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 

/tips/2015-07-01-the-no-excuse-guide-

The "No Excuse" Guide

Chatter can be dock talk, personal abusive talk, hater talk, fan talk and everything in between. The list goes on. I truly believe tournament fishing is all a mental game. I feel that the most successful anglers know how to tune it all out and fish in the zone. It is crucial to know how to tune out all the chatter and shut up and fish. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-06-30-missed-chances-at-the-finale

Missed Chances at the Finale

The final Walmart FLW Tour event on the Potomac River was a tough event for me. After one of the strongest practices I’ve ever had there, or anywhere, really, I drove home scratching my head. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-06-16-my-lost-fish-troubles-continue

My Lost-Fish Troubles Continue

Lake Chickamauga is loaded with big bass, and for the first time in three previous visits I felt really good after the practice period was over. Unfortunately, it didn’t quite work out for me, and I ended the event after day two by missing the top-20 cut by a mere 4 ounces. READ MORE »

/news/2015-06-15-top-10-patterns-from-lake-chickamauga

Top 10 Patterns from Lake Chickamauga

Considering the complexity of catching summertime bass on highly pressured Tennessee River impoundments, Michael Wooley’s winning baits at the Walmart FLW Tour event presented by Igloo Coolers on Lake Chickamauga were pretty simplistic. His win came on a Zoom Magnum Trick Worm fished on a 1/2-ounce hand-poured shaky head with a 5/0 hook as well as a 3/4-ounce Strike King football jig teamed with a Rage Lobster. Both lures were fished on 17-pound-test Seaguar fluorocarbon. Wooley dragged his baits on a shell bed in about 13 feet of water that dropped off to a channel some 20 feet deep. Here is a look at some of the other patterns that were working at Lake Chickamauga. READ MORE »

/news/2015-06-15-mammoth-win-for-wooley

Mammoth Win for Wooley

One spot plus two lures plus 92 pounds, 4 ounces of Lake Chickamauga bass equals a $125,000 Walmart FLW Tour win for Michael Wooley. Wooley, a second-year pro on the FLW Tour who hails from Collierville, Tenn., spends most of his fishing time somewhere on the Tennessee River, mostly on either Pickwick or Kentucky Lake. Despite his deep knowledge of Tennessee River bass, Wooley’s win on Lake Chickamauga was about as straightforward as it gets. There were no big flashy spoons, secret hair jigs or new must-have crankbaits involved in his victory. There were no mega-schools or timing of tricky rotations. READ MORE »

/news/2015-06-13-top-5-patterns-from-chickamauga-day-3

Top 5 Patterns from Chickamauga Day 3

While Michael Wooley has tapped a single hot spot for the tournament lead at the Walmart FLW Tour event presented by Igloo Coolers at Lake Chickamauga, his competition has had to hustle both deep and shallow just to have a shot at catching him. His lead is now more than 6 pounds ahead of second-place pro Stetson Blaylock. The patterns working at Chickamauga right now are all over the map. Shallow grass, bream beds, middepth bars in bays, river ledges and even some long-lining are all represented in the top 10. Here are the details for the top five. READ MORE »

/news/2015-06-12-wooley-takes-the-lead

Wooley Takes the Lead

The last time the Walmart FLW Tour visited Lake Chickamauga in June 2013, the term “mega-school” was thrown around a lot. At this year’s Chickamauga event, which is presented by Igloo Coolers, you will hardly hear that term at all at the weigh-in. Michael Wooley of Collierville, Tenn., knows the difference between mega-schools and the “regular” kind. After sacking 26 pounds, 2 ounces on day one and 23-05 on day two to take the tournament lead with 49-07, Wooley says his fish are certainly not swimming in a mega-school. READ MORE »

/news/2015-06-12-top-5-patterns-from-chickamauga-day-2

Top 5 Patterns from Chickamauga Day 2

Two days into the Walmart FLW Tour event presented by Igloo Coolers on Lake Chickamauga, one thing is for sure: The ledge bite along the main Tennessee River drag has not been much of a factor among the top 10. When interviewing the top anglers, the words “back in a creek,” or “back in a bay,” or “back inside” or “up shallow” have been used a lot more than the words “on the main river.” That goes for tournament leader Michael Wooley and most of the pros chasing him into the weekend. For whatever reason, the main Tennessee River flow is not the headliner at Chickamauga this week, especially when compared to postspawn tournaments on other lakes in the chain, such as Kentucky Lake and Pickwick. READ MORE »

/news/2015-06-11-billy-mac-smacks-29

Billy Mac Smacks 29

A combo strategy of running deep and shallow patterns helped Bill McDonald put together a whopping 29-pound, 12-ounce limit in the Walmart FLW Tour event presented by Igloo Coolers on Lake Chickamauga. McDonald took the day-one lead by 3 pounds, 10 ounces over Tennessean Michael Wooley, who brought in 26-02. While many pros say the Chick is fishing tougher than its reputation usually suggests, 15 pros still cracked the 20-pound mark. And 67 pros caught at least 15 pounds. READ MORE »

/news/2015-06-11-top-5-patterns-from-chickamauga-day-1

Top 5 Patterns from Chickamauga Day 1

The story on day one of the Walmart FLW Tour event presented by Igloo Coolers on Lake Chickamauga was not dominated by the mega-school juggernaut that occurred the last time the Tour visited “Chick” in 2013. Bill McDonald’s leading limit of 29 pounds, 12 ounces had nothing to do with a mega-school. In fact, two of his bigger bass – in the 7- to 8-pound class – came from shallow grass. This time around it seems as if the boats are spread out a little more compared to last time, when four- to six-angler clusters tried to share big ledge schools. Some pros say that’s because the current didn’t run until later in the day today, which had the main-river community holes off the pace of last time. Others believe a delayed spawn still has fish scattered from the bays to the river. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-06-04-blaukat-on-climate-change

Blaukat on Climate Change

As many of you know, for years I’ve been an outspoken voice on environmental issues. As a result, I’ve been celebrated by some and ostracized by others. But what some think of me being the messenger is irrelevant. It’s not about the messenger – as much as detractors try to make it out to be – it’s about getting the message out. I want to start by saying that the debate of whether or not climate change is man-made is over. It’s real, and it’s right here in our faces. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-05-28-running-a-college-club

Running a College Club

The sport of college bass fishing is growing at an incredible pace. During my freshman year (2011-2012), tournament fields were limited to 50 anglers, and boats were supplied by Rayovac FLW Series volunteer competitors. During the end of my senior year this season, field sizes grew larger at every tournament, and we saw more colleges providing boats for student anglers – signs of growth for sure. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-05-28-blog-i-m-hooked-

Blog: I’m Hooked

When I was 10 years old I could only dream about being a professional fisherman. I would spend all my time outdoors playing sports, hunting and fishing. Then, in high school, I competed in my first bass tournament and I was hooked. From that moment, my goal was to become a professional angler some day. Now, almost three decades later, after much hard work and dedication I’m competing in the 2015 Walmart FLW Tour. And I’m more excited than ever. READ MORE »

/news/2015-05-26-top-10-patterns-from-lake-seminole

Top 10 Patterns from Lake Seminole

Clint Brown won the Rayovac FLW Series event presented by Evinrude on Lake Seminole by targeting late spawners and obscure stretches of bank that received little pressure during the week. Here is a look at how the rest of the top 10 competitors fared. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-05-26-blog-the-first-time

Blog: The First Time

This begins a series of blogs by Walmart FLW Tour co-angler Jaime Luengo of Mexico City. He joined the circuit in 2005 and has three top-10 finishes to his credit. Luengo is the author of La Magia de la Lobina Tecnicas Avanzadas, a book on bass fishing techniques, and is host and producer of Nuestra Pesca, a television series available on all cable stations in Mexico. READ MORE »

/news/2015-05-23-brown-rallies-for-seminole-win

Brown Rallies for Seminole Win

When the Rayovac FLW Series event on Lake Seminole started on Thursday, hot, slick conditions prevailed. The air temperatures pushed into the 90’s, water temperatures hovered between 80 and 85 degrees – summertime was on. Or was it? READ MORE »

/news/2015-05-23-jeter-takes-co-angler-crown

Jeter Takes Co-Angler Crown

Call it a local’s sweep at the Rayovac FLW Series on Lake Seminole. While local pro Clint Brown of Bainbridge, Ga., won the boater Division, his Bainbridge neighbor, Greg Jeter won the Co-angler Division to make it a local twofer. READ MORE »

/news/2015-05-23-lake-seminole-day-3-midday-update

Lake Seminole Day 3 Midday Update

Second place pro Clint Brown was gaining some serious ground on Reneau as Brown had boxed four solid keepers for about 11 pounds on his very first spot – all caught from protected backwaters with a topwater. READ MORE »

/news/2015-05-22-reneau-grabs-lead-on-seminole

Reneau Grabs Lead On Seminole

Though Reneau has weighed in 15-1 and 20-7 over two days for a total of 35 pounds, 8 ounces, he says he is only getting about six bites per day. READ MORE »

/news/2015-05-22-top-5-patterns-from-seminole-day-2

Top 5 Patterns From Seminole Day 2

A shake-up occurred on day two of the Rayovac FLW Series presented by Evinrude on Lake Seminole. Day one was all about slow, summertime fishing in the lake’s deep timber. Overnight a frontal passage dropped water and air temperatures and left a north wind howling down the lake. As a result, the timber bite cooled off and those fishing shallower waters climbed up the leaderboard. READ MORE »