Guy Eaker lays out a perfect foundation for spinnerbaits in tough conditions, breaking down water clarity, temperature, slow fish response, and which blades will work best under which conditions. Spinnerbaits have been a go-to bait of mine for a long time, and Guy has turned me on to a few new combinations I’ll have to try. For the most part Clive and I use inline Mepps spinnerbaits for covering water, but when the weather gets tough I often switch to a white double willow spinnerbait fished extremely slow over rocky points. The Mepps spinners don’t attract much attention when falling, but a standard spinnerbait with a big rubber skirt and two willow blades clapping together can attract quite a bit. Study this one hard, you’re going to need it for those late fall bass when the weather gets tough.
Eaker also likes to slow down his spinnerbait presentation when conditions get tough. “When high pressures come in, I like to fish it slow. I mean real slow. Just barely wind that bait, keeping the blades turning while I’m watching it sink all the time.”
Case in point: At a 2003 CITGO Bassmaster Southern Open on Lake Eufaula, a fall front had come through and shut down the activity the pros had enjoyed during practice. Flinging a blade, Eaker was able to bring five bass weighing 16 pounds, 15 ounces to the scales in the opening round, while most of the field struggled.
“Most everybody else was pitching tubes, cranking and fishing a jig,” he recalls. “The baitfish had moved under the willow trees hanging way out over the lake. I was making little short underhanded casts under where the shad were, and winding. Nobody else was doing that. Everybody else was fishing on the outside. The shad were there, and the bass were lying underneath those willows, eating that spinnerbait.”
The “French Fry” has to be my favorite bait for bass. There is little more exciting than fishing heavy slop waiting for that vacumm-like hit from a huge bucketmouth. My personal favorite combination is the Berkley Gulp! Sinking Minnow, weightless, with a Gamakatsu G-Lock Worm hook. Simply put it is the deadliest combination I have used that can handle big fish and heavy cover. All of the Berkley Gulp! baits are extremely tough and can last for a dozen fish easily, unlike other “french fry” baits like the Senko baits which last only a fish or two.
Scroggins adaptation of the “french fry” is simple, yet innovative. Honestly, Im kind of jealous I didn’t think of it before, because its so simple. Scroggins inserts a nail weight in to the tail of the bait so that when he allows the bait to free fall it actually swims away from him.
Scroggins, 36, has risen from local phenom (winning more than 300 small tournaments in northern Florida) to top Tour pro by being resourceful. Evidence of that can be seen in his modifications of the simple “French fry” lure.
“One of my best tricks is taking a nail and putting it in back of a Centipede or a Fish Doctor,” said the two-time BASS winner. “That’s the latest, greatest thing I’ve got. It works all around the country. Everywhere I’ve been they’ve bit it.”
Both Zoom products, the Centipede is a 4 1/4-inch worm, while the 3 3/4-inch Fish Doctor is similar but doesn’t have rings on its body.
While both are best known for Carolina rigging, Scroggins has transformed them into a Texas rigged tool that works in a variety of situations.
“What that does is when you pull your worm up and release it, the worm goes away from you. It works really well. It really looks natural. To me it imitates a shrimp or crawfish the way they glide through the water. It’s an excellent dock bait because it skips so well. It probably skips better than any bait I’ve ever used. And with the weight in the tail end of it, it sinks about right. Plus, it slides away from you, so it gets way back up under the dock.”
Simple but effective.
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* The pictures of Clive and I were taken in Ontario, Canada- Fall 2004