UPCOMING EVENT: T-H Marine BFL - 2020 - Sam Rayburn Reservoir

FISHING LEAGUE WORLDWIDE

How Buddy Rigs a Hollow Swimbait

How Buddy Rigs a Hollow Swimbait

Pro bass anglers know all about small tweaks to optimize bait performance and hook-up ratios. But when it comes to hollow-body swimbaits, there isn’t much in the way of unique tweaks that might differentiate the way anglers rig them. In most cases, it comes down to hook choice and bait selection. Grip and rip.

That’s not necessarily the case for Buddy Gross, a four-year FLW Tour pro with two Tour wins to his name. Gross’ most recent win came at Lake Toho at the Tour’s second top of the 2019 season. He threw two baits all tournament long, pulling 19 of the 20 fish he weighed in from one spot with those two baits: a 1/2-ounce homemade white swim jig with a natural light-colored 4-inch Scottboro Tackle Co. Swimbait and the same swimbait in 5- and 6-inch varieties rigged on an 8/0 Owner Beast Flashy Swimmer 3/8-ounce belly-weighted hook.

It’s the Scottsboro Swimbait combined with the Flashy Swimmer we’re going to dissect here, because Gross himself did a little dissection to optimize its performance at Toho, and it’s a tweak he’s been doing for years.

 

One small tweak for a giant hook-up ratio boost

Gross has been fishing hollow-body swimbaits for a long time, and for most of that time, he’s also cut the belly of those swimbaits to allow for better hook penetration. It’s a simple concept a lot of anglers either don’t think about or wouldn’t consider if they did think about it, due to durability concerns.

For Gross, the hook-up is all that matters.

“I sacrifice the bait for the hook-up,” he says. “I don’t really do it with any other soft bait. It’s a penetration deal. I just try to optimize my chances to get a hook in them more than anything.”

The only time Gross opts not to perform hollow-body swimbait surgery?

“When I’m practicing and I don’t want to hook them as much.”

As soft as most hollow swimbaits can be, cutting the belly to allow the hook to protrude more on the hookset can limit the durability and longevity of each bait. When it matters most, though, hooking the fish and keeping it pinned is what it’s all about.

 

Gross’ bait choices

The Scottsboro got all the attention at Toho, but it was a result of water clarity, mostly. Gross believes that particular swimbait is more natural looking and is best used in clear water. Match the hatch, and choose your size accordingly.

Gross also uses a Zoom Swimmer paddle-tail swimbait, which he relies on in less-than-ideal water clarity.

“I’ve only got two I focus on the most,” he explains. “I use the 5-inch Zoom Swimmer, and I’ll cut it to open it up, too. But the Zoom Swimmer has a little more aggressive action, and if the water has more stain to it, I’ll use the Zoom Swimmer. If it’s cleaner water, I’ll use the Scottsboro.

“Scottsboro does my 6- or 7-inch stuff. The 5-inch deal just kind of played [at Toho] because the water cleaned up. If I’m throwing a 5-inch or a 4-inch bait, it’s the Zoom Swimmer usually.”

It’s a matter of preference as to which swimbait an angler chooses, but no matter which one Gross employs, he’s always cutting that belly.

 

Buddy Gross

Less finesse in grass and open water

It stands to reason that when dissecting a bait to allow more exposure of the hook, going weedless isn’t as much of a concern. Such was the case at Toho, with Gross fishing an area filled with grass and nothing in the way of hard cover such as laydowns and stumps that might lead to harder snags. In the situation Gross encountered, skin-hooking the point might have been a detriment to hook-ups.

“If you’re in open water or fishing grass like I was doing, you really don’t have to worry about skin-hooking it,” Gross adds. “For the most part you can leave your hook hanging out. It’ll come through grass just fine.”

Gross isn’t reinventing the wheel with his hollow-body methods, but he doesn’t have to, either. What he does works, and it works well. Just ask the 85-plus pounds of fish he weighed in at Toho.

Tags: scottsboro-swimbait  -chickamauga  -buddy-gross  -pro-tips-weekly  justin-onslow  tips-and-techniques 

How to Rock Fall Largemouths

How to Rock Fall Largemouths

Smith says that the best time for fall largemouth fishing happens after the first big cold snap, when the water finally drops below 60 degrees.   READ MORE »

Cumberland Practice with Bryan New

Cumberland Practice with Bryan New

Bryan New has steadily been making a case to be considered one of the brightest rising stars of the sport. Five top 10s in T-H Marine Bass Fishing League (BFL) and Costa FLW Series events this year proves it, as does his inclusion in the Costa FLW Series Championship field. New gives an inside look at how he’s been tackling the puzzle that is the FLW Series Championship on what might prove to be an unusually stingy fishery. READ MORE »

Previewing the Costa Championship

Previewing the Costa Championship

When 200 pros (and 200 co-anglers) descend on the southern Kentucky reservoir for the Costa FLW Series Championship, they’ll be facing conditions that might look nothing like what they’ll see as the official practice period opens this weekend. Forecasts call for ample rain over the weekend, and lake levels are likely to fluctuate as a result. READ MORE »

Ebare Eyes Strong Finish

Ebare Eyes Strong Finish

Ebare loves to fish. A lot. And he’s fished in 20 FLW events so far in 2019. His 21st will be the Costa FLW Series Championship at Lake Cumberland at the end of October, at which he hopes to earn his first win in FLW competition. READ MORE »

Floyd Cashes in on Guntersville

Floyd Cashes in on Guntersville

Last weekend, Floyd added to his already lengthy list of accomplishments with a T-H Marine Bass Fishing League (BFL) Regional victory on Lake Guntersville – the tournament was presented by Mercury – with a 44-pound, 15-ounce three-day total, and it all came down to consistency and some really good decision-making. READ MORE »

Newberry Wins Southwestern Division AOY

Newberry Wins Southwestern Division AOY

It was sweet redemption in many ways for the Texas legend who still owns and operates his Houston-based HVAC company despite spending so much time on the tournament-fishing circuit. Redemption for missing out on the FLW Cup in his first season. Redemption for what Grand did to him earlier this year on Tour (dropping from sixth to 41st with only one fish on day two). And, in a way, validation for a career filled with big accomplishments. READ MORE »

Hunting Big Bronze in Wisconsin

Hunting Big Bronze in Wisconsin

“On a normal day, if the best five aren’t over 25 pounds, it isn’t a good day,” Stefan says. “My best days with a buddy have been where the best five have gone 29 to 32 pounds. We get lots of 6-pounders a year, and we’ve caught some right at the 7-pound mark. I’ve had a few on that we haven’t landed that were bigger.” READ MORE »

Top 10 Patterns from Grand Lake

Top 10 Patterns from Grand Lake

Curt Warren knew what he wanted to do, and it had nothing to do with weeding through a bunch of small fish up shallow. Rather, he focused his attention on deeper Grand Lake spots with chunk rock and brush and amassed a three-day total of 46 pounds, 7 ounces to win the Costa FLW Series Southwestern Division finale, presented by T-H Marine. Here’s how the rest of the top 10 caught their fish and earned their checks on Grand. READ MORE »

How to Fish a Blade Bait for Smallmouth

How to Fish a Blade Bait for Smallmouth

You can catch smallmouths on a lot of baits in the early fall, but one of the most consistent producers later in the year is a blade bait, and Scott Dobson is an expert with it. His go-to is the old-fashioned Silver Buddy, but he has some distinct preferences and tweaks for better success. READ MORE »

Top 10 Baits from Grand Lake

Top 10 Baits from Grand Lake

A cold front moving in at the start of Grand Lake’s fall transition put a damper on seeing a bunch of big weights during the Costa FLW Series Southwestern Division finale, which was presented by T-H Marine, but plenty of pros managed to find the right fish to make things exciting on the final day. READ MORE »

Transition Time at Grand Lake

Transition Time at Grand Lake

Grand Lake has been flooded for most of the summer, and, as a result, it hasn’t received as much fishing pressure as is typical for one of the premier fisheries in the region. Weights for the Costa FLW Series Southwestern Division finale, presented by T-H Marine, have the potential to be outstanding for this time of year, but it may all come down to what the weather decides to do leading up to the event. READ MORE »

How Schmitt Targets Late-Summer Tidal Bass

How Schmitt Targets Late-Summer Tidal Bass

As we’ve seen pretty much every year in the FLW Cup, which is usually held in the South, going way up creeks to find slightly cooler water is a productive pattern in the heat of late summer. The same strategy can pay off on tidal fisheries such as the Potomac River and James River as well, albeit with some tweaks for the situation. READ MORE »

How to Choose the Right ChatterBait

How to Choose the Right ChatterBait

If you were going to carry just one bladed jig, the ChatterBait Jack Hammer would be a great choice. But to say it’s the perfect ChatterBait for every scenario would be like saying ketchup is the perfect condiment for every food, or fluorocarbon is the only line you should use. Sometimes you need to opt for something just a little different to tackle a niche situation. As far as ChatterBaits go, there are a number of good options. READ MORE »

Hough is Fighting to Fish

Hough is Fighting to Fish

Fishing just her second full season as a co-angler in the T-H Marine FLW Bass Fishing League (BFL) South Carolina Division, mother of two and first-grade teacher Kate Hough was planning and preparing for a chance to do something no woman has ever done in her division: win Co-Angler of the Year. Instead of preparing for the Super Tournament on Lake Hartwell on Sept. 28, however, Hough is simply fighting to leave her hospital bed. READ MORE »

7 Ways to Fish the Megabass Dark Sleeper

7 Ways to Fish the Megabass Dark Sleeper

The Megabass Dark Sleeper is definitely a niche bait that most bass anglers ought to have in their arsenal. It’s a swimbait, but its size, shape, dorsal fin hook guards and action allow it to be applied in a similar manner as a jig. READ MORE »

Bryan Schmitt’s ChatterBait Box

Bryan Schmitt’s ChatterBait Box

“I’m pretty wild on color selection,” says Schmitt. “I always have my shad colors. I always have my black and blues. But I fall in love with trying to find a niche color. Especially when you get into the fall of the year on the Potomac. I love to find a crayfish pattern, and I feel like then a crayfish-imitating ChatterBait out-fishes anything else. And I also like to find a bluegill pattern at times, so I play with the colors.” READ MORE »

How to Make a Swimbait a Line-Thru

How to Make a Swimbait a Line-Thru

Jake Lawrence thinks the line-thru swimbait is more versatile than many tournament anglers realize. The Kentucky Lake and Pickwick guide and 2018 Costa FLW Series Lake Barkley champion frequently chucks one any time bass are shallow to not only put big fish in the boat, but to catch five good ones in a day. READ MORE »

How to Finesse Weed line Largemouths

How to Finesse Weed line Largemouths

When it comes to finesse baits that put fish in the boat, the Ned rig has certainly earned a spot as a go-to for bass anglers across the country. While it catches pretty much everything that swims, most of the attention gets put on catching northern smallmouths or Ozarks-region largemouths and spotted bass with it.   READ MORE »

Khourie, Lingnau Win 2019 FLW South Africa Championship

Khourie, Lingnau Win 2019 FLW South Africa Championship

Team Khourie/Lignau, consisting of Pieter Khourie and August Lingnau of the North West region, came roaring back on day three of the 2019 FLW South Africa Championship with a five-bass limit of 10.55 kg (23.25 pounds) to take the top spot and beat out Greg Schluep and Giulio Nolli of Team Secret VC for the title. READ MORE »

Checking in with Walters After the Cup

Checking in with Walters After the Cup

Walters, 41, of Grant Valkaria, Fla., is getting back to business as usual following his remarkable Cup showing, and we checked in with him to find out what his experience in Hot Springs was like and what’s on tap for the future – including a possible FLW Tour career. READ MORE »