UPCOMING EVENT: Rayovac FLW Series - 2015 - Lake Champlain

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.

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/tips/2015-07-24-walmart-bfl-tournament-preview

Walmart BFL Tournament Preview

The 2015 Walmart Bass Fishing League season will continue with a tournament on Saturday, July 25, when the Shenandoah division takes on the James River. Up to 400 boaters and co-anglers will be competing for top awards of up to $8,000 and $3,000 respectively in the one-day event. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-07-22-how-to-fish-the-prop-bee

How to Fish the Prop Bee

The Brian’s Bees Prop Bee isn’t the most popular topwater bait on the Walmart FLW Tour. Rather, it’s more limited in scope. It’s a niche bait. When a tournament falls into the window where the Prop Bee shines, however, it’s one of those “you-gotta-have-it” baits that is practically a shoo-in to produce a few top-10 finishes. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-07-16-flw-tournaments-headed-to-china

FLW Tournaments Headed to China

FLW announced an exclusive licensing agreement with Sunny Lake (Beijing) Sport Development, LLC, from China to begin sanctioning FLW bass fishing tournaments in the Eastern Asian nation at a contract signing today at the 2015 ICAST show in Orlando. The agreement was signed by FLW President of Operations Kathy Fennel and Gang Li, vice president of the Florida Culture Exchange Association (FCEA), representing Sunny Lake Sport Development. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-07-10-walmart-bfl-tournament-preview

Walmart BFL Tournament Preview

The 2015 Walmart Bass Fishing League season will continue with two tournaments on Saturday, July 11. The Great Lakes division takes on the Wolf River Chain and the Michigan division stops at the Detroit River for an event presented by Navionics. Up to 400 boaters and co-anglers will be competing for top awards of up to $8,000 and $3,000 respectively in the one-day events. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-07-10-5-frog-tactics-that-work-now

5 Frog Tactics that Work Now

Beyond the simple joy of slamming hooks into the mouth of a shallow, surface-feeding bass, frogs also offer technical advantages that allow anglers to capitalize on some of the best big-bass action of the summer. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-06-30-martin-earns-first-aoy-title

Martin Earns First AOY Title

Prior to the 2015 Walmart FLW Tour season, Scott Martin had banked a total of three top-10 Angler of the Year finishes in his 15-year career as a pro. It was impressive, but not indicative of his greatness. The truth of the matter is that Scott Martin was a winner, always taking risks in search of equal reward. That risky fishing has led Martin to more than $2 million in earnings, a Forrest Wood Cup win and four Tour-level wins. But the gambles burned him often enough that he never earned AOY. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-06-30-birge-dominates-roy-race

Birge Dominates ROY Race

Zack Birge isn’t wasting any time filling out his tournament-fishing resume. The Oklahoman won the 2014 Rayovac FLW Series Championship on Wheeler Lake last fall then joined up on the Walmart FLW Tour for 2015 and went on a season-long tear that earned him the Rookie of the Year award. Birge, alongside his wife, Kristina, was presented with his ROY trophy this afternoon on the weigh-in stage at the Potomac River tournament, where he finished in 77th place. He finished 29th overall in the AOY standings to best a group of 18 rookies. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-06-27-flw-signs-contract-for-south-korean-tournaments

FLW Signs Contract for South Korean Tournaments

At the day-two weigh-in of the Walmart FLW Tour event presented by Ranger Boats on the Potomac River, FLW signed a contract that inked an exclusive licensing agreement with MirooNamoo Media Group from South Korea to begin sanctioning FLW bass fishing tournaments in the Eastern-Asian country. South Korea will run a series of FLW tournaments that advance anglers, who are citizens of the host country, to a new International Division at the Rayovac FLW Series Championship beginning in 2016. Two anglers will compete as pros with FLW providing Ranger boats, and two will compete as co-anglers. The top pro award at the Rayovac FLW Series Championship is $95,000, including a Ranger Z518C if the pro is Ranger Cup qualified, and the top co-angler award is a Ranger Z117. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-06-26-hunter-captures-co-angler-of-the-year-title

Hunter Captures Co-angler of the Year Title

Things couldn’t have worked out any better for first-year Walmart FLW Tour co-angler John Hunter, who wrapped up a phenomenal season from the back of the boat to win Co-angler of the Year and the Ranger Z518C with 200-hp outboard that goes with it. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-06-26-aoy-update-martin-controls-his-destiny-

AOY Update: Martin Controls His Destiny

Scott Martin is on the verge of winning the only major FLW title that has escaped him to this point: Walmart FLW Tour Angler of the Year. As John Cox and Bryan Thrift stumbled in the Walmart FLW Tour season finale on the Potomac River, Martin steamed ahead and made the top-20 cut in 11th place with 26 pounds, 9 ounces. The way the math checks out, if Martin finishes 19th place or better, he’ll win AOY. If he finishes 20th, he’ll be tied with Cox. The tiebreaker awards AOY to the angler with the most total weight for the season. If he finishes 20th, Martin can still win by bringing at least 11-13 to the scale on day three. Anything less and Cox survives to win. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-06-25-on-the-bubble-for-the-cup-

On the Bubble for the Cup

By rule, the top 35 anglers in the Walmart FLW Tour Angler of the Year standings make the 2015 Forrest Wood Cup on Lake Ouachita Aug. 20-23. However, when a Tour pro pre-qualifies through another of FLW’s tournament circuits and also finishes in the top 35, an additional Cup invitation is extended to the angler in 36th place, and on down the list in the event of additional double qualifications. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-06-24-a-bass-fisherman-in-need

A Bass Fisherman in Need

Friends of FLW College Fishing angler David Cosner have established a fund to help the Texas fisherman pay medical bills associated with his long battle with Wegener’s Granulomatosis, a debilitating disease that gradually destroys the organs. Cosner, who founded the Texas State University Bass Cats and was named to the 2010 FLW College Fishing All-America team, was diagnosed with the rare disease in 2009 when he was 17 and since has had to undergo 215 surgeries. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-06-22-coy-and-roy-on-the-line

COY and ROY on the Line

FLW is hauling a lot of hardware to Maryland this week for the final stop of the 2015 Walmart FLW Tour event presented by Ranger Boats on the Potomac River. The world’s largest tournament fishing organization is also going to be writing some fat checks. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-06-18-father-of-david-dudley-passes

Father of David Dudley Passes

James Dudley, the father of longtime Walmart FLW Tour pro David Dudley, passed away June 17 after a lengthy illness. He was a lifetime resident of Lynchburg, Va., and a member of Thomas Road Baptist Church. Like his son, James Dudley was also a tournament fisherman and competed in 73 FLW events. He finished in the top 10 in eight of them. 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 »

/tips/2015-06-12-is-this-the-new-bass-fishing-capital-of-the-south-

Is this the New Bass Fishing Capital of the South?

Dayton, Tenn., is situated on Richland Creek, a tributary that flows into the western side of Lake Chickamauga, one of the hottest bass fisheries in the country. Local officials with a flair for marketing – and good business sense – believe that Chickamauga can be the sellable “brand” that attracts bass fishermen to come and spend their time and their money in Dayton. They believe that old-fashioned Southern hospitality and small-town charm, plus trophy bass, are just the recipe for turning Dayton into “The New Bass Fishing Capital of the South.” READ MORE »