Live now : TOYOTA SERIES 2020 Lake Cumberland

What the buzz is all about

What the buzz is all about
Tournament leader Kevin Long displays his Skinny Dipper swimbait, rigged with a 6/0 Gamakatsu EWG and a Screwed-up Bullet locking device in the nose.

CLEWISTON, Fla. - If you are wondering what the new hot lure is on Lake Okeechobee, just look inside any pro's boat who has been fishing the Stren Series Southeastern event this week.

There, scattered all over the boat floor, you will likely find dozens of demolished Skinny Dippers and/or Horny Toads.

Horny Toads, made by Zoom Bait Company, have actually been around for a while and most bassA pile of used Dippers in pro JT Palmore anglers are familiar with the chunky soft-plastic frogs with paddle-tail feet that ripple the water's surface when reeled on top.

But the new kid on the block that has been red hot on Okeechobee in 2009 is with a doubt the Reaction Innovations Skinny Dipper. "The Dipper," as it is now being casually referred to by pros in the know, has actually been around a while as well, but it has recently caught fire as the lure to have on Okeechobee this season.

Essentially, the Skinny Dipper is a soft-plastic swimbait with a knob tail that is rigged Texas-style, which makes it weedless - really weedless - an absolute necessity when fishing on Lake Okeechobee these days.

Due to the immense fields of thick joint grass on Okeechobee this season, just about the only way to fish an artificial lure is to have one that buzzes the surface and slinks over all the "hay."

Predecessors to the Skinny Dipper, including the Gambler Flappin' Shad and the Zoom Ultra-Vibe worm, still work but all the rage recently has been the Dipper.

The unique lure helped pro Jimmy McMillan of Belle Glade win the FLW Series event earlier this year. Also, the co-angler winner of that event, Larry Mullikin of Lauderhill, Fla., was also using a Skinny Dipper. And, as it turns out, Mullikin is now also leading the Co-angler Division of the Stren event with a little help from the Dipper.

Apparently locals on Okeechobee have been onto the Dipper since last summer, but now word has gotten out.

Exactly how you rig the cigar shaped soft-plastic varies. So here is a first-hand look at how some of the top-10 pros fishing in day-three's final round of the Stren Event are employing the Dipper.

Tournament leader Kevin Long of Clewiston starts with a 7-foot, 11-inch Fenwick Elite Tech Flippin' Stik, spools on 65-pound test Spiderwire Ultracast braid, slips on a Screwed-up Bullet (a cone shaped Mark Shepardscrew-lock device, not a weight, also made by Reaction Innovations), ties on a 6/0 Gamakatsu EWG hook and then screws the Bullet into the nose of the Dipper.

Second place pro Mark Shepard also employs a flipping stick, 65-pound test braided line, and a 6/0 EWG, but opts to rig the Dipper with a tiny 1/32-ounce bullet weight held in place by a bobber stopper.

Randall Tharp, currently in fourth place, alters his rig by using a 6/0 EWG with a bit of weight on the shank. He, too, uses the Screwed-up Bullet locking device, but he likes the weight on the shank of the hook to give the Dipper some keel or ballast.

Whichever way it's rigged, the Skinny Dipper has no doubt made its mark on Lake Okeechobee this month. Which begs the question: Will the Skinny Dipper also be the rage on other shallow weedy lakes this year?

Pros recently broached with this question have "pleaded the Fifth" with a wry grin.

The final weigh-in of the Stren Series Southeastern event on Lake Okeechobee will take place Saturday at 4 p.m. at the Walmart in Clewiston.

Saturday's conditionsRandall Tharp prefers to rig the Dipper with a weighted hook.

Sunrise: 6:49 a.m.
Temperature at takeoff: 65 degrees
Expected high temperature: 80 degrees
Water temperature: 68-72 degrees
Wind: SE at 10 to 15 mph
Day's outlook: sunny and warm

Tags: rob-newell  morning-story  2009-02-26-lake-okeechobee 

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