.
  1. Once that’s done it’s time to put the nail weight into the fat end of the bait. But before you do put a tiny dab of Super Glue on the end of the weight. That’ll hold it in place as the rig bounces along the bottom.
The Tiny Child Rig
The Tiny Child Rig

So now you have a Ned rig with the weight at the bottom and your hook on the top. That design will make it weedless as well as make it stagger along the bottom as you drag it over whatever’s there. It’ll stagger along like a tiny child who’s just starting to walk.

I’m telling you, this will take your Ned rig fishing to another level. You’ll know what I’m saying is the real deal the first time you fish with it.
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The Tiny Child Rig
The Tiny Child Rig

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Top Secret! The Stupid Tube Rig

Top Secret! The Stupid Tube Rig thumbnail
Mike Iaconelli

We all know that one of the biggest problems with tube fishing is that they snag easily. The stupid tube rig solves that problem. It’s totally weedless.

A second problem with conventional tube rigs is that all they’ll do on the fall is spiral. I’m not saying a spiral’s totally bad, but sometimes we want to show the fish something different — something they haven’t seen before. The stupid tube rig glides gently towards the bottom as it falls. That gives it a completely different look.

You only need two things to build a stupid tube rig:

  1. The right jig head is the first step. You’ll need one with a 60 degree line tie, NOT a 90 degree line tie. There are two hook choices on your jig head that’ll work really well. The first is to pick one with an EWG style hook. The second is to pick one with a round bend and a long shank. Your weight choice will vary depending on how deep you’re fishing.

    VMC Dominator Tube Jig Head
    VMC Dominator Tube Jig Head

The VMC Dominator Tube Jig Head is perfect for the stupid tube rig. It has the 60 degree line tie and it has a long shank, round bend super sharp hook.

  1. The only thing you need after that is a quality tube. I’m partial to finesse tubes in the 3.5-inch size range. My choice is the Berkley Powerbait Power Tube. If you want to go smaller than 3.5 inches, they’re made in a 2.5 inch size. If you want to go bigger, they’re made in a 4.5 inch size.

    Berkley Powerbait Power Tubes
    Berkley Powerbait Power Tubes

Let’s put it together:

  1. Hold the tube head down so that the tentacles spread out and make the hole inside the tube visible. Slide the jig head, hook point first, into the hole with the point of the hook facing you. Thread it all the way through until it’s about a quarter-inch from the head of the tube. Then push it out, through the plastic. Pull it until the head of the jig is against the inside wall of the tube.
  1. Rotate the head of the jig 180 degrees and push the line tie through the plastic.
  1. When you’re done the line tie should be sticking out of one side of the tube and your hook should be sticking out of the other.
  1. The last step is to run the hook point into the tube and make an ordinary Texas rig. Make sure your tube is perfectly straight when you get done. If necessary, take the time to adjust it. A perfectly straight tube will catch a lot more bass.

    The Stupid Tube
    The Stupid Tube Rig

That’s all there is to it. You now have a weedless tube that you can fish almost anywhere, and it’ll have a different look because of its soft, gentle glide on the fall.

Give the stupid tube rig a try this year. You’ll like it.

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Hear Mike discuss the Stupid Tube

Stupid Tube video

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Top Secret! The Eel Rig

Top Secret! The Eel Rig thumbnail
Mike Iaconelli

OK, this is a great rig for when the bite is a little slow and they’re short striking your lure. Basically it’s a cross or a hybrid between a Neko rig and a chicken rig. That sounds crazy, I know. But as you read on and figure out what I’m doing it’ll all make sense to you. 

Here’s what you’re going to need to build one:

  • A snap swivel or a snap and a swivel.  I use VMC Crankbait Snaps for this. They’re a little wider so they work a little better. And I like black. It’s less intrusive.
    VMC Crankbait Snaps
    VMC Crankbait Snaps
  • A drop shot sinker, any style or shape. The main thing here is that it must have a round, closed eye on top. Do not use one with a pinch style connector on top.
  • A short — 2 feet — piece of 15 to 30-pound-test braid. I like 20-pound-test for my eel rigs. Color doesn’t matter because it’ll be inside the plastic.
  • A Neko hook with a bait keeper on the shank. The VMC Finesse Neko Hook is perfect. I carry sizes between a No. 2 and a 1/0. I switch them around depending on the size of the bait I’m using. The main thing about this hook is that it has a bait keeper on the shank. That really helps hold the plastic in place.
    VMC Finesse Neko Hook
    VMC Finesse Neko Hook
  • A straight tail worm or a plastic stickbait. The perfect bait for this is the Berkley Powerbait Flute Worm, and I like both sizes. The thing here is that it has o-rings on it that help you measure where you want the hook to come out. 

Here’s how we’re going to build one:

We’re going to do this in a step-by-step process, but before we do I’m going to tell you what you’re building so you have an idea what’s happening.

When you’re done, the eel rig will have a sinker attached to the snap on the swivel. A piece of braid will come off the snap and run through the worm to a Texas rigged hook about two-thirds of the way back into the plastic.

  1. Start by tying a barrel swivel or snap swivel to your main line with a Palomar knot. Attach the snap to the swivel if that’s necessary.
  2. Then clip your drop shot weight to the snap — not to the swivel.
  3. Once you’ve done that attach a short piece of braid to the snap. Tie it right in the crotch of the snap. Keep your line away from the swivel. I like a Palomar knot for this. You can measure how much length you need by using the plastic as a guide and then adding enough line to make your final knot.
  4. Almost last, tie your hook to the far end of your line. I snell this connection. A Palomar is doable but a snell will give you better hooksets.
  5. The real last, run the hook through the bait but instead of pulling it out right away like you usually do go two-thirds of the way back through the worm. Basically you’re going to thread the braid through the worm. Pull it out and Texas rig it like you would any other bait. It’ll take you a time or two to get the length of the braid right and to pull the hook back that far but it will happen.

Here’s how you’re going to catch fish with it:

When you’re done you have an eel-like lure with a weight hanging off the bottom at the head. The worm stays flexible and the hook is in the back part of the worm. Beyond that it’ll drop down like a Neko rig before you snake it along the bottom.

And, you can change the weight and the rate of fall as the conditions change — in a matter of seconds. All you have to do is take the old weight off and clip the new one on.

I’m telling you fellow bass-heads, the eel rig is the real deal. Practice building it this winter so you’re ready to go this spring. You won’t be sorry.

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Listen to Mike walk you thought the process:

The Eel Rig
The Eel Rig

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The Best 6 Baits Every Serious Bass Angler Should Own

The Best 6 Baits Every Serious Bass Angler Should Own thumbnail
Mike Iaconelli

There must be a thousand fishing lures on the market. Choosing only six of them for this blog was no easy task. But sometimes we need to downsize so I did just that. I’ve listed the baits below in no particular order. The first three are power fishing lures. The last three are more in the finesse category.

A crankbait

This is a great bait because you can cover a lot of water with one and because they search out the bass. It’s almost like they’re calling the fish in to them.

Rapala DT Series Crankbaits
Rapala DT Series Crankbaits

Although there are hundreds of them available, picking one isn’t all that tough. Find one that runs at the depth, or just a little below that, of the water you’re fishing. That way it’ll deflect off of stuff in the water. That’ll trigger strikes.

Color is just as easy. Pick one that matches the local forage where you’re fishing. That is really important. Get as close as possible. Bass don’t have very long to look at a crankbait so first impressions are important.

If I had to pick a favorite I’d go with a Rapala DT 4 or a Rapala DT 6.

A spinnerbait

This one was a really tough choice between a spinnerbait and a vibrating jig. I went with the spinnerbait because it’s more versatile and won’t snag nearly as much. You can fish one of these things in places you couldn’t throw a vibrating jig and definitely not a crankbait with its treble hooks.

Molix Water Slash Double Colorado Spinnerbait
Molix Water Slash Double Colorado Spinnerbait

And, a spinnerbait looks about as realistic as anything made by man can look. They’re really effective under all kinds of conditions.

Every bass-head should have a 1/2-ounce shad colored one with them at all times. My favorite is a Molix Water Slash with either Colorado or willow blades. Go with Colorado when you want more thump. Otherwise fish with willow leaf blades.

A Jig

I’m talking about a traditional skirted jig. With the exception of a huge swimbait, skirted jigs have accounted for more giant bass than any other lure. That’s a fact!

Missile Jig Mini Flip
Missile Jig Mini Flip

The great thing about them is that they’re so versatile. You can fish them 12 months a year, at any depth and in any type of structure or cover. Along with that ways you can fish one are endless. You can drag or hop them along the bottom, swim them or use a combination of the two. A skirted jig is truly a must-have lure for any bass angler.

I have all sorts of sizes and styles. But if I had to pick just one it would be a Missile Baits Ike’s Mini Flip Flipping Jig in the 1/2-ounce size. My color choice would be black-and-blue.

A boot-tail plastic swimbait

This one wouldn’t have been on my list five years ago but recently I’ve been fishing swimbaits more and more. I like them because they’re super versatile but the number one reason I fish with them is because they look like the real thing in water that’s clear to stained.

Berkley Powerbait Power Swimmer Swimbait
Berkley Powerbait Power Swimmer Swimbait

Most of the ones I throw are small. I want them to look like an easy meal, something that’s swimming along that doesn’t have a clue its about to be eaten by a giant bass.

Once again, it’s important here to pick a color that matches the hatch. A small swimbait is primarily a sight-type of bait so you want it to look like what the bass usually see where they live.

My favorite is a Berkley Powerbait Power Swimmer. I usually go with the 3.3 or 3.8-inch size and I throw it with a 1/4-ounce VMC Dominator head. Pick the style you like the best. They’re all good.

A soft stickbait

This is the go-to bait for when the bite is tough, or beyond tough. I like it for when nothing else will get you a bite. There’s something about a soft stickbait that bass love, and it doesn’t seem to matter where they live or what they eat.

Berkley Powerbait Maxscent The General Worm
Berkley Powerbait Maxscent The General Worm

Another thing about a soft stickbait is that you can rig it almost anyway you want. You can Neko rig one, wacky rig one, Carolina rig one or Texas rig one. And those are just the rigs I can think of real quick. The truth is that your rigging options are endless. There’s no way you can rig one wrong.

I prefer something in the 4 to 5-inch size and I always go with a Berkley Powerbait Maxscent The General Worm. My color choices are pretty much like all the others — match the hatch. If you’re uncertain, go with green pumpkin. You can’t go wrong with it.

A shaky head

This last slot was a tossup between a Texas rigged creature bait and a shaky head. But, I agreed to do only six and so the last slot goes to a shaky head. The reason for that is that a shaky head is a great lure for when the bite is tough. You know, when a cold front just blew through or when there’s about a thousand guys in front of you fishing the same stuff.

VMC Ike Approved Rugby Jig
VMC Ike Approved Rugby Jig

A VMC Ike Approved Rugby Jig in the 3/16-ounce size works best for me, although I do go up or down sometimes depending upon the depth of the water and wind conditions.

I mostly prefer a straight tail worm. What kind doesn’t matter much as long as it has a flat side on the bottom. That’s important because that flat side will make the worm glide as it falls. That glide will get you a lot of bites when things are tough.

My worms are usually in the 4 to 6-inch size and, like with all these baits, I try to match the hatch. I fish my shaky heads on spinning tackle.

There you have it — six lures every bass angler should own and carry with them. They’re all versatile and, if you remember to match the hatch, you’ll catch a lot of bass with them.

___________________________________________Take a peek inside Mike's Flambeau box.

Take a peek inside Mike’s Flambeau box.

 

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The Chicken Rig

The Chicken Rig thumbnail
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

Why I Color thumbnail
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

Backwater Buzzbaits thumbnail
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?

Suspended Bass in Rivers? thumbnail
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

The Soner Euro Cup thumbnail
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

Street Fishing in Paris thumbnail
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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Like Ike on Facebook,  and follow him on Instagram for fishing and fun content.

Subscribe to Mike’s YouTube channel, Going Ike,  to ensure you see every adventure video.

Return to Mike Iaconelli’s website