ICAST trends

A small school of shad or a single crankbait? Live Target's BaitBall is both.

Indeed ICAST is a bewildering show, a fishing spectacle like no other. In truth, it would take several weeks to scour every exhibitor’s booth and truly digest the form and function of all the products displayed there. The show, however, only lasts three days, which goes by in a flash. But walk the floor of ICAST for three days and trends become apparent. And around those trends, smaller satellite trends form and so the tackle universe turns. Here’s a closer look at some the bass tackle trends from the 2013 ICAST show. To start, the shad-school illusion trend – where one lure is made to look like a school of baitfish – is big this year. We likely have the Alabama Rig to thank for this rage. But where as the castable umbrella rig raised some concerns about fair chase in professional fishing tournaments due to having multiple hooks on a line, now the object seems to be to retain the multiple-bait look within the conventional limits of traditional lures. If this sounds confusing, a good example is the Live Target BaitBall, which essentially encapsulates a shad school into a traditional crankbait or jerkbait body. These new lures will have to prove themselves on the water, but the concept of packing a super-realistic looking ball of shad into a lure body certainly has appeal.Umbrella rig or single spinnerbait? Z-Man's Quadzilla four-armed spinnerbait is the best of both. Another shining example of the shad-school-in-a-single-lure trend is the Quadzilla from Z-Man. The Quadzilla is essentially a four-bladed spinnerbait, which borrows from the umbrella rig concept in that it presents a school-of-shad look in the water, but it only has one skirted hook just as a traditional spinnerbait does. Also, despite having four bladed arms, the Quadzilla is remarkably compact for tight-quarters casting to laydowns or bushes. And since it only has one hook being defended by four wires, don’t be surprised if this lure is actually more snagless than a traditional spinnerbait. Next up is the Booyah Boo Rig – similar in some respects to the Quadzilla, except with the Booyah Boo Rig the trailing lure is left up to the user by way of flexible wire and a snap, allowing for a traditional crankbait, lipless rattler, or a swimbait to be snapped on. Mann’s Bait Company also revealed it’s own twist on the multiple-bait, single hook design with the Swimbaits or single swimjig? Mann's let's you be the judge with the Three For All.Three For All. This triplet of swimbaits – with the middle swimmer carrying the hardware of a swimjig head and hook – looks pretty promising, especially when the shad spawn gets hot and heavy. Mega-crankbaits make up the next category flaming up at ICAST. Of course Strike King’s 10XD provided the fuel for the fire of this trend towards super-sized crankbaits. At first sight, the 10XD looks like some kind of lure sight gag with its gargantuan profile. But Strike King’s own Phil Marks, who designed the bait, proved to the world that his mega-mauler was no joke when he won the FLW Tour open with it at Rayburn last fall, weighing in a 32-pound, 12-ounce bag the last day to win by over 16 pounds. The one that started the mega-crankbait craze: Strike King 10XD. Now Lucky Craft has also released a couple of behemoth crankers: The Skeet Reese Magnum Series featuring the SKT Mag 120DR (deep runner), weighing in at over 3 ounces and diving to 25 feet, and the SKT Mag 110MR (medium runner) weighing in at 2 ounces. Both of these mammoths are going to make waves, but the one to really watch here is the Mag 110MR because it is essentially a giant square bill crankbait. Traditional square-bill crankbaits are 2 to 3 inches in length and dive to about 5 feet. The SKT Mag 110MR just shattered that barrier at 4-1/2 inches long and labeled as reaching depths of 14 feet. Hello Guntersville, Chickamauga and Kentucky Lake! The Skeet Reese Magnum Series from Lucky Craft continues the mega-cranker trend.Not surprisingly the monster crankbait wave has, in turn, spurred on a whole revolution of new rods designed to handle the heft, bulk and depth of these enormous baits as well as the size of the bass these baits produce. Hence, more rod manufacturers are putting a “10XD” model into their line of rods. These rods are nearly 8 feet long and specifically designed to launch 2- to 4-ounce crankbaits on 15- to 20-pound test line. Check out 10XD models from Kistler (KLX Mark Rose Offshore 10XD rod), Halo Fishing (Xtra Deep Cranking Rod), Falcon (Lowrider XD Cranker) and 13 Fishing (Envy Black Crankenstein Rod) Crankbaits were not the only thing growing up on the show floor, either. Topwater spook-type baits are getting bigger – and louder – as well. Instead of stopping at 4-1/2 inches, the new benchmark in big spook-type baits looks to be 5 inches. Understandably, big topwaters are nothing new, but what doesHeddon's Chug'n Spook is big, loud and obnoxious on the surface. seem to be cutting the edge a bit in these baits is the contest to make them extremely loud (with a heavy “one-knocker” thunk) and to “spit” as much water as possible (with concave mouths). Pros have discovered that in certain situations, big bass will travel a long way to crush one of these hulking noisemakers, so big and obnoxious is in on top. Heddon’s new-ish Chug’n Spook is a perfect example of these bigger, noisier, splashier baits. The Chug’n Spook was actually released last year and is now earning a place in pros’ boxes to fit the big topwater bill. At nearly 5-inches in length and complete with the one-knocker sound, the lure gets it’s name from the fresh concave mouth that helps produce plenty of splash with the noise. Damiki's Rambler 120 topwater is big, loud and splashy.Damiki’s new Rambler 120 will get a lot of attention with its noisemaking ability, too. Checking in at 4-3/4 inch in size, the Rambler has tungsten and glass rattles as well as a concave mouth to produce a lot of racquet on the surface. Although it’s been around a couple of years, a well-kept secret among western pros in the surface-slashing department is Evergreen International’s Showerblows topwater. This lure is 5-inches in length and features more of a pencil popper-style body with a thinner, spitting mouth and broader base for a nearly 180-degree side-to-side slashing that stays in the strike zone longer with plenty of decibels to Evergreen International's Showerblows has been a big secret in the big topwater department for a couple of years.go around. Finally, moving away from the bait and tackle end of the spectrum to the electronics end, there’s no denying that underwater camera technology keeps getting better each year. Smaller cameras, more compact color monitors and now Aqua-Vu’s amazing “Looking Glass” technology are making underwater viewing a normal part of fishing. Much in the same way photo-editing software can “clear up” a foggy image to better see what’s behind the haze, Looking Glass is a unique software that constantly “clears-up” underwater video images from Aqua-Vu cameras. This is not to say Looking Glass is going to clear up the fresh flows of the Red River, but it does a pretty decent job of adding visibility to otherwise murky or green water. What were once just shadowy blobs far off in the distance can now be identified as to what exact species are lurking below. I’m not claiming to be Nostradamus here, but given the advancements in imaging technology on depthfinders in recent years and the remarkable improvements in clearing up video images at a distance, one would have to think that it will only be a matter of time before the two frontiers are combined into a single unit for unparalleled “vision” to what’s below in the water. Perhaps we will see that at next year’s ICAST.

Tags: blog  rob-newell 

/news/2015-03-30-top-10-patterns-from-lewis-smith

Top 10 Patterns from Lewis Smith

The Walmart FLW Tour event presented by Evinrude on Lewis Smith Lake featured a mishmash of springtime patterns that ranged from targeting bass feeding on blueback herring to catching spawning fish to dropping in on deep schools of spotted bass. Here’s a breakdown of the patterns of the top 10 pros. READ MORE »

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Lefebre Lands on Top

He left the dock this morning in 7th place, eight and a half pounds off the lead. And when he returned this afternoon, Dave Lefebre shocked the weigh-in crowd with a come-from-behind Walmart FLW Tour win that left his competitors shell-shocked. READ MORE »

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Birge Buzzes Ahead

Today started off with a slightly miserable 31-degree air temperature, but it didn’t take long for the top 20 pros to really heat up on Lewis Smith Lake at the second stop of the 2015 Walmart FLW Tour presented by Evinrude. Reports poured in throughout the day of big bass – especially big largemouths – being caught off beds. It looked at first as if one of the “largemouth lookers” might piece together a big enough bag to snatch the lead away from Oklahoma rookie Zack Birge, who struggled early to make his shallow topwater pattern work. Unfortunately for the rest of the field, the young gun Birge has the coolness and patience of a veteran, and he stuck with his game plan of throwing a buzzbait and soft jerkbait rig until the sun had time to warm the shallows and spur the fish to become more active. Birge tallied 17 pounds, 11 ounces today, raising his three-day total to 54-8 and giving him a lead of 3-11 over Texas veteran Clark Wendlandt in second place. READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-28-top-5-patterns-from-lewis-smith-day-3

Top 5 Patterns from Lewis Smith Day 3

After three days, it looks as if tournament leader Zack Birge has the quality largemouth bite in the bushes wired. But behind him on the leaderboard are nine pros doing everything from sight-fishing to catching schooling bass and everything in between. Even with all the patterns in play, few have fizzled. The sight-fishers have reported finding new bedders, the schoolers are still schooling and a couple of guys have even started tapping floating docks. READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-27-top-5-patterns-from-lewis-smith-day-2

Top 5 Patterns from Lewis Smith Day 2

While air and water temperatures plummeted on day two of the Walmart FLW Tour event on Lewis Smith Lake presented by Evinrude, the big surprise came in the stability of the fishing patterns amidst such change. Zack Birge found plenty of production on his primary pattern to send him to the top of the leaderboard, and those under him held true to their patterns as well to secure a ticket to day three’s top 20. Among the biggest surprises was the number of pros who were still able to pluck fish off beds. Most pros that were sight-fishing say the bass are committed to beds and that the cold snap will not run them off at this point in time. Despite the cold, some even found new fish on beds that were not there yesterday. READ MORE »

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Benton Blasts 20-12 on Lewis Smith

Panama City, Fla., pro Drew Benton jumped into the early lead at the Walmart FLW Tour event on Lewis Smith Lake presented by Evinrude with a five-bass limit weighing 20 pounds, 12 ounces. Benton caught a mix of largemouths and spotted bass, and revealed that both black bass species are spawning. He leads a tight top 20 that includes 18 pros that caught more than 15 pounds each. The first day was an absolute fish-fest. Of the 154 pros fishing this tournament, 138 weighed limits. Brad Roberts of Faubush, Ky., has a 2-ounce lead in the co-angler division with a 13-pound, 4-ounce limit. Tomorrow he’ll try to defend his lead on the final day of co-angler competition. READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-26-top-5-patterns-from-lewis-smith-day-1

Top 5 Patterns from Lewis Smith Day 1

While Drew Benton was busy bugging bedding fish for his day-one tournament lead, several others behind him were scoring big with other fishing options on Lewis Smith Lake. Sight-fishing also played a role in the top limits produce by Tracy Adams, Scott Martin and Ish Monroe, but Clayton Batts and Zack Birge both brought in big bags with other patterns. Click here to read about Benton’s day-one performance at the second Walmart FLW Tour event of 2015, which is presented by Evinrude. Here’s how the rest of the top five got it done. READ MORE »

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Expect Change and Adapt to It

Ish Monroe explains how to adapt to changing conditions and recommends to always fish your strengths in this weeks blog. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-03-17-so-you-want-to-be-a-co-angler-

So You Want to be a Co-Angler?

First and foremost, I know I’m fishing the tournament as a co-angler and I make sure that I not only stay out of my pro’s way, but I do what I can to assist him throughout the day. This starts at the ramp with assisting him with the launch where possible. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-03-16-a-30-piece-puzzle-with-four-pieces-missing

A 30-Piece Puzzle with Four Pieces Missing

The whole time I was down in Florida during the FLW Tour opener on Lake Toho I felt like I was trying to put together a 30-piece puzzle with four pieces missing. The weather was right, the water temperature was right, the thousands of acres of vegetation looked right, but one thing was wrong: the fish! READ MORE »

/tips/2015-03-12-a-clean-slate

A Clean Slate

The 2015 season opener of the Walmart FLW Tour wasn’t at Okeechobee, as in recent years, but at Lake Toho in central Florida. I was excited about the change, and even more pumped to start a fresh new season after blowing my motor on day one of the first event last year. READ MORE »

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Top 10 Patterns from Toho

At the halfway point of the Walmart FLW Tour event on Lake Toho on Friday afternoon, it looked as if the event would be a JT Kenney runaway win. Kenney’s “red-dot” bedding program appeared to be unstoppable. But then things changed drastically: The warm-up ended, the full moon began to wane, heavy clouds took up residence over central Florida and the fairy tale of scripted plans in a multiple-day tournament came to a screeching halt. By the end of the event, several other patterns on Lake Toho quickly closed up Kenney’s seemingly insurmountable lead (12-10 after two days and 12-8 after three). When the final weigh-in came to an end, the top three places were only separated by 1 pound, 5 ounces. Patterns that involved current, shell beds and even docks helped close the gap. Here’s a look at some of the other top 10 patterns from the week. READ MORE »

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Kenney Connects the Dots

Mercury pro JT Kenney was as confident as he could be early in the week at the Walmart FLW Tour season-opener on Lake Toho. He had an incredibly refined plan built on a series of precisely placed waypoints. The waypoints marked isolated spawning areas within beds of lily pads. In the first two days of competition, Kenney looked unstoppable with limits weighing 29-14 and 22-9, respectively, to build a lead of 12-10. On day three, Kenney looked human. His limit of 14-5 could have left the door open – but after weigh-in Kenney’s lead shrank by only 2 ounces. And today, it looked as if the king, despite a massive lead, was about to give up his crown. Kenney weighed in only 9 pounds, 4 ounces. But that was enough. The Florida pro squeezed through by an 11-ounce winning margin to win the first Tour event of 2015. READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-07-kenney-on-cruise-control

Kenney on Cruise Control

For those who don’t believe that professional fishing is a game of offense and defense like any other sport, consider JT Kenney’s strategy for the last three days of the Walmart FLW Tour event on Lake Toho presented by Mercury. The first two days, Kenney ran pure “offensive plays” on key, precise bedding areas to run up the score. Today, he ran more “defensive plays” to protect his lead. READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-07-top-5-patterns-from-toho-day-3

Top 5 Patterns from Toho Day 3

When the Walmart FLW Tour event started at Lake Toho on Thursday, the story lines were all about spawning fish and catching bedding bass by working soft-plastic baits around isolated pad clumps. Today, the buzzwords changed to current, shell beds and reaction baits such as spinnerbaits and lipless rattlers. The change in vernacular is associated primarily with the weather. While a warm, balmy day one allowed leading pros to score big by blind bed-fishing, today’s lower temperatures, nippy northeast winds and dull gray skies caused a significant shift in productive tactics that led to a shakeup on the leaderboard. As already revealed, leader JT Kenney had to resort to a spinnerbait to adapt. Others in the top 10 have found consistency in the currents of the Kissimmee River or have adapted with new baits. READ MORE »

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Kenney Crushing the Field

Day two of the Walmart FLW Tour event presented by Mercury on Lake Toho saw JT Kenney extend his lead to 12 pounds, 10 ounces over second-place pro Stacey King with a 22-9 limit. Kenney has lived near Toho for some time and prepared meticulously for this event – it appears to be paying off. Fishing in Kissimmee all day, he managed another strong bag on a day when weather changes caused many in the top of the ranks to stumble. READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-06-top-5-patterns-from-toho-day-2

Top 5 Patterns from Toho Day 2

At halftime in the Walmart FLW Tour event on Lake Toho presented by Mercury, it’s looking like it could be a runaway by tournament leader JT Kenney. Of course, it’s bass fishing and anything can happen, but the latest frontal system rolling through Florida seems to have certainly stymied the bed-fish bonanza that many expected. As a result, the most productive areas from the last two days have been beat down by fishing pressure and are not recovering or replenishing very well. Here’s a look at how the rest of the top finishers managed to overcome challenging conditions on day two to stay at least within striking range of the leader. READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-05-jt-tees-off

JT Tees Off

There was fuel, and there was flame. The fuel was in the form of a delayed largemouth bass spawn on Lake Toho that had been pushed back for several weeks due to low water temperatures and high water flows through the Kissimmee Chain of Lakes. The biological clocks of Toho’s bass have been ticking, so to speak. The flame was in the form of a fast warm-up over the last three days, a full moon occurring right now and water temperatures rising nearly 10 degrees in the last 72 hours. At the day-one takeoff of the Walmart FLW Tour event presented by Mercury this morning, everyone held his breath for the combustion that was about to occur. And when fuel met flame there were a few fiery flare-ups, but not of the size that many expected. In all, the 20-pound mark was reached by seven anglers on a warm, balmy day that had five-alarmer written all over it. Exactly why the bite was not as good as expected is still in question. Many pros reported a vanishing act of bedding bass that had just started to show up during practice, but have now disappeared despite highly favorable conditions At the top of the standings are Florida ace JT Kenney and Missouri veteran Stacey King, who checked in with 29-14 and 28-1, respectively. READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-05-top-5-patterns-from-toho-day-1

Top 5 Patterns from Toho Day 1

Lake Kissimmee produced the bulk of the top-10 catches on the first day of competition, but not all of them. Still, it seems that anglers believe the time lost to traveling through the lock from Toho to eventually get to Kissimmee is worth the gamble. READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-01-toho-s-mojo

Toho’s Mojo

Rob Newell breaks down the Kissimmee Chain lake by lake for a complete preview of the Walmart FLW Tour event on Lake Toho. READ MORE »