LOCATION: Anaheim California in the heart of Orange County. In the O C you will find housewives that dream of Hollywood, extremely large mice, ducks ice skating, and angels that wish they were in Los Angeles.
You will also find Anglers Marine. Featuring one of the areas better bass tackle shops, Anglers is a full service boat dealership with a focus on freshwater bass angling.
THE EVENT: Anglers Marine also hosts the annual Bass A Thon, held this year on November 21st & 22nd . This perennial fall event features seminars, workshops, product displays, casting competitions, and excellent reduced pricing on boats.
The Bass A Thon has a raffle at the end of the days schedule and participants have a shot at some very impressive prices. FLW pro and co angler entry fees into the National Guard Western Series, 6 day Alaskan vacation, annual pass for Diamond Valley Lake, rod and reel combos, tires, and more. Wow the winners must be pleased, I certainly would be.
ADVICE TO BE AQUIRED
Scott Martin discussing jig fishing
Each year the impressive list of seminar speakers is right off the pages of national bass fishing magazines. In no particular order the 2009 speakers included Brent Ehrler, Dave Gliebe, Greg Hackney, Scott Martin, and The BBZ Man Bill Siemantel. It will come as no surprise to the members of the BBZ that Bill's seminar on shadows had attendees buzzing! As I walked around I listened to many remarkable comments about Bill's tutorial. Bill has an article due in the next Bass Anglers Guide and I plan on bringing to you, "stay tuned".
Workshops were conducted throughout the day and featured Mike Long, Mike Folkstad, Rich Tauber shown in photo, and Jarrett Edwards.
When not speaking, these guys are very approachable and are more than willing to talk with you. Do not be timid I have found that they are very receptive when you ask for a few minutes of their time. It is a great opportunity to ask questions, and when you speak directly to someone there is more that can be learned from how they say something than just written words on a page.
I had the opportunity to speak in depth with pro angler Ricky Shabazz at the Jackall booth as he discussed in detail how he "punches". Among many accomplishments Ricky achieved a top 10 finish in this year's FLW National Guard event at the California Delta. This tournament was basically a punching contest, so let's hear what Ricky has to say about punching.
Ricky's punching lure rigging consists of braided line, a heavy tungsten bullet weight, two weight stops(also known as bobber stoppers), a punch skirt, a 5/0 flipping hook, and a plastic craw imitation. The plastic shown is the new Sasuteki 4" Craw from Jackall. Jackall has an excellent wide range of soft and hard baits. Most of the Jackall product line is in my tackle bag.
The technique; Crawfish can be found feeding in vegetation, the technique of "Punching" creates the illusion of mudbugs moving through aquatic plants. Ricky explains that punching with a heavy weight does indeed get your lure to pass through the dense weeds but that is not the sole purpose of the weight. He explains that if you observe crawdads moving in flora they "shoot" through and that is a prime benefit of punching with a heavy sinker. Targeting heavy cover most anglers are using heavy 8' flipping rods.
Here is how Ricky rigs his punch baits. In most situations he will use 65 lb braid. If a slower fall is preferred 80 lb is selected. The mood of the bass will influence the line weight choice. A heavy bullet tungsten weight, up to 2 oz is placed on the line. He will use a weight stop in front and behind the weight. Ricky explains that if the weight is allowed to slide on the line the heavy weight has the ability to knock a hook out of a bass's mouth. You do not want the bullet to move at all. Next a punch skirt is placed on the line. After the skirt a hook that has been prepared with shrink wrap (see component photo above) is tied to the braid.
A piece of shrink wrap is melted on the shank of the hook. One end of the wrap is cut at a 45 degree angle. During the melting process the angled end is pulled away from the hook creating a stop. The stop should remain on the outside of the bait holding the plastic straight on the hook. It also prevents the plastic from tearing, saving baits. Using either a BMF of Paycheck wide gap hook Ricky will exclusively use a 5/0 size. The fish are in heavy cover, slop and they tend to get stuck in these weeds. Perhaps a minor detail but a bigger 5/0 wide gap vs. a 4/0 has a dramatic effect on landing every fish including that "key" fish. These punching bass are usually hooked at close range A snell knot is used to tie the line to the hook. Ricky uses superglue on the knot to prevent slipping. The braid, the knot, and the hook combined translate into deep penetrating in the roof of the mouth hook sets that enable the angler to get these big bass into the boat. Ricky then dresses the hook with the Sasuteki Craw. He explains that you want a compact bait without a lot of appendages. Less appendages will produce less hang ups translating into more fish. This rigging produces the profile and action of a crawfish shooting through the vegetation. Ricky those were excellent details that help define this technique. Thank you for sharing with the readers at the BBZ. Good luck in your endeavors.
Product display booths are another excellent highlight of this event. Tackle and equipment manufactures display products, some of which are making their debut. Most wears are available for purchase, some at special event pricing. Some may think that this is just a sales opportunity, but it is actually much more than that.
What I enjoy and appreciate about the product booths is the opportunity to hold and examine the various angling tools. You gain a much different perspective than what might come from a web page, catalog, or looking through display packaging. In addition, often the designer or an extremely well versed representative is there to speak directly with you, answering questions and highlighting the aspects of their gear.
This gives the opportunity to gain an understanding of equipment that might not be initially apparent. Asking a lure designer why something is made in a particular manner can better illustrate the capacities and give insight of how that product might best fit into your arsenal.
As I walked the booths, here are some of the products that caught my eye. Keep in mind that I do not have the luxury or a time efficient manner of field testing these lures before presenting them to you.
My focus for this report was mainly on new products. There was many excellent products at the show but not necessarily new to the market. I wanted to spotlight products that might not have yet made their way to you. There was many excellent products at the Bass A Thon that will not appear in this report. As I said these items simply caught my attention. When it comes to what caught my eye, the bass and their opinions are far greater than mine.
Lowrance Marine Electronics was at the show staffed by Ken Sauret and Don Iovino.
Ken is a professional bass fishing guide and tournament angler, guiding on Lake Nacimiento and other central California lakes. Sponsored by Lowrance Ken is at the FLW Western Series events. Even though he is a competitor in the tournament he unselfishly will stay at the docks after each day and do his best to make sure that your electronics are up and running. That is a great trait and the world can use more guys like Ken.
Don Iovino the father of Doodling, and with George Kramer the author of the book Finesse Bass Fishing & the Sonar Connection. Don will also guide but for on the water sonar instruction only. Ken and Don, two excellent sonar experts.
Lowrance has a unique demonstration booth. They have cut a bass boat in half demonstrating the complete system. Console and bow units, GPS pucks, transducers, wiring, it is all here.
StructureScan, screen on the left shows left and right side scan image. StructureScan side imaging can see up to 480 feet. Screen on top right shows DownScan directly below the boat. The StructureScan provides a real image of what is in the field of the scan. An object such as a tree will appear as a very defined image. The image on the bottom right is a traditional sonar image of the same view as the DownScan image above. When searching for a structure object with a traditional sonar unit if the boat and the downward sonar cone does not pass over the object you will not see it. With side StructureScan technology that is no longer the case. Outward left, right, and downward, you will see it better and find it faster. That can translate to more productive casts. The ability to cover more water in less time, targeting fish and fish holding structure. In addition these untis feature the TrackBack tool providing the ability to scroll back in image history, set a waypoint and find that location.
Wow technology like this really excites me, where will we be 10 years from now?
Black Dog Bait Company
From the makers of the Shell Cracker and the Lunker Punker the 6" Weed Slinger Minnow. Blackdog Shad on top and Ghost Ayu below.
This is a soft plastic line through swimbait. This is not a new bait but it has recently been re-designed. The dorsal fin has been removed from the original design allowing water to pass stronger over the tail section creating more tail swimming action. The internal head weight has been lightened to allow for a slower nose down fall and a more versatile retrieve action.
A very weed less bait it has been molded with an internal "hook slot" aligning hook penetration out the top of the bait. Among the many ways this bait can be fished I see myself fishing this bait through the weeds and dragging the bottom.
Damiki Craft International
Damiki is a South Korean Based company. Entering the North American market in October of 2008, these products are just beginning to find their way to us. Damiki has very dynamic line of products; Rods, line, hardbaits, softbaits, hooks, and terminal tackle a Damiki sponsored angler will only need to obtain their own fishing reels to complete an arsenal.
Speaking with Rodney Strong he illustrated some unique features of Damiki baits.
Damiki 5" Armor Shad, there are many soft jerk baits on the market. The Armor Shad features a fish shaped ribbed body. The ribs will create more friction as it moves through the water. The design is targeting the lateral line of a bass, fluid dynamics.
Damiki 4" Hydra, shown with a Neko Sinker. The Neko is a nail weight inserted into to the head of the Hydra. The body of the Hydra is salt impregnated, topped with 24 non salt individually molded tentacles with round tips. The design keeps the tentacles separated. Use a wide gap hook and the Neko coupled with the design of the Hdra this bait will stand up. With the Hydra resting on the bottom and no action imparted by the angler the Hydra will respond on its own as a predator fish displaces water that is in contact with the bait. The fish moves, the Hydra reacts. The Hydra can be rigged many ways and has many applications. I bet it will aggravate bed fish.
Damiki 5" Buzz Shad, this a soft plastic solid body swimbait. There is a molded joint back towards the tail section.
It is molded with a hook alignment channel which makes rigging easy. Use on its own with a variety of weightless and weighted hooks, buzz the surface or sub-surface. It also makes an excellent trailer for reaction baits. This baits weight will make it easy to cast.
Damiki Stinger and Hotdog. From top to bottom; the 4" Stinger, 5.5" Stinger, and the 6" Hotdog. These stick baits have a pointed end. 4" shows Smoke with black & silver and the 5.5" is Greenpumpkin with black. The Hotdog is shown in Sexyred with black. Most know the many ways and methods of using stick baits. The pointed tip can show fish a slightly different look.
All Damiki soft plastics are available in a wide range of colors.
Damiki has many interesting baits. It was difficult choosing which ones to feature.
Lucky Craft EPG LL PT 200. At 8" in length this slim bait was inspired by musky glide baits.
This lipless jerk bait features a sub-surface walk the dog jerk retrieve. Being pitched as a bass catcher I suspect stripers will also find it appealing. Ghost Blue Gill pattern shown, based on profile I am renaming the pattern as Phantom Perch.
Owner has new line of softbaits.
Owner Ribeye Swimbait; At 5.5" this solid body plastic scented bait (tasty scent) has slots for easy hook placement. The tail section has a molded joint and the entire body is ribbed. It can be rigged several ways; top - rigged with a weightless hook for shallow or surface swim, center - keel weight for deeper or a faster swim, and bottom - the flashy swimmer with more flash and vibration it can be used like a spinner bait. Owner states that this bait will not roll when fished with a weightless hook. I plan on swimming this bait through the sparse tulles on top like a buzz bait. Brown trout pattern is shown.
Owner Shiver Tail, a 4.5" supple plastic small bait that should be a good choice for drop shotting and other 'finesse' techniques. It design promotes an enhanced tail kick. Oxblood with red flake is shown in the photo. I picked up a package in this color, can my fellow local anglers guess where I will fish this bait/color?
Owner Shaky Worm, a 6.5" bait rigged on a 3/16 oz. 4/0 Owner Ultrahead Shaky Jig. Of course this worm can be rigged in many ways beside a shaky head. The Shaky Worm features a unique "foam type" material that makes it buoyant and a perfect candidate for a shaky head or any presentation for a nose down tail up technique. Green Weenie Plus is the color shown.
Owner Yuki Bug, a 4.3" hybrid creature craw style bait. Dress a jig, Texas, or Carolina, it can be fished in a variety of ways. The paddle tail on this bait has a air chamber that will cause the tail to rise up over the body. Photo shows green pumpkin with black flake.
All of the Owner soft plastics feature "Tasty Scent". Developed in Japan, designed and tested on largemouth bass this scent is a combination of garlic and shrimp. My nose cannot detect it. Because it is not strong (to my olfactory) I am confident that if you so choose you can add your own scent formula to these baits. The Shiver Tail, Shaky Worm, and Yuki Bug all come packaged in a re-sealable plastic bag and a molded plastic tray.
P B Rat
P B Rat by George Pernicano and Art Berry. P B has a double meaning; personal best and the first letter of the last name of its creators. Measuring 10" tip to tip this top water wake bait features wood construction. The wood receives a dye stain and then a flexible clear finish to keep water out. Several different colors are available. This bait immediately made me think of the Delta and night fishing.
Focusing on hard-baits, Revenge has a wide range of existing products, most of which can be found in my bag. Revenge Baits has a reputation for improving existing products by listening to angler feedback and producing high quality lures that are in response . New to their product line;
Revenge Flippin' Wacker Hedz, this a low profile, custom painted jig head designed to allow you to fish your wacky rigged baits around snags and weeds. Available in green pumpkin, black, and brown It features a sharp Mustad Ultra Point hook. Sizes range from 1/16, 1/8, 3/16, and 1/4. All sizes are available with either a 1/0 or 2/0 size hook.
Revenge Flip Jigs made to target heavy cover, this jig has a matching color nylon fiber weed guard, rattles, and a custom painted head. A wide variety of patterns come in sizes; 1/4, & 3/8 oz. with a 4/0 hook, 1/2 oz. with a 5/0 hook, and 3/4, 1, 1.5 oz sporting a 6/0 hook. The bluegill pattern is shown.
Revenge Vibrators in the new Blue Gill pattern. I recently used this lure (shad pattern) in Alabama. Not only is it very well made the bass told me they like it. Ray of Revenge Baits explained to me that the market is filled with baits in this category that use a light wire hook attached to the line tie and a vibrating plate that is too close to the hook which results in lost fish, especially big fish. The Revenge Vibrator depending on the model size has a heavy gauge 5/0 or 6/0 nickel Mustad Ultrapoint hook. The wire extends farther out in front of the nose, coupled with a stainless steel special bend plate and a heavy duty snap placing more distance between the hook and the line tie. The Mustad Ultrapoint hook is a conical shape, designed not to break at the tip.
Skinny Bear has been around for many years and has featured among other baits a line of flipping and finesse jigs. Skinny Bear's were probably the first jigs in my tackle box.
New to the Skinny Bear product line is their jig skirts. The photo shows the living rubber and Mylar combination. They also have an all silicon rattle capable version as well. As Loren Serda of Skinny Bear explains these skirts are the "jig of the future". They can be used with a diverse selection of weights, hooks, and baits. From heavy tungsten punching, Texas bullets, Carolina rigs the applications are endless. Turn your tube into a Hula Grub, put one in front of a small swimbait and work it like a spinner-bait, the list goes on. With an in-line approach the skirt has less friction and can also eliminate the fiber weed guard. Loren you're right and the future has arrived!
SpinTech Treble Hooks are made with a line tie pin placed directly through the center of the treble hook. The outer portion of the treble rotates freely around the pin. Available in both freshwater and saltwater versions in standard and red finish. With more sizes coming soon they are currently available in #6, #4, #2, #1, 1/0, 2/0, and 3/0.
Joe Uribe Sr. of BasStar Bait Company explains that these hooks will not side load like a conventional treble hook on a spilt ring. Because they keep turning there is no rip and a better bite is achieved eliminating a fishes ability to use the leverage of a bait to throw the hook.
Spro BBZ-1 6" Jr. by Bill Siemantel (6" shown below 8" model), this downsize version of the 8" BBZ-1 swimbait should provide a bridge for bass anglers who have not crossed over to big bait swimbaits . Those who either do not have the equipment or the confidence will find this bait as a good starting place as it is more appropriate to "standard" equipment. From 1 pounders to 10 pounders it is not going to limit the size of fish you catch. This bait I have field tested and I love it. Available in 3 sink rates; floater at 0, slow sink at 1 foot per 3 seconds, fast sink at 1 foot per 1 second and 4 patterns Wicked Perch, Blue Back Herring, Rainbow Trout, and Sexy Lavender Shad.
The 4" BBZ-1 swimbait in Killer Gill pattern shown below the 6" Lavender Shad. The Killer Gill and Wicked Perch patterns have recently been added to the 4" color line. This is another bait that I have had the pleasure of field testing and landing bass with.
Here you can see Bill's next project the 2.5" BBZ-1 Micro swimbait, shown below the 6" Blue Back Herring. I am very excited about this bait. Due to come out next year I know Bill has been kicking butt on Castaic with this lure.
There you have it, a partial review for the 2009 Bass A Thon. These baits have me excited, in addition to the tips that I gained I am looking forward to testing and learning what the bass have to say about these lures.
Whether you like what has been featured here or not, I hope at the very least this portrait has you thinking.
Whether you drop by and just browse the booths, spend part of the day or both days I feel the prospects are abundant at the Bass A Thon. Exposure and opportunity can be a two way street; query's, insight, knowledge, it can be found at the Bass A Thon and it's yours for the taking.
On this Thanksgiving Day I want to give my thanks that I am a member of the BBZ. We are rapidly approaching the end of this year and I wish for all of us a better 2010. May your hook set always be on time and stay pinned.