Going big with a spinning rod

Kent Ware won the Angler of Year trophy in the Rayovac FLW Series Southeast Division in 2012 by fishing big line and big baits on spinning rods.

What's a spinning rod for? Drop-shots and shaky heads, right? It's for techniques that require 6- to 10-pound-test line, correct? Clear water, deep water and spotted bass, of course. Swimming a grub or maybe a Jackall Flick Shake. Apparently Kent Ware of Wadmalaw Island, S.C., did not get the memo on spinning rods from the Department of Conventional Spinning Tackle. The lures on Ware's spinning rods defy the norm: big tungsten weights made for punching thick vegetation; hollow-bodied floating frogs known for catching big bass; flipping jigs for gnarly brush; and even Z-Man Original ChatterBaits. To hear of such power baits on spinning gear might make a few baitcasting purists laugh. But before you chuckle too much, consider that Ware won the Rayovac FLW Series Southeast Division Angler of the Year in 2012 when the Series visited Okeechobee, Seminole, Santee Cooper and Guntersville. In that same season he finished runner-up in the Rayovac FLW Series Championship on the Ouachita River. In the last three seasons, Ware has scored five top-10s (out of 11 events), and collected roughly $50,000 in winnings Kent Ware has shattered the finesse mold of spincast by fishing big fish baits on spinning tackle with solid success in the Rayovac Southeast Division. That all might not sound like a big deal until it's revealed that he has done it all with a spinning rod in the ultra-competitive Southeast Division where casting tackle is considered the norm. In essence, Ware has shattered the convention that big baits and big line can only be fished on casting equipment. He regularly fishes big "bubba-style" lures on spinning rods by basically beefing up all his equipment to 7-foot, heavy-action rods, 50-plus-pound test braid and large 4000 size spinning reels. Ware has nothing against baitcasters. In fact, he owns a few casting reels but he simply doesn't get the time on the water needed to stay target sharp with casting equipment. He relegates his casting gear for straight-up cast-and-reel techniques that don't involve specific targets, such as lipless crankbaits over submerged grass. If the technique requires any kind of accuracy, Ware reaches only for a spinning rod. "I want to make Bryan Thrift-like presentations with my lures, but I simply do not spend near the number of days on the water to stay in that kind of rhythm with casting equipment," Ware says. "For that reason, I'm far more comfortable and efficient with spinning tackle. I can establish an accurate rhythm with it quickly."Big baits on a spinning rod mean big bass like this for Kent Ware Ware, like a lot of Rayovac FLW Series anglers, holds down a full-time job and fishes Rayovac FLW Series events in the few weeks he has off work. "I don't get to fish very much between tournaments," Ware says. "When I hit the water for practice, I've got to put baits right where I want them and I can do that with spinning tackle. Even if I haven't made a cast for three months, I can pick up a spinning rod and start putting baits right where I want them. It takes me a day or two to get into that kind of rhythm with a casting rod and I simply don't have that much time to waste." Ware's bread-and-butter big-spinning rod setup is a 7-foot, medium-heavy or heavy-action G.Loomis IMX spinning rod paired with a size 4000 Cabela's Tournament ZX spinning reel. His line choice variesKent Ware loves to punch vegetation with a spinning rod because he can often break through the mats with a lighter weight. from 40- to 80-pound braid, depending on the technique. Also, he never uses a fluorocarbon leader. In fact, Ware never uses fluorocarbon at all. His version of spinning "finesse" is dropping down to 17-pound-test Berkley Trilene XL monofilament. "That's the irony," Ware laughs. "I use a spinning rod all of the time, but I never use a spinning rod the way most guys do for finesse fishing with drop-shots or shaky heads." As for not using fluorocarbon, Ware says in his opinion it's simply not applicable on spinning rods beyond 12-pound test because it's too coily and wiry when compared to mono or braid in heavier pound tests. "Light fluorocarbons of 10-pound test or less are fine on a spinning rod, but that's not the way I prefer to fish," he adds. "I like big baits on big line and they work great on big spinning rods and reels." Ware says the critical part of making big baits and big line work on spinning gear is using a big spinning reel in a 4000 size or bigger. The Cabela's reels he uses are no longer made, so he is currently Heaving bass out of thick mats is not an issue for Kent Ware on his beefed up spinning tackle.experimenting with other reel brands. But no matter the brand, Ware suggests the 4000 size is best (some reel companies designate this similar size as a size "40") "The bigger the diameter of the reel spool, the easier the line feathers off the reel," Ware says. "Even 80-pound-test braid just floats off a 4000 size reel. You simply can't use little 2000 or 3000 size reels for these bigger line techniques. The spool is too small and the line is wound too tight for its size, causing problems." Some of the big-line techniques Ware performs on his spinning rods are impressive. For instance, punching the thickest matted vegetation is not a problem for him. He takes a rod with 80-pound test PowerPro, threads a big tungsten weight on the braid, ties on a 4/0 Gamakatsu straight shank flipping hook, adds a craw or beaver-style punching bait and goes to work. "I can get away with a lighter weight when punching with a spinning rod," Ware reveals. "I'm a firm believer that the lighter the weight, the more bites you get and the better the hookup ratio. In mats where it takes a 1 1/4- or 1 1/2-ounce weight to get through with a casting rod, I can get through with just an ounce or even a 3/4-ounce on the spinner - the difference is amazing." Another surprising technique Ware employs effortlessly on the 7-foot, heavy-action IMX spinning rod is a hollow-body topwater frog. He will go as heavy as 80-pound test on the frog as well. If skipping the frog under bushes and trees is in order, he will drop back to a 6-foot heavy action rod.Even floating frogs on spincast? Not a problem for Kent Ware. "The places you can skip that frog on that shorter rod with a big spinning reel is incredible," Ware says. "Way up under shallow docks, around behind trees, through holes in bushes - it's just a blast to fish that way. In tournaments I'll catch bass in places where it's nearly impossible to get a lure. Those fish are there for a reason and I love figuring out how to get a lure to them." Other money lures on the big spinner for Ware include a Yamamoto Senko and an Eakins finesse flipping jig. The Senko is rigged weightless on a 7-foot medium-heavy action IMX with 17-pound-test Trilene XL on a 4/0 EWG style hook. Ware will also use the 17-pound test Trilene XL teamed with the 7-foot, medium-heavy IMX for the Eakins finesse jigs when fishing docks in clearer, deeper water but will beef up to as much as an 80-pound-test braid on the 7-foot, heavy-action rod if faced with skipping and pitching thick bushes in stained or dirty water. "To me, there is an added bonus to those two lures (Senko and a jig) on a spinning outfit," Ware says. "Not only can I skip them into tiny places, but spinning reels, by their nature, throw a lot of slack out with the lure, allowing it to sink immediately and freely. By comparison, a casting reel does not throw slack with the lure, so as soon as the lure hits the water, it's on a taught line, which encumbers its initial fall. The way a lure falls on a spinning rod is very different than the way it falls on a casting rod - especially a Senko. So far, Ware has not found a lure he can't incorporate into his big spinning rod program. At the Rayovac FLW Series Championship on the Ouachita River in 2012, Ware found it necessary to skip ChatterBaits way back underneath pier walkways to get better quality bites. For that application he used the 17-pound-test Berkley Trilene monofilament on his oversized spinning reels to finish second. Skipping far back into "That's what I am always searching for in tournaments," Ware explains. "I am looking for those little nooks and crannies that other anglers are not going to take the time to access. No matter if it's way back under docks, far back into the bushes, shooting little gaps in reed clumps to hit the water behind them, skipping to the tree that's behind the tree that's behind another tree - those are the single-cast shots I love to make and the only way I can do it accurately and efficiently is with a spinning rod."

Tags: article 

/tips/2015-04-26-queen-and-black-crowned-high-school-fishing-champs

Queen and Black Crowned High School Fishing Champs

Kristopher Queen and Tyler Black of the North Carolina Student Angler Federation won the 2015 SAF High School Fishing National Championship on Oklahoma’s Grand Lake. Queen and Black bested a field of the 10 best High School Fishing teams in the two-day competition. They caught 17 pounds, 2 ounces on Saturday to make it to today’s final round of five teams in second place. Then today, the Tar Heel State’s best backed it up with 17-15 to surpass Oklahoma’s Trevor Yates and Jacob Keenom, the day-one-leaders, by 4 pounds, 6 ounces with a two-day total of 35-01. Queen and Black earned a $10,000 scholarship for their win. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-04-25-keenom-yates-grab-high-school-lead

Keenom, Yates Grab High School Lead

Oklahoma’s Trevor Yates and Jacob Keenom sacked a five-bass limit weighing 17 pounds, 3 ounces to top the leaderboard on day one of the Student Angler Federation High School Fishing National Championship on Grand Lake. Kristopher Queen and Tyler Black are hot on their heels in second with five bass weighing 17 pounds, 2 ounces. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-04-25-a-high-school-fishing-grand-finale

A High School Fishing Grand Finale

Adrenaline and optimism were running high among the 19 young guns gathered at Wolf Creek Park as they anxiously awaited takeoff on day one of the Student Angler Federation High School Fishing National Championship on Grand Lake. Set for April 25-26 on the legendary Sooner impoundment, the championship pits the nation’s top 10 two-person high school teams in an all-out bass battle for the national title and a $10,000 college scholarship. One contestant, Cameron Pappan, is fishing solo. The road to the finals began in 2014, with state and open championships leading to one of five conference finals, then ultimately to Grand Lake. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-04-21-weekend-wrap-up-april-21-2015

Weekend Wrap-Up – April 21, 2015

With the College Fishing National Championship and the kickoff of the Rayovac FLW Series Central Division going on, this past weekend was pretty hotly anticipated. Lucky for fishing fans, it sure lived up to the billing. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-04-18-grand-lake-midday-update-day-3

Grand Lake Midday Update Day 3

READ MORE »

/tips/2015-04-17-grand-lake-midday-update

Grand Lake Midday Update

As the second day of competition in the Rayovac FLW Series event on Grand Lake draws on, the sight-fishing bite is still strong, but day-one leader Todd Castledine has been unable to capitalize thus far. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-04-16-grand-lake-day-1-midday-update

Grand Lake Day 1 Midday Update

GROVE, Okla. – After the fog delay stalled action on day one of the Central Division opener on Grand Lake the anglers are now enjoying perfect weather for sight-fishing. Lingering light fog and clouds gave way to calm, sunny conditions this afternoon. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-04-16-20-questions-with-ray-hanselman

20 Questions with Ray Hanselman

Ray Hanselman is on fire. The Del Rio, Texas, pro won back-to-back Rayovac FLW Series Texas Division tournaments to start the 2015 season. His first win was in February on Lake Amistad, which is Hanselman’s home lake and where he runs a guide service. His second win came last week on Sam Rayburn. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-04-15-weekend-wrap-up-april-13-2015

Weekend Wrap-up – April 13, 2015

The week after the Easter break turned out to be pretty spectacular. We saw incredible feats at the Rayovac FLW Series Texas Division event on Sam Rayburn and the FLW College Fishing event on Table Rock. Plus, BFL competition was hot across the country. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-04-10-top-5-patterns-from-sam-rayburn-day-2

Top 5 Patterns from Sam Rayburn Day 2

Two limits of more than 20 pounds have pushed Del Rio, Texas, pro Ray Hanselman atop the leaderboard at the Rayovac FLW Series Texas Division tournament on Sam Rayburn Reservoir presented by Mercury. Hanselman is flipping and pitching plastics to flooded brush and trees, with careful consideration to the spots that allow him the best targeting efficiency. The lake level remains at a 15-year high, so anglers are chasing scattered bass in areas the fish rarely see. Overcast skies dominated the day, and isolated showers popped up throughout competition. Overall, productivity was lower than that of day one, with fewer fish and limits caught, and overall weights down. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-04-08-the-bucket-list

The Bucket List

Gleaned from my various fishing travels over the years, here are 10 places ­– in no particular order – that I’ve fished that I believe should definitely be on your bass fishing “bucket list.” Some are fantastic winter getaways, but other will require you to wait until warmer weather arrives. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-04-08-college-fishing-takes-on-table-rock

College Fishing Takes on Table Rock

KIMBERLING CITY, Mo. – FLW College Fishing is headed to Table Rock Lake April 11 for the first of three regular-season stops in the Central Conference. A full field of college teams will be competing for a top award of $2,000 and a berth in the Central Conference Championship tournament. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-04-08-walmart-bfl-tournament-preview

Walmart BFL Tournament Preview

The 2015 Walmart Bass Fishing League season will continue with six tournaments on Saturday, April 11. The Arkie Division will take on Lake Dardanelle, the Bama Division stops on Lake Martin, the LBL Division heads to Kentucky Lake, the Ozark Division competes on Lake of the Ozarks, the Piedmont Division opens their season on Kerr Lake and the Savannah River Division continues on Lake Hartwell. 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/2015-04-06-hibdons-suspend-tournament-careers

Hibdons Suspend Tournament Careers

Veteran Missouri pro Guido Hibdon and his grandson, Payden, have decided to leave the ranks of the 2015 Walmart FLW Tour, but hope to resume their tournament careers in the future. Like several other pros, the Hibdons, of Sunrise Beach, Mo., were victims of cutbacks in sponsor dollars that began last fall and left many anglers scrambling for financial support just before the 2015 tournament season opened. Dion Hibdon, Guido’s son and Payden’s father, lost a major sponsorship when Chevy pulled out as an FLW backer and dissolved the Chevy fishing team to which Dion belonged. However, the Bassmaster Classic and Forrest Wood Cup champion will continue to fish the Tour. He’ll travel to tournaments with his younger son, Lawson, 18, who will fish as a co-angler. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-04-06-tour-talk

Tour Talk

We’re fresh off stop No. 2 of the 2015 Walmart FLW Tour season on Smith Lake, and there’s plenty to talk about in this installment of FLW’s Tour Talk, where our pundits weigh in on what’s happening along the Tour trail. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-04-03-strader-leads-the-aoy-pack

Strader Leads the AOY Pack

Things are starting to take shape in the Angler of the Year race too, and while another pair of veterans is atop the standings, there are some new faces emerging as well. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-04-01-kids-get-to-wet-a-line-during-lewis-smith-event

Kids Get to Wet a Line During Lewis Smith Event

The children and their families had plenty of room to spread out around the Smith Lake Dam cove, which proved to be a good place to fish as it was also the site where the FLW release boat unloaded fish caught by the pros during Friday’s round. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-03-30-high-school-anglers-fish-for-their-future

High School Anglers Fish for Their Future

High school anglers from across the Midwest braved chilly weather at Kentucky Lake Saturday in hopes of finding hot spots that would help advance them to the High School Fishing Southeastern Conference Championship on Lake Lanier this fall as well as help fund their college education. The 150 high school anglers and their coaches awoke to an unusually cold spring morning to compete in the 2015 Murray State High School Fishing Open. Frost-covered decks, gear and tackle, frozen livewells and outboards reluctant to start were among the first challenges those aboard the 75 boats had to deal with at Kentucky Dam Marina. The event honored the memory of Murray State University’s Dr. Jim Carter, one of the earliest proponents of fishing as a state-sanctioned high school sport. Teams competed for a grand prize of $4,000 in scholarships to Murray State. The scholarships were provided by Independence Bank of Murray and FLW in partnership with the Murray State Bass Anglers. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-03-21-guntersville-midday-update

Guntersville Midday Update

With numerous local boats on the water, a number of the top 10 pros have been unable to fully capitalize – Cameron Gautley didn’t have a limit at noon and Trevor Fitzgerald, Jay Kendrick and Rob Digh had yet to complete theirs as well. READ MORE »

/tips/2015-03-21-college-open-day-2-midday-update

College Open Day 2 Midday Update

The sun is shining, the weather is warmer and the bass aren’t biting, at least not for most of the first-round leaders here in the FLW College Fishing Kentucky Lake Open. As the second and final day of competition unfolds, the leaders are struggling to maintain their positions. READ MORE »