UPCOMING EVENT: PHOENIX BASS FISHING LEAGUE - 2020 - Lake Mitchell

Focusing on Floggers

Focusing on Floggers
Chris Johnston

For my first blog, I figured I’d talk about Floggers (also called bathyscopes). I’ll probably talk about less controversial things later, but I used a Flogger in my last two FLW events on Lake Champlain and Lake St. Clair, so now is as good a time as any to talk about them.

Floggers have been getting a lot more popular recently, but I think there’s a big misconception with them to begin with. People think you find more beds with them, and that’s not the case. They do serve a purpose, however.

I use one in situations where I spot a bed, or maybe it’s a little overcast and I see a boulder with a light spot, but there’s chop or conditions that otherwise make it difficult to get a good view. The Flogger will cut the glare and the chop and help me get a better look. I can see the size of the fish on the bed, and it saves me so much time. Instead of wondering if it’s a 2-pounder or a 3-pounder, I put a Flogger down and can see the fish perfectly and mark it on my GPS if it’s a fish I’d like to come back to in the tournament.

Normally, I don’t like even getting the Flogger out in tournaments. If I know there’s a 4-pounder on the bed I just want to pitch to the bed and catch it in four or five casts. It’s about efficiency. Using the Flogger slows me down.

However, there are instances when I will use it during competition. If I pull up to the fish and it’s finicky, which sometimes happens because someone caught it in practice, or for other reasons, I might use the Flogger to gauge the situation or more accurately present the bait. Smallmouths actually allow you to get right on top of their beds, so I’ll put the Flogger down and can see the bed and my tube perfectly. It’s hard to do, to keep one hand on the Flogger and one on the rod, while staying within about 5 feet of the bed, but with practice it can be done.

It’s amazing what the Flogger can show you about a presentation, too. When you’re not looking through the Flogger, you’ll sometimes think you’re on the bed, but you won’t be. I’ve experimented with this a lot with good fishermen. They’ll cast while I’m on the Flogger watching how the fish reacts. They’ll say, “OK, I’m on the bed,” and I know they’re 2 feet off it. With the Flogger, you’re able to see how the fish reacts and always keep the bait in the strike zone.

There have been fish I’ve caught with the Flogger that I would never have been able to catch otherwise. For example, at Champlain, I pulled up on a fish that I was shocked was still there. I had kind of given up on him, but it turns out the reason he was still there was probably because people couldn’t catch him. I could see him with the Flogger, and he would nip my tube in certain spots. There was one little area of the bed where, if I got the bait on it, I could see him react differently. Finally, after about 10 minutes, I got him to bite. It would have been impossible without a Flogger.

I know some tournaments have banned Floggers, but I think it should be legal like anything else. Look at all the technology we have on our boats, from electronics to Spot-Lock. Everything is advancing in fishing. It’s all part of the sport. I think the Flogger fits that category. It’s a great tool to catch more fish. It’s available to everyone, and it’s very inexpensive. There’s an art to using it, and people have to figure out how to use it. It isn’t magic. I don’t see why you would create a rule against it.

That said, I know some people will have the co-anglers look at fish for them, and I don’t agree with that. You should do it yourself unless it’s a team tournament.

Nowadays, it seems like you have to use a Flogger to compete in the spring up north. The guys that use it are getting pretty good at it. But it doesn’t lead to instant success. You still have to train your eyes on what to look for. Part of the reason some people want it banned might be that they don’t like getting down and bending over. There’s a bit of energy to using it, and you’re leaning over the gunwale. At the end of the day your chest is probably sore, and if there are waves the Flogger is probably going to hit you in the face, too. That’s just part of the challenge of it.

My brother, Cory, and I have been using it for five or six years at least. I started using the Flogger on a lake back home in Ontario called Lake Simcoe. The guys that started using it first had a big advantage. They’d use it to spot fish and estimate their size when the season was still closed and you weren’t allowed to catch them to see how big they were. And those fish were so finicky that you didn’t want to catch them before the tournament anyway. The guys who did their homework the best could have their five biggest ones lined up before the tournament started. That’s the biggest advantage of the Flogger: being able to see how big one is without needing to catch it.

If you’re just starting with a Flogger, my biggest tip is to not troll around to find fish with it. That’s not the proper way to use it. You can actually see more when you’re standing on the deck of your boat because you can see a radius of about 30 feet, and when you’re looking through the Flogger you can only see a radius of 7 or 8 feet. So you still have to see the bed with your eyes—not necessarily seeing the fish, but seeing a spot on bottom you think is the bed. That’s when you bend over and use the Flogger.

You also want to use good glasses for looking. I’ll use yellow lenses on an overcast day, and I’m a big fan of the Sunrise Silver Mirror lens from Costa the rest of the time. They seem to brighten everything up, and I’ll use those for a whole day while fishing.

I’ll be back with another blog soon. I’ve got the second Costa FLW Series Northern Division event on Lake Erie, and then I’m headed to Arkansas for the Forrest Wood Cup. Until next time, you can follow along on my Facebook and Instagram pages.

Tags: chris-johnston  blog 

A Silver Lining

A Silver Lining

From spending some quality time with my wife, Katie, and my dog, Doppler, to organizing my life and fun fishing, there are numerous ways that I have been able to take advantage of our current social responsibility to participate in “social distancing.” READ MORE »

Encouraging the Next Generation

Encouraging the Next Generation

Growing up in the city of Chicago, I didn’t have the outlet to the outdoors that a lot of our youth enjoy while growing up. It often takes hours to travel out of the city due to traffic, and there were no lakes within walking distance from my house. So it’s not like I could swing by the pond after school. READ MORE »

Picking out a New Favorite Rod

Picking out a New Favorite Rod

When selecting a new rod, I consider several elements: action, power, length and components.  Different rods will fit the role, depending on the type of lure, cover and fish species you are targeting. READ MORE »

Always Go Down Swinging

Always Go Down Swinging

Greg Bohannan's late father, Kenny, taught his sons to never take a third strike looking. "If you take the pitch and don't swing, you never give yourself a chance," he'd say. With that lesson in mind, Greg took his cuts at Lake Martin and gave himself a shot to win. Even though it didn't work out, he knows that at least he went down swinging. READ MORE »

How to Catch Your New PB

How to Catch Your New PB

Out of the five biggest fish I have caught in my life, four have come on a ChatterBait, including my personal best – a 9-pounder I caught this year on Sam Rayburn during the first Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit event. READ MORE »

Why You Should Reel with Both Hands

Why You Should Reel with Both Hands

Without a doubt, during a tournament day I always get a question from my Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit Marshal about why I have both left- and right-handed Abu Garcia baitcast reels. I get comments about the same thing from multiple social media followers if I post a picture that shows my reels. The remarks originally surprised me, but not any longer because of how frequently I see them. READ MORE »

Carrying Momentum into Florida

Carrying Momentum into Florida

Despite the solid start to the year, and the confidence that comes with overcoming adversity, Miles Burghoff knows very well how a good start to a season can either create positive momentum, or open the door to complacency, which often can result in a loss of motivation and focus. With the Harris Chain event kicking off this week, he's determined to keep that focus and motivation. READ MORE »

New Year, Same Feel

New Year, Same Feel

Ending 2019 on a bad note wasn’t how I pictured last season going. I was in contention to qualify for the FLW Cup going into the last FLW Tour event on Lake Champlain, but after coming in 97th at the finale I finished the season 51st in the Angler of the Year points and missed my chance for the Cup. Not going to lie, it stung a little bit and made for a LONG drive home, but it also made me hungry for 2020. READ MORE »

Vlog: Rayburn Recap, Practice to Pattern

Vlog: Rayburn Recap, Practice to Pattern

Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit pro Josh Douglas and his wife, Bri, created this baller recap video from Sam Rayburn and the first Pro Circuit event of 2020. In the video, which includes footage from practice and the tournament, Josh dishes on how he used his practice time to eventually uncover a productive trap pattern that helped him earn a 42nd-place finish, which is a big improvement on the 114th he posted at Rayburn in the 2019 FLW Tour event. READ MORE »

Why You Shouldn’t Second-Guess Your Gut

Why You Shouldn’t Second-Guess Your Gut

In tournament fishing, you can beat yourself up for days with the “what if” scenarios that cause you to second-guess your gut. Well, in this case, I guessed wrong. I finished the Lake Champlain event in 145th place. It knocked me all the way down to 60th in points and out of Cup contention. READ MORE »

More Fishing, More Focus in 2020

More Fishing, More Focus in 2020

People talk a lot about the offseason in professional bass fishing, but when you do this for a living you pretty quickly realize there really isn’t much of an offseason anymore. READ MORE »

New Challenges, New Opportunities

New Challenges, New Opportunities

Now with 2019 in the rear-view mirror, 2020 is in the crosshairs, and I look forward to the challenges ahead. With the rebranding of the Tour to the new FLW Pro Circuit, there are some great new opportunities that both fans and competitors will benefit from. READ MORE »

Why I Chose FLW

Why I Chose FLW

My name is Richard Dunham, but most people know me as Dicky D. I currently live in Palm Harbor Florida where I work for the Folsom Corporation, one of the largest fishing distributors in the country. In 2020 I am fishing as a boater in Southern Division of the FLW Series. READ MORE »

Prepping for the 2020 Fishing Season

Prepping for the 2020 Fishing Season

This is one of my favorite times of the year, the (not so) calm before the storm before the tournament season kicks off down south in January. READ MORE »

I’m Signed up and Ready to Go

I’m Signed up and Ready to Go

Following a great season in 2019, I just signed up for the FLW Pro Circuit for 2020. Foremost, I’m excited about the opportunities that are being provided by MLF and FLW. I see overall growth in the platform as we strive to be a bigger and better industry. READ MORE »

FLW Foundation Volunteers Have a Big Impact on Youth

FLW Foundation Volunteers Have a Big Impact on Youth

For the past several years, the FLW Foundation has been working diligently on a mission to introduce young people to their local natural resources. One strategy employed by the Foundation is to host free youth fishing derbies across the country. READ MORE »

4 Easy Ways to Store Soft Plastics

4 Easy Ways to Store Soft Plastics

One of the easiest and most controllable ways to save time and be efficient on the water is to keep tackle organized and accessible. Hard baits are easy to organize in Plano boxes, but soft plastics can sometimes cause a bit of a headache. Here are some tips for doing it based on how I go about tackling the issue.  READ MORE »

How to Land More Bass

How to Land More Bass

My technique for fighting a bass depends significantly on the equipment – my Dobyns rod, Ardent reel, Seaguar line and Cornerstone Baits – that I’m using at the time. READ MORE »

God, Grace, Grit

God, Grace, Grit

Life isn’t always easy, and we all find ourselves in situations that seem impossible to overcome. But with God, grace and grit we have not only persevered, we have risen. And we are continuing to rise together, and can commit to uplifting one another along the way. No matter what you are going through on or off the water, know that with God, grace and grit, but most of all God, anything is possible. READ MORE »

How to Prepare for Big Water 

How to Prepare for Big Water 

As many of you know, fishing big water for giant smallmouths is my favorite type of fishing. Competing on the Great Lakes, 1000 Islands, St. Clair, Champlain and other big Northern fisheries is not for the faint of heart. Sometimes it gets rough, which is why it’s critical that you have the correct equipment and understand how to use it. READ MORE »