Early Season Deer Hunting

11 years old, Duston Sandifer in Blackville, SC

      11 year Old, Duston Sandifer in Blackville, SC


  Well it's still summer and here in South Carolina it's also deer hunting season.
I'm sure that for some of you it is unimaginable that anyone would even consider
hunting in this type of weather. Well we do it every year, even in the height of
the season in mid to late October it could still have a easy 60-70 degree days.

For some August is the the beginning of bow season and for other parts of the
state it opens right up with gun season. And this mean one thing for sure, that if
you try real hard in the first couple of weeks you stand a good chance of  harvesting
a buck in full velvet. Of course you will have put up with the mosquitoes and the bugs,
to some it is all worth it and to others maybe not so. There are advantages to early season hunting. No hunting pressure on the game thus far, as few hunters are willing to do what it takes to hunt in this weather.  Plus, with daylight savings time you can get in a good evening hunt after getting off work.

  But for you the hunter there are precautions that you should take when hunting in
our Carolina bottom lands and swamps. Take care to using the proper repellents for
your protection from bug bites and such.  Not only do they itch but they can make you sick. Remember we also
have a variety of venous snakes in our state, so you need to have acquitted protection
in the form of snake boots or chaps. It may not kill you but it can make you so sick,
you may wish it did. Here is South Carolina we have rattlesnakes, cottonmouths,
copperheads and the rare banned coral snake. A bad bite from one of these guys can
upset more than just your hunting season.

The next big thing is the heat. Be aware of
your fluid intake and don't set yourself up for dehydration, this can also be dangerous.
Make sure that you are not getting overheated. It would not be good to have a
heat stroke in the mists of all these extremely hot day we have this time of year.

Safe guard yourself from all mentioned hazards, and you could get a big jump on
everyone else. Your season could be successful before some hunters even get started.
There is nothing so unique as a velvet mount, that's something you don't see lots of
and some hunter may go to great length to have that opportunity. This time of year you
get to watch the change as the bachelor buck groups began to scope out possible territory
before they get ready for the later rut time.

It's always interesting to see how your now
stand set works out for the upcoming mid to late season. Granted the most ideal time to
buck hunt is during the rut, but early season deer hunting in the south is defiantly a
breed of its own.

    If you are about to set out for your hand at this early season adventure stop by your
local Bass Pro Shops and gather all your needs. A Thermal-cell bug repellent system is a
must for every Carolina hunter and don't forget those snake boots. We also offer several
choices in hydro bottles and packs.
Speak to our associates about all your needs in camouflage clothing, guns and ammo as well.
Enjoy the season and be safe!


Fall Fishing Patterns

Ed Nelson

                                                                  By Ed Nelson


     Well it’s finally here, the second magical time of year. First, you waited all winter for the bass to spawn. What a blast that was, sight fishing for big females and males so aggressive they could be caught one cast after another. Then the dog days of summer with its crowded ramps, boating traffic, 100 degree heat index with unbearable humidity and the fish didn’t have it any easier. They had to endure 90+ degree water temps, unbelievable fishing pressure and near constant boating traffic. I don’t know about you but I’m glad it’s over.


    Now, I can probably guess what a lot of you are thinking; “It’s still in the 90’s”. As I’ve always said, look at it from the fish’s perspective. The outside air temps might still be in the 90’s but the days are getting shorter and the nights are getting longer. If you couple that with much lower humidity, then the water is spending more time cooling off in the evening than it is heating up during the day. Add in the decrease in boating traffic and fishing pressure (tourists have gone home and hunting season has opened) and top it off with the bass moving shallow as the water cools and…..Presto…. I give you, Fall Fishing.


    Patterning fall bass is a matter of finding the bass (location pattern) and matching the hatch (presentation pattern). The location pattern will be based on water temperature and water level. Even though the bass are wanting to go shallow this time of year some impoundments start to drop the water level down to winter pool. If this happens then the bass will actually move deeper or stay in their summer holding areas till the water stabilizes and then start their fall migration shallow. The best location method for this time of year is to pick a direction. Start shallow and work progressively deeper or start with typical summer haunts and work your way shallow. I personally prefer to start with some map study and find areas where the fish will eventually end up. I like a good feeding flat with either deep water access near-by or even better a creek channel leading in that the bass will use as a highway. From there I look for the main lake point that the creek channel passes closest to on its way to the flat. That’s where I like to begin fishing. I will work the main lake point first then follow the “highway” to the flat paying careful attention to any key areas I might pass along the way like humps, creek channel junctions, rock piles, trees and any other cover or structure. This way, I’m following the bass along the path of their fall migration.

Topo Map

    Your presentation pattern can be as simple. If you remember during the spawn, we patterned our presentations towards nature’s egg-stealers. We used baits that mimicked Bluegill, Crawfish and Salamanders because bass that are protecting their beds tend to be extremely aggressive towards them. Well, in the fall it’s all about the shad. Shad are going to be the main forage this time of year. That’s not to say that a bass won’t hit a frog when they are in real shallow water or a crawfish especially after a cold front has them tight to the bottom or buried up in cover, but when they are active in the fall, its shad that are on the menu. Once again you need to match the hatch. Spinnerbaits, Buzz-baits, Crankbaits and Topwaters all produce this time of year. You have to let the bass tell you what they want on that particular day. Look at the type of area you are going to fish and choose the bait that best covers the depth of water and/or type of structure you are targeting.

Hoppys Lures Spinnerbait

      Spinnerbaits are an excellent lure choice this time of year. They can be fished at any depth and through any cover. They are an excellent shad imitation. The skirt color can be changed to match the hue of any baitfish. The blades flash like the shiny sides of a shad and they also displace water which creates a vibration that the bass can sense with its lateral line.  Presentation can be as simple as cast and retrieve. Some days they want it fished fast overhead and other days you have to slow-roll it down the contour of the lake bottom. I’ve even had some success hopping it or jigging it down main lake points. You just have to experiment with different retrieves and presentations.

Hoppys Lures BuzzBait

    Buzz-baits are another excellent choice this time of year. They make a lot of noise when reeled in and can draw bass out from their hiding places. They work well in shallow cover, in off colored water and even over deep water. They produce best in the morning and on overcast or windy days. With this bait your presentation truly is as simple as cast and retrieve. On hint, whenever you are throwing a Buzz-bait always have a follow-up bait rigged. My favorite is a soft plastic stick-bait, Texas-rigged weightless, in a color to match the Buzz-bait’s skirt color. When you miss a fish (which is common) immediately cast back at that spot with the follow-up bait and many times you can get that missed fish.

BPS Crankbaits

   Crankbaits are a true shad imitation. They look like shad, they swim like shad and bass eat them like they’re shad. Their greatest asset is that they swim at a controlled depth. This makes them great for thoroughly covering a specific depth of water. Unlike a spinnerbait that will continue to sink until you begin your retrieve, your crankbait will return to the same depth on each cast. This is great for working the edge of the creek channel or the top of a grass-line.  Also, carrying 2 big treble hooks makes them pretty efficient at hooking fish.

BPS Topwater

    Topwater baits are not only a highly effective method for catching bass this time of year but when the bite is on its by-far the most exciting. Seeing big fish explode on topwater is one of the great thrills in bass fishing. I choose the type of topwater bait I’m going to throw that day by the chop on the water. If it a calm day I’ll usually start out with a popper, for a little breeze I’ll go to a walking bait, and for a heavy breeze or if I’m trying to draw fish out of deep water I like a prop bait. I let the conditions dictate my choice of topwater baits. For those of you who have never tried topwater, there is one golden rule; don’t set the hook until you feel to fish. If you set the hook on the blow-up you’ll miss more fish than you’ll catch.


    Bass fishing in the fall is some of the best of the year. You’re not going to be hooking into the big egg-laden females of spring but the humidity is down, the crowds are gone, most of your buddies are in their tree-stands and the bass are more than willing to bite. They can sense that winter is around the corner and its time to fatten up. So get out there and enjoy some quality bass fishing or more importantly a relaxing day on the water.


For a more in-depth discussion of fall fishing patterns or any other bass fishing questions drop me a line on my blog at basspro.com or Bass Pro Shops Facebook page. You can contact me directly on Facebook at Hoppy’s Lures or YouTube at fyafishing and as always feel free to come visit me at Bass Pro Shop. Just ask for Ed.


Tight lines to all and to my bass fishing brethren “See you at the scales”


How to choose worm colors

          Ed Nelson                      



                             BASS BASICS 


                            WHICH WORMS




                                  By Ed Nelson




    What color worms do I need? If I’ve been asked this question once, I’ve been asked a thousand times. Whether I’m on the floor at Bass Pro Shop or teaching a seminar, inevitably someone is going to ask about how I choose my worm colors. I can’t blame them. Have you been shopping lately? It seems for every worm color there’s the same color with a different color tail. Then, you have all those colors plus any array of different color flake added into the mix. It’s no wonder there’s so much confusion in choosing a worm color. So, this month it’s all about worm colors.

    I guess the best place to start this is with what parameters I look at in my color selection. Although we are discussing worm colors, I use these principals in choosing color no matter what kind of bait I’m throwing. For me there are 4 determining factors that I consider when I begin my tournament practice. They are; water clarity, sky conditions, habitat and available forage.

    Water Clarity: Simply put, how far down into the water can I see. This is then classified as clear, stained or muddy. Clear water to me is visibility of 5ft or more. This tells me that the resident bass here are going to be predominately sight feeders. This also tells me I want to choose smaller, subtle baits in natural colors. The flip side to that is muddy water. Muddy water is visibility of 1ft or less. This tells me that the resident bass here are going to be using their lateral line to hunt their prey. In this instance I know I need to beef things up. I will choose larger baits that displace a lot of water when moved in darker colors that silhouette well in a darker environment. Stained water falls somewhere in the middle. It has a water clarity of 2ft – 4ft. and fish tend to do a little bit of everything. In this case I tend to go back to my clear water colors but I like to add a little pop like dying the tail of my worm chartreuse.    

    Sky Conditions: Sunny or cloudy, how much light penetration am I getting into the water? On a sunny day I like to take advantage of the light penetration and use worms with metal flake in them.  On cloudy days however there is not as much light penetration. Here I go to fire tail baits for that little extra something.

    Habitat: What do I see when I look in the water? Green weeds, brown rock, sand bottom, what are the colors of their environment? For anything to survive in nature it has to camouflage itself and blend into its surroundings. This gives me a starting point when trying figure out what color to use to imitate the local prey.

    Available Forage: This is my trump card. I always tend to lean towards a color pattern that matches what they are feeding on, even if it’s different from what the other conditions tell me. “Match the Hatch” 


Ed's Super 6


    Now, for those of you that are looking for the easy answer, I bring you my SUPER 6. These are the colors that will work any where, any time, under any conditions. They are Black, White, Green Pumpkin, Watermelon, Pumpkin and Junebug.

    Black silhouettes really well in muddy and stained water. It’s a natural color so it’s an excellent choice in clear water as well, especially under low light conditions.

    White is the color of prey. Everything in nature has a white belly. Look at frogs, lizards, snakes, salamanders and shad. They all have white or pearl undersides. It’s a natural color in clear water but is also highly visible in muddy water.

    Green Pumpkin and Watermelon, I put these two together because they are my vegetation colors. Like we discussed earlier about habitat, to survive in the vegetation you need to blend into the vegetation. The prey that lives around weeds, grass, moss and the like will have to have a green hue or they won’t last long.

    Pumpkin is my brown color. Wood, rocks, sand, silt, it is all back to habitat again. Prey has to camouflage to survive.

    Junebug is more of a blue/purple. It fits into the available forage category. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve absolutely crushed the bass on Junebug in the spring. Why; when the Dragon Flies mate they land on the water to lay their eggs. Junebug is an excellent match for the blue/purple tail of a Dragon Fly. In addition, it silhouettes like black in dirtier water situations.

    Now, add in a bottle of chartreuse dye and you can double your presentation options.


    I know the options seem endless. Don’t worry, you can do this. Just follow these simple rules and you will have no trouble choosing you worm colors. If in doubt, just get Ed’s Super 6 and a bottle of dye and you can start catching fish today.

    Tight lines to all and to my bass fishing brethren “See you at the scales” 


The Monthly Buzz

Ed Nelson






                                                                               By Ed Nelson



    Well it seems that another tourist season is in full swing. The piers, restaurants and worst of all the boat ramps are standing room only.  Patience my friends, as a wildlife officer once told me, the funniest show in town is at the boat ramp. Come watch Bob and Betty from Paducah try to get their boat in the water. Bob sits in the boat and hollers detailed instructions on how to properly back a trailer. “NO MY LEFT… IT’S ALWAYS THE CAPTAINS LEFT”. If you’re really lucky, you will get one that forgets to put the plug in. It’s like Jerry Springer Live, family dysfunction at its finest.


    What does this mean to the fish? It puts the fish on a predictable schedule. The old expression, “The early bird gets the worm”, definitely applies here. From sun-up until about 9:30am the fishing is at its best. Then the first jet-ski of the day comes roaring past for what will be one of a dozen or so passes and like magic the bite shuts down. I’ve always said, “Look at things from the fish’s perspective. Big fish don’t get to be big fish by being stupid. They know that when that first jet-ski roars by feeding time is over. It’s time to hunker down and ride out another day of aquatic anarchy.


    Now don’t be discouraged. So what, you have to get up extra early just to enjoy some fishing. Morning is the most peaceful time of day. There’s little to no boating traffic, the heat of the day hasn’t kicked in yet, the boat ramps are empty and best of all it time for the most exciting way to catch ‘em… Topwater.


    Most avid bass anglers will tell you, they would much rather have a couple of hours of hot topwater action than a whole day of dragging a worm.  There’s nothing else in fishing like the explosion of a monster bass on a topwater bait. In my blog “Topwater Tactics” we looked at the basics of topwater fishing. Since then I’ve gotten a lot of questions about my choice in buzz-baits. In case you missed it, this is the section in question: 


Hoppy's Lures - Hawg Buzz



    Buzz-baits are an excellent choice for covering water quickly. Here my favorites are the Hoppy’s line of baits (hoppyslures.com). Their unique wire design will definitely improve your hook-up ratio. Its part of my search-bait arsenal. I throw it on a 6’6” MH BPS Graphite Series rod and BPS Pro Qualifier 7.0:1 reel, spooled with 20lb Berkley Big Game Mono. It’s fished like a spinner-bait. It’s casted out and reeled in along the surface. It produces a gurgling noise that bass can’t seem to resist. I like to add a trailer hook to mine since short strikes are common.


    It seems that the unique wire design of the Hoppy’s Lures Buzz-Bait is puzzling many anglers. Let me see if I can clarify things.


Buzz Heads


    The unique wire design gives you a few distinct advantages over your typical buzz-bait. First, if you can imagine your bait coming through the water. The lead head is trying to sink so you have to reel the bait quickly to keep the blade on the surface. In most cases the bait ends up running through the water at a downward angle with the lead-head down and line tie up. Since the bait is square, this puts the blade coming through the water at an awkward angle. With a Hoppy’s bait the location of the line tie actually aids in the leveling of the bait. By pulling the bait from the middle it forces the bait to run straight. Also, since the head and blade are not parallel as the head tries to sink it rocks the blade into a much more level position with the water surface. This gives me two distinct advantages; first I can maintain a lower rod position during the retrieve which puts me in a far better position to set the hook. Second, I can reel the bait slower and still keep it running properly. A slower retrieve equates to more time in the strike zone and more and better hook-ups.


  The second advantage has to do with how it hooks the fish. Try this at home. Take your favorite buzz-bait and hold it in your hand like it would be on the strike (pictured).  Now slowly pull slightly up on the line tie as you would when you set the hook. Notice that the hook actually moves down and away from the fish’s mouth just before it moves forward and into the fish. That split second can be the difference between a solid hook-up and lip hooking the fish.  


Buzz Hook-set


   With the rocker design of the Hoppy’s baits the hook doesn’t move away from the fish on the hook-set. It will begin to penetrate immediately, which means no lip hooking and no thrown baits.


    I really hope this answers your questions about my choice in Buzz-Baits. To see the entire line of Hoppy’s Lures visit them at hoppyslures.com or call at 615-847-8293. Remember to tell them, “Ed sent you”.


    As for my late risers, your day isn’t shot. The trick to catching high-pressured fish is finesse fishing. For those of you that missed my blog “Finesse Rigs”, you can see it right here dated May, 18 2011.


    Whether you’re an early bird or a late riser, there’s still some great fishing out there and a free show to boot. So be patient at the ramp this season, have another cup of coffee or a cold soda and relax and enjoy the show. The fish will still be there and you will enjoy your day a lot more if you start it off with a smile.


For a more in-depth discussion of Buzz-Baits or any of your bass fishing questions drop me a comment on my blog at basspro.com or Bass Pro Shops Facebook page. You can also find me on YouTube at fyafishing or as always feel free to come visit me at Bass Pro Shop. Just ask for Ed.


    Tight lines to all and to my bass fishing brethren “See you at the scales”   


Let's Go Skinny Dipping

Ed Nelson


    Bass Basics


                                                                                                                                                                                  Let’s Go

                  Skinny Dipping                  


 By Ed Nelson


    If you want to catch bass and don’t want to carry a tackle store around with you, this is the article for you. This month we are going to take a look at a bait that just plain works. It’s the finesse swim-bait. Yes… You read that right, a finesse swim-bait. It’s a super-versatile soft plastic bait that WILL catch fish. It can be fished on anything from a medium-light spinning rod and 10lb fluorocarbon to a flipping stick and 65lb braid. Its one bait that definitely goes on the “Must Have” list in any anglers tackle box.


Skinny-Dipping 01


    Skinny Dipping???  The first finesse swim-bait to hit the market was the Skinny-Dipper released by Reaction Innovations in spring 2007. It was so successful that the name became synonymous with not only that style of bait but with the technique as well. There are quite a few more on the market now including Zoom’s Swimmin Super Fluke and Super Fluke JR, Berkley’s PowerBait Ripple Shad, Yamamoto’s Swim Senko, the Dean Rojas Cane Thumper from Big Bite Baits and one of my favorites, the Squirmin Sardine from Offshore Angler. Which bait is the best one is a matter of personal preference, but I have found that certain ones perform better that others in certain situations. Let’s take a look.


    This is usually the part of my articles where I begin the how-to section. Well, this month, it’s going to be short and sweet.  All you need to know is how to cast and retrieve. It’s that simple. The only real variation is in the speed you move the bait. These little swimbaits produce a subtle swimming action that bass just can’t seem to resist. When choosing which bait to throw I break it down this way.


Skinny-Dipper 02


     In clear or shallow water, rivers, highly pressured fish or any time I want a subtle presentation, I opt for the Zoom Swimmin Super Fluke JR. I use a Mustad Power-Lock Plus swimbait hook in a 1/0 – 1/16oz size. I have found that the standard spring lock on these hooks is too big for the JR Flukes so I remove the stock spring lock and replace it with a HitchHiker. I throw it on a 6’6” medium/light Bass Pro Shops Pro-Qualifier spinning rod and a BPS Johnny Morris Signature Series JM10 spinning reel spooled with 20lb BPS Excel Braid and a 14lb XPS Fluorocarbon leader. With this set-up I can make long casts, which in clear water can be essential. Yet, the bait is still light enough to be skipped under cover.


Skinny-Dipper 03


    When I want a larger presentation for actively feeding fish, limited visibility caused by dirty water or over deeper water where I’m trying to draw fish up from a distance. I go to the (full size) Zoom Swimmin Super Fluke. I usually like to rig it weightless on an Owner 3/0 Wide-Gap Plus off-set hook. There are some modifications I make here. If the fish are short striking the bait, I will go to a 5/0 hook. Although this does effect the action of the bait, it also puts the hook further back on the bait and this will help with the hook-up ratio. Weightless, this rig runs on or just under the surface. If I want it to get down deeper I use an XPS Tungsten worm weight to nose-weight the bait. I use anywhere from a 1/16oz to a 1/4oz depending on the depth a want the bait to run. I throw it on a BPS Pro-Qualifier 6’6” medium action spinning rod and BPS Pro-Qualifier PQ-10 reel spooled with the same line set-up as the JR Fluke. The medium action rod can handle the heavier bait better and will allow you to skip-cast about as far as you want.


Skinny-Dipper 04


    When I know the fish is apt to get me into the slop, I break out the big-guns. For heavy cover like wood and grass its go big or go home. This is when get salty. I use Off-Shore Angler, Inshore Series baits. They have a heavier body than the flukes and can handle the abuse of big rods and heavy cover. I don’t stop there, my hook is either an Owner 5/0 Wide-Gap Plus or Owners 5/0 screw-lock swimbait hook. To finish off the set-up, I like a 7’6” heavy action BPS Graphite Series rod and BPS Johnny Morris Signature Series baitcast reel spooled with BPS Excel 65lb braid. This may seem excessive, but a 2lb bass can quickly wrap you up in 5lbs of weeds. That’s 7lbs of dead weight you have to drag in.


    These are my favorite ways to fish the skinny-dipper type baits, but not the only ways. Don’t be shy… Experiment. I’ve been playing with them as a Jerk-Bait, on a Carolina-Rig and most recently I’ve started to recycle the torn-up baits as a Wackey-Rig. The jury is still out on that one. The bottom line is these little baits are versatile, easy to fish, and will definitely get you bit.


    For a more in-depth discussion of finesse swim-baits or any other bass fishing questions drop me a comment here or the Bass Pro Shop Facebook Page. As Always, feel free to come visit me at Bass Pro Shop. Just ask for Ed.


    Tight lines to all and to my bass fishing brethren “See you at the scales”


The Game Camera can be the hunters best friend.

   The best thing to ever happen to scouting your favorite hunting ares, next to spending all of your free time in the woods or field, is the game camera. There are many different types of cameras but the question is what is the right one for you. The have all gotten away from the film models and everyone in the industries has gone to digital formats. You also have the choice of flash or infrared with almost unlimited memory for photo storage. The effective range of operation goes out to approximately 70 feet on some and less of the lower models. The infrared models are design to eliminate the possibility of spooking your game with a flash model. The photo quality is rated the same as your digital camera would be for daylight shots. But the resolution or quality of the picture changes on night time shot. For example, if your camera is a 8 mega pixel camera, that means in daylight shooting with normal sunlight you get 8 mega pixels but in the infrared mode you get about a 3.5 or so for your night shots. This happens because your illumination is not of the same rating of daylight which your camera is rated for the rate of sunlight with is at 3200 kelvin. This simply means making your picture have the appearance of day shot clearly.

  Bass Pro Shops offer a very large line of game cameras that range from 70 dollar to 700 dollar, and there are lots of choices within that range. Cameras that can store your photos on a memory card all the way to a camera that can email you a photo every time it takes a shot. The options are of course based on the amount you are willing to pay for one. We have gone from the larger models to now becoming smaller in size but large in features. There also some models that have a blackout feature, which mean your night time shots have and unnoticeable illumination feature. The emailing models require you to join a monthly plan for a satellite service to email you the photos. Our associates can assist you in choosing the right camera for your needs or budget. Their are a list of accessories also available at Bass Pro Shops. Their are hand held viewers available so you can view your photos on the spot and not having to remove your memory card. Long life batteries packs, tree mounting accessories and security boxes to prevent thief of your camera.

  The benefit to you the hunter in the use of the game camera is to be your eyes when you are not there. Remember the days of the trail timers with a string that could tell you what time an animal walked your trail? Well todays game cameras takes it to a new level. Not only can you tell what time something walks through but you can also tell what was there and help determine your hunting strategy. The camera make it so that we don't have to guess at what may or mayn't be in your choose to harvest. A good hunter can use a game cameras to their advantage as a tool to assist in their harvest. Think about you have worked hard and long on placing your tree stand in what seems to be the mecca of game sign, so much you can't determine which way to set your stand. Why guess, just set your camera or cameras for a few days to find the direction of actives so you are not caught looking in the wrong direction. This saves you time, money and the worry of seeing him but not being able to take advantage of your opportunity to harvest that once in a life time animal. In a multi tree stand situation, it gives you an idea on what stand you should hunt and what approximate time you should be hunting it, there again time and money saved. Farmer, you to can use the game cameras to your advantage. I have a friend that raises chicken and something was killing them.  They did not know what or when it was happening. I suggested a game cameras outside the chicken house. When checking the pictures we found that their where wild dogs in the area thus removing the though that it was his neighbors pet.

  The game camera is also sometimes used as a security camera. Though it may sometimes work for that, this is not its purpose or design. The belief is that infrared can not be seen, this is not so. Infrared does use illumination, it's just not noticeable or spook animals, but it can diffidently be noticed by humans. This might not be bad, because sometimes the though that you may be being watched will keep some people away.

Come in and let our associates assist you in selecting the right camera for your project.



Ed Nelson



                                                                           By Ed Nelson


    It seems another bass spawn has come and gone. I hope all of you took the opportunity to get out there and catch one worth bragging about. I hope you also took this opportunity to practice “Catch and Release”. For those of you that did “Thank You”. Now, what’s next for the bass? Well, it’s what’s known as post-spawn. It’s when the bass move to the areas where they will spend the summer. Its also pre-tourist season so the boating traffic has not gotten outrageous yet. What does this mean to you…? Topwater!


    Topwater, say it to a bass angler and you’ll put a smile on his or her face from ear to ear. Then make yourself comfortable, there’s usually a story or two to follow. It is truly the greatest thrill in bass fishing. Watching the water explode around your bait is excitement second to none. For those of you who know exactly what I’m talking about, “see you on the water”. The rest of you can sit back and relax while I explain how to get started in the topwater game.


    Topwater fishing is exactly as it sounds. You are going to be fishing baits on top of the water. They can range from soft plastics like floating worms and frogs, to hard plastics like poppers, walking baits and prop baits, to wire baits like buzz-baits. Each one of these baits has a unique style all its own and is most effective under specific conditions. We’ll take a look at each one and explain the how, when and where that makes each one their most effective. 


Texas Rig



    Floating worms are probably the easiest to fish. The rig is a simple weightless Texas-rig. Its fishes best on spinning tackle. I like a 6’6” Bass Pro Shops Pro Qualifier rod in medium action. My reel is a Bass Pro Shops Johnny Morris Signature Series JM20 spooled with 14lb Berkley Fireline Crystal and an 8-12lb mono leader. To work the bait properly just twitch and pause. The worm will dart and dance in all different directions with the slightest rod tip movement. It works best when the fish are super shallow and super skittish. It can be skip-casted to the fish and the cast itself will help trigger strikes.

    Frogs are another easy one to fish. My favorite is the Sapo Frog by El Grande Lures (elgrandelures.com). They are best rigged on a 4/0 screw-lock swimbait hook in the 1/16th-1/8th oz. weight. For this presentation I like baitcasting tackle. A BPS Pro Qualifier combo (6’6” MH rod and 6.4:1 reel) does the trick here. I like to spool with 20lb BPS Excel braid. The frog is simply casted out and reeled in. When a fish blows up on your bait just simply drop your rod tip and wait till you feel the fish, then set the hook. This bait really shines in a heavier cover situation. 


Topwater Baits



    Poppers are probably my favorite topwater bait. I throw the BPS Pro Series baits almost exclusively. I fish them on a 6’6” ML BPS Crankin stick and BPS Pro Qualifier reel spooled with XPS 14lb Fluorocarbon line. This is my all-around go-to bait. I like to work it quickly, making it spit and pop.

    Walking-baits are great for working in open water and over deeper water. My choice of tackle is a BPS Pro Qualifier combo (6’6” MH rod and 6.4:1 reel). I spool up with 16lb Momoi’s High Catch line. These baits are walked side to side with a twitch, twitch, twitch of the rod tip. An even cadence usually works best but an occasional pause can have explosive results.

    Prop-baits are an excellent choice when there is no chop on the water. I throw mine on the same combo I use for my walking baits. I fish it with a pull and pause retrieve. The prop on these baits spits water and makes a squeaking sound that brings fish in.


Hoppy's Hawg-Buzz



    Buzz-baits are an excellent choice for covering water quickly. Here my favorites are the Hoppy’s line of baits (hoppyslures.com). Their unique wire design will definitely improve your hook-up ratio. Its part of my search-bait arsenal. I throw it on a 6’6” MH BPS Graphite Series rod and BPS Pro Qualifier 7.0:1 reel, spooled with 20lb Berkley Big Game Mono. It’s fished like a spinner-bait. It’s casted out and reeled in along the surface. It produces a gurgling noise that bass can’t seem to resist. I like to add a trailer hook to mine since short strikes are common.


    Topwater fishing is about the most exciting way to catch a bass. Get out there and give it a try, I’m sure you’ll get hooked.


    For a more in-depth discussion of topwater fishing or any other bass fishing questions feel free to come visit me at Bass Pro Shop. Just ask for Ed.


    Tight lines to all and to my bass fishing brethren “See you at the scales”


See how easily you can do food plots

  Food pootting is away to enhance your opportunities to harvest or watch wildlife in the wild. It does not have to be difficult to do a plot. There are lots of ways to obtain your goals to have a successful food plot. The scale of success can range from a large farmer style planting to just a scratched out spots in the forest somewhere. On the large scale it could involve tractors and farm equipment. On a smaller and better cost effective scale we can accomplish this with as little as just some hand tools. If you have the resorces to do the larger planting by all means do so. The more we do to help the assist game with a better food source the better. This will also help you in establishing a regular returning assortment of animals to feed. And this can only be in your favor if you are doing so for the sake of hunting.

  On the smaller and bugeted scale there are lots of other ways to accomplish your goals. Here at Bass Pro we have lots of different types of seeds and supplements that are available to you. Small food plot planting can be done with your ATV or UTV with the help of some small disc or seed rake. This may be easer to some anyways because of the location of your plot. We sometimes find those nice little honey holes that we can't get a tractor into. The smaller machine and tool gets us into those tight spots we want to keep to our selfs. Altough corn is legal for deer hunting, the use of corn not only gets expensive, it also creates a need to constantly return for replenishment. And according to most wildlife biologist corn has very little if any nutritional value at all. Where as depending on what crop you plant could play a large factor in the groth and quality of your game..

  Bass Pro offers top lines of seeds for some of your top suppliers such as BioLogic, Whitetail Institue, Evolved Harvest and etc. We offer things like winter peas, clovers, rape, turnips and more. Some of these are plow and cultivate, but we also carry some that you can simply throw out on top of the ground. I personal have used some that just with a steel rake i hve made very nice food ares. This works well in damp areas where the soil is not to hard and the mosisture of the soil helps the groth of the seeds. ATV disc and plows are available for those areas that may be just a little tuffer that a rake can handle. The ATV also allows you to reach some places that the full size tractor may not be able to get to. This is sometimes a good think so you can sneak in and out of those secret hot spots.

  There are also lot of unconventional easy way to plant food plots that i have done my self to save money. Lot of differents type of stores that may sell dry beans and such. I have on many occataions bought dry beens or peas on sale for pennies and used them for seed. I also would ask if the had damaged packages that they would sell cheap or give away. Sometime plants like sweet potates can even be budded and used to grow. The deer love the green leafy vines of a sweet potatoe plant. These are just  a few ways to plant food plots if your're on a budget. You can try asking the local farmers about collecting the left over seedlings for the seed beds. They may some sometimes ask for a couple of dollars or you maybe able to offer them some of your harvest during the hunting season, anyway it can't hurt. Your possibilities are many, all you need is to think outside the box.

  So you see food plots can be as  expesive or as inexpensive as you would like. Food plots can be as easy as you way them to be. The idea that you have a constance food source for your game to return to should give the comfort to know that you have captured them without fencing them in. Look into the many ways to accomplish this and your Bass Pro associate will be willing to give you all the help and info we have avaibliable. We alsao carry soil testing supplies and seed spreaders.

  Bass Pro thanks you for your support of wildlife conservation and always thank you for shopping with us.


Do you have the correct Marine battery for your boat?

                                 Do you have the correct Marine battery for your boat?


General Battery Types

Batteries are separated in two ways, by purpose and production. The foremost uses are automotive, marine, and deep-cycle. The deep-cycle will include a solar electric (PV), backup power, traction, and this is also seen in recreational vehicle use and boat "house" batteries. The major construction types are flooded (wet), gelled, and AGM (Absorbed Glass Mat). The AGM batteries are also referred to as "a starving electrolyte" or "dry as a bone", for the reason that the fiberglass mat is only 95% saturated with Sulfuric acid and there is no surplus fluid at that point.   

Starting Batteries

When we think of starting batteries are normally used to start and run engines. Engine starters require a very large amount of starting current for a very short moment in time. Starting batteries have a huge quantity of thin plates for the highest surface area. The plates are collected of a Lead "sponge", comparable in appearance to a very fine foam sponge. This gives a very large surface area, but if deep cycled, this sponge will quickly be consumed and decrease to the bottom of the cells. An automotive battery will usually stop working after 30-150 deep cycles if it is deep cycled. However, they may last for thousands of cycles in normal starting use in a 2% to 5% discharge.

Deep-Cycle Batteries

Deep cycle batteries are designed to be discharged down as much as 80% time after time, and have much thicker plates. The most important difference between a true deep cycle battery and others is that the plates are solid lead plates and not sponge. This gives less surface area, thus less "immediate" power like starting batteries need. Although these can be cycled down to 15% charge, the best duration vs expenditure method is to keep the average cycle at about 60% discharge.



Marine batteries are usually a "hybrid", and descend between the starting and deep-cycle batteries. In the hybrid, the plates may be composed of lead sponge, but it is coarser and heavier than that used in starting batteries. It is often hard to tell what you are getting in a "marine" battery, but most are a hybrid. Starting batteries are usually rated at "CCA", or cold cranking amps, or "MCA", Marine cranking amps - the same as "CA". Any battery with the capability shown in CA or MCA may or may not be a true deep-cycle battery. It is sometimes hard to tell, as the term deep cycle is often overused - we have even seen the term "deep cycle" used in automotive starting battery advertising. CA and MCA ratings are at 32 degrees F, while CCA is at zero degree F. Sorry to say, the only positive way to tell with some batteries is to buy one and cut it open. Thus, this is not much of an option for you.

Remember there are three charging stages. Are you properly charging your battery?


Bulk charge is the first stage. Current will be sent to the batteries at the maximum safe rate. They will accept until voltage rises to near a full charge level. Voltages at this stage on average range from 10.5 volts to 15 volts. There is no "exact" voltage for bulk charging. There may be limits on the maximum current that the battery and wiring can take depending on the accessories that have been rigged.

Absorption charge is the second stage. Voltage remains constant and current little by little tapers off as internal resistance increases for the duration of the charging. It is during this phase that the charger puts out maximum voltage. Voltages during this phase are typically around 14.2 to 15.5 volts. The internal resistance increasingly goes up because there will less to be changed back to normal full charge.

Float charge is number three. After batteries reach full charge, charging voltage is reduced to a lower level (typically 12.8 to 13.2) to reduce gassing and prolong battery life. This is often referred to as a maintenance or trickle charge, since its main purpose is to keep an already charged battery from discharging. PWM, or "pulse width modulation" accomplishes the same thing. In PWM, the controller or charger senses petite voltage drops in the battery and sends very short charging cycles (pulses) to the battery. This may occur several hundred times per minute. It is called "pulse width" because the width of the pulses may vary from a few microseconds to several seconds. It is important to note that for long period float service, such as backup power systems that are seldom discharged; the float voltage should be around 13.02 to 13.20 volts.

Should you have any questions stop by the Tracker Service Department at the Bass Pro Shops in Myrtle Beach and ask for me.



The Alabama Rig: Do you have what it takes?

Ed Nelson By Ed Nelson

What’s better than catching a limit…? Catching a limit on one cast. That’s the goal of every angler who ties on the Alabama Rig. What is the Alabama Rig and what kind of equipment does it take to throw it? That’s the object of this month’s blog.

First the rig, the Alabama Rig is the hottest thing to hit the tournament fishing scene since the Sexy Shad color pattern. Oddly enough it’s been around for some time but was made famous when on Oct. 23, 2011, at Lake Guntersville, Paul Elias put the finishing touches on an impressive tournament that included 4 consecutive 20lb plus weigh-ins totaling 102lbs 8oz, an incredible 17 pound margin of victory and a check for $100,000. All caught on the Alabama Rig. So what is it? It can best be classified as a castable umbrella rig. It has a light-weight head (in most cases weighing about 3/8 oz.) and 5 wire arms with swivels for attaching baits. It is designed to resemble a school of shad and that makes some sort of soft plastic swimbait the most common bait of choice. That’s not to say other baits can’t be used. Just keep in mind that the Alabama Rig is designed for a horizontal presentation so the baits you choose should meet that criteria. Anything from soft plastics like worms, lizards, tubes and grubs to hard baits like spinnerbaits, jigs and in-line spinners can be rigged.

The Rig   

The original Alabama Rig is currently being produced by Mann’s Bait Company. There are also a number of other companies producing similar rigs including, Yum Baits making “The Yumbrella”, Swarming Hornet Lures making “The Swarm” and Bass Pro Shops making “The Deadly 5 Shad Rig”. Regardless of the name on the package, they are all pretty much similar in their rigging and presentation. Simply hang your choice of 5 baits then cast and retrieve. Just keep varying your depth and speed and maybe add in a few pauses or twitches until you start getting bites. There’s also something else these rigs have in common; “Go Big or Go Home!!”

This brings me to the most important part of this article, the tackle. This is no finesse technique. It requires you to break out the big guns. Your usual fishing tackle is not going to work here. You need a 7’ or longer heavy or extra heavy action rod. No less than 65lb braided line and a 6.4:1 gear ratio reel. I guess a lot of you are asking: why do I need that kind of beef for a 3/8 oz. rig? Excellent question, to answer it lets look at each component individually.

  • 7’ or longer heavy or extra heavy action rod - Even though your rig starts out at about 3/8 oz. by the time you add in the 5 swimbaits and weighted hooks your rig can easily top out at 2, 3 or even 4 oz. Most medium or medium heavy action rods are not capable of handling that kind of weight. I’ve been throwing my rigs on a Bass Pro Shops 7’ 6” Heavy action Graphite Series Rod. It rates out for 3/8 oz to 2 oz lures and handles the job remarkably well. As far as the rod length goes, I recommend the longer rods for 2 reasons. First, when you cast this rig, you don’t really cast it, you lob it. It’s the same way you would cast a Carolina Rig. When it hits the water it’s anything but stealthy. So the fish in the immediate area of “splash down” are probably going to be spooked. The longer rod gives me a longer cast and the further I can get the rig away from the boat the more fish I can show the rig to on each cast. Second, the longer rod allows me to take up more line on the hook-set, especially on those long casts.
  • No less than 65lb braided line - With a rig that weighs in at somewhere between 2 and 4 oz. there is an incredible amount of stress being placed on the line with every cast. Weaker lines are just not going to be able to handle the workload. I don’t know about you but I don’t think I could stomach having to watch $30 to $50 worth of rig and baits flying freely through the air because my line broke on the cast. Now, let’s say you make a good cast but this time you hang that same $30 to $50 worth of rig and baits on a log. There’s nothing on the bait to break free. Your hooks are attached to snap swivels, swivels to wire, wire to eye and eye to line. You better have a line with enough strength to straighten out a hook or your line will break and again $50 lost. My line of choice is either BPS Excel 65lb braid or 65lb Magibraid both in green. A lot of manufactures are recommending 80-100lb braid.
  • 6.4:1 gear ratio reel - The first reason I like a 6.4:1 gear ratio is for its versatility. I can speed up my presentation when I want to yet I’m still able to slow down when I have to.  The second reason and probably the most important is multiple fish. Doubles and even triples are not uncommon on this rig. When you have multiple fish on you do not want them to swim around each other as they fight with the rig. This will twist up the wires and can cause you to not only loose the fish but can also lead to wire breakage. The 6.4:1 gear ratio allows me a slow enough retrieve to keep my bait down but when I get a double on I have enough speed to keep the fish behind the rig and coming to me. My choice here is the Johnny Morris Signature Series JMX10HD Baitcast Reel. I’ve been throwing the Alabama Rig for about 3 months now and my Johnny Morris has handled the excessive workload with ease.

The Tackle

There is little doubt that the Alabama Rig is not a fluke. It has proven itself at the highest levels of tournament fishing. I have personally used it in three tournaments to date and have a 1st place finish and 2 top 10’s. It does require some special tackle but its worth it in the long run. One last point, the Alabama Rig is not legal in every state. PLEASE, before you use it check with the local DNR office. I have checked with North Carolina and South Carolina DNR offices. Both North Carolina and South Carolina have told me it is legal to use but South Carolina did specify that it was illegal for use in saltwater. I don’t know about North Carolina saltwater. When in doubt, ASK!

For a more in-depth discussion of the Alabama Rig or any other bass fishing questions drop me a comment on my blog at basspro.com or Bass Pro Shops Facebook page. You can also find me on YouTube at fyafishing or as always feel free to come visit me at Bass Pro Shop. Just ask for Ed.

Tight lines to all and to my bass fishing brethren “See you at the scales”



Fuel Lines and Ethanol Fuel

Ask the Tech

“Fuel Lines and Ethanol fuel”


With the boating season on the horizon I feel that it is important to understand the importance of fuel lines on your boat and motor. We have seen numerous cases of boats that have been checked in to our service shop for no starts, hesitations, and idle problems with outboard and inboard engines. Most of these issues were due to bad fuel lines. Let’s get to the root cause of these issues. By now you know that there can be at least 6% of Ethanol added to gasoline. When you pull up to the pump you can see a label on the pump that will display “Contains up to 10% Ethanol”. This ethanol based fuel, left untreated or treated, can cause fuel lines to crack, dry rot, and the inside of the fuel line to deteriorate.

When the issues that were just mentioned surface, your engine can shut off, hesitate, not idle properly, and or lose power on the top end. If you experience these conditions you may start your investigation by checking your fuel filter for small black particles or any trash that may indicate that the inside of the fuel line is separating.

Another issue that we have seen in our service shop that begins at the fuel pump is water in the fuel. When ethanol breaks down (this can occur within ten days of fuel purchase) it causes moisture to attract in the air that will adhere to the alcohol. Depending on the size of the tank the ethanol and water will separate from the gas and drop. The fuel pick up is located in the bottom of your fuel tank. Therefore, that is why the water would be injected in to your fuel system first. After this has occurred the two layers cannot be mixed together.

One way to test this is to get a clear container and pump a fuel sample in to that container. Let the container sit for five minutes.  After five minutes is up look toward the bottom of the container to see if there is any water present. If this is the case you will need to get the tank pumped out and fill it back with fresh fuel. Depending on your engine your fuel system may need cleaning and the fuel filters may need to be changed.

This can be an expensive repair. It is recommended by outboard motor manufactures to always check before you crank your engine especially if the motor has been sitting for some time. Always store your boat properly to avoid costly repairs. Marine manufactures recommend that you store your boat with the fuel tank completely empty. If this is not possible they recommend you store the boat with the tank completely full.

On a final note I recommend that you always add a marine grade fuel stabilizer or additive to each fuel fill up. This will help reduce ethanol break down in the tank and extend the life of your marine engine.





Reloading - It can be for you

The new thought of lots of people is maybe I should load my own ammo. Maybe it’s for you and maybe it's not. Is this something you need to do? Only you can answer that question. I personal have been loading for some years and I load several different calibers, but their are many reasons for my loading. There are three reasons to load your own ammo, one to save money, two to improve accuracy or performance and three your caliber is no longer manufactured. Let's talk about all these points.

Saving money; can you really save money? The answer to that can only be determined by how much you shoot. If you are the person that goes to the range regularity and consistently shoot a large quantity of rounds the answer could be yes. But you will have to first consider the initial start up cost. You can get started on the low end for around 300-400 dollars. Some of you won't shoot 300-400 hundred dollars of ammo in your entire life. But then some, like myself could shoot that much monthly or sometimes even weekly. If you are that person only shoots maybe 40-50 rounds of ammo once and a while, you may not be a candidate to reload, based on price alone. You can buy lots of ammo for 400 dollars if you only shoot once and a while. So you need to calculate the amount of shooting against the cost of setting yourself up. I for a long time did loading with a friend and that can help defer the cost. Now I don't recommend using anyone else's reloads unless you know the facts of what and how well they perform at loading. Someone who does not pay attention to detail and accuracy in loading would not load for me. A friend and I have loaded together for over 10 years, so we know each other ability and dedication to doing a good job. But just getting reloads from anyone just to save money is not recommended. It may cost you more in the end, with damage to your gun or even yourself. A blown up gun or personal injury is not worth to cost of bullets.

If improved accuracy and performance is more important that the price reloading. Then customize loads maybe what you are looking for. Following safe guidelines you can tweak your loads slightly up or down, you can sometimes turn a mediocre gun into much more and you can turn just average performance into excellent. Factory ammo will not always show the ability of the weapon, but with custom loads you can change a lot of the faults of either inferior ammo or border line performance of you weapon. The details in how well it all works is largely based on following a proven loading formula safely. You need to use a loading data guide and not get crazy with a bunch of charges. You are creating a controlled explosion and the key word is controlled, over charging can be dangerous, but under charging can also be dangerous. You should study different ballistic tables to see which suit you. Be patience, research your load for the right bullet, the right bullet weight and the right powder to give you the best performance. Get a formula maybe even more than one and built the right one for your weapons. When it comes to rifles you need to remember that all guns even in the same caliber will not shoot the same. It may require a different powder and or a different bullet that someone else does.

And let say you have an old or wild cat caliber. Can you find the ammo you want or do they even make it anymore? If that gun still performs to your satisfaction and you don't want to move on to something else you may want to load your own bullets. Sometimes it just comes down to being happy with what has worked for you for years and why change now.

Stop by our store and speak to a qualified associated about your reloading needs. Find yourself a quality loading data guide or maybe more than one and have a safe fun filled experience.

At Bass Pro Shops we are always glad to be of service and enhance your outdoor experience.


Bass Basics: The Where, When & Why of Fishing Line

By Ed Nelson

Ed Nelson

It’s that time of year again; time to get your tackle ready for another fishing season. This month let’s talk fishing line. Have you been shopping lately? Monofilament, Fluorocarbon and Braid “OH MY”. There seems to be an endless number of choices out there. How do you choose the right one for your fishing conditions? I’m a bass fisherman but the principals discussed here can be used for any fishing situation. Let’s get started.

Monofilament Fishing LineFirst has to be Monofilament or “Mono”. It’s the most popular fishing line in use today. It’s created by passing molten plastic through a die that creates a single thin strand of Nylon. Hence the name “Mono” meaning single. It has a few distinct advantages that might make it the right choice for you. It’s easy to tie and works well with the majority of knots. It spools easily on any rod and reel combo and is available in limp for open water or tough for heavy cover as well as an array of colors to match your fishing conditions. Its will stretch up to 25% which acts as a shock absorber when fighting big fish on lighter lines. Don’t worry; it’s an elastic like stretch so it returns to its original form after the load is removed. It’s cheap and readily available. “Sounds perfect, I’ll take it”. Well not so fast, there are some disadvantages to it too. It develops memory, especially on spinning tackle, so it needs to be changed regularly. It degrades in UV light and care should be taken in storing spools out of sunshine. It also absorbs water which increases stretch and weakens break strength up to 20%. Lastly, it floats until it becomes saturated with water, then it becomes neutrally buoyant. This is both good and bad. It’s great for top water baits and bad for bottom baits.

Fluorocarbon Fishing LineSecond is Fluorocarbon.  It’s created by bonding a polymer of Fluorine to Carbon at the molecular level. Way to high-tech for me but the results produce a high density, UV resistant fishing line that doesn’t absorb water. High density also means more abrasion resistance. It has almost the same refractive index as water which makes it much harder for the fish to see. It’s also a stiffer line than Mono so it’s much more sensitive and it sinks. So I guess you are wondering what the disadvantages are, “Glad you asked”. First of all it’s expensive, twice the cost of Mono in most cases. Its stiffness while good for sensitivity has its down falls. It doesn’t sit well on spinning reels especially in the larger sizes. It also means more line memory which translates into more frequent line changes. Although advertised as low or no stretch, new Fluorocarbon stretches 28% to 38% which is actually greater than Mono. The difference is, when Fluorocarbon stretches it does not return to it original form. The stretch is actually the line fracturing at the molecular level. If you’ve ever heard someone saying that they “hate Fluorocarbon because it’s so brittle”, they have stretched their line and not replaced it. My rule of thumb is, any time I have to do a straight pull on my Fluorocarbon to break off a bait that’s stuck beyond retrieval, the line that is not on the reel at the time of breakage is removed and discarded. I consider it to be fractured and therefore unreliable.

Braided Fishing LineYour third option is Braided or “Braid”. It consists of inter-twined strands of synthetic fiber which are 10 times stronger than steel. This produces a super thin line for its rated break strength when compared to Mono. A thin diameter also means less wind resistance allowing for longer casts, less water resistance allowing plugs to dive deeper, and more line on your reel.

It has a high abrasion resistance and it floats. It does not develop memory like Mono or Fluorocarbon which translates into less line changes. It also has little to no stretch meaning increased sensitivity and better hook sets, especially at a distance. As with the others it does have its down side. What you gained in sensitivity you lose in visibility. It’s expensive, comparable in price to Fluorocarbon. Proper spooling is a must. If done incorrectly the line can “slip” on the spool, over-riding the drag or it can “bury” inside itself and lock in place (get out your pocket knife for this one). Also, you must exercise control when setting the hook at a short distance.

Thoroughly confused yet? Let’s narrow down the search. If you are looking for a cheap, general use line. One that works well in the majority of fishing situations, Monofilament is the choice for you. More specifically, if you are trying to keep a bait up in the water column, be it a top water bait or a diving bait that you are trying to control its depth. Example, if you are trying to keep a lipless crankbait just above the grass Monofilament will help hold the bait up. If you are fishing clear water, Fluorocarbon is your best bet.  Having a line with a similar refractive index as water will definitely benefit you when trying to fool line-conscious fish. It’s also a better choice for your bottom bouncing baits. Since it sinks, it does not bow underwater and in turn you get far better feel. Especially, when fishing with slack line baits like jigs or worms. When fishing heavy cover, the answer is Braided. The ultra thin diameter paired with high tensile strength and abrasion resistance means more control of a hooked fish. That means you can move a fish out of heavy cover and into open water instead of having to play the fish and getting wrapped up or worse, broken off.

There are also a couple of products on the market that are blurring the lines between Mono, Fluorocarbon and Braid. One is known as a Copolymer, the other is a Gore-Fiber Braided.



Copolymer is a cross between Mono and Fluorocarbon. More precisely it’s a combination of the two. Depending on manufacturer, it’s created in one of two ways. It’s either produced by wrapping Monofilament with a Fluorocarbon coating or combining them through an extrusion process (kind of like mixing them together).  The result is a fishing line with the sensitivity of Fluorocarbon and the suppleness of Mono. Its UV resistant, will not absorb water, is low stretch, low memory, has a high abrasion resistance and it sinks. It’s a line with a smaller diameter than an equivalent strength Mono. A supple line with a thin diameter can only equal one thing, excellent castability.

Gore-Fiber Braided is a sinking Braided line. It’s intended to fill the niche between Fluorocarbon and Braided lines. It’s also being currently manufactured in two ways. Suffix has released the 832 Braid. It weaves 7 Dyneema fibers and one Gore Performance fiber together at 32 weaves per inch. Hence the name 832 (8 fibers and 32 weaves). Spiderwire on the other hand has released their version called Fluorobraid. They weave at a 50/50 mix. That’s 2 Dyneema fibers and 2 Gore Performance fibers. The exact production methods are a trade secret but the result is a smoother casting Braided line that sinks. The Gore Performance fibers are marketed to have a “low coefficient of friction”. This means less vibration as the line passes through the guides. Less vibration means less friction, less friction means longer casts. The low coefficient of friction also means the line can more easily break the surface of the water and therefore sink easier.

Berkley NanoFilThe latest addition to the fishing line market is the Uni-Filament. More specifically, Berkley’s NanoFil. It’s not a Mono and not a Braid. It consists of hundreds of stronger than steel Dyneema nanofilaments that are molecularly linked, gel-spun and shaped into a unified filament fishing line. The exact bonding process is proprietary but the end result is a zero-stretch, zero-memory fishing line. It is advertised to increase your casting distance upwards of 25%. It has an incredibly high strength/diameter ratio and superb sensitivity. As with most things it does have a few downsides. Uni-Filament technology is designed and best suited for spinning tackle. Because of its ultra-thin diameter, it may dig into baitcast reels on aggressive hook-sets. Also, proper knot tying is paramount. NanoFil is super thin and super slick, this is great for casting but not for knot strength. A new spool of NanoFil comes with a knot book and it’s important you follow its advice. Not every knot will hold in it.  

The choices might seem endless, just take a minute and look at your fishing conditions and I’m confident you can choose the proper line for you. For a more in-depth discussion of fishing line or any other bass fishing questions drop me a line on my blog at basspro.com or Bass Pro Shops Facebook page. You can also find me on YouTube at fyafishing or as always feel free to come visit me at Bass Pro Shop. Just ask for Ed.

 Tight lines to all and to my bass fishing brethren “See you at the scales”


Ask the Tech: "Used Boat or New Boat"

By: Paul Nolte

If you are new to boating or you have been a long term boater you may have asked yourself this question. Should I buy a used boat and will I get a good deal? Well, if you are in the used boat market I have a few tips to share with you. The first thing that I would do is to check the condition of the boat and engine. You do not have to be a technician to do this. Start with the basics. Is the motor clean? Is there any excessive oil, grease, or corrosion on the motor? These things should send a red flag up to you if they are present. The second thing to look for is aftermarket add on items. If the used boat still has a remaining factory warranty, some aftermarket add on items can void these warranties. My recommendation is to ask the current owner if they have service records, or have they enhanced the performance of the engine in any way. If the owner does not have any service records then you may ask who has maintained the boat for them. If they say that they have been servicing the boat you may ask for receipts of parts purchased for the maintenance.

At this point there are some simple things you can do to check the integrity of the boat and motor.

  1. Compression test. ( this will let you know the compression of each cylinder of the motor)
  2. Check the lower unit gear oil. What you are looking for is the color of the lube. If it is white, it may indicate that water is present. This means the gear case (lower unit) is in need of repair.
  3. Then you will need to check the Transom for holes, bubbles, any previous transducer holes that are not filled in, delaminating or corrosion for structural stability.
  4. If the boat is aluminum, check for pitting or corrosion.
  5. If the boat is fiberglass you will need to check for air voids, stress cracks, chips, damaged fiberglass, keel damage, and bottom scrapes from moisture and sand.
  6. Another way to check the transom is to tilt the motor fully up, grab the lower unit with your hands, and push it down with just a little pressure to see if the transom flexes.
  7. Also, if the motor bolts have pulled in to the transom, this might indicate that the transom may be rotted or soft.
  8. Have the owner start the engine using an approved flush kit (idle throttle only) on the water hose if you’re not near a landing. I prefer to water test the boat.
  9. If the motor is an outboard. A firm stream of water should be flowing from the (tail tail) or on an inboard/ outboard water should be flowing from the exhaust ports on the transom plate.
  10. Check the bilge for excessive water (Water test only) and check the functioning of all switches and gauges.

Have you ever been driving down the road and seen a boat on the side of the road without a tire? The trailer can be the number one component that if it is not properly maintained can ruin your boating experience.

  1. Check the tires for proper tread, side wall cracking, and dry rotting.
  2. Check the bearings. One simple way to do this is by checking the tire rim for excessive grease. This is not always an indication that there is something wrong, but it is a cause for concern. The bearings might have just been over filled with grease.
  3. Jack one side of the trailer up. Roll the tire to see how smooth it rolls. If you hear grinding or if the tire has a hard time rolling smooth this is an indication that there is an issue.
  4. While each tire is jacked up, grab the tire from top to bottom, and shake it back and forth to see if there is any play in the tire. If there is any play at all it must be immediately addressed.
  5. Check excessive rust on the leaf springs, axle, and trailer frame.
  6. When hooking up to the trailer check all running lights for proper functioning.
  7. Ask the current owner about any warranties that might be left on the boat. Many boat and marine motor manufactures require any warranties to be transferred within thirty days of sale for these warranties to carry over to the new owner.


These are just a few helpful hints that you can use as a guide when buying a used boat.  If you’re in the market for a new boat I recommend our team at Tracker Marine Boat Center at Bass Pro Shops in Myrtle Beach, SC. We have a selection of aluminum and fiberglass boats that will fit any of your boating needs. We are also a five star marine certified dealer.  Being a five star certified dealer lets you know that there is a process in place for you as a customer and that there will always be service after the sale.



Spinning Savvy

Ed NelsonBy:  Ed Nelson (With Special Thanks To Mike “Hook’em Hard” Brinsfield)

Hey Gang and Happy Holidays to All. For those of you that read my blogs at basspro.com you might remember a post called “Backlash Lessons”. Well, it generated an enormous amount of feed-back. It also generated a common question; why do I get loops in my line with spinning tackle? So, this time we are going to try to solve the mystery of the spinning reel or if you prefer “Loop Lessons”.


                        CLICK HERE FOR VIDEO


At the time I’m writing this, I have just returned from the North Carolina TBF State Finals. For those of you that are interested I finished 109th out of 290, it may not have been a great finish but it was an awesome learning experience. I was fortunate enough to get to spend 3 days fishing with a true spinning tackle master, Mike “Hook’em Hard” Brinsfield. As we covered all kinds of water trying to put together a pattern for the tournament I watched in amazement as old “Hook’em Hard” matched me technique for technique using only spinning tackle. What took me 15 different combos (both baitcast and spinning) to accomplish he did with just 5 spinning combos. He was truly a wealth of knowledge and I hope I can do his lessons justice as I continue on with this article.


Before we get too far into this let me make one thing clear; spinning reels twist line, it’s inevitable. You can’t stop it but there are things you can do to lessen to amount of line twist you develop as well as extend the time between line changes.


The most common cause of line twist is probably got to be improper spooling. I cant tell you how many times I’ve had someone stop me after a seminar to ask about line twist only to find out it was a simple spooling problem. Remember when you spool a spinning reel you should never spool off the side of your master spool. Putting a pencil through the spool and having someone hold it while you turn the reel handle is for baitcast reels not spinning reels. Always put the master spool on the floor and make sure the line comes off the master spool counter-clockwise. That way the line goes on your reel clockwise.

Proper Spooling


Another common problem is closing the bail with the reel handle. After a cast you should always close the bail by hand. This does two things; first it saves wear and tear on your bail springs and second it keeps the loose loops that form at the end of your cast from being pulled into the reel. Next time you’re out fishing try this trick. After you make a long cast, don’t reel in immediately. Just take a second and look at the line. You’ll notice that it sits loose on the spool and in loose loops going out through the guides. Now if you were to close the bail with the reel handle it would rotate the reel and pull those loose loops onto the spool thus leaving loops under the tight line on top. But if you were to close the bail by hand, the reel doesn’t rotate and the loops aren’t pulled onto the spool. Next simply lift up on your rod tip slightly to tighten the line and begin your retrieve. This ensures the line going onto the spool is tight and less likely to get loops and eventually tangles.



The last common cause of line twist is not what you are doing but what you are throwing. Certain lures such as spoons, in-line spinners and improperly rigged worms will twist as they come through the water. This will in turn twist your line. You can eliminate this by the use of a swivel. However, if you are out on the water and you’re having line problems here’s a helpful tip. Cut off your lure and troll straight ahead, so as not to run over your line, as you feed line out off your reel. After you’ve gotten a cast or more worth of line out, stop trolling and reel in line back in. As the line is coming back to the spool it’s going to untwist in the water. It’s like rolling up a garden hose. If you wad it up at your feet and try to coil it up it just twists. But if you stretch it out across the lawn and then coil it up the end of the hose will keep flipping over and relieving the twist. 


So remember these three things;

  • Spool your reel properly
  • Close the bail by hand
  • Raise the rod tip before you start your retrieve

If you’ll follow those simple rules you’ll have a lot less problems with your line and need far less line changes.


For a more in-depth discussion of spinning reels or any other bass fishing questions drop me a comment on my blog at basspro.com or Bass Pro Shops Facebook page. You can also find me on YouTube at fyafishing or as always feel free to come visit me at Bass Pro Shop. Just ask for Ed.


Special Thanks again to Mike “Hook’em Hard” Brinsfield


Tight lines to all and to my bass fishing brethren “See you at the scales”


Bass Basics: Spinnerbaits 101

Ed Nelson

Here recently I’ve received a lot of questions about the “best lure for bass fishing”. Well as most of us know there is no “magic” lure, so I guess the question boils down to versatility and consistency. As far as consistency is concerned the plastic worm is my top pick. Now versatility is another matter. My top pick there would have to be the spinnerbait.


Over the last couple of months we’ve been discussing the basic bass rigs. This month I’d like to take a break from that subject and cover what I consider to be the most versatile bait ever created, the spinnerbait.


I’m sure some of you are asking, why is the spinnerbait my top choice? It's one of the few baits on the market today, that can be fished nearly anywhere, at anytime. It can be fished shallow, deep or anywhere in between by simply changing your rod position and retrieval speed. It’s just as much at home being slow-rolled over offshore humps as it is being bounced down a main lake point, being pitched to isolated structure, tossed under docks or crashed into cover. It can be fished in and around weeds, wood, rocks, docks or even in open water.  It’s as deadly in the hands of a seasoned pro as it is for a kid with his first spincast combo just learning how to fish. To sum it all up, it can be fished in any water condition, any time of year, in any depth of water, through just about any form of cover, by an angler of any skill level and produce fish. “Sounds great I’ll take it”. Well, as with most things in fishing, it’s not that easy. Have you walked down the spinnerbait aisle lately? The choices seem to be endless. 


So how do you choose the proper bait?
Glad you asked; there are two ways to choose a spinnerbait. The first way is the most common, go to your local Bass Pro Shop, pick one and throw it. I promise you that one of these days it will be the perfect bait for the conditions. The second way involves understanding the spinnerbaits individual components and matching each of them to your fishing situation. If you are interested in the first way, not a problem, choose a 3/8oz. white or white/chartreuse spinnerbait with a gold Colorado blade in front (its round) and a silver Willow Leaf blade in the rear (it’s the shape of a Willow Leaf). If you are interested in the second way, that’s going to take a little more explanation.

Lets get started; there are 3 basic components of a spinnerbait to consider. First is the Hoppy's Luresblade or blades, second is the head weight and third is the skirt color. 

There are 3 common styles of spinnerbait blades. The Willow Leaf Blade, named that because it’s shaped like a Willow Leaf. The Indiana Blade, which has a teardrop shape and the Colorado Blade, which has more of a round shape. They also commonly come in 2 colors, chrome and gold.

Now, when to use each one. The Willow Leaf gives off the most flash of the three but gives off the least amount of vibration. It’s best suited for your clearer water conditions. Fish that live in clear water are more sight oriented feeders. The Colorado Blade gives off the least amount of flash but also gives off the most amount of vibration. This makes it well suited for your dirtier water situations. The Indiana Blade falls in the middle. It gives off a good amount of flash and vibration. Its best suited for a stained water situation. As far as color goes, chrome on sunny days and gold on cloudy days. You also need to consider whether to use a single blade or tandem blades. My rule is; if I’m moving the bait with the rod like jigging or hopping it, I use a single blade. If I’m moving the bait with the reel at any speed from slow-rolling to burning it, I use tandem blades.

-Note- In stained water if I’m throwing a single blade I opt for an Indiana blade but if I’m throwing tandem blades in stained water I opt for a Colorado in the front and a Willow Leaf in the rear.

Head Weight

Spinnerbaits come in sizes ranging from 1/4oz. to 1oz. The rule of thumb is the deeper you want to work the bait the bigger the head size.

Here’s a guide that might help:

  • 0ft. to 5ft. use a 1/4oz. to 3/8oz.
  • 5ft. to 10ft. use a 3/8oz. to 5/8oz.
  • 10ft. and deeper use a 5/8oz. to 1oz.

Skirt Color

The most common colors for a spinnerbait are white, chartreuse or some combination of the two. Adding a few red strands to the shirt has also gotten real popular as of late. The best rule for skirt color is to try to match the hatch. For example, in the spring when the bass are on the beds, they are very aggressive towards Bluegill. So, that time of year I like to use a Bluegill colored skirt. If I know the predominate forage is shad then white is a good color, but if I know the kind of shad I’ll take it one step further. If the shad have blue backs or green backs then I’ll opt for a skirt with some blue or green glitter in it. If the water has turned muddy like after a heavy rain I’ll go to a Fire-Tiger pattern. It has some lime, chartreuse and orange in it and shows up real well in poor visibility conditions.


Remember, a 3/8oz., tandem blade, white spinnerbait will work, but if you take the time to match the hatch with your skirt color. Add that to the proper head size for the depth you are fishing and the right blades for the water and sky conditions it will make all the difference, I promise.


What do I throw? Visit www.hoppyslures.com to see my top choice in not only spinnerbaits but Buzz-Baits and Jigs as well. Why Hoppy’s? First of all, “Made in America”, I can definitely get behind that. Now keep looking, every spinnerbait is made with a hand tested Sampo ball-bearing swivel. But the best part is the competitive edge. Look closely at the head design, the bottom of the head has been molded flat. That means I can work the bait slower in heavy cover and when it rides over something it won’t roll-over. That equates to less hang-ups and more fish. Check out other brands and compare. I’m sure you will see for yourself the quality and innovation in Hoppy’s Lures that you won’t find in the mass-produced market. When you place your order be sure to tell them “Ed sent you”.


For a more in-depth discussion of spinnerbaits or any other bass fishing questions drop me a comment or feel free to come visit me at Bass Pro Shop. Just ask for Ed.


Tight lines to all and to my bass fishing brethren “See you at the scales”


Backlash Lessons

Ed Nelson

By: Ed Nelson


 Congratulations on your new baitcast reel. Let me guess, you can’t wait to get out there and give it a toss. I know the feeling and to my bait-cast veterans “Enjoy”. For my newbie’s however it’s not that easy. Your new hawg-hauler is not the same as the spin-cast or spinning reels you’ve been using for years. Just spool her up and hit the water is not going to cut it this time. If you’re a member of the “How hard can it be” club, my advice to you is to make sure you have a pocket knife and a large spool of spare line handy. You’re going to need it. For those of you that want to learn how to do it the right way, kick-back, relax and let’s cover some bait-caster basics.


Click For Video

* Getting Started
* Taking It Outside
* On The Water
* An Easier Way


The first thing you will need to know is how the darn thing works. If you know what the knobs and buttons do, you will know how to adjust them to correct whatever problems you are having with your cast. As I’m sure most of you have figured out already, your new reel doesn’t have operating instructions. You get a parts list, lubrication instructions and warranty information in no less than 3 languages. I have no idea why but that seems to be the industry standard. Fear not, you can do this; Lets get started.


 Parts To Know




  • Thumb Bar – Releases spool
  • Cast Control Knob – Maintains control of spool through entire length of cast
  • Star Drag – Used to fight fish, has no effect on cast
  • Magnetic Brake Control – Controls the end of the cast after the centrifugal brake has released the spool
  • Centrifugal Brake Control – Controls the beginning of the cast when spool speed is at its greatest

  Centrifugal Brake Control


All bait-cast reels have some sort of cast control. Some may have one, two or even three ways to control your cast. The reel I teach with is the Bass Pro Shops, Johnny Morris Signature Series. I use this reel not only for its superior quality but also it has all three types of cast controls in one reel. By learning how this reel works you can incorporate its operation into whatever reel you have. So the first logical step is to look at your reel and see what kind of controls are on your particular model. While you are doing this you might want to lightly snug down the cast control knob. This way if you accidentally hit the thumb bar, the spool won’t take off out of control. Also, set the magnetic brake controls to zero. Now, find the release button or lever that will allow you access to the side cover where the centrifugal brake (if equipped) is housed. If you have adjustable pins on your reel, I like to start with every other pin out. I lock one pin in and one pin out all the way around. Replace the side cover.


 Cast Control-1

Cast Control-2 

Now, with the reel reassembled, its time to spool it up. I highly recommend you use the cheapest line you can find. Something in a 14lb or 17lb test mono should do quite nicely. When you are done spooling, thread up your rod, pick out your practice weight and tie it on. I like to use an old jig in 3/8oz. but a plain lead weight or old crankbait with the hooks removed will work just fine. Reel your practice weight up to the tip of your rod and hold it at the 11:00 position. Hit the thumb bar and hold the spool with your thumb, slowly release your thumb pressure. If the spool starts to move tighten down on the cast control until it stops moving. Now with your weight at the tip of your rod and your rod at the 11:00 position slowly loosen your cast control knob until your weight begins to fall very slowly. You want it to fall but not pick-up any speed on the way down, a nice steady fall. Great, you’ve just adjusted your cast control.


 Magnetic Brake-1

Magnetic Brakes-2Next, its time to adjust (if equipped) your magnetic brake system.  Reel your practice weight back up to the tip of your rod. This time when you let it fall allow the bait to hit the floor. Watch to see if the spool stops spinning as soon as the bait hits the floor. If there is any extra spinning of the spool adjust the magnetic brake control knob to a higher number and try it again. Keep doing this until the spool stops as soon as the line stops. If you can’t get the spool to stop in time then your bait is falling too quickly. Go back and readjust your cast control. Remember to reset your magnets back to zero before you readjust your cast control.


Excellent, now you’re ready to go practice. PRACTICE… yes I said practice. You have to practice with your new bait-cast reel before you go out to the pond and try to fish it. The main lesson that you need to learn here is what the line feels like as it spools out under your thumb. Thumb pressure is the main control in using a bait-cast reel. All the brakes do is assist your thumb, you are in control of the spool. Well, this is where I have to leave you. Casting is something you have to be shown, reading about it would cause you more confusion than help. I can however start you down the right road. I teach all my students in this order:


  • Basic bait-cast reel operations and adjustments
  • Pitch casting
  • Side-arm roll casting
  • Over-hand casting


By following this progression I’ve found over the years that you will develop thumb control faster with less time spent picking out backlashes. Another hint, when you are out on the lawn practicing, don’t just stand out there casting at random but always have a target you are trying to hit.

One last tip, when you’ve picked out your target, release the spool, place the rod on the ground at your casting spot and walk your bait out to your target. Place it on the ground and return to your rod. Now strip about 10 more feet of line off your reel, use a 1” piece of electrical tape to tape down your line. Then, retrieve your practice weight back. Now, when you are practicing, if you make a bad cast you can only backlash down to the tape. This saves you having to cut out an entire spool of line over 1 bad cast.

 Tape Off Spool-1Tape Off Spool-2

As for your casting demonstrations, click on the links above or you can access my YouTube site at fyafishing. If you prefer a more hands on approach the gang at Bass Pro Shop would be more than happy to give you a 1 on 1 lesson. So don’t be shy, grab that new combo and come on down to Bass Pro Shop.

For a more in-depth discussion of bait-cast reels or any other bass fishing questions drop me a line on my blog at basspro.com or on Bass Pro Shops Facebook Page and as always feel free to come visit me at Bass Pro Shop. Just ask for Ed.


Tight lines to all and to my bass fishing brethren “See you at the scales”


Bass Basics: Finesse Rigs

Ed NelsonThis month we are going to look at 3 of the most common and probably the deadliest Finesse Rigs out there; The Shakey Head Rig, The Wacky Rig and The Drop-Shot Rig. With these three rigs in your arsenal you will be able to cover water from only a few inches deep to 20, 30 even 40 feet or more. Not only will you be able to cover nearly any depth of water, these rigs will also allow you to make a subtle presentation and keep to bait in the strike zone for a long time. This alone can be the key to catching those finicky bass.  


First, what do I mean when I’m talking about Finesse Fishing? I’m talking about light line, spinning tackle and small soft plastic lures. I’m talking about 6, 8 or 10lb fluorocarbon or braid, a 6’ to 7’ medium action spinning combo and 3” to 7” soft plastic baits.  My weapon of choice is a Bass Pro Shops - Pro Qualifier spinning rod, 6’ 6” medium action; Bass Pro Shops - Johnny Morris Signature Series JM20 spinning reel spooled with 14lb Berkley Fireline Crystal with a Bass Pro Shops - 8 or 10lb XPS Fluorocarbon leader.

The Shakey Head RigShakey Head Rig


The Shakey Head Rig is made up of 2 key components, the jig head and the soft plastic bait. The jig head is unique in its design. It does not have your standard size hook but an oversized hook when compared to a standard jig of the same weight. I carry 3 sizes, 1/8oz, 3/16oz and 1/4oz. I use the lightest weight I can get away with for the days conditions and the water depth I’m fishing. Usually its 1/8oz for less than 5ft, 3/16oz for 5-10ft and 1/4oz for deeper than 10ft. This is just a general rule; wind also plays a key role in my choice of head sizes. The head has to maintain good bottom contact to work the bait properly. If the wind is pushing my 1/8oz around in shallow water then I will up-size to a 3/16oz or even a 1/4oz to get the good bottom contact I need. The soft plastic bait can be just about anything. I prefer a 4” finesse worm in either straight or curl tail. Rigging the bait is a bit unique as well. The worm is not threaded onto the jig head like the traditional Jig-Worm but it more like a Texas-Rig. The object is to force the tail of the worm up and off the bottom. This gives the bait incredible action. It’s fished on a semi-slack line and works best around specific targets. Try not to move the rig forward but shake it in place, “try NOT to get bit”. I know most of you just read that twice but it’s not a typo. If you will fish the rig with that mind-set and work at sneaking the bait back to the boat, the bait will spend more time in the strike-zone and have plenty of action to entice a strike from even the most lethargic bass.


Wackey RigThe Wacky Rig


The Wacky Rig is my go-to rig when bass are buried deep under docks. It can be skipped across the water rear about as far as it can be cast. Since it has no weight other than the hook, it falls incredibly slow. It consists of 2 key components, the hook and the soft plastic bait. My choice in hooks is a #1 short-shanked hook with a weed guard. For plastics I like a 6” to 7” straight tailed worm. Fishing this rig is super easy but requires a lot of patience. It works best when left alone to do its own thing. The best presentation is with a skip-cast. The cast itself is what gets the fish looking in the direction of the bait. This is followed by a painfully slow fall. This is where patience comes in. You have to just let it fall on a semi-slack line. If the fish is there, the skip-cast got it looking. When you can’t stand it any longer, just pop your wrist up once or twice to bring the bait off the bottom and let it fall again. Be ready, the bites are usually subtle. Most times the rod will just start to load up as the fish picks up the bait and swims off with it. If you want the bait to fall a little faster try pinching a small split-shot to the shaft of your hook or leave your tag end long when tying your knot and pinch the split-shot there. Never pinch a split-shot to your main line. It can crush your line and create a weak spot that will cause your line to break.


Drop-Shot RigThe Drop-Shot Rig


The Drop-Shot Rig is a great way to present soft plastics off the bottom. It consists of 3 key components, the hook, the weight and the soft plastic bait. I prefer a #1 Drop-Shot hook. The hook is tied to the line using a Palomar Knot with a long tag end. After you’ve tied on your hook, pull your line straight and make sure the hook hanging with the point up. If not you can pass the tag end back through the point side of the hook eye and this will make the hook stand point side up. The long tag end will now become your dropper (the line the weight hangs from). The weight is specially designed with a wire clip on top so you can adjust your dropper length without having to retie with every adjustment. Weight size is the same as the Shakey Head Rig, 1/8oz, 3/16oz and 1/4oz. However, in depths of 25ft or more it’s not uncommon to see weights in the 1/2oz range. The same rules still apply, use the lightest weight you can get away with but still maintain good bottom contact. The soft plastic bait is a matter if personal preference. My favorite is a 3 ½” tube, nose hooked, but finesse style worms, crawfish and minnow plastics, even lizards can be rigged. It’s fished in much the same manner as the Shakey Head Rig in that it’s cast out and fished in place. When the weight hits the bottom its left there and the bait is fished on the semi-slack line between the rod tip and the weight. Just barely shaking your rod tip will give the bait plenty of action. It can also be fished vertically over the side of the boat on targets found on your depth-finder and is deadly effective in situations where you Shakey Head Rig is getting covered with weeds or algae on the bottom. With the Drop-Shot Rig, the weight might be on the bottom in the weeds but the bait is able to ride over the top of the weeds by adjusting the length of the dropper.

- Note - When fishing the Drop-Shot Rig vertically in water depths of 10ft or more, line twist can be a big problem. The bait wants to spin when retrieved up from deep water. To combat this, tie a swivel to your line about a foot or so above the hook. This will allow the rig to spin but not twist your main line.


Next time you are at your favorite fishing hole and the bass won’t bite. No need to cuss the boating traffic, tie on a Finesse Rig and have a great day on the water. For a more in-depth discussion of Finesse Rigs or any other bass fishing questions feel free to come visit me at Bass Pro Shop. Just ask for Ed.


Tight lines to all and to my bass fishing brethren “See you at the scales”


Carolina Rig




This month we are going to look at the Carolina rig. Like the Texas Rig we covered last month, the Carolina Rig is an extremely versatile, multi-season rig. It’s used to fish a bait deep but off the bottom. Unlike deep diving baits like a crankbait or jigging spoon, the Carolina Rig is a subtle way to present a bait to the fish and still cover water quickly.



The basic Carolina Rig is easy to make. First you thread a weight into your line. Usually a worm or egg sinker is used. Sizes range from 3/4 oz. to 1oz.. The heavy weight gets the bait to the bottom quickly and helps you maintain good bottom contact as you drag it along. Next you thread on a plastic bead. The bead protects the knot from abrasion caused by the weight hitting it and also acts as a noise maker. Then the main line is tied to a swivel. The swivel is used to keep the weight from sliding down to the bait. A leader is tied to the other side of the swivel. The leader is usually 1ft. to 4ft.. The length depends on how far you want your bait off the bottom. Also, it should be a lighter line than your main line. That way if you get hung-up on the bottom you can break off your leader and not loose your whole rig. Last is the hook and your choice of plastic bait. This is up to you. You can rig anything from a plastic worm to a lizard, a creature bait, a frog, I’ve even rigged a shallow diving crank bait. 




To fish it, just cast it out. With such a long leader your cast is more of a lob. Let your weight sink on a slack line all the way to the bottom. Then drop your rod tip down low to the water and drag the bait back to you. Be sure you are moving the bait with the rod and not the reel. When moving the bait with the reel not enough slack line exists when a fish hits and the fish is more likely to drop the bait. If you use the rod to move the bait, you can simply point your rod back at the fish after the strike and allow the fish to run a little with the bait. This will definitely improve your hook-op ratio. Lastly, when setting the hook, swing the rod tip to the side and not up in the air. By using a sweep-set, you pull the line through the weight on the bottom giving you a better hook set. If you set the hook “up”, you lift the weight off the bottom. This is a far less efficient hook-set for this technique.


The Carolina Rig is at its best when used to search-out fish and cover water. Cast it out on main lake points and flats, drag it back and hang-on. You’ll be surprised at the quality and quantity of fish you can catch in seemingly “open water”.


The Carolina Rig, add it to your bag of tricks. For a more in-depth discussion on Carolina Rigs or any other bass fishing questions feel free to come visit me at Bass Pro Shop. Just ask for Ed.


Tight lines to all and to my bass fishing brethren “See you at the scales”.

By: Ed Nelson

by line pic

10 Hiking Essentials

By: Mario Falica  a.k.a. "Huff--Puff"

With warmer weather approaching, many of us will start to venture into the wilds of nature and go hiking.  Although some will go out for several days backpacking, most of us will roam about for a day or less.  In either case there are some "essential" items that we should have with us at all times in case of emergencies such as getting lost (or as I like to say "temporarily misaligned for a short period of time"), or injured and need to await rescue.  Always let someone know your planned itinerary.  If the inevitable does happen, your first and most important step is to stop and use your brain.  Access your situation with care, don't panic, and always put thought before action. The following is compiled from several sources that refer to "The Ten Essentials".

1.  Pack - (Daypack, Fanny pack, Backpack or even a multi-pocketed vest))  obviously you need to have something that will hold the items to be discussed here and any other gear that you may wish to carry such as a camera or binoculars.

2.  Food and Water - (Nalgene bottle, soda bottle, hydration pack such as a CamelbakMany hikers underestimate what they will need for a full day of hiking.  This is especially true of water.  You should start with at least 1 1/2 to 2 liters of water and perhaps more if the weather is hot.  Make sure your container is not breakable glass.  The Nalgene bottles and the Ascend stainless steel bottles that are carried at Bass Pro Shops and other outdoor stores are ideal containers.  A stainless steel cup that fits the bottom of the Nalgene bottle is also a welcome accessory (for boiling water if necessary).  In addition to your lunch always carry something extra.  This could be in the form of energy bars, jerky, crackers, candy bars, cereal bars, or GORP (good ol raisins and peanuts).

3.  Light Source - (headlamps, cap lights, flashlights, chemical glow sticks)  People underestimate how long it takes to get back before dark.  If you're in a valley and the sun sets behind the mountain, it can get very dark, very quickly. Make sure you test your light source before you go out.  I like a headlamp as it leaves your hands free and light shines wherever you look.  Opt for an LED light in any case as they are very bright in the short distance and run times are extremely long.  I also throw a tea candle in my pack.  They are small light and can burn up to 4 hours.

4.  Basic First Aid Kit - This can be very simple and kept in a zip-lock bag.  Some things are obvious, such as band-aids, gauze pads, butterfly bandages, gloves, antiseptic wipes/ointment, and ibuprofen, Tylenol, benadryl, and Imodium.  Not so obvious items may include tweezers for ticks, needed medications such as insulin, Epi-pens, inhalers, and extra contact lenses or glasses.

5.  Map and Compass - The ability to use both is paramount.  Learn your starting and end points on the map and try to track your progress with the surrounding terrain.

6.  Water Treatment  - A metal cup for boiling water, water filter such as are made by Katadyn and MSR .  Commercial chemical purifiers or at least bleach (4-8 drops per liter, depending on question-ability, and at least a 1/2 hr wait period. 

7.  Rain Shell  A rain jacket, poncho, or even a garbage bag should be carried to keep you dry.  You can get very hypothermic, even in warm weather, should you get wet.  They also make a good windbreak to help conserve body heat.

8.  Emergency Shelter  A space blanket, tarp, or bivy sack all make for good emergency shelters.  If you had to spend a night out, could you rig something up to keep you dry with what's in your pack?

9.  Warm Hat - People can loose from 1/3 to 1/2 of their body heat through the head.  Keep it covered and you'll stay warmer.  You may want to pack an extra layer depending on the season and where you may be hiking.

10.  Fire Starter - This could be matches in a waterproof container, butane lighter, flint and steel, or magnesium fire starter, even a tea candle.

Other Essentials

  • Whistle  It's louder than your voice, can carry a lot further, and can outlast your hoarse voice.  Blow it in a series of 3's so that someone listening for it can focus-in on the sound.
  • Pocket knife/Multi-tool  Multi-use item
  • Toilet Paper/Tissues  Self-explanatory in its intended use but can also be used as tinder to start a fire.
  • Nylon Parachute cord/string  Multi-use item.  Carry about 50' to be used for rigging shelter, hanging food away from critters, repair broken laces, tie splints, etc.
  • Sunglasses and sunscreen
  • Duct Tape  Multi-use item
I am sure that you can probably think of other "Hiking Essentials" that you may want to add to the list.  Think small and light and multi-use wherever you can.  The point is you can't use it if its not with you.