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Tip's For The Beginner

What's The Difference?


It has been a while since I have taken time to write another segment for the "Tip's For The Beginner" that I started years ago. You can find all these tips by clicking on the TIPS TAB on the upper left hand side of my home page. I hope that this tip will help you gain more knowledge that will equate to more bass in the boat.


Yesterday I talked to a gentleman at church that visits my web site on a regular basis and he asked me this question. What is the difference between a #5 Shad rap, a #5 Glass Shad Rap and a #5 Shad Rap RS. www.rapala.com Great question and hopefully this will be a great answer. Let's start out with the #5 Shad Rap. Before a description let me say, there is NO TELLING how many fish of all species have been caught on this bait. In my humble opinion this is an absolute must in everyone's tackle selection hands down.


The #5 Shad Rap

 The SR05 (smaller bait below) is a non rattling balsa wood constructed bait that has a "Classic Wounded Minnow Rapala Wobble". As you can see it has a long clear bill that is angled slightly downward. The bill is approx 1 inch long and 1/2 wide at it's widest point with it's line tie not hardly in the middle of the bill. The SR05 in 2 inches in body length, weighs 3/16th of a ounce, has 2 #8 VMC treble hooks www.vmchooks.com and is designed to be fished at all speeds and will run 4' to 9' deep on a long cast and 10lb test line. It is designed to FLOAT UP when you stop your retrieve.  I throw the SR05 on 6lb Test Sufix Mono www.sufix.com and a 7' medium action rod and can reach 10' deep when paralleling the bank. I like to keep in touch with the structure by bouncing this little bait off as much structure as possible creating a reaction strike on less aggressive fish. Let's talk about the "Non Rattling Aspect"  Remember!  that everything isn't always 100% the same when it comes to bass. Having said that there are times when a non-rattling bait will be more effective, such as in what I would call ultra clear water when the bass are  ready to spawn or when they are "Spooky" for one reason or another. I have also experienced times when the water temps fall into the very low 40's that a slower retrieve with a non rattling bait will give up more strikes. Will a bass in Tennessee hit a crankbait in low 40 degree  water? Absolutely unless the lake sustains that low temp for a long period of time. By the way the SR05 is a fantastic bait to troll with as well. This is truly all all species crankbait. Like all Rapala baits the SR5 is hand tuned and tank tested before in leaves the plant and will run straight and true every time right out of the box. Rapala is offering 33 (yes 33) different colors and 6 different sizes of the Shad Rap for the 2014 season.


The #5 Glass Shad Rap


The GSR05 is a Rattling-Suspending "See Through Glass Bodied Bait" that is designed to pick up the color of it's surrounding in bright sunshine or low light conditions and then project that color back out in a iridescent glow.  It's amazing what these look like in the sun shine and then in a shaded area. You will quickly see that the Glass Rap will actually adapt to what ever your current light conditions are, above or below water. Chances are you will catch more bass in the water!  This can be so important when you are experiencing changing weather conditions in the same day. The #5 Glass Rap is 2 inches in body length, (beefier in body than the SR05 see picture below)  5/16th of an ounce  (2/16th more than the SR05) in weight has 2 #6 VMC treble hooks and will run 7' to 11' deep on a long cast and 10lb test line.  The long clear bill isn't angled down as much as the SR05 and is longer being 1  1/8th inch in length and wider than the SR05 being 11/16th in width. Because of the body and bill design the GSR05 has a little more of a "thump" type wobble that you can definitely feel when cranking this bait. The angle and construction of the bill helps this bait achieve rated depths. Once again I will throw this bait on either 6lb or 8lb test Sufix mono and reach even deeper when paralleling the bank. This bait is designed to "suspend" rather than float up when you stop your retrieve. Why is that important? There are times when I really believe that you can't reel a crankbait back to the boat fast enough when the bass are very aggressive and they are determined to blast your bait. But then there are times when they aren't nearly as aggressive but are still hungry and when you crank this bait down for several cranks then "STOP" and start again they will almost jerk the rod out of your hands. I guess they have been chasing the bait and when you stop they get a good look at it and when start your retrieve again they think it's getting away.  Also I like to stop this bait when I have ricocheted off some type of structure. Many times I have been hung up, pooped the bait free, and as it suspends and then I began to crank "Walla" there they are.  Once again this is a must have in your tackle selection because it is so versatile. The GSR05 is a great all species trolling bait as well. The GSR05 is hand tuned and tank tested before in leaves the plant and will run straight and true every time right out of the box. Rapala is offering these in 3 different sizes and 9 different colors for the 2014 season.


The #5 Shad Rap RS


The SRRS05 has all the same stats that the #5 Glass Rap does and the same differences from the #5 Shad Rap. I use the same line weights, rod length and techniques that I do with the Glass Rap.  So you say "why then should I buy the RS? The answer is simple let's use the Glass Brown Crawdad and the Crawdad RS as an example. When you get these in your hands, the first thing you will see is the deeper tones and varied paint schemes on the RS bait vs. the Glass bait and the same will hold true if you match up exact colors down the line. If you pay attention to Live Craws on the lakes you fish you will see that they take on different colors at different times of the year based on  multiple variables. The bait fish in our lakes will pick up different hews through the year as well based on water clarity, temperatures etc. So what? Call me what you will "Old Fashioned" "Picky" "Fussy" and I most likely qualify in each of these descriptions. But I absolutely I believe that there are times when different paint "tones" make a subtle but huge difference. And then there are times I can't explain why, other than it becomes a confidence thing and you get in a zone of your own and it help your over all performance when your on the water. What ever the reason these are a absolute must for me as well. Rapala www.rapala.com is offering 3 different sizes and 9 different colors for the 2014 season as well.


This wasn't a absolutely comprehensive over view but I hope this will help you at least a little to understand the differences between the 3 baits. The best way to know is go to your local tackle shop and get them in your hands and see what I'm talking about. If you have any additional questions contact me at rickm@dtccom.net  or www.tennesseebassguides.com or at 615-765-7303 and I will be happy to help you any way that I can.  Rick McFerrin

A Great Safety Tip For Everyone

Boat Trailer Step & Handle

Written By: Rick McFerrin


As I sit down here to write this article I can't help but think of how many times I have loaded and unloaded a boat in the more than 40 years of bass fishing. It wasn't unusual to fish by myself years ago so getting the boat off the trailer and back on was all up to me. I have to admit that boat trailers today are much easier to drive a boat up on than they were in the "Old Days" but there is at least 1 thing that hasn't changed in all these years. What would that be you ask? Even if you float your boat off with a rope when you are unloading you still have to crawl out of the boat some way when you get it back on the trailer at the end of your trip.

Crawling out of a boat was much easier for me when I has 40 years younger and my balance and sure footedness was still in tack. But as I have gotten older, much to my dismay some of that has gone away like my black hair I use to have. So back several months ago I got to looking for a SAFE-RELIABLE way to help me get out of my bass boat without taking a chance of falling or skinning my legs up on the trailer. I looked on line and found several "1 SIZE FITS ALL" type steps, plates and bars that can be mounted in various places on a boat trailer, all having some qualities that I liked but none having everything that I wanted. Let me give you an example. There are some products that attach to your trailer but when you slide your leg over the boat to step on them they are still a long way down with no handle to hold on to, or they are tucked back under your boat or the step plate or bar is very small and easy to miss. Why spend the $$$$ on something that just doesn't fit the SAFE-RELIABLE test?  Then I ran into WWW.BOAT-BOARD.COM   I went over their web site time and time again before I contacted them. It appeared by what I saw on their web site that this might just meet my need, and I can tell you that it has hands down. After using the boat-board for several months their product is just like they advertise "Safe"  "Easy" and "Fast"

The first thing that caught my attention was that the Boat Board system is custom designed for your particular brand of boat. The Boat Board isn't a flimsy after market product but is extremely sturdy fully welded steel  one piece unit with a generous non slip step plate and handle that gives everyone no matter their age or ability a safe way to enter or exit a boat.  You don't have to be a senior citizen like me to have a accident getting in or out of your boat, it can happen to anyone. But there is one thing for sure, every since I started using my Board Board I have had the absolute safest way to get in or out of my boat both on or off the water that I have ever had .  Another feature I liked is that these have been designed by "Fishermen" that know exactly what is needed in a boat step system not by someone sitting at a computer and the only water they get close to is when they take a bath. You can go to WWW.BOAT-BOARD.COM and look at all their diagrams and pictures and see for yourself why I think this is by far a absolute must to add to your boat trailer. You can contact them at their e-mail address on their web site or if you have questions for me feel free to call me at 615-308-9936.  No need to take a chance in being injured-go on their site you will like what you see.  Rick McFerrin www.tennesseebassguides.com

Tip's For The Beginner

Written By Rick McFerrin

Full Time Guide/Owner

Tennessee Bass Guides LLC.

Revised 2013

I'm sitting at my desk to write this article and I need to tell you up front that I can't cover every variety of the Sufix brand. There are 18 varieties of the Sufix line in multitudes of different line weights and intended usage. So what I will do is to cover the Sufix line that I  have personally used every day that I fish as a full time guide.  Sufix is the only line that you will find on my spinning and casting reels. It's important to me to put the best equipment in the hands of my clients. The last thing I would want to happen is to have a client hang a big fish and then have line failure. That's why I put my trust in Sufix every day.

For those of you that are "Beginners" maybe this will help you. You might ask why would one line manufacture make so many different lines? I believe that is a very fair question. Let me address it this way.  Have you ever heard the term connected to fishing equipment "Special Purpose"  There are special purpose lures, special purpose tackle storage systems, special purpose rods, special purpose reels and the list can go on a long way. If you are a serious bass fisherman (or fisherman period) that spends a lot of time chasing brown and green fish and you like to throw a variety of lures of different sizes, weights and actions it won't be long before you realize that 1 rod won't cut it. (Honey I really do need another rod) The truth is it doesn't matter how much you paid for the rod you are using.  I'm not saying that you can't cast and reel most anything on 1 rod but your efficiency and effectiveness on the water will be hindered greatly and your frustration level will go through the roof. That's why rods are made for a particular "Special Purpose"  It's the same with Sufix line. One line doesn't fit all applications. And with that in mind Sufix R/D department developed a series of premium fishing lines to meet every situation that we might experience on the water no matter where fish can be found.  So with that in mind lets get started one at a time and in no particular order.


Sufix Deep Crankin Monofilament

As I was growing up I can remember my dad on several occasions saying "Son" don't forget that you will always learn more by listening than jabbering!  Case in point, Sufix Deep Crankin is a great example of just that. The Sufix R/D folks listened to professional fishermen that make their living by putting fish in their boats. Together they engineered  a "Special Purpose Deep Crankin" line. By the way Sufix pioneered this new segment and is 1st in this category! I like that, I don't like to be second on the water either. So what makes this line different? The molecular weight (big words from an ole boy from Woodbury) of the line is designed to sink faster and by doing so it allows the fisherman to get crankbaits deeper and keep them in the strike zone longer. That means we have the opportunity to keep that Rapala DT10 in the face of Mrs. Smallmouth/Largemouth/Walleye for a longer period of time on each cast. If you have crankbaits in your blood you know from experience, that your line has to be tough, small diameter, strong, manageable, have minimal stretch for solid hook sets and give you the ability to make long casts.  These are the qualities that Sufix Deep Crankin line gives you. Everything that you need to achieve maximum performance. Another great feature of Sufix Deep Crankin is it comes in 300 yard spools of either Smoke Green or Clear and from 6lb test to 20lb test. This line is available to "EVERY" tackle store that carries Rapala and Sufix  products. If your favorite store doesn't stock it ask them to order you some....you will be well pleased!


Sufix 100% Castable Fluorocarbon

See if this rings a bell with you from years past. You just loaded your favorite reel with fluorocarbon you got to the lake and it was the stiffest, kinkiest mess that you have ever tried to fish with. Something like #@*^$% was heard coming from your boat for over 5 minutes while you tried to pick the birds nest out of your reel. I have been there and got the T-Shirt.  I swore I would never use fluorocarbon again and then I was fortunate to be able to fish Sufix Fluorocarbon on both my spinning and casting reels and my tune changed. I heard that Sufix Fluorocarbon even helped clean up some guys language. Why is this line different? In the development stage it was found that by adding 2 high quality fluorocarbon resins together the result was a line that had  "Stealth Like" invisibility, was superior in strength and was extremely abrasion resistant. Why is stealth like invisibility important? There are times in clear water situations and when fish are just finicky that you need all the help you can get in making your lure presentation as natural as possible. Like fishing the Storm Jig Craw to the left. You don't want Mrs. Big to see the line, you just want her to see the craw. So you need a "Special Purpose Line" to fit the need. And that is Sufix Fluorocarbon.  Another application on clear lakes is to use a more visible mono like Sufix Elite or a Sufix Braid that can help you ""SEE" your line and then add a Sufix Fluorocarbon leader.  But it doesn't stop there, Sufix Fluorocarbon also has superior sensitivity that helps you feel that slight tick  when Mrs. Bass picks the craw up.  No more hard handling,  ruin your day on the water fluorocarbon,  but rather a line that sets new gold standards in this category. Now something I should have already covered.  Sufix also has a gold standard process to wind line on a retail spool like the ones you see above. On 100 yard and 300 yard spools Sufix uses a G2 Precision Winding  system that virtually eliminates line memory.  The Sufix Fluorocarbon comes in 200yard spools and uses the same winding technology. And is available from 4lb to 30 lb test. R/D did good! Didn't they.

Sufix Elite Monofilament

Several months ago at the boat ramp I had a gentleman come over to my boat and said "Rick I read your web site everyday and is Sufix line as good as you say it is?" I had to chuckle to myself because his voice had a tone of discontentment in it. I said yes sir! It sure is! Why?  Are you having trouble with the brand of line that you have been using? His eyes lit up and he said I sure am, let me get one of my reels to show you. It was almost like he just got to the Fishing Line Emergency Room. We talked about the line he was using. We talked about how he put it on his reels. I explain the Sufix G2 Precision Winding System and made a suggestionn of which Sufix line he should try. After swapping big fish stories for 45 minutes we parted ways.  Just before Christmas at a store in Manchester Tennessee I ran into this man again and he was elated. He purchased some 10lb Test Low-Vis Sufix Elite and was as happy as a bed bug tucked under 10 layers of blankets. His exact words " I'm going to use the 6lb Test Clear Blue next on a couple other reels." He spent several minutes telling me how easy and smooth the line came off the spool and onto his reels with almost zero (0) line memory.  Why go to the lake and experience frustration? Our time on the water is suppose to be fun, relaxing, rehabilitating and then have a bonus of catching fish.  Sufix Elite has superior knot strength due to a special resin technology, fantastic durability, almost zero memory and provides all around exceptional performance. From Rapala Crankbaits , Terminator Spinnerbaits or your bait of choice Sufix Elite is a absolute must to try!  Increase your fun decrease your frustration. Elite is available in Clear Blue, Clear, Lo-Vis Green and Camo all available in 4lb to 30lb test.

Sufix Pro Mix Monofilament

Sufix Pro Mix isn't easy to find. But when you do as far as I'm concerned you have found a jewel.  Sufix Pro Mix is soft, low memory, low stretch, easy handling, superior knot strength, comes off your spinning and casting reels as smooth as silk. Gives me longer casts, doesn't kink or get stiff.  I have used Pro Mix in 6lb, 8lb, 10lb and 12lb test and have been absolutely satisfied with each. I'm a light line guy and use a lot of the 6lb and 8lb test. I throw Rapala, Luhr-Jensen and Storm Crankbaits exclusively. I beat and band them off of jagged rocks, submerged timber and stumps, bridge pillars and docks. I  also swim a jig, grub, spoon, top water and shaky head as well. Oh yes, and live bait. Sufix Pro Mix just performs. What else can you say? Pro Mix is available to any of your local Fishing tackle Outlets in 400 yard filer Spools, Clearfrom 6lb test to 17lb test. Ask the owner to order some for you.

Sufix 832 Advanced Superline

Straight and upfront that's the way I handle everything. This line has  revolutionized the SuperLine category. Instead of me telling you about 832 I think it's best for you to type in Sufix 832 Superline on your computer and take time to read about this fantastic line. I use it exclusively on all my deep crankbait, square bill and spinner bait rods.

Sufix 832 Advanced Superline™ is the strongest, most durable small diameter braid on the market. R8 Precision Braiding and fiber technology provides superior strength, roundness and line consistency. Constructed of 8 fibers (7 Dyneema® plus 1 GORE® Performance Fiber) and 32 weaves per inch. GORE® Performance Fibers improve abrasion resistance, increase casting distance & accuracy and reduce line vibration. Dyneema® fibers provide high strength & sensitivity, hydrophobic water-repellent protection and small diameter. 832 also won the prestigious "Best Line Award for 2010 at the I Cast show.

It seems anticlimactic to have a conclusion paragraph at this point. So I will just close by saying this. Other than the 832 my clients and I have personally used the line that I have talked about in this article. If it didn't measure up on the water I wouldn't use it, and I wouldn't say that it did. It's just that plain and simple. I hope that 2013 will be the "BEST YEAR" you have ever had on the water. Be safe, enjoy and if you see me at the lake stop and say howdy.  Rick McFerrin www.tennesseebassguides.com

Tip's For The Beginner

Fishing  The "New"

Rapala  Clackin Series Baits

Written By Rick McFerrin

Full Time Guide/Owner

Tennessee Bass Guides LLC.

January 2011


This is going to sound like a "Poor Me Article"  to start out with, but that's not really the case. Well maybe a little, But Just A Little!  Last week I had surgery and I'm sidelined, off the water, restricted from, put on the shelf, truck and boat keys taken away, under my wife's supervision for 6 weeks more or less. Being a full time guide and a person that is on the water 12 months out of the year it's almost like a prison sentence. This has to be equivalent to doing "Fishing's Hard Time".  If you can't tell I'm already stir crazy. Did I whine enough? Well, enough of that!

  I don't believe I'm much different than the avid crank bait fishermen that has a bad case of Chunk And Wind running through their veins. You may be one of those. There's  just something about having a "Big" Smallmouth or "Big" Largemouth slam a crankbait in the middle of a bring it on retrieve, or on the pause or right at the boat. It's a rush that I first experienced when I was a kid and it still stays with me today.  I can remember like it was yesterday the very first Rapala baits that my dad bought, I was mesmerized .  I can also remember dad's strong advice like "SON DON'T LOSE THIS" when we were fishing the lakes and ponds where I grew up.  The variety, sizes and colors were few back then, but that didn't seem to bother the fish because we we sure caught a ton of them. Nothing has changed! I still catch a ton of them but now on a wide variety of Rapala baits that I use today. Why has that proven to be true for me over 50 plus years?  Simple it's called Rapala Quality-Innovation and keeping your ear close to the water!

Which bring me to the reason for this article.

Rapala innovation has excelled once again in creating the new Clackin Series Baits which consist of the (left to right)  Clackin Rap, Clackin Minnow and the Clackin Crank. Although each of these baits are very different in shape and size from one another there are several important features they have in common that we need to explore before looking at each bait individually. The first would be the Rapala Signature Clackin Rattle Chamber. I disassembled a Clackin Rap (left) to show you the Rattle Chamber that is inside the Clackin Series Baits. The round Rattle Chamber has external metal disc's located at each end and a steel ball inside the chamber. This is a very important feature because the chamber allows the steel ball to move freely without getting hung up inside the bait. Have you ever used a rattle bait and had to shake it by hand to free the rattle inside? You won't have that trouble with these baits! No matter how fast or slow these baits are worked the steel ball moves freely and emits a distinctive Clackin sound that fish can very easily zero in on. Although I fish primarily for Smallmouth and Largemouth the Clackin Series Baits are designed for multi species including Hybrid, Stripers, Walleye, Pike, Musky, Trout, Salmon and various pan fish.

Another key feature on all the Clackin Series Baits is the VMC Sure Set Hooks.  To get right down to middle Tennessee lingo "these are some kind of great hooks."  Both the standard 1X Strong Sure Set (left) and the Sure Set Flash Feather Teaser Tail (right) are manufactured from Vanadium Steel and are cone cut to provide maximum penetration. Folks these are extremely sharp take it from a guy that had one in his thumb this summer. That would be yours truly. Over the past several years I have been extremely impressed with the efficiency of these hooks.  As you can see from both styles one hook is larger than the other two which increases your hook up ratio  greatly. All Clackin Series baits comes armed and ready to go with Sure Set Hooks. Another Rapala excellent innovation. .

X Style Color Finish is another key element in the success of these baits. Each Clackin Series Bait is available in multiple color/finish choices that will help you match your needs all year long. True to life long Rapala reputation nothing is left to chance these are very durable high quality baits. Now let's get a closer look at each of the Clackin Series baits.


Clackin Crank

 The Clackin Crank has a distinctive shad shaped body profile with a clear diving lip design. Using 10lb Test Sufix Mono the #5 dives to 3 feet deep  while the #7 will level off in the 4 foot range. By down sizing your line to 6lb or 8lb test Sufix you can gain additional depth if needed. These baits are intended to provide aggressive lure action when using a higher speed of retrieve but will also rise very slowly when stopped. Either way the Clackin Crank is well designed for all on the water situations including triggering  a reaction strike on reluctant fish. These baits can also be trolled if you prefer. If you fish lakes with submerged grass these are going to be a "Must Have" for your boat. Crank it just fast enough to tick the top of the grass. If you get hung in the grass rip it free and hold on.  Cast the Clackin Crank on the outside edges and into open pockets and trails in lily pad fields. With the durable lip design it's rugged enough to beat and bang on  rip rap bridge areas, in chunk rocks and boulders, shallow long running gravel points and even on surfacing fish. If your fishing boat docks chose the color that matches the bait fish or bluegill around the dock. Make sure that the bait comes in contact with posts, ladders and any thing that is attached or sticks out from the dock.  In backs of creeks run the Clackin Crank in the shallow ditches and bounce it off any rocks and timber that might be there. The #7 is 2 3/4 inches long and weighs 5/8oz while the #5 is 2 inches long and weighs 5/16 oz.  Currently the Clackin Crank comes in 17 X Style colors which are available to all stores that carry Rapala products. As we have already discussed no matter how fast or slow these baits are worked the steel ball moves freely and emits a distinctive Clackin sound that fish can very easily zero in on.  A must have for your year round arsenal.


Clackin Minnow

The Clackin Minnow features a slow sinking minnow body profile and comes in two different sizes and weights. The #9 is 3 1/2 inches long and weighs 7/16 oz. The #11 is 4 3/8 inches long and weighs in at 3/4oz.  Built into the Clackin Minnow is years of history. What do it mean?  Although it has the Rattle Chamber this bait still retains the famous Rapala "Wounded Minnow" action.  Where can this bait be used? Well maybe the question should be "Where can't you use the Clackin Minnow?"  The only place that I know it won't do you any good is leaving it at home in your garage.  Think about the potential for a minute. With 2 sizes and 15 (Yes 15) X Style colors you will be able to match just about any meal that a fish is looking for.  I guide a very deep clear lake in middle Tennessee and I can tell you from experience that this bait will be fantastic on fish suspended around bridge pillars. Cast parallel to the pillar and then let the slow sinking minnow action work. When you get to your target depth twitch it and the Sure Set Teaser tail will go into action! Rip it and let it sink and then get to cranking and hold on. Smallmouth, Largemouth, Hybrid and Stripers will come up from the depths of the clear water to nail this bait. The same method can be used on submerged timber, grass lines and for surfacing fish in open water. Think about paralleling the bank when bait fish are running up on the shore line. Match the hatch color and size and then find out what type of presentation the bass is looking for. Don't forget that the Rattle Chamber is designed to let the steel ball move and clack no matter what speed you are working the bait.  Through the years I have watched aggressive feeding fish turn away from a fast moving bait but slam one that is "Just Barely Moving Along"  With the Clackin Minnow you have the best of both worlds.

Clackin Rap

How do you improve on the wheel ? Or how do you improve on the lipless crankbait design? Well, leave it up to Rapala innovation again to answer that question in aces. It would be very interesting to know how many fish through the years have been caught on this type of bait. The total number would be staggering and (not bragging) I have helped add to that number myself. But how many lipless rattle baits have you had that won"t always rattle because the BB's or Ball  gets hung up inside the bait. If your success is dependent on the rattle and the rattle doesn't happen you might as well be throwing a paper clip. Once again problem solved with the  Rapala Clackin  Rattle Chamber.  You get to cranking these babies and the vibration makes it sounds like some one needs to put oil in their truck engine before they leave the ramp. They work first time every time!  You talk about a versatility, the Clackin Rap fits that mold hands down. You can throw the Clackin Rap a mile which helps with surfacing fish that are hard to reach. You can use your electronics to find suspended fish, watch the Clackin Rap fall in the middle of them nose first (because of the weighted nose) and vertical jig them up. Put one of these in the face of a hungry Smallmouth, Largemouth, Hybrid or Striper and it's lights out!  Deep water, shallow water, fast retrieve, slow retrieve, burn it , yo-yo it, hop it, drag it, beat and bang it off structure and the possibility list go's on. Have you ever had problems keeping a tail walking Smallmouth hooked up on a lipless rattle bait?  Sure all of us have, that's where the VMC Sure Set Hooks pay off. I have lost very few fish on the Clackin Rap compared to other brands that I have used through the years. There are 4 sizes and 16 X Style colors available on the Clackin Rap this year to meet all of your fishing scenarios. #6 is 2/12 inches long and 7/16 oz, #7 is 2 3/4 inches long and 5/8oz, #8 is 3 1/8 inches long and 7/8oz and the #9 is 3 1/2 inches long and 1 3/16 oz.


In the 1967 movie Cool Hand Luke starring Paul Newman the famous line "what we have here is a failure to communicate" was uttered. That line has caught on through the years and has been applied to many different situations.  But I can assure you of this! With the Rapala Clackin Series baits you will have zero problems communicating with the fish you are chasing. Will the fish hear it coming? You bet! Retrieved as fast as possible or as slow as you can stand. The Clackin Series Baits are winners!  Check them out at your nearest fishing tackle store.  I sincerely hope you have a great, safe and enjoyable time on the water in 2011.  Rick McFerrin

Tip's For The Beginner

Fishing Deep Water Covered Floating Docks

Written By Rick McFerrin

Full Time Guide/Owner

Tennessee Bass Guides LLC.

August 2007


This article is intended to help the Beginning Fisherman better understand the makeup of deep water (15 ft or more) covered floating docks and what techniques work best for me during the hot weather months when water temperatures reach the 80's and above.  Let me say that this is not the only way to catch bass out from under and around docks.  But the techniques that I will be sharing fits my fishing style perfectly and has proven over the years to be very effective. There are several other articles aimed at the Beginner that you can view by going to www.tennesseebassguides.com and clicking on the Tips Archive Tab on the left hand side of the home page.

Before We Catch A Bass

Before we catch a bass we need to cover this first.  It is always important to remember that the dock and everything either sitting on it or attached to it is someone's private property and should be treated as such. I have never had a dock owner run me off in all the years I have been fishing them. Why? Because I respect the other persons property and their privacy if they are on the dock. But I have witnessed others being asked to leave the dock area because of not using their heads and doing something stupid!  The water is public but the docks are private!

Why Deep Water Covered Docks?

Truthfully this question could be why covered docks period!  The answer is very simple, boat docks offer Smallmouth, Largemouth and Spots several important things that attract them such as.

(1) Natural Forage: Many docks will support a variety of small bait fish, blue gill and other smaller species of fish and sometimes crawfish that bass just love to munch on.  To a bass some docks are like going to an all you can eat restaurant. The key is to find those particular docks, which we will talk about later. It's also important to remember that Older Docks will have a tendency to have more algae on the areas below water level, simply because they have been in the water longer. Why is this important? Because the algae is one component that helps create oxygen and attracts the smaller species that I just mentioned.  Bait fish, Blue gill and others will feed on the algae and small aquatic bugs and set up a homestead under the dock, which in turn attracts lager predator fish.

Many States here in the U.S. have changed their construction codes to where any type of real wood cannot be used in the building of docks for environmental and safety reasons. Wood has been replaced by man made synthetics which take a little longer to build up a algae covering depending on lake water clarity and purity.  To help you find docks that potentially will have more of this algae buildup look for older docks that still have the wood construction, boats moored at them and jet sky platforms which have visible algae buildup on the areas below water level. Let me stress that Algae Alone is not the only factor that makes a good producing dock. But it certainly gets one started out in the right direction.

(2) Shade:  I don't know where you live, but here in middle Tennessee it's HOT! Daytime temperatures have consistently hovered in the mid to upper 90's and this week we will break the 100 degree mark several days. The suns beating down, we have mile high sky's and once again it's just plain old HOT!  When I take my dogs outside to do their business where do you think I stand?  If you guessed under a shade tree you would be absolutely correct! It may still be hot "But" it is several degrees "Cooler" than just standing out in the direct sunlight. The same principle applies to docks.  Look at the picture here to the right. This picture was taken on a bright sunny day last month. Look at the shaded areas under the dock. To a bass it's like walking his favorite shad out in the yard letting him swim around while he gets under a shade tree. It may still be hot but the water temperature under the dock can range as much as 8-10 degrees cooler (sometimes more) depending on the density and square footage of the dock.  Some of the docks I fish on my favorite lake are 600 square feet and larger. Some are one story tall and other two stories tall.  The larger square footage of the dock the greater the shade.

Without getting to technical you have to remember that all fish including bass  "breathe" by absorbing dissolved oxygen through their gills. Oxygen enters the water in several different ways such as, directly from the atmosphere, absorption directly from aquatic plants and algae photosynthesis. The cooler the water under the dock the more oxygen can be dissolved in the water. That's why under normal conditions oxygen levels are usually higher in the winter than the summer.  Shade provided by docks tend to lower the average summer water temperature and increase the oxygen levels.

(3) Accessibility to deep water:  Even though bass are predators they still want a sense of safety. The docks I concentrate on during hot weather sit in water anywhere from  15 feet to 35 feet deep.  One big advantage to the deeper water (verses shallow water) is bass on these docks tend to move up and down in the water column instead of out and away from the dock when frightened or reacting to weather changes. Another factor that help hold bass is submerged timber and other structure under the dock. Many dock owner have sunk brush and PVC trees as fish attractors which just adds another plus to that particular dock.  Any time you see lights and rod holders on a dock always probe around and chances are you will find some type of structure that has been planted. When bass are moving up and down in the water column and they aren't as aggressive you have to experiment with your presentation. Size/weights of lures, rate of fall of your lures and even the type of lures that they want can change from trip to trip. We will discuss this in a minute.

To me these three things are very important when fishing this time of the year. Dog days of summer drive many bass fisherman in one of two directions. The first would be to their recliners and air conditioning awaiting cooler temperatures or to the lake at night. "BOTH" of these have their own distinct advantages for sure. But I can tell you that you can catch good quality fish during the day from the right docks on your lake. It just takes a little trail and error, effort and practice mixed with a whole lot of patience. But when you find those key docks the fish will consistently be there.

What Areas Of The Dock Do I Fish?

It would be very simple for me to say "All Of The Areas" and I would be telling you the truth. However that won't help you and that is what this article is all about. Helping the beginner learn new techniques and short that learning curve a bit.  I'm going to show you several pictures in this section and try to help you see the great potential that docks have.  So lets get started.

The picture to the left is a side view of this dock. The key areas to concentrate on are the right and left hand corners of the dock and the shaded open areas between the floatation blocks. If you will notice that the height of the dock roof and the height of the boat is casting a shaded area toward you. This will be the angle that provides the most shade. If the bass are active it is not unusual for them to chase the bait out several feet into this shaded area.  You will want to "skip" your bait into these open areas between the floatation as far back under the dock as possible. You corner cast should be several feet past the corners to allow you to work the bait correctly. The picture to the right is a portion of a different dock. The key areas would be the entire length of the right side of the dock, the right hand corner and all of the water under the boat lift including the left and right corners of the slip opening. Once again it is very important to skip the bait as far as possible under the boat and the make your right side cast as close as possible to the dock.


The picture to the left is the back left hand corner of this dock which is nearest the bank.  They key areas are the open portion between the floatation (hidden behind the 2007 date) the back corner, the length of the back side and the entire area between the bank and the dock.  If you will notice in the picture to the right that this lake is very low this summer due to the drought that we are experiencing. All the wood decking you see would normally be in the water at this time of the year.  This is a "MUST FISH"  area when the water is up. The best way that I have found is to position by boat against the cable that is running from the corner of the dock to the bank and actually fish over the cable pitching and skipping my lures into and around as much of the wood as possible.  I will work one side of the structure at a time. When I reach the other side I will fish the other side. Another thing to notice in these pictures is the walkway from the dock to the shore. This will also provide shade to one degree or the other and that shade will increase the closer you get to the dock. I have caught and lost some "big" fish in this type of areas.

The picture on the left is a different dock looking at it from from the opposite side from the ones above. The key areas remain the same. Opening floatation areas, back corner, entire length of back side and the open area between the dock and the shore. The picture on the right of another entire side view which affords us some additional opportunities. The key area here would be the right and left hand corners of the dock, the open areas between the flotation, the white PVC hose pipe hanging down and the back of the pontoon boat parked in front of the dock. Once again it is important to get you bait as far under the dock as possible.

The pictrue to the left is a close up of the one above right. You can see the additional shade the exists under the pontoon boat. The picture on the right gives us some different opportunities. Not only do we have the opening between the dock floatation and the area between the dock and bank but the big float tube and slide as well. Have you noticed something different about this dock? Yes? No? Take a closer look-the dock isn't covered. It has been my experience that this type of dock will produce less during this time of the year than a covered dock, but big shaded areas like the one under the tube should be checked out. Just please don't stick the tube...remember our dock owner conversation?

These two pictures are of the same covered dock and gives us even more possibilities. This covered dock has jet ski platforms attached in two different areas of the dock. So we have the corner of the dock, the entire length of the front of the dock, the open flotation area, the side and corners of the jet ski platform and the crack between them.  Don't ever discount the crack between the platform. I have caught a lot of good fish that was suspended directly under them. We also have the back side of the dock which is not visible to us in this picture.

These are the key areas that I concentrate on when fishing deep water covered docks during the hot weather months. With a little bit of a learning curve these will work for you as well.

What Do I Fish With?

Now that you have a better idea on what areas of docks to key in on, lets explore each individual part of the what do I fish with piece.  I want to preface again that there are several baits and techniques that you can use. BUT for day in and day out consistency fishing docks this time of year what I'm going to share with you works for me over and over again year after year.

Go To Baits

There are several reason that my #1 go to bait for fishing docks is a 5 inch Prowler Soft Shad www.prowlerlures.com like the one in the picture to the left and the bottom bait in the right hand picture. My #1 color choice is pearl as shown on the right, then I dip the tail of the Soft Shad (and all pearl or white baits) in a chartreuse dye made by JJ's Magic. (I'll cover dyes in a minute) This bait is about as versatile as a bait can get. It can be fished in all level of the water column, it can be fished weightless-weighed-exposed hook-Texas rigged-Wacky rigged-fished on top or on the bottom with a Carolina rig and as a spinner bait trailer.  The action of the bait once you get use to using it mimics that of a dying shad as it darts, vibrates and slowly falls when rigged weightless. There's just something about the Soft Shad year around that Smallmouth, Largemouth and Spots just can't resist when you pitch it under the docks like we talked about above.  I also catch a lot of fish on the Prowler Slim Jim in either a pearl or watermelon red flake. These baits are heavier and fall at a much quicker rate. I skip these baits under the dock just like the Soft Shad but I tend to let them sink on their own for several seconds and use my rod to twitch them more than make them dart like the Soft Shad. Folks I can't emphasize enough how good these Soft Shads and Slim Jims are in producing quality fish. If you haven't tried these Prowler baits you are sure cutting yourself short.

What About Using Dyes?

About 3 years ago I was introduced to JJ's Magic and man am I ever glad that I was. I use JJ's on everything except under my arms and on my toothbrush. This dye comes in Chartreuse, Blue, and Myth lade. And there is also a Clear that will not change the color of your baits but still leaves that heavy garlic scent that just won't come off cast after cast. Soft Plastics, Spinner Bait Skirt, Swim Baits and Jigs. This product is phenomenal for giving you that extra several seconds to set the hook because the fish just don't want to let go of the bait.  I like to dip the Soft Shads tail in the Chartreuse (let it dry) then dip the whole body in the clear.  You will NOT find me on the lake without JJ's on my baits....end of subject.  www.jjsmagic.com

What About Hooks And Line?

I have to admit that the older I get I get a little more cranky and much more particular about everything I fish with from rods-reels-line-hooks-snaps-baits-dyes you name it. It absolutely drives me nut's to have "Product Failure" due to manufacturing error. Where am I going with this? I have been a avid user of Pline for the past several years. On a early spring trip with my youngest son Daniel to Louisiana a rep gave me some line made by another big name manufacturer ands asked me just to try it. To make a long story short after breaking off 3 "GOOOD" fish in the cypress trees I respooled immediately back to what I should have had on in the first place Pline CX. Problem solved! Is Pline infallible? NO, but I will tell you this, as long as I watch what I'm doing and check my line as I should I have almost "ZERO" problems with Pline. I use it in different pound test for every technique that I use. I like the 12lb test CX Florescent for fishing docks because it is invisible under the water but highly visible above so you can watch your line for those very subtle hits that happens many times fishing docks. It comes off the reel very smoothly and has a very low memory rating  but yet is very strong. Just good stuff. www.pline.com

Lets talk about hooks for a minute.  There is an old saying that go's the chain is only as strong as the weakest link. Same is true with the fishing equipment we use. I guess I have bought about every brand hook manufactured. Some have been good some haven't. The biggest problem that I have isn't the strength of a hook as much as having a razor sharp point that will stay that way. I started using Mustad Ultra Point hooks about 8 months ago and I can tell you that I'm impressed/ These hooks are needle sharp. Mustad uses a new technology that is called "Opti-Angle" that creates a true needle point that is stronger and "Much More" durable than any other hooks that I have used.  Under normal conditions I use a #5 Mustad Wide Gap Ultra Lock Hook fishing the Soft Shad. I also use a #4 and a #2 for smaller baits. Now there are times while fishing docks I want my baits to fall a little faster "But" I don't want to make them nose dive by adding a sinker to the front. When this happens I use the Mustad Ultra Point Power Lock Plus Hooks that you see on the right side of the picture above. The round piece that you see on the shank of the hook is a weight that slides up and down the hook but  will stay put where you want it. I use these in 2 different weights 1/8oz and 1/16oz depending on how fast I want the bait to fall.  If I move the weight forward the bait fall head first. If I move the weight to the back the bait falls tail first and if I place it in the middle the bait will fall at more of a level angle.  This allows me to effectively fish the docks using the right size bait at the right of fall. www.mustad.no

What About Rods And Reels?

Let's start with reels first.  I have been a Shimano fan for years. I use 2 different size Stradics on my spinning rods.  St4000FH for 10 & 12 lb test line and the ST2500FH for 6 & 8lb test. Why? They hold up like no other reels I have ever used, and when you fish as many days a year with as many people that I do you come to appreciate the quality that is built into these reels. 

For those of you that know me I'm sure that I sound like a broken record. But I will tell you this, that the rod physical weight, quality, power and sensitivity that is packed into the All Pro APX Series Rods is unbelievable. I have owned at one time or the other just about every high end bass rod that has been made and I can tell you that the APX has them all beat hands down in my opinion. I have used these rods to Bass, Salmon, Musky, Northern Pike, Rock Fish, Hybrid, Walleye, Catfish (you name it) fish. I have used the 5 foot Ultra  Light APX on all varieties of pan fish. I use the 7 foot Medium Heavy Tennessee Graphite Handle Spinning Rod to throw my Soft Shads around cover and docks. I have one APX that has never been used for anything else except to fish soft plastic jerk baits. The sensitivity is astonishing.  You can feel the "slightest tick" all the way through your hand and wrist with the APX Series Rods. This is so important when the fish are lethargic and they just "Grab" the bait and that extra sensitivity make the difference between a hook up and a miss.  All Pro make a full line of APX Rods for every need. www.allprorods.com 


I hope that the information above will be beneficial to you, and help you put several more fish in the boat fishing deep water covered docks. If you have any questions concerning this article, our guide service or web site don't hesitate to contact me at 615-765-7303 or rickm@dtccom.net  Thank you for taking time to read this article. Rick Mcferrin Owner/Full Time Guide Tennessee Bass Guides LLC

Crank Bait Tip's For The Beginner

By: Rick McFerrin


Revised 2013



Prior to fishing full time I worked as a regional manager for a large food manufacturer. As I traveled the Southeast, I would regularly drive by or fly over many fantastic looking lakes, rivers and streams. Gazing out or looking down at these bodies of water I must admit my mind would race back to being a kid years ago sitting in school on those first warm spring days looking out the nearest window. All I wanted to do was "Chuck" the books and just go fishing.  I couldn't wait to get home. I knew that my dad and I would either head to the river to wade or go to some of the farm ponds that were near by.


I know I have shared this before, but my father introduced me to fishing a crank bait in these rivers and ponds.

Back then we didn't have the unlimited choices in crank baits like we do today. Dad and I used lures named "River Runt" "Lazy Ike" "Mirr O Lure" "Cast Master" "Sparkle Tail and several more. At an early age I became "Hooked" on fishing a crank bait. Through the years I've heard crank baits called "Idiot Lures" You know, you just chunk and wind. But nothing could be further from the truth.  Through the years things have changed dramatically. Today's crank baits in the hands of a skilled crank bait fisherman is a  high tech tool that can add big numbers and quality to your fishing success. I want to revisit some prior thoughts that I have shared about fishing a crank bait, and do a little updating at the same time.


Where Does The Beginner Start?


One of our mission goals here at Tennessee Bass Guides is to be a good information resource center for "Beginning Bass Fisherman". With that goal in mind let's begin. When you go into many of our "Super Tackle Stores" you are automatically confronted with aisle after aisle of crank bait manufactures that produce baits in 100's of different colors and sizes. Most of these baits today will range in price from $3.00 all the way to almost $20.00. Some of these baits float, while others sink. Some rattle and some don't. Some are made from balsa, some hard wood and the majority from a plastic composite. Some crank baits because of their buoyancy rise quickly when you stop cranking while others suspend or fall. Some baits have long lips, some short and others no lip at all. Choosing the right bait and getting the most for your money becomes a "mind boggling chore" for a new crank bait fisherman. To get a good start you must do some home work "Before" you step foot in that crank bait candy store. Here are a few questions you need to answer first.


Where Are You Going To Fish Most?


Why is this important? It's simple,  if you are going to wade creeks, rivers or fish ponds from the bank you may need  crank baits that run shallower over all than let's say someone that fishes from a boat on deep rivers and lakes. Your color selection may be similar (we will cover this later) but your variety of deep running baits will most likely be limited. If you are fishing small lakes or ponds from a boat, your selection will increase because you will be able to fish the deeper portions of the lake and most likely you will be casting in towards the shallows and bring the bait back into deeper water. If the pond or lake that you are fishing has an abundance of vegetation this will also factor into your lure selection. If your fishing large deep lakes you may need baits that run from 1 foot to 20 plus. You just have to adjust accordingly. The possibilities are endless but I think you get the idea. Gear your crank bait selection to where you are going to fish the most. By doing this and "going slow" with your purchases, you can see what will and won't work for you. In the long run you can save money that can be used on other equipment needs.



"I Wish I Hadn't Bought That"


Why would I say "I wish I Hadn't Bought That"? If you were here at my house I would gladly show you why! Down stairs in the garage I have a cork board that has well over a 100 crank baits stuck to it that I never use that I have bought over the past 50 years. Some never ran correctly, others didn't have the action that I wanted. And others are the result of "It Looked Good To Me" when I was at the store but it never looked good to the bass I was trying to catch. Through the years and several wasted $$$$$$.


I have settled on some very basic colors that will produce for the beginner over and over, year after year.  How do I know that? Because they work for me. If you will start with these and gain confidence in your crank bait fishing you will then have a better comfort level in your next color selections.


Before I go any further, I need to say that we are proud to be sponsored by one of the largest Crank Bait manufacturers in the world, Normark. Normark brands include legends like, Rapala-Storm and Lure Jensen on the crank bait side. These brands offer a rainbow of colors including the ones we are going to discuss next. Through out the year I will be writing a series of articles addressing these brands and the various crank baits Normark manufactures.


From my experience these are your "basic must have": colors.  (1) Silver/Shad (2) Firetiger (3) Chartreuse or Parrot (4) Dark Brown Crawfish (5) Bleeding Olive Shad (6) Sliver Black Back (7) Red/Red Crawfish. Will other colors catch fish? Yes! But once again, these colors have proven themselves to be producers over and over again. These colors will also cover different water colors that you will be faced with. As I said, take it slow in your purchases and gain confidence in what your throwing. Then you can branch out a little further.


What Depth Should My Crank Bait Run

And How Fast Should It Run?


Under most circumstances I prefer to use a crank bait to search out cover and structure always looking for that reaction bite. A crank bait is my "confidence" bait. There are times when you can't crank fast enough. I always like to keep my crank baits moving at a pretty good clip especially in clearer water. I don't want the fish to get a real good look at it, as I said I'm looking for the reaction bite. Then there are times when conditions warrant me easing  the bait through and around structure. To do this I always select a crank bait that will run deeper than the depth of water that I'm fishing. If I'm in 6 feet of water I want a crank bait that will reach the 10 foot level. If I'm fishing 10 feet of water I want a crank bait that will run 12 to 15 feet deep.  The reason for this is simple. I want to be able to keep in contact with the structure that I'm fishing. I want the bait bouncing off as much structure as possible. Let me clear something up. If your afraid to throw crank baits into heavy cover because you may get hung up, you might as well stay at the house or take up another sport. Besides that's what a good lure retriever is for, to get you free from where the bass live. As you progress in your crank bait fishing you will be able to fish them in many areas that you wouldn't think possible.


The one exception to having a crank bait that runs deeper that the water I'm fishing is when I'm fishing grass. This is where I select a bait that will touch the top of the weeds and has the ability to pull through when I jerk or snap the rod forward. Many times in grass when you are using a lipless crank bait like the Lure Jensen Sugar Shad the bass will hammer the bait almost immediately when it comes free from the weeds. Two other great crank baits for fishing weeds and grass is the Rapala #5 Shallow Shad Rap and the Storm Sub Wart. These baits run very shallow and produce for me year after year.


Most crank bait manufactures list on the package the depths their baits will run. A good example of this is the new DT (Dives-to) Series from Rapala. These baits are listed as DT4 (4Feet)-DT6 (Feet)-DT10 (10 Feet) and DT16 (16 Feet). This is very helpful when choosing the right depth bait for the water that your fishing. The Lure Jensen Radar series lists their baits as Radar 10 (10 Feet) and Radar 13 (13 Feet). Look on the package before you make your purchase it may save you a trip back to the store.


Other factors that effect the depth a bait will run is (1) Reel Speed. I prefer a reel with at least a 5:7-1 ratio. This gives me speed when I need it but I still the ability to slow down when necessary without working myself to death. (2) Line Diameter. I Fish all my crank baits on either Sufix Pro Mix Mono 6lb or 8 lb test max no matter the depth.  (3) Rod length. I prefer a 7 foot medium action rod. The extra length gives me the ability to make longer more accurate casts and the extra length is very important when it comes to fighting a big fish at the boat. (4) Cast Distance.  The longer your cast coupled with lighter line and reel speed will help you achieve maximum depth with your bait.


What About Action And Sound?


Here's a couple tips on how you can determine what kind of action a crank bait will have just by looking at it.  (1) If the line tie is closer to the end of the bill the crank bait will run shallower than a bait that has the line tie nearer to it's face. (2) If the bill of the bait is angled sharply down it will run shallower than one where the bill is angled straight out (3) The closer the line tie is to it's face the tighter the wiggle the bait will have.  (4) Baits with a wider body will have more of a wobble where thinner baits will have a tighter wiggle. (5) Lipless crank baits like the Clackin-Rap, has thin sides and the line tie is on top. These type of baits have a very tight wiggle and are very effective when retrieved at high speeds.


Another important part in achieving good lure action is making sure that you use a good snap (not a swivel). I never tie directly to the split ring on a crank bait.  This is probably the most contested area in crank bait fishing. Many folks won't use a snap, but over the years I have found that using a snap only enhances (increases) the action of the crank bait. I have fished side by side with many guys that won't use a snap and I will have many more strikes in a period of a day than they will. Will CHEAP SNAPS fail? Sure, but so will cheap line-reels-rods etc. Spend a little extra on good snaps and it will pay off big time when you get to the water.


Many crank baits have rattles in them. I have found that rattles are very helpful most of the time. But on the other hand I have found that rattles can be a hindrance in late winter and early spring in colder water. This is when I opt for the Rapala #5 or #7 Shad Raps which do not rattle. These baits are fantastic all year long but they can be extra deadly at this time of the year in cold water.




Like I always say in the seminars that I hold throughout the year. If you like to fish a crank bait you need to move south, because we can fish them all year long.  You may have to change your presentation-structure or depths. But if you are diligent in learning you can add many pounds of bass to your yearly catch. Don't load your tackle box down with dozens of colors and sizes. Take your time and find out what works for you best. I hope this article will help you in getting started fishing a crank bait. Let me know how you do, or if you have any questions feel free to contact me at. rickm@dtccom.net.  Thanks for reading and God Bless.   Rick McFerrin Owner www.tennesseebassguides.com

Grubs For Cold Water Bass


Written By: Tim Mason

February 2007





Do you have any Grub's in your tackle box? If you don't you are missing out on one of the most versatile lures that can be fished in all degrees of water. Warm Water or Cold Water a grub is an excellent bait that has one purpose in mind and that is to represents bait fish!  The grub is (1) Easy to fish (2) Good around all types of structure (3) Can be fished with an exposed hook (4) Can be Texas Rigged (5) Can be Flipped and Pitched (6)Can be used as a Spinner bait trailer (7) Great on Carolina Rig's.  Another good thing is that they are easy to fish and you don't have to be a rocket scientist to use them. But I can assure you of this! The GRUB can be one of the most deadly lures you may ever fish. In any water temperature. Saying that since we are Januray,  I want to share with you some COLD WATER TIP'S for fishing the grub and we can address WARM WATER TIP'S in a future article


When-Where- And How?


When the water temperature drops below 55 degrees the Grub is one of the best soft plastic baits that you can tie on. Through the many years that I have fished on various pro circuits-been a guide and fishing instructor at Bass Pro Shops I have fished several different styles and brands of grubs. I can assure you that one brand-one company continues to produce for me year after year and that is Prowler Pitch Lures! As I said, Prowler Grubs can be fished and rigged in a multitude ways. Let's look at some of these together!


When the water temperature begins to hit the 55 degree range and the fish are in  Shallower Water I always choose a Prowler Pro Fat Grub. This bait is in 8400 series is a little larger and bulkier at 4.5 inches in length. The tail gives off a great amount of turbulence and these baits are absolutely deadly on shallow water bass.  I like fishing this size grub on a couple different weights of ball type jig heads and on a couple different line weights depending on structure, wind and how aggressive the fish are. Let me explain.


If the fish are extremely shallow I will Texas Rig my Prowler Pro Fat Grub and use 10 or 12 pound test line a 3/16 ounce jig head. By doing this I'm able to flip and pitch all the lay down timber, rock crevices and other structure that might be holding fish that day. You don't want to miss any structure and you always want to be aware of line movement or just that "Different Feel". Sometimes the bite can be subtle but other times they will jerk the rod out of your hands. The additional line weight gives me a little more leverage in fighting fish in cover and the 3/16 ounce head provides enough weight to get through the structure when needed.


If the fish have Moved Away From The Banks and have began to Suspend  let's say at the edge of the creek channel where the bass have a choice of both shallow or deep water I like to use a 1/4 pounce ball jig and leave the hook exposed. I like to use either 8 or 10 pound test for this application.  If the fish aren't aggressive but still suspended in the same area I will switch to a 1/8 ounce jig head to slow the fall down. Boat positioning is critical on this application. There are times when when you will need to leave your boat in the shallow water and make a cast out into the deeper water of the channel.  It is very important that you count down the bait as it falls. If the fish hits the grub on the count of one thousand four then you can reasonably expect the same thing to happen on your next cast.  If the fish fail to hit the grub on the fall work the grub back up the channel edge keeping in contact with the structure using a semi-slack line presentation. There are other times when it will be to your advantage to position your boat out in deeper water and cast toward the shallow flat.  When this happens always work the grub quickly to the channel edge and then begin to count the grub down. This same application works well when sitting in deeper water off of points.


If I need a technique that will allow me to cover allot of water, make longer casts, target suspended fish and bottom bump my Prowler grub I always choose the Prowler 3.5 inch (8300 series) Grub rigged on a 3/16 ounce ball type jig head and 6 pound test line.  This combination lets you (power fish) work a multitude of area and various structure quickly. Once fish are located I adjust from there. I keep a open mind and I'm not reluctant to switch line weights, jig head weights and grub colors as needed. Many times just a little adjustment can add several more bites and bass in the boat over a period of a day.


What About Colors?


When it comes to colors everyone has their own that they have confidence in.  Let me add this, If you don't have confidence in what you are throwing you might as well put it back in the box!  At this point all you will be doing is thrashing the water.  The following colors are my confidence colors for the lakes and areas that I fish, they work for me over and over. Let's break this down in a way that it might help you in making your next grub purchase.


Sunny Days:  Smoke Glitter and Tennessee Shad are my first choice go to colors. Overcast Days: I like Chartreuse Glitter, Chartreuse Pearl and White.  Lakes Where Crawfish Are Plentiful:  Green Pumpkin or Pumpkinseed

Clear Water For Smallmouth And Spots:  Chartreuse Glitter, Chartreuse Pearl.


I have already explained that I like to use a ball head type of jig.  I have found this head to be the best all around style. This type of jig can be used for swimming, hopping or crawling and on suspended fish.  It can be used as an open hook presentation or as a Texas Rigged application. They come in multiple weights and hook shaft lengths. You can also purchase them either unpainted or in a multitude of colors. To get a good look at the entire Prowler line go to www.prowlerlures.com on the web.  Prowler can also be purchased in all major tackle stores. Check yours for local availability.




I hope this brief article will shed some light on how I fish a Prowler Pro Pitch Grub. You can catch fish on other brands but in my opinion being on the water day after day to catch quantity and quality fish my first choice is Prowler. Remember to always set a good example on the water, respect others, safety first, give someone a fishing tip, snatch hard and God Bless.......Tim Mason


Tip’s For The Beginner

Change Is Just Around The Corner

August 2006

Written By: Rick McFerrin

Owner/Full Time Guide



It’s August 18, 2006 and I have just got back home from a guide trip on Old Hickory Lake here in middle Tennessee. After a short nap I decided to finally sit down and begin to write this Tips Article that’s been on my mind.  It is now 3:45pm, I’m looking out the bay window in our dinning room at a thermometer that’s reading 97 degrees in the shade. This is a very typical day here in middle Tennessee lately.  It can be summed up in one descriptive word “Hot”. It’s just been plain “Old Hot” here for weeks on end.  I’m not sure that we have had a summer that has been this hot Without Wind! Most days there has been very little if any wind blowing during the morning and mid day hours. The heat kicks up a thunderstorm every so often late in the day, but for the majority of the time it’s just hot and still. “BUT” there is change coming right around the corner!

It won’t be long before the 97 degrees will be replaced with much cooler air temperatures. Shorts and short sleeve shirts will be replaced with Body Amour and Gore-Tex suits. Iced down spring water will be replaced with a thermos of hot coffee. Sun block will be replaced with hand warmers. A quick ride in the boat to cool off will be replaced with a Coleman heater to help stay warm.  Yes, change is just around the corner.

I can only speak for myself, but I can truthfully say “Man I’m Ready”.  I’m ready for the Corp of Engineers to drop our water levels to winter pool. I’m ready to kick my trucks 4 wheel drive in to get up and down the boat ramp. I’m ready for the extended points, humps and bars that have been invisible all summer to rise up above water level. I’m ready to be able to see my breath when I walk outside. I’m ready to look at my clients and say “Nippy isn’t it”.  I’m ready to hear my lovely wife say “You’re crazy for fishing in weather like this”.  Yes, change is just around the corner!

Not only is there weather and water change around the corner but there is also a focus change for me as well. My focus changes in the winter from primarily fishing for Largemouth on Old Hickory Lake  to fishing for those (as legend Billy Westmorland said) “Ole Brown Fish” on Tim’s Ford Reservoir near Tullahoma Tennessee.  To me there’s nothing better than chasing winter Smallmouth here in Tennessee. And we have an abundance of lakes and river systems to chase them in.

For the beginner these changes can become somewhat of a challenge and propose several questions like. (1) How do you adjust to a 45 degree water temperature swing?  (2) How you adjust when much of the structure that you have been fishing all summer long is now on dry ground?  (3) What kind of adjustments do you make in your tackle? (4) Do you make adjustments in your presentation? You know the list of questions can go on and on.  Hopefully I can shed some light on this for those of you that are new to winter fishing. I certainly don’t have all the answers.  I’m learning more every year myself. And I know that there are many ways to catch winter fish, but I just want to share some of what works for me. As I always say, “Take what you can use and throw away the rest. “. So fasten your seat belts, open your mind and here we go!

Why Switch Lakes?

Before I go any further I need to address why I switch from Old Hickory to Tim’s Ford during the winter months.  Old Hickory is a river lake that is known primarily for a solid Largemouth Bass population. Old Hickory (22,500 acres) most certainly has a Smallmouth population but acre for acre the density of Smallmouth vs. Largemouth is less.  On the other hand, Tim’s Ford is already famed Dale Hollows closest middle Tennessee rival. Tim’s may never match Dale Hollows reputation for quality but take it from this full time guide, Tim’s Ford is a blue ribbon Smallmouth lake already.  My personal best Tim’s Smallmouth last winter was 6 pound 2 ounces, a trophy just about any where. The pictures that are scattered through this article are just some of the Tim’s Ford fish caught during  the winter season. See what I mean? Also in 2005 the TWRA established an 18 inch size limit on Tim’s Ford Smallmouth which can only help to increase the quality every year.  Mile for mile lake structure on Tim’s is (at least for me) more conducive to Smallmouth.  There is an almost unlimited amount of deep water private boat docks, public and private ramps, rock points, shallow sloping gravel rounds, ledges, mud banks, long winding creeks and coves, islands, shallow water/deep water access areas and quick drop off’s, major river channel points. Many of Tim’s creeks are loaded with stumps and lay down timber protruding out into deep water. Although Tim’s is only 10,500 acres it fishes much larger and has an abundance of shad and crawfish for Smallmouth to feast on. Another factor is, in the winter months you don’t have to depend as much on generation schedules on Tim’s as you do Old Hickory.  Let me also say that Tim’s has a great Largemouth and Walleye population as well, which is always an added bonus. Spotted bass also roam Tim’s clear waters but on the average are smaller. If a fisherman is looking for a chance at a bragging size Spot, Center Hill near Smithville Tennessee is the answer. There are so many reasons why I fish Tim’s and one reason I don’t want to forget is “Tim’s is easy on the eyes”. What a beautiful lake, it’s not hard to get caught up in all the scenery around you.  Plus it’s just plain fun to fish Tim’s!  Moving on!

Answers To Some Puzzling Questions

In this section I’m going to try to answer some of the questions for the beginner that I proposed above. Please keep in mind this is what works for me on Tim’s Ford a deep moderately clear lake. Others may approach these questions from a different angle. There’s always more than one way to skin a cat, or in this case catch a Smallmouth!

How Do You Adjust To Falling Water?  There are several factors directly related to this question. #1) Normal surface water temperatures will still be on the warm side as the Corp brings the lake down to winter pool. Then as the a fall air temperatures and rains take on a chill and our nights stay down in the 60’s 50’s  lower lake temperatures will gradually kick in.  #2) “If” everything is normal the draw down will be gradual. On occasion the Corp will pull the plug and seemingly drain our lakes including Tim’s overnight. When this happens fishing can be difficult for several days until the bass adjust to being rudely moved out of their homes. Make no mistake about it when the lake drops quickly it will have an adverse effect on the bass until the lake and bass stabilize.  On the other hand I have always found it much easier to fish “rising water” on a shallow lake like Old Hickory because it tends to move the bass out and back into the creeks and coves that are so abundant.  On a deep lake like Tim’s Ford I have found the bass will simply follow the rising water up in basically the same relative locations.

Let’s tackle question #2 first.  If you don’t retain anything but what I’m going to say next it will be well worth your time.  Falling water will affect different lakes in various ways. Such as, if a lake is relatively shallow and the fish are in the backs of the creeks when the water begins to drop let’s say 5 feet, most likely they will move to the nearest secondary break or point. As the water continues to drop another 5 feet the fish will move on to the next available point or break and so on until the water stabilizes. But, on a lake like Tim’s which is a deep lake, the fish will move much less in distance and their move will be more horizontal than vertical.  Bass on Tim’s just have a lot more water to work with. So let’s say that this Saturday you get on some Smallmouth on Tim’s on gravel rounds ¼ of the way back in the creeks near 2 main river channel points and the fish are holding in 15 feet of water. The Corp drops the lake 5 feet by next Saturday. Where do you look for these fish that you were on a week ago?  Have the fish moved and you look for them on the channel points 75 yards away or still 15 feet deep on the same gravel round?  I always start at the 15 foot gravel round, Why? As I said the fish on Tim’s have a lot more water to work with. I’ve watched this over the past several years. On a deep lake it will take more factors than just  falling water to push a Smallmouth into a radical move.

Comparatively the percentage of decrease in water depth of 5 foot to total volume on Tim’s is very small compared to the shallow lake. So always start on deep clear lakes where you found the fish last time and “Then” work your way out.  Don’t panic as the water falls on Tim’s or other deep water lakes. Historically it has been rare that Smallmouth head for 50 feet of water just because of gradually falling water. Normally they are going to stay fairly constant at the same depths. Other factors might make them move but not gradual falling water.

How Do You Adjust To Falling Water Temperatures?. How hot has it been on the lakes where you fish this summer? Here in Tennessee we have had surface temperatures near 90 degrees on most of our lakes. Temperatures all most like bath water. When you talk about falling water temperatures this time of the year you almost have to look at it in multiple stages. Let me explain.

I’ve addressed this same question many times in various articles over the past several years. I was brought up under the teaching that there were “Magical Water Temperatures” that would push bass into (a) spawn in the spring (b)  fall patterns (c) winter patterns. Truthfully I have found that not to be so. I don’t believe it’s 70 degrees or 60 degrees,. Rather I believe the INITIAL FALL PATTERNS are kicked in when the water temperatures makes a permanent  8 to 10 degree decline in late summer/early fall and same is true in the Spring but in reverse.   So this year (ONLY AS A RULE OF THUMB) I would consider 75 to 65 degrees early and mid fall. 65 to 55 late fall early winter. Then 55 and below winter.  Remember I said I will use this as a rule of thumb on Tim’s Ford this year. It might be different on your lake but the formula should be close.

One way that you can visually see the beginnings of a fall pattern is by watching bait fish. Usually as the water cools the bait fish will move further back into the creeks and coves. NOTE: This paragraph is for those of you that might fish a lake with an over abundance of shad. As an example let’s look at Old Hickory in past year. Shad last year and two years ago was so thick you could almost walk across the water on them and not get your feet wet. They were every where, all the time. River channels, coves, docks, creeks and pockets, solid shad everywhere every day.  If your lake is like that it presents a little tougher situation and you have to rely more on covering a lot of water and good use of your electronics than just the presence of shad alone.

If we have a “Normal Fall” water temperatures will slowly but steadily decrease. Water temperatures won’t fall from 85 degree to 50 degree over night. This slow decline in temperatures gives bass time to adjust incrementally. Let me explain it this way. I know this may be somewhat simplistic but that’s just the way I am. As I said in the opening of this article it is 97 degrees in the shade, it’s hot! My body has adjusted to this heat, it’s hot but I’m use to it. Now let’s just say for fun that I go to bed tonight with the air conditioner left on 75 degrees like normal. Over night the air temperature outside drops from the high 90’s to 45 degrees or less.  A 45 degree drop over night and it’s not getting any warmer during the day. What a shock!  I wake up and I swear I see ice cycles hanging off our dresser mirror. I quickly by pass the shorts and tee shirt I was going to wear and grab a pair of jeans, long sleeve tee shirt and a sweatshirt. Man it’s cold, what a immediate shock to my system.  I wasn’t prepared for this. The temperature is 45 degrees but my body is still operating at the 90 degree level.  See where I’m going with this? But what happen if it takes 60 or 90 days for the air temperature to drop from 97 degrees to the same 45 degrees? The shock isn’t as great or maybe there’s no shock at all. My body has time to adjust to the declining air temperatures as I said above incrementally. I’ve adjusted gradually. 

This is probably an over simplification but the same principle applies to bass and their behavior relating to declining water temperatures.  If the water temperature dropped from 85 degrees to 50 degrees overnight the bass would be running for cover like me running for heavier clothes. They would have lock jaw for how long? How Long? If your answer is until their bodies have had time to adjust you would be very close to being right.  I can see the bass now, all huddled up under one big log, trying to get warm and looking at one another, not moving a fin and saying I’m not going out there!.  But when the temperatures drops gradually from 85 to 50 the bass adjust to it gradually as well. The falling temperatures begin to nudge them into their fall /winter way of thinking and reacting.  Then it’s up to us to adjust gradually in the way we approach our fall and winter game plans.  Don’t get ahead or behind yourself study the deep lake your on and be vigilant of everything that’s happening around you.

What kind of tackle adjustments do you make?:  As we move into the Fall and Winter you might be making the same type of move to a deep clear lake like me, there are several factors that I believe can make the difference between experiencing a good season or a so so season. Let’s look together.

Line: First of all let me say that I tend to be a “Light Line” fisherman most of the time no matter where I fish. So line adjustment which to me is so important especially on a deep clearer lake I already have in place. Over the years I have fished with 100’s and 100’s of people. Many of them in our pre-trip conversations will express their desire to use their own equipment. No problem-truthfully if I fished with a guide on another lake I would most likely want to us my own equipment as well. When we get to the subject of line size and I tell them that I use 6 pound test blue florescent for most techniques (occasionally 4 pound test) and when I’m throwing heavy spinner baits or some 20 plus crank baits I use 8 or 10 pound max there is a noticeable silence on the other end.  Most of the time they will tell me that they have 15 or 17 pound test on and they aren’t really comfortable with anything lighter. Not fully understanding how important light line is they come the day of the trip with heavy line.  But it isn’t long before their asking to use one of my rods because they can see the difference in the amount of hits I’m getting verses them using the exact same baits. Light line just makes that much difference. And when you combine the small diameter of light line with the visibility of blue florescent it gives you the ability to see the smallest of hit’s no matter what lure you are using. With florescent line you can see the bait move slightly off to the side, you can see the small quiver or tick in the line as the bait is falling.  I would just as soon stay home than have to fish Tim’s with heavy line for Smallmouth.

The question always comes up when you are talking about light line, What About Breaking Fish Off?  Well, I guess I would have to answer that this way. That’s what your drag on you reel is for. If you fish light line with your drag winched down tight I think you will be in big time trouble.  But on the other hand if you are using the correct action rod (which we address next) and a reel with good line that has the drag set properly, and retying when you should, you will break off very few fish.  

Rods:  This is going to be an easy on for me. There is only one brand of rod that I use and that is All Pro rods. www.allprorods.com  Roger Ray owner and V.P. Billy Campbell absolutely build one of the finest rods that you can ever have in your hands. It’s difficult for some folks to put down their pool cue rods and opt for different tackle. I can assure you as a full time guide making changes like this will increase you catch ratio drastically. I use basically 3 different All Pro Rods on Tim’s Ford. These are the length and action that work best for me.  

All Pro APX7MST 7 Foot Medium Action: Lure weight on this rods is 1/4 to 5/8 ounce with a recommended line weights of 6 to 12 pound test. These rods are 100% American made by American Rod Builders.  All APX rods are built with the blank running through the Fuji reel seat and handle which give you unmatched sensitivity. On the handle itself there are also graphite sensor rings that transmits additional sensitivity from the rod into your hands. From the instant you pick up one of these high quality rods you will be amazed at how light it is but how sensitive and powerful it is.   Finished off with Gudebrod thread wrap and polished titanium guides that provides smooth cast and greater distance with lighter baits (which is ultra important on clear lakes) this rod is unbelievable.  People laugh when I say I can feel the turbulence from a Smallmouths tail when he swims by…a little stretch but not by much.  I use this rod for all my crank baits up to 15 plus type baits, hard body and soft plastic jerk baits, most top water, some soft plastics  and light to mid range spinner baits and buzz baits.  All I can say is wow!

All Pro AtlAntis Series AT76MLS 7’6” Medium Light Action: Lure weight on this rod is 1/16 to1/2 ounce. Recommended line weight is 4-8 pound test. When I didn’t think Roger and Billy could come up with something else as fantastic as the APX they introduced the AtlAntis series rods.  Roger was approached by inshore saltwater guides to build a rod for redfish, speckled trout, tarpon and snook. The All Pro team went to work and over the course of many months of R&D these rods were developed. When the first proto types arrived at the office I couldn’t wait to get my hands on one. Immediately when I held one my mind raced to small crank baits, mini hair jigs, finesse shaky head worms, whirly bee’s, small/light top water baits, live bait and more. The 7’ 6” length enables you to get extra long casts with extremely light baits. The same 100% American made construction but built extra tough for salt water use but yet light as a feather.  I have used these rods since the Fall of 2005 and I can tell you from personal experience that the construction and length of these rods will absolutely wear a fish down at the boat. Light weight construction, unbelievable sensitivity (let me say that again) unbelievable sensitivity and power when you need it.

All pro APX  Series APXCS7MHCA Medium Heavy Action: Lure weights on this rod is 1/4 to 3/4 ounce. Recommended line weight is 8 to 17 pound test. This is the rod I use for all my larger/heavier baits.  I particularly like the tip action on this rod and you can feel every thump of a spinner bait blade and every wiggle of a crank bait.  I spool my bait casters with 8 or 10 pound test max. This rod is ultra sensitive, strong, rugged and responsive to hook sets.  These are the 3 rods that I use day in day out on Tim’s Ford.  I can’t explain enough how important rod sensitivity is. Many times it’s just a different feel. Something that’s just not normal when a Smallmouth inhales a small bait. If you are sitting there with the wrong equipment you have greatly limited your success before you even get to the ramp.  Now let’s tackle the last point. Lure or bait presentation.

What adjustments do you make in presentation?   Most people that are use to fishing lakes that are more on the shallow side tend to sit out away from the bank and cast in.  This type of presentation works well in that setting. But when you are fishing a lake where the banks drop of quickly,  you are much better off to parallel the banks.  This is very easy to do with no more than one or two people in the boat, almost impossible with three.

Here is the way I approach an area that I intend to fish. First I shut my motor down a considerable distance away from the area I want to fish. I always use just enough trolling motor speed to do the job. My first thought is not to make any more noise than I have to. If the wind is blowing into the bank I’m going to fish (hopefully it is) I stay off the bank far enough to keep the boat from banging into the rocks but still parallel with the bank.  If there isn’t a wind I position my boat to where you can almost step out on the bank.  The whole idea is to keep the bait that you are using in the “Strike Zone” as much as possible. If you are throwing crank baits you will want to beat and bang off everything possible on your retrieve back to the boat. The same is true with spinner baits. When I come to a point or just before the center of a round I swing my boat out away from the bank so we can make repeated casts across the face of the point.  If I elect to fish the backside of the point I immediately reposition my boat back again.  I have also found that when fishing non-weed less hair jigs and live bait it’s better for me to sit out and cast in to keep from being hung as much. Saves a little aggravation.

Most of the fish we catch late fall and winter on Tim’s Ford will be in 15 feet of water or less. That’s not to say that there isn't suspended fish that can be caught in deeper water with a spoon or drop shot rig. But by in large if you will position your boat against the bank as close as possible you will find your catch ratio will go up dramatically.


Yes change is just around the corner and you can be there enjoying every bit of it. I hope that I have given you some things to think about. Every ounce of content in this article works for me day in and day out as a full time guide.  Remember all of these up coming events depend on decreasing water temperatures. Be aware each day you are on the water of the changes that have taken place.  Sit down at home before you get to the lake and lay out a tentative plan of action and then adjust as need on the lake.  If I can help you or answer any questions feel free to e-mail me at rickm@dtccom.net or through my web site at www.tennesseebassguides.com  Office telephone number is (615) 765-7303.  Thank you for reading this article….I hope you have a great fall and winter season. Rick McFerrin Owner/Full Time Guide Tennessee Bass Guides LLC.

Tip's For The Beginner

"Up The Creek Without A Paddle"

June 2006

Written By: Rick McFerrin




Every week when I'm on the water I see younger and younger folks launching their boats. 30-40 years ago that was me. Just seems like yesterday. Not that I have all the answers, but over these past years I have learned some things the hard way. Like many of you, I've paid my stupid tax. I've earned my sign.  Sometimes trial and error can be a hard teacher. I hope this article will help some younger folks avoid some of this when it comes to being properly prepared when you reach the lake.

I guess I'm showing my age when I begin to quote old sayings like the title of this article. For those of you that are considerably younger than me this old saying simply means your in a world of hurt with no immediate help in sight. Have you ever been there? Not a good feeling to be in a situation like that is it?  Hey! I can tell you another one. Ready? How about being at the ramp and your cranking battery is dead? Or even worse your 19 miles from no where and the cranking battery won't even click! Or you have worked 90 hours this week at your job, you finally have a day off. Your at the lake sitting right on top of a whole heard of 10 pound largemouth that haven't eaten in 2 weeks. They would hit a potato chip if you could get it in front of them.  The wind picks up to 20mph and your trolling motor batteries are D-E-A-D! Man that's not a bad dream that's a nightmare.

Does any of this ring a bell? Have you ever been "Up The Creek" with battery problems? All joking aside I've learned that it's easy not to pay enough attention to the condition of the batteries aboard your boat. You see our minds are focused on  "Rods"-"Reels"-"Lures"-"GPS" etc.  Hopefully this Tip's Article will answer some questions that may save you some frustration on the water somewhere down the road. Let's take a look.

The One Battery Type Will

Work For All Marine

Application Theory

Through out the year I have the opportunity to hold many instructional seminars speaking on a variety of subjects. I discuss rods-reels-line-lures and techniques that work for me on a seasonal basis. One area that I stress in every seminar is the "One rod for all techniques theory" just doesn't work.  As a matter of fact when you try to use the same rod for everything, from throwing small hair flies to crank baits to spinner baits to top water to Carolina rigging etc All your doing is setting yourself up for frustration and sure failure.  You see, the same principle applies directly to batteries that we use in our boats. The "One Battery Theory" is just plain wrong! Let me explain.

When we buy a new boat the manufacturer installs marine batteries that meet the need of that boat based on the electrical equipment that's onboard. Then after several years and multiple usage these batteries will naturally need to be replaced. What do we do then? Let me answer this question by explaining what we shouldn't do. It's tempting with all the rising costs for gas and oil that we put in our boats to think "I'll scrimp a little here" and buy a cheaper car battery for my boat instead of a marine battery. WRONG!   WRONG! If you do this you will look back and say "@#$%^&*" That's code for what a dummy. Let's look at the difference.

Car Batteries

Car batteries are designed to provide a maximum amount of current in short bursts. These batteries are designed this way to provide the needed current to turn over the cars engine. Then when the motor starts the alternator takes over and provides power for the car.  With this type of system a car battery may never be drained more than 20% of it's total capacity. When used this way a car battery can last for years. Not to get too technical but a car battery uses thin plates in order to increase it's surface area and provide power.  But on the other hand.

Deep Cell Marine Batteries

Where car batteries are designed to provide short bursts of current a marine battery is designed to provide a steady amount of current over a long period of time. A deep cell battery can provide a surge when you need it but not near the surge a car battery can. Deep cell batteries are designed to be "Deeply Discharged" over and over again.  Please catch this!  Deep discharge of a car battery over and over will ruin the battery quickly!  Thus "Up The Creek Without A Paddle"  See where I'm going? Marine deep cell batteries can withstand several 100 total discharge/recharge cycles. While a car battery is not designed to be completely discharged. So how do I choose the right type of deep cell marine battery to meet my need?

Choosing The Right Battery

This can be a fairly simple process if you haven't added additional aftermarket electrical equipment to your boat since you bought it. If everything is status quo and your current batteries were meeting your needs then replace them with the same Amp Hour rated deep cell battery.  But, if you have added additional equipment your minimum Amp Hour requirement will naturally increase.  This is where you need to discuss your current needs with a trained battery technician.  When replacing trolling motor batteries you need to know that a 12 volt system requires a minimum of 1.1 to 1.2 amps per pound of thrust.  A 24 volt system requires .85 to .95 amps per pound of thrust. And a 36 volt system requires .5 to .55 amps per pound of thrust.  Once again this is where a trained battery tech can save you a lot of frustration and head aches.  Now that I have the right batteries how do I recharge them?

Charging My Boat Batteries

Most bass boats manufactured to day come equipped with onboard chargers. So for many of us as long as they are working correctly our need is already met. But what if the charger isn't working correctly or your boat and you need to buy a new one? There are several different types of chargers on the market today that can be used to charge deep cell batteries. Most of them are parallel type chargers that have the capacity to taper the current (in amps) while regulating voltage at the same time. With so many brands on the market today here's some suggestions that might help you.

(1) Choose the right charger that is made for the type of battery you intend to recharge. Such as (a) Liquid Electrolyte (b) Marine/RV (c) Auto (d) Maintenance free or gel batteries. (2) Match the proper battery voltage such as 6 volt-12 volt-24 volt or 36 volt. (3) Choose the correct charger size in Amps. A good rule of thumb is that the charger should provide a maximum of 20 amps for each 100 amp hour of the battery (4) Your charger should be able to fully charge your batteries within 8 to 12 hours max. (5) To avoid costly mistakes choose a charger that is timed or will automatically shut off when the battery reaches full charge.

Additional Tip's

This is important.  (1) Always charge your batteries immediately after you use them When you allow batteries to sit several days without recharging it will hamper the recharge acceptance and over a period of time shorten the life of your battery.  (2) Avoid trickle chargers. For the most part these chargers are low current inexpensive chargers that lack the sophisticated electronic circuitry to properly regulate current and voltage. When you use a charger like this Don't use it for any length of time because battery damage can occur. (3) Check your batteries water supply regularly. By doing this you can determine whether your onboard or external charger is operating the way it should. If your batteries are using excessive water your charger may be overheating and overcharging charging your batteries. If your running out of power quicker than normal you need to check not only the charger but your battery condition as well.


Here at Tennessee Bass Guides our team is on the water 1000's of hours each year. We depend on having batteries that will meet our needs day in day out. Cold weather-hot weather-daytime or night. Just like you we can't afford to be "Up The Creek Without". That's why we only use Interstate Batteries in our boats. Interstate is the #1 Selling Marine battery on the market today. When you are in need of a new battery or advice on your battery needs check out your nearest Interstate dealer. These guy's know batteries inside and out and are always happy to help you diagnosis your needs. If you are in the middle Tennessee area see Chris Woods General manger of the Interstate Battery store at 3729 Highway 109 North in Lebanon Tennessee. If your not sure where they are located call 1-615-449-2555 for direction.  I sincerely hope this Tip's Article will help someone that is new to boats and batteries. Hope to see you on the water.  Rick McFerrin owner www.tennesseebassguides.com

When You're Not Sure


Where Do You Start?

Written By: Rick McFerrin



Recently I was loading my boat after one of my guide trips, when two young anglers pulled up beside me on the ramp in their bass boat.  We exchanged "Howdy's" and then the normal ramp question popped out from one of them. "How did you guy's do?" One of my clients said "We did great" and then in his excitement began to tell about all the fish the he and his father had caught.

Automatically I could see the look of despair on the two young guy's faces, which told me instantly how their day had gone.  And again before I could step in my client asked "How did you do?" I believe their answer was "It's our first time on this lake and we didn't do nearly as good as you!"  Then...the very next question from them was "What were you throwing-and what color was it?" In over 50 years of bass fishing I have been on both sides of that ramp conversation. I've been the guy smiling and I've been the guy frowning. I've been the bug and I've been the windshield. And I'm sure that you have also.

So let's go back for a minute and start over with the original question. When you're not sure-Where do you start? First of all I don't believe it starts with  What you're throwing or what color it is!  To me the most important question these young guy's should have asked was "How deep were the fish holding?"  You see if you have a fix on their depth then everything else will eventually begin to kick in.

But let's say for a minute that your getting ready to fish a lake that you have never been on before. You don't have anyone to ask about fish depth or to give you good fishing information. You don't have any prior lake specific information passed on to you and now your at THE RAMP! What now?  Well, I've got some bad news for you! If you have waited until arriving at the ramp to ask the question "What Now" you may be in for a very long day. You may have set your self up for sure failure. Where did you go wrong? Let's try to answer that question.

Lack Of Prior Planning =A Long Day At The Lake

Many people work off the idea that bass will be shallower in the Spring, deeper in the Summer and Winter, and somewhere in-between during the Fall. The truth is "That's Not Always True!" Relating the time of the year to the depth of the fish can be deceiving.  There are so many contributing factors (no matter what season it is) that will help determine how deep fish will be holding.  Factors such as (1) Light penetration (2) Oxygen Content (3) Recent Rains (4) Recent Snows (5) Wind Direction And Velocity (6)Water Clarity (7) Current or Lack Of (8) Cover (9) Rising Or Falling Water (10) Food Availability and much more.

My suggestion on where you start actually happens BEFORE you get to the lake. Not everyone can afford a GPS with specific lake mapping capabilities that most certainly help you on a new lake. But most of us can afford a good Contour Map of the lake we intend to fish. A good and let me say that again, a good map will give you a detailed view of what the lake is all about. Please beware that lake maps vary when it comes to contour line depth designations. For instance, some map makers will use 20 foot intervals between contour lines, but I have always like the maps that use either a 5 foot or no more than a 10 foot contour line separation.  The reason for this is because it will give you a much more detail. Maps that use a lot of contour lines will help you define subtle shallow water changes that many times will hold the key to a successful day. Good maps will show old house foundation locations, flooded cemeteries, old ponds, hidden road beds, sunken bridges, culverts, shallow points, stump rows, shallow ledges, shallow flats, coves, creeks, boat ramps, marinas and much more.

So the first place I start is with my map and a  highlighter, marking the key areas that I want to fish in water 10 feet and down. Shallow areas that might be closer to well defined channels that has as much cover as possible. Since you haven't been to the lake some areas you will mark won't pay out. So concentrate on the ones that have cover such as grass, wood, chunk rock, bank transition areas, current, shallow outside bends of main channels, points of major and minor creek entrances. Also check out the current side of visible and underwater islands in that 10 foot or less range. One sure area to key on is boat ramps and marina areas. I catch a lot of fish around boat launch areas. Many of these ramps will have a chunk rock wall that will butt up against the sides of the concert as it descends into the water that provides a current break and ambush are for bass. At the end of many ramps there will be a "Blow Out Area" which is a hole that has been created at the end of the ramp from the constant loading and unloading of boats that can hold a multiple fish. Other ramps will have a definite drop or ledge area on either side and at the end of the ramp itself.  Ramps are always a good place to start instead of running some where right away. Another plus with ramps is that many of them are lighted. At night this light will draw bait fish in and consequently bass. I very seldom crank my outboard when unloading my boat. I always float it off and then use my trolling motor to get to an area to tie up so I can park my Tahoe.  Most times if there are active fish on or near the ramp you still have a good shot at them if you start out being as quite in the beginning as possible.

In marinas I like to concentrate on not only the ramp area but when I can the water that  is between the dock and the bank. Some of these areas will have concrete sea walls that very in design and depth that offer fantastic fishing at times. Other will have cables and huge sunken concrete anchors that are used to stabilize portions of the dock. These concrete blocks provide great ambush areas for bass. Some will have vegetation like grass or lily pads. Other might have a chunk rock finger or jetty that is used as a wind break for the marina.  Marinas always have an abundance of shade, structure and food available for bass all year long. Older marinas many times will have remains of old docks, work barges and other debris and building material located in shallow water areas that can be like magnets to bass. Actually marinas are almost like a lake within a lake when it comes to potential places to find not only several bass but many quality fish as well.

So where do I start on a new lake that I have no outside help or information on? I start at home with a good map planning session that will lead to a well defined shallow water game plan for when I get to the lake. Now, do you remember the question that the two young guy's asked me first? You know the one. "What were you throwing? Let's try to answer that now.

Shallow Water Search Bait Of Choice

My personal search bait of choice all year long is a crank bait. In my humble opinion using a crank bait is an excellent way to locate fish. You can cover a tremendous amount of water in a short period of time and still be very thorough in your search. If there are two of you in your boat that works out even better. You and your partner can use different depths baits and vary your color selection until you hit on the right combination.

Now I can almost hear someone say "But Rick it's winter where I live" you don't throw crank baits in winter do you? Let me answer that this way. The only reason that I wouldn't start out with a crank bait is if the lake was frozen solid.  I born here in Tennessee and moved back home almost 20 years ago. For several years before that I worked for a corporation in Indiana. We couldn't wait until "ICE OFF" day. Not three weeks later, but "THE DAY"  that the ice came off many of our Northern Indiana Lakes.  You would find me throwing a crank bait in the old lily pad fields in 3 to 5 feet of water killing the bass and there would still be chunks of ice floating.

Here in Tennessee we have been in the midst of winter just like you have. Our water temperature last week on the lake I guide all winter was 45 to 46 degrees and the bass are slamming a crank bait and have all winter long. Sometimes you have to slow or pause your retrieve. Sometimes the "Slam" turns into a "Soft Weed Like Feeling" But either way, bass will attack crank baits in cold water. I have proven it with my clients every winter.


Keep in mind that this article is based around fishing a lake that you haven't been on before. A lake where you have had no outside help or information about. A lake where you don't know at what depth the fish are holding or what they are hitting.  If your fishing your favorite lake you may know that they are hitting a jig better than a crank bait, BUT that is a whole different set of circumstances. If you are contemplating a trip to a brand new lake that you have no information on. Start with:

(1) At home with a good contour map that breaks it's depth intervals in 5 foot increments if possible. One that shows all the various structure I have already listed.

(2) Lay out a good game plan for what you are going to do and where you are going to start when you get to the lake.

(3) Use a crank bait as your search bait that lines up with water color and depth conditions. Don't hesitate to switch colors, depths of baits and vary your retrieve until you hit on the right combination.

(4) Be meticulous in searching out the best shallow water areas. Leave no rock unturned. Chunk the crank bait where angles fear to tread....you might get your arm broke.

(5) Wear a good pair of polarized sun glasses (even on cloudy-rainy-dreary days) and be constantly aware of what is moving around you under the water. I sight fish a lot when the water is clear enough to do so. Many times you will see just a slight flash near a log, rock or some other type of structure. When you do place the crank bait just passed the structure and bring it back in. If the water is real cold or the fish are sluggish you may have to make repeated casts before "Wham" get the net!

(6) If the bait fish are active in the areas your fishing, try to get a close look at them and match their size and color as close as possible.

(7)  When you establish a shallow water pattern, stick with it and don't waste your time on unproductive areas.

I hope this has helped you and given you something to think about as you plan that next trip to uncharted waters. This is part #1 in a series of articles that I hope will help you answer the question "Where do I start Now?" Stay tuned for part two. Rick McFerrin Owner/Full Time Guide www.tennesseebassguides.com

Successful Baits For

Your Spring Time Arsenal

Written By: Timothy Mason


Feb 2006


During the course of a normal year I spend countless hours on the water guiding and fishing tournaments. Over time I have settled in on three soft plastic baits that have continually helped me to have countless successful trips in the spring.  I want to share these with you today, and consider these a Must for your tackle box. The the three baits that we will look at today are (1) Prowler Grubs (2) Prowler Tubes (3) Prowler Worms. Take these three baits, add water and you have a recipe for a successful day on the water!

One of the reasons that they work so well is their versatility. These baits have been effective for me in water as cold as 38 degrees.  They perform well in lakes that have heavy fishing pressure. They are great on high pressure blue bird days. They can be fished shallow or deep, slow or fast.  They can be fished in all types of structure from grass to rip-rap-bridges-humps points, lily pads and more. Let's take a closer look at these three deadly spring time baits.

Prowler Grubs

The 3 inch and 5 inch Prowler Grubs have a very strong resemblance to a bait fish and are both very effective in clear or stained water. When bass are chasing bait fish don't hesitate to throw a grub. Fish it right under the surface on a fast retrieve, then pause and let it flutter and then repeat the process back to the boat. To swim a grub, make a long cast take up your slack line, point the rod tip toward the grub and then reel slow and steady back to the boat. By using this method you can target the fish that might be in a suspended pattern.  I also like to fish a grub on a Carolina rig. I keep my color selection simple staying with pumpkin seed, smoke, white, watermelon seed and June bug. I catch allot of Smallmouth on Prowler Grubs rigging them on a 1/16th ounce jig head on 6 or 8lb test line. My rod of choice for fishing Prowler Grubs is the AllPro APX66MSRS spinning rod. This rod is tailor made for this application. View all the APX rods at www.allprorods.com

Prowler Tubes

Tubes rank as one of the best soft plastics that has ever been made for catching big bass. A tube has all the strong points of a jig without their weaknesses. A tube can be fished in the heaviest of cover or can swim it out in open water imitating perfectly an injured bait fish. I have taught at Bass Pro Shops in Nashville for over 6 years now and I can tell you this technique works!  I don't think you can go wrong with any color but my favorites are green pumpkin, watermelon seed, pumpkin seed, white, and June Bug.  I like to insert a Prowler rattle into my tubes. I think these have to be the loudest rattles on the market. I swim a Prowler Tube on 1/8th-3/16th and a 1/4 ounce jig heads on 6lb or 8lb test line and HOLD ON! They are also awesome on a Carolina Rig or being pitched and flipped into heavy cover.  I also like to throw the 3 inch Prowler Stubby Tube without a rattle letting it fall slowly in and around shallow grass beds. I use a couple different AllPro APX rods for these applications. The APX80HTFS for Flipping a tube and the AllPro APX76HTFS for Pitching.

Prowler Worms

I believe the Prowler straight tail worm which has a very subtle action in suited just right for inactive bass. They are also great when wacky rigging and extremely effective in 1 to 5 feet of water. Twitch it gently and let it sink on a 1/8oz or 1/16oz jig head or Texas rigged with a small bullet weight.  My favorite colors are green pumpkin, watermelon, cotton candy and June Bug.  Used on a Carolina rig this little worm can be dangerous and it's super effective when fishing a drop shot with 6lb and 8lb test line. 


All these techniques and presentations will work on any lake or river. I hope these tips will help you put more bass in your boat this 2006 season. In my opinion Prowler Pro Pitch Lures are the best soft plastic baits on the market. Try them you will love them. Have a blessed 2006 fishing season. Tim Mason Guide www.tennesseebassguides.com 


Fishing A Prowler Pro Soft Shad


Written By: Rick McFerrin

June 2004

Revised Jan 2006





 For a minute let’s think about this time of the year. Here it is almost Spring again. The “Pre-spawn” “Spawn” and “Post Spawn” will be on us before we know it and then the Smallmouth and Largemouth bass will be moving to their summer homes. I love this time of year, I know the weather can be up and down and back and forth as old man winter finally give up. But I also know, that the late winter and early spring rains will bring with them rising water and rising water temperatures. The bass reproductive urges kick in and they begin to gobble up baitfish and crawfish getting ready for the spawn. My #1 favorite bait to throw at these fish is a soft plastic jerk bait. I suppose every soft plastic bait manufacturer makes one or maybe even several of these type baits. Over the past years I have used several different soft plastic jerk baits that I though was good but after throwing these my personal preference hands down is the Prowler 5 inch Pro Soft Shad. They have a tremendous life like action and when presented correctly to a hungry female Largemouth or Smallmouth they can help you have some of the heaviest total weights this spring that you might have all year. It's my goal in this article to give you some insight into not only how I fish these baits but what tackle I use and where I fish them. As I always say "Take what you can use and discard the rest".

 Choosing The Right Tackle

 In this section we are going to discuss (1) Rods (2) Reels (3) Line (4) Hooks and (5) Prowler Pro Soft Shad Colors.  Everything in this section reflects on what works for me.  Everyone has their own comfort zone when it comes to rods and reels and you will have to find yours to be truly efficient.

 Rods:  Through the years I have watched many people struggle with tackle that just wasn’t suited for the technique they were trying to fish. Many spend more time trying to “Undo” a problem than concentrating on what they came for… Catching Bass! I have also fished with the “One Rod For All Techniques” fisherman-and friends that just won’t work.  Please just weigh out what you are going to read-move slowly and make good purchase decisions.

 As we have discussed in almost every article that I have written, rod manufacturers design rods for “Special Purposes” or “Specific Techniques”.   I believe that having the right rod/reel combination for fishing the Prowler Pro Soft Shad is critical.  At this point I will most likely get some strong disagreement-But here we go. Some people like to use bait casting rods/reels when fishing these types of baits. But honestly, I haven’t seen many fishermen using bait casters skilled enough to put the bait where it needed to be. If you are that skilled great! But if you’re not, why miss out on hours of fishing enjoyment.  I prefer spinning gear for fishing soft plastic jerk baits and recommend that you consider doing the same.  I have found that it is much easier to “Skip” a Pro Soft Shad under docks or in and around heavier cover with spinning tackle. I have also found that you can skip the bait further back under the dock with spinning gear than with a bait caster.  You will have less “Line Headaches” from backlashes and the wind will play less of a factor.  

 I carry 2 identical rods in my boat that I have set aside for nothing but fishing these baits. The only difference is line which we will discuss later. They are the AllPro  APX Series #APX7MHSTN which is a 7 foot medium heavy action rod that has a “soft Tip” but a lot of strength to pull bass out of tight situations. These rods are built with either a Tennessee handle or with a deluxe reel seat. I prefer the Tennessee handle solely because I can position my reel exactly where I feel the most comfortable. Some people will opt for the shorter #APX6MHSTN 6foot rod to skip or flip soft plastic jerk baits and other smaller baits under docks.  Which again is a personal preference. Use the rod length that is the most comfortable for you to use. These APX rods not only give you strength but sensitivity that you won’t believe. This is critical when the  bait is out of your sight and you are depending entirely on feel. You can view the entire AllPro rod selection on the web at www.allprorods.com   or call and talk with Roger Ray or Billy Campbell at 931-474-4466 they will be happy to help you in your rod selection.

 Reels/Line: There is an abundance of good reels (both casting & spinning) on the market today.  Several years ago I settled in with Shimano reels and that is all that I use today. I especially like the Stradic reels that Shimano makes. All Stradic’s are made with 5 ball bearings and have proven over the years to be the smoothest most dependable reels I have ever owned.  I use the Stradic 4000 which has a 5.7:1 gear ratio on my soft plastic jerk bait rods. I spool one with 10 pound test P-Line and the other with 8/20  Berkley Fireline.

 The reason for 2 different lines is this (1) Fireline:  The Stradic 4000 will handle up to 12lb test mono line very easily-over that I believe the performance of the reel drops of rapidly. There are times when I need more line strength and sensitivity. When I’m fishing boat docks and heavier cover many times I can’t see the bait.  I need a line that is super sensitive and has zero stretch, that’s the reason for the Fireline. I can spool up with 8 lb diameter line but have 20 lb test strength.  I have also found that a Prowler Pro Soft Shad will fall much slower on Fireline, and there are times that this is a big plus. (2) P-Line 10 lb mono: First of all let me say that P-Line is limp but very tough and is one of the most abrasion proof mono lines that I have ever used. I use the P-Line when fishing the Soft Shad around bridge pilings-grass beds with little heavy cover and rip rap areas where I can keep good eye contact with the bait. Where the braided line helps the bait fall slower-the P-line let’s it fall faster and once again there are times when this works much better for me.

 Hooks:  When it comes to hook selection I keep it very simple. I prefer either a #4 or a #5 Owner Wide Gap hook. These hooks are super strong and you will never have to worry about having one get straightened out by a big fish. For those of you that have other big species of fish like Stripers in your lake these hooks will solve your problem.  Your line will break before these will bend. Not only are they strong but they have a 3 sided cutting point that gives you great hook ups. The reason for the 2 sizes is simple-the #4 weighs less than the #5 and is what I use when I’m fishing the Soft Shad in a slower falling presentation.  The #5 on the other hand weighs more and I use this when the fall is faster.

Prowler Pro Soft Shad Colors:  Just like plastic worm and lizards Prowler  manufactures the Pro Soft Shad in many different colors .  They are currently available in 11 different colors some solid and some with glitter. But once again I keep my color selection very simple.  80% of all the fish I catch on a Soft Shad are caught on Pearl White. The other 20% are caught on either a Bubblegum or Lemon Shad. I keep an abundance of these in my boat and will have to restock several times through the year. Are there other colors that might work just as well?  YES!!!!!! I’m sure there are-BUT-these sure work for me day in and day out!

 Changing Or Adding Color To The Pro Soft Shad: There are times that I will “ADD COLOR” to a Pearl White Soft Shad.  When this happens it is normally Red or Chartreuse.  I use JJ's Magic www.jjsmagic.com to color the Soft Shad in 3 different ways. (1) I take a  cotton q-tip dipped in the dye and color the slit in the belly (2) Dip just the head about ½ an inch down  (3) Dip the tail about ½ inch down. I can’t always explain it but there are times that red and chartreuse will drive Largemouth and Smallmouth nuts. After using the red or chartreuse I dip as much of the bait in the "Clear JJ's" as possible .  You may have a different color combo that will for you ….but once again this sure works for me.

 Adding a Good Quality Snap:   Another change that can make a big difference at times, is adding a good snap to your line. I always use a #3 Fast lock Snap. I’m a firm believer that by adding the snap you increase the side to side action of any soft plastic jerk bait. I have also found that the snap will add a little extra weight but will not make the Pro Soft Shad “Nose Dive” when it falls. But please let me warn you “Don’t Get Cheap” buy good snaps, the difference is only a few pennies-but will payoff in bigger dividends.

 Areas To Fish A Prowler Pro Soft Shad

 In this section we will discuss the following areas that pay off for me when fishing a Pro Soft Shad. (1) Bridge Pilings (2) Shallow Grass Beds (3) Deep Grass Beds (4) Boat Houses/Boat Docks  (5) Rip Rap Areas and (6) Lay downs/Timber On Expansive Flats .

 Bridge Pilings:  I believe that bridge pilings whether they are a main river channel bridges or a secondary creek bridge are over looked by many fishermen today. Most bridges support a variety of baitfish-crayfish-bluegill-crappie and other game fish as well. A literal smorgasbord for hungry bass.  I have had some great trips on different lakes catching bass after bass running from one bridge area to another through the course of the day.  To help us understand bridge pilings a little better let’s break this explanation down into 2 parts (1) Open Pilings: most of these types of pilings will have a shelf you cannot see that connects the columns that support the bridge. If the bass are in this area most likely they will be on or near this shelf. When fishing a Pro Soft Shad in current I try to put my boat upstream from the pilings and cast downstream, by doing this you will maintain better lure control. Many times you will find the current to be stronger toward the river channel and less as you progress toward the bank. Be sure to work all 4 sides of each piling and the shelf that connects them. At times the hit on top will be fantastic-other times it may take letting the bait “Dead Stick” around the pilings-always watch your line for the bass to hit your bait on the fall. (2) Solid Pilings:  Most of the time shorter bridges that cross various creeks that feed the main lake will have this type of pilling only. One attribute that a small bridge has that larger ones don’t (because of its height) is that it provides more shade to the structure directly below the bridge. Most of these will have some degree of current and always seem to have baitfish in some quantities around them. When fishing this type of bridge and pilings concentrate on all 4 corner of the bank under the bridge-the corners on the piling and make repeated casts directly parallel down the entire length of the piling. Work the Pro Soft Shad much the same as we discussed above.

 Shallow Grass Beds:   Grass has a way of holding bass. Even some of the shallowest beds when fished early or late in the day can hold big numbers and great quality fish. I’m speaking of depths from 1 foot to 5 feet deep. Some of the grass you can see-some you can’t.  If you are fortunate enough to be on the lake when it is overcast and dreary the bite can last all day long in these shallow areas. The most important factor is finding out where the bass are holding within the grass. For instance I have noticed if you have a strong wind blowing directly into the grass the fish seem to be more on the deepest outside edges of the grass beds. If it is calm they can be scattered anywhere from the bank in zero feet of water to the far outside edges. Many grass beds will have an open area (no grass) from the bank out several feet before the growth begins. These areas can hold large quantities of fish, early and late in the day and on stormy overcast conditions. When the bass are in this area I like to throw the Pro Soft Shad all the way up on the bank or sea wall and start from there….be ready the strike can happen very quickly.

 Deeper Grass Beds:    Many times grass beds that are adjacent to the main river channels will provide visible surface vegetation on the channel edges or flats. But there may also be an abundance of grass that will extend out further that you will not be able to see visually.  The visible grass can provide (as we just discussed in the paragraph above) fantastic action under certain circumstances.  But when the day is bright and sunny these areas can die off quickly. This is when you need to keep your boat positioned in the river channel just far enough away where you can make a good long cast to the shallow water. Let your Pro Soft Shad drop down gradually along the outside edges of the vegetation. At times I will work it much like a worm probing all depths until we locate fish.  Sometimes the bass will strike on the fall-other times it will be when you move or twitch the bait.

 Boat Houses/Boat Docks:  First let me say there is a vast difference between a “Boat House” and a “Boat Dock”.  Normally, boat docks will have a walk way that varies in width, length and configuration.  Some times it will have a roof-other times not.  A boat house on the other hand is always covered and can be rather large “Garage Looking” structure enclosed on at least 3 sides and many times all four. I have seen boat houses that had as many as 6 slips in them.

 Although these 2 structures look entirely different they do share some things in common.  Most of these will have some type of cable or strap that attaches to the sides of the dock and then to the shore. Some will have a “Boat Lift” system in the slip that has runners or straps that are used to left the boat up out of the water. Some will have smaller attached jet ski platforms that will be attached to the side of the dock. Also many of these will have sunken brush piles that the dock owner has placed there to attract fish to his dock. If you’re fishing a new area that has docks watch for floodlights-fishing pole holders-rods and chairs-all of these can help you locate brush around docks. Also remember that most of these sunken piles will be within a short cast from the dock.  There are other similarities but they all add up to the same thing-potential holding places for bass.

 Let Me Say This Before We Go Any Further. Always Pay Total Respect To Others. Remember The Dock Or Boat House Is Someone Else’s Property- Act Accordingly.

 Many people view cables-boat lift systems and jet ski platforms as obstacles to their fishing. So consequently all they fish is both sides and the front and then move on. What has happened at this point is they have fished only 30% or less of the structure leaving 70% totally untouched.

 I try to skip my Pro Soft Shad in-between every opening-under every boat lifted out of the water. In-between moored boat in the water and the sides of the dock. I work my way around and skip the bait on the backside of the dock between the dock and the shore. I like to pull right up to the cables that hold the boat house or dock touching it lightly with my trolling motor and skip the Soft Shad into every concealed area as possible. If you’re working Boat Houses that provide a lot of shade you will need to skip the bait as far back into the structure as possible.  Always watch your line because your Soft Shad will be out of your eye sight.

 I remember a trip I had on Lake Bruin in Louisiana a couple years ago with my oldest son Rick Jr. and TBGI’s Mike Dial. The bass had moved all the way under  boats lifted out of the water. These boat house bass were holding right on the bank. We would skip our baits at least 18 to 20 feet back into the boathouse and the bass would hammer the bait. Time after time we lifted 3lb to 5lb plus largemouth over the rail that was holding on this pattern.

 If you are fishing the brush around the dock and it is sunny and bright you may have to let the Pro Soft Shad sink down into the brush making contact and work it much like you would a worm. If it is overcast the bass will tend to hold more to the area between the brush and the dock. When this happens many times you can have terrific blow ups on the bait.  Just some friendly advice-work these areas slowly-carefully and be ready to set the hook at anytime.

 Rip Rap Areas:  Let me say right up-front “I like to Fish these areas! This is one of my favorite types of structure to fish with a variety of baits including a Pro Soft Shad.  These areas will hold a variety of baitfish-sunfish and crayfish all year long. There are times when bass-good bass will hold so close to the rip rap you will wonder why you can’t see their fins, but they won’t chase a bait. If you stay out away from the bank and throw in you might catch one every now and then. When this happens your best bet is to parallel the rocks so closely that you literally could step out of the boat.  Make good long casts and keep your bait within inches of the shore line.  Don’t get in a hurry-when you catch a fish stop your forward movement and make repeated casts in the same area-chances are there will be another fish there.

 If you are fishing rip rap that has irregular features such as points-big cracks-logs and sunken brush you will want to key on these areas and make repeated casts.  BE PATIENT!!!  I have spent several hours fishing the same stretch of rip rap when bait fish are active and caught fish after fish.  You may have to sort through some smaller fish at times but there are always good fish mixed in.

 Lay Down Timber On Flats: I realize that this might change from lake to lake but here in middle Tennessee we have many lakes that have expansive flats that are located close to deep water. These flats will have a variety of vegetation, rock piles and lay down timber.  Some of this timber will float in and out with high water conditions but much of it remains all the time.  Most of these flats will have an abundance of logs against the bank and some will have vegetation around it-which is a bonus!

 Something else to keep in mind when fishing flats is to be on the look out for isolated timber. If the concentration of timber is large enough it can hold several bass not just one or two. Don’t rush in on these areas be stealthy in your approach and make every cast count.

A couple years ago in June-July and August when it was so hot that you would have to either pour water on your head or put you hat in the water just to cool off.  TBGI’s Jon Simmons and I caught several hundred bass with clients on flats much like what I described above.  We had to be very careful not to get to close to the logs because we would kick up mud with our trolling motor. We would zero in on our target and make long cast.  We keyed on every log-grass bed and weed line we could see. At times you couldn’t move the bait fast enough and other times it would take a jerk and fall presentation. Like we have all heard before “The Bass Will Tell You What They Want”!

 Rigging And Fishing The Prowler Pro Soft Shad

 In this section we will talk about 3 different methods to rig a Soft Shad and some basic techniques on fishing it. 

 Texas Style Rigging:  This method is very easy.   Hold the Soft Shad in one hand with the slit in the belly facing you.  Insert the point of the hook into the blunt end of the bait, bring the point out about half way from the tip of the bait and the beginning of the slit. Push the Soft Shad up the hook and over the bend, when this is done rotate it 90 degrees until the point of the hook is facing the belly slit. While holding the hook push the bait forward slightly then insert the point of the hook into and through the Soft Shad until the point is barely exposed. This method will keep you from getting hung up in wood and grass. After a few casts and always after every strike you will want to check you rigging out. There is nothing more aggravating than being on fish in a small area and then getting hung up right in the middle of it.

 Up Side Down  Exposed Texas Rigging:  There maybe times when you can get away with this method. The Soft Shad is rigged the exact same way with the exception that the bait is turned upside down and the  hook is left exposed outside of the bait.  I fish a Pro Soft Shad at times along rip rap areas and bridge pilings when there is an absence of logs and grass. By rigging this way the action of the bait become more erratic.

 Wacky Style Rigging: The first time I saw a soft jerk bait fished this way was a several years ago with a client I had out. When I told him we were going to fish a soft plastic jerk bait and asked him if he knew how to rig it. He replied yes and I didn’t think any more about it. When we began fishing at our first stop I watched him catch 5 largemouth in a row using this method. It doesn’t take me long to catch on so I rigged mine the same way and began to catch fish as well. There are times this method works well. My only word of caution  is, this method IS NOT WEEDLESS in any manner shape or form. It needs to be used in selected situations.

 Fishing A Prowler Pro Soft Shad 101:   First take a look at a Soft Shad. What is it suppose to look like or represent when in the water? A shad…it is suppose to look like a shad.  I guess in my life time I have spent several thousands of hours on the water. And through the years I have watched shad dart and dive in a frenzy as they were dying.  I have also watched them sink ever so slowly straight down until they were completely out of sight.

 This is my 2 basic retrieves that I want to emulate on a normal basis when fishing a Pro Soft Shad. At times I want the bait to dart and dive quickly from side to side as if it was hurt and trying to get away from a bass. There are times that I want the same motion but at a reduced speed. And then there are times that I just “Dead Stick” the bait and let it fall or settle down out of my sight.


 Once again the truth is “The Bass Will Let You Know” what they want. Experiment-go to the lake and stand on a pier at a boat ramp and practice these retrieves.  Use your neighbors swimming pool when their not watching. Watch how the bait responds rigged in the different styles that I listed above. Watch what a difference it makes throwing a Pro Soft Shad on Fireline and then mono.  Check out some of the structure on your lake that I described above.

 I hope this helps you to have a better insight into fishing a fun bait..the Prowler Pro Soft Shad.  As you fish them be sure to log onto my web site  www.tennesseebassguides.com go to the “FISH REPORT TAB” and give us an update on how you did…or if you have questions ask them there and I will respond to them. 

 As always our goal is to be “THE” Bass Information Center in middle Tennessee-thanks for taking time to read this article..Rick McFerrin

Cold Weather Injuries

Signs And Symptom's You Need To Know


Written By: Timothy Mason


November 2005




At times we fishermen get so excited about going to the lake we forget to dress properly and skip many small details that could help us from sustaining cold weather injuries. I'm not a doctor but I am knowledgeable in the area of Cold Weather Injuries. Yes like many outdoorsmen I had to learn it the hard way as a young private in the United States Army where I fell victim to severe frostbite. As a guide I always pay close attention to my friends and clients during the winter months and I hope you will get some good information from this article that will help you in the outdoors this winter.

Signs And Symptom's

Exposure to cold can lead to both (A) Frost Bite: Where your skin freezes (B) Hypothermia: Where your core body temperature drops below normal. Both of these conditions may start out with mild symptoms, but can worsen quickly to a life or limb threatening situation.  Frost Bite normally occurs when you are outdoors, but Hypothermia can can not only outdoors but inside as well. Lets look at these two a little closer.


Frost Bite

First you need to understand that Frost Bite is the freezing of the skin or underlying tissue that occurs as a result of prolonged exposure to cold. Wet clothes, high winds, poor circulation caused by tight clothing and boots, cramped position, fatigue, certain medications, smoking, alcohol and diabetes can all contribute to this injury. Skin becomes pale or blue and stiff or rubbery to the touch. You will also have a numbing sensation that can progress into 3 degrees of severity.


  • First Degree Is Frost Nip:  Numbness and whitening of the skin, blistering if not reversed quickly.

  • Second Degree Is Superficial Frost Bite: Outer skin feels hard and frozen, blistering likely.

  • Third Degree Is Deep Frost Bite: Underneath skin becomes hard and very cold

Frost bite is most common on fingers, toes, earlobes, noses and cheeks on your face. Prevention is simple. Stay dry and out of the wing in extreme cold. Make sure all areas of your skin is covered. Keep your core body temperature up by wearing layers of clothing. Wool and polypropylene are good insulators. Wear wind and waterproof outer clothing and a head covering to keep heat loss from occurring.  Wear mittens rather than gloves. Keep protective clothing and blankets in your car.  Don't smoke or drink when it is extremely cold.

First Aid For Frostbite


If the victim is mildly frostbitten, give first aid and get medical help quickly. If the victims is more than mildly frostbitten call EMS. If the victim has both Frost Bite and Hypothermia (which we will cover next) give first aid for hypothermia first.


  • Don't thaw out a frostbitten area if you can't keep it thawed.

  • Don't direct heat from a radiator, campfire, heating pad or hair dryer to the frostbitten area.

  • Don't disturb or break blisters. Don't massage the frost bitten area.

  • Don't move thawed areas any more than necessary.


  • Move victim to a warmer place and remove any restricting clothing or jewelry

  • Warm the frostbitten area for at least 30 minutes

  • Hand and feet can be placed in warm water 100 to 105 degrees

  • Keep circulating the water to aid in the warming process.

  • Other areas can be warmed by applying warm compresses

  • Stay with victim until Professional Medical help arrives

Burning pain, swelling and color changes may occur during this warming period. When completed the skin should be soft and sensation should have returned. At this point you can apply sterile dressing between fingers or toes.  Wrapping prevents refreezing.


Hypothermia occurs when the body temperature drops below normal. It occurs when the body loses heat faster than it can be produced. Factors that contribute to hypothermia include extreme cold, wet clothes, being in cold water, spending long periods in a cold environment or unheated room.  Hypothermia can happen at temperatures of 45 degrees or higher if wet or in high winds. Those who are most likely to have hypothermia are babies, elderly, people with poor circulation, people that smoke and consume alcohol, people with diabetes. This can happen to fail or inactive people even in doors if not dressed properly. Hikers, fishermen and skiers can loose heat rapidly without realizing it. Signs of hypothermia are.

  • Mild Hypothermia: Shivering, urge to urinate, loss of coordination, confusing and arm pits are cold.

  • Severe Hypothermia: No shivering, stumbling, muscle stiffness, irregular slow heat beat, drowsiness, weakness confusion, slurred speech, difficulty seeing irrational behavior.

  • Can progress to ridged mussels, unconsciousness, coma and cardiac arrest. Body heat may drop below 96 degrees.


Dress warmly and wear waterproof clothing. Wear fabric that remains warm even when it is wet such as wool or polypropylene. Wear a hat, move to shelter if you get wet or cold. Eat well before going out and carry extra food. Don't drink alcohol. Older less active people can prevent indoor hypothermia by dressing warmly and keeping temperatures above 65 degrees.


First Aid

If victim has mild hypothermia give first aid and get professional medical help quickly.  If victim is both frost bitten and has hypothermia give first aid for hypothermia first.


  • Don't assume that someone found lying still in the cold is dead.

  • Don't use your own comfort to decide if an area is warm enough. People respond differently.

  • Don't  attempt to warm a severely hypothermic person without professional medical help.

  • Don't use direct heat to warm the victim


  • Do check for open airways breathing and circulation.

  • Do Begin CPR if breathing rate is less than 6 breaths per minute.

  • Do control bleeding if present.

  • Do Handle victim gently. People with hypothermia are subject to cardiac arrest.

  • Do keep the victim from getting any colder by seeking shelter and removing wet clothes.

  • Warm victim by using blankets or aluminum foil.

  • Use your body heat in this process if necessary.

  • Stay with victim and call for professional medical help


I hope this article will help and give you additional information you would need in case of an emergency. I'm not a doctor or a medical person, I'm a guide that spend countless hours fishing in cold weather. Take time to RESEARCH Frost Bite and Hypothermia on the internet by going to the Red Cross web site or other authoritative Medical Sites. If fishing alone always let some one at the ramp or marina know where you will be at. Take your cell phone and wear your life vests at all times. When possible don't fish by your self take a friend along. Once again I hope this will help you. God Bless and may He keep you safe. Timothy Mason Guide  www.tennesseebassguides.com

Tip's For The Beginner

Crank You Way To Fall Success

September 2005

Written By: Rick McFerrin



Recently I wrote a brief article entitled Late Summer/Early Fall Transition Period that you can read by clicking on the Tips Archive tab of our web site www.tennesseebassguides.com. In this article I tried to give you a good understanding of how water temperature relates to triggering the fall transition process. It might help you to read that article first before finishing this one. The "Fall Transition" of Largemouth, Smallmouth and Spotted Bass just doesn't happen overnight. It's not like you turn a switch on or off and magically it's happened. Rather,  the length of this process is almost totally dependent on mother nature. How quickly the water temperature changes is the key to this process. And during this change you will find bass holding in different patterns in different parts of the lake.

Under normal conditions the upper regions of the lake will be the first to experience that "Right Drop In Water Temperature" that will propel bass into their Fall patterns. And depending on how large the lake is, bass in the middle portion of the lake might still be holding in "Late Summer Patterns" while bass further toward to lower end may not even be at that stage yet. Faced with these multiple patterns and changing water temperatures one of the best search baits I know of that can help you probe various water depths and help you  cover as much water as possible is a crankbait. In the paragraphs below I want to share with you several different baits that I use and why I use them. My hope is that this information will help you crank your way to success this fall.

Deep Crankbaits

Let's start with the deepest pattern fish and work our way on up.  These would be the bass that more than likely would be in the lower region on up to mid lake during the late summer/early fall period. The water temperature that these bass are holding in would still be  more or less the warmest portion in the lake. These fish may be holding on points that gradually get deeper as they extend out into the lake, or ledges  that offers semi shallow water on it's crest then suddenly drops off into deep water at the main channel. Depending on your type of lake they may be holding along old flooded river channel bends that still have stumps and rock. Many times these ledges will also have allot of sand and slit. But the one factor that always has to be there to make it a productive place is "Structure".  My favorite crankbait to probe structure for these deep water bass is a Luhr-Jensen Hot Lips in one of three sizes.  www.luhrjensen.com In the picture to the left the top bait is the 3/4 model, the middle bait is the 1/2 model and the bottom bait is the 1/4 size. On 10lb test the 3/4 model will run 18-24 feet deep, the 1/2 model will run 15-18 feet deep and the 1/4 model will run 12-16 feet deep. I like the way these baits "Dive" straight down immediately. Much of this can be attributed to the Deep Dive Tri-Lobe Power Lip and it's computerized thin wall construction.  These baits offer fantastic vibration and track incredibly straight. To get the most from these baits I use two different All Pro APX series rods.  www.allpro.com The first is model number APX80HCA. This is a heavy action 8 foot casting rod with a forgiving tip that is absolutely fantastic for throwing big deep diving crankbaits like the 3/4 and 1/2 Hot Lips. If you have ever thrown a big deep bait like these on a rod that wasn't suited for this technique you are well aware of how tired your arms and wrists can get. Having the right rod makes a tremendous difference. The second is the APXCS7MHCA. This is a 7 foot medium heavy casting crankin rod that is ideal for the 1/4 model Hot Lips. All APX rods have unmatched sensitivity that is transmitted through the graphic rings on the handle that will allow you to feel every piece of structure that you pull these Hot Lips over. This is an important ingredient that I can't emphasize enough. You need to be able to feel the Hot Lips beating and banging it's way through-around and on the structure you are fishing looking for a reaction strike. When you catch a bass work that area completely, many times there will be several holding on the same piece of structure. Using my electronics I always like to start on the shallow part of the point or ledge and work my way out to the deeper water varying my retrieve as I work my way along. Color selection is something that you will have to experiment with. I always lean toward a shad colored bait when I can, but other colors can be just as deadly. Lure Jensen makes the three Hot Lips models in over 40 colors that can help you match your water color needs.

Medium Depth Crankbait

Under normal conditions as the water temperature begins to cool the bass will begin to move to and stay around shallower structure. Instead of the 20-30 foot plus water they may migrate to the 10-15 foot range. This migration is what I call a Pre-Fall which is that short window of time between late summer and early fall. This may happen in the same geographical areas of the lake that you found summer pattern bass. The only difference is the bass just move up shallower on the points or will hold on structure nearer to the crest of a ledge or channel bend. Remember I said we were dependent upon Mother Nature? A good example of this is early Fall rains and cold fronts. When the rains and cold fronts come  9 times out of 10 it will cause the bait fish to move further back into the creeks and pockets and what's the next step? Your Right! The bass will follow right along taking up residency around the shallower structure that lines the creek channels waiting to gulp down bait fish as they swim by or chase bait out in open water. When this happens I turn to the Luhr-Jensen Radar 10 and Radar 13 crankbaits. These are super tough baits that you can beat and bang through some of the heaviest structure and they will just keep running true.  They cast like a bullet and have a tight vibration that not only is appealing to feeding fish but will entice a reaction strike as well.   I have a tendency to keep my crankbaits moving right along when fishing around allot of bait fish. The reason is I don't want the bass to have a chance at a real close look and be able to determine that it isn't real. During this time of the year I always have at least two sometimes three Radars tied on at the same time, some on 8lb test and others on 10lb test. Colors once again is something that you may have to experiment with (20 colors to choose from) but I always will have a shad color of some sort tied on. I use the following All Pro APX rods when throwing these baits. First is the  7 foot crankin rod APXCS7MHCA that we talked about above and the other is the APX7MST 7 foot  medium spinning rod. The APX 7 foot spinning rod is a beauty. It's extremely light (in weight) unbelievably strong and ultra sensitive. These rods are manufactured with a reel seat or with a Tennessee handle. For those of you that might not be familiar with a Tennessee handle....there is no reel seat-you tape your reel to the handle where it suits you best. This gives you the ability to balance the rod exactly as you want it. I joke with my clients that I can feel a bass getting ready to nail a crankbait before the strike actually happens with this rod. All joking aside these rods are phenomenal. And when you match the APX and Radar Crankbaits together you better get the net!

Semi-Medium/Shallow Crankbaits

Now let's assume that we are in a full fledge Fall pattern. The water temperature has dropped to that "magic number" for your lake and the bass have one thing on their mind and that's lunch! The bass have moved into the major creeks that have plenty of cover such as standing timber-fallen logs-brush along the shore line-maybe some grass and plenty of bait fish. The best creeks will also have flowing water and creek channels that will bend in close to the shore line. On some larger lakes the major creeks will also have smaller streams that feed them as well. The mouths of these feeder streams are always a great place to look for feeding fish. Bass at this point of the year can be found in varying depths of water but many active feeding fish will be shallow. Shallow water conditions anytime of the year is tailor made for the Luhr-Jensen Speed Trap. These baits are offered in three sizes 1/16 which is approximately 2 inches long, 1/8 which is 2 1/2 inches long and the 1/4 which is 3 inches long. The Speed Trap is one of the best shallow crankbaits that I have ever used in my near 50 years of bass fishing. These baits have a thin wall construction that produces the action and vibration of wood lures but retains the consistency of an injected mold body.  I have two rods set up for fishing the Speed Traps. The first is the APX 7 foot medium rod we discussed above with 8lb test line. The other is the same rod filled with 6lb test line. I throw the 3/4 Speed Trap on 8lb test when I want to reach the 8 foot level and the 1/8 and 1/16 on 6lb test for 6 foot or less. I love throwing these baits on light line in and around shallow structure but I have also watched huge Smallmouth in some of our clear lakes come up from deep water to nail these small baits. What a bait! The Speed Traps are available in more that 40 colors that will meet all your shallow crankbait needs.


Let's do a quick recap. (1) Always select a Luhr-Jensen crankbait that will run deeper than the water you are fishing. You want the bait to be bouncing off of everything between you and the boat. (2) Don't be fooled into believing that small crankbaits like the Speed Traps don't catch big fish...This is a myth that is proven wrong over and over every year. (3) Use a ultra sensitive rod like the AllPro APX series at least 7 feet long that is designed for crankbait fishing. You will be amazed at the additional hook ups you will have during the year. (4) Watch the water temperature in the upper regions of your lake for the "Right Temp" (5) Watch for bait fish movement back in the major creeks (6) Don't oversize your line....give the crankbait the ability to work like it is designed to do. (6) Most important "Have Fun This Fall" crankin in those bass!

Tips For The Beginner

Late Summer/Early Fall Transition Period

August 2005

Written By: Rick McFerrin


This isn’t intended to be an exhaustive article but rather one that will hopefully give you something to think about as we head into the early fall transition period. I don’t know how the weather has been in your part of the world this summer, but here in Middle Tennessee it has been Hot! Like I tell everyone, I’m 57 years old I sure don’t want to wish any days away, but I must admit I’m looking forward to some cooler temperatures and the fall fishing season.

 One of these days soon the leaves will turn brown, red and yellow and will begin to fall. Those incredibly crisp mornings will creep up on us.  You know the ones where jeans and a sweatshirt will replace shorts a thin t-shirt.  Man that’s going to great. But if you’re a bass fisherman other than a change in your physical comfort what will that mean to you? How does this time of the year differ? Or how is this time of the year similar to other seasonal changes? I hope that some of the information below will help you to be successful in this time of the year.

What Is Going On This Time Of The Year Anyway?

 I guess when you use the term seasonal, most people will automatically think Spring-Summer-Fall and winter. In allot of respects they would be correct. But to us bass fishermen we know that it go’s much deeper than that. Spring has to broken down into three segments or patterns (1) Pre-Spawn (2) Spawn (3) Post Spawn.  And the truth is in most larger lakes each of these three patterns can overlap somewhere all at the same time. For example. One of the lakes I guide full time here in Tennessee is Old Hickory. It is a very large river lake that stretches well over 60 miles. During the spring you can actually fish each one of these patterns somewhere in that 60 mile stretch as I said, all at the same time. It’s not unusual to have spawning fish in the upper end and pre-spawn fish in the middle and lower sections of the lake.  Then post spawn fish in the upper end and spawning fish in the middle, see where I’m going?   The same is true with late summer early fall patterns.  These developing patterns may not be as radical because we normally won’t have the huge swings in air and water temperatures in the fall as we do in the spring. But there are a lot of similarities.  Let’s take a look at a few of these.

 Late Summer/Early Fall Water Temperatures

 On Old Hickory I always find the earliest fall pattern bass in the same place I found the first spring spawning bass.  Where? The upper end of the lake.  Those upper end creeks and pockets that offer allot of cover and fresh water in running into the creek. And just like in the spring, when I find these fall pattern bass in the upper end I can find a different pattern (late summer pattern) bass in the mid and lower sections of the lake. Through the years of fishing Old Hickory and keeping records of each trip I have compiled what I feel is some interesting data. Now, before you saw the limb out from under me, please read this ENTIRE paragraph.  OK here we go, let me jump right in. I have noticed that water temperature change most definitely triggers these seasonal pattern changes. I can hear someone right now…”Well Whoop-T-Do- big deal that’s not new news Rick” As I said easy with the saw there buddy. Read on.

 Have you ever heard the term “Myth”?  Back in the mid 1960’s when I first started to seriously bass fish the hard fast rule was that bass wouldn’t spawn unless the water temperatures hit 65 degrees and they wouldn’t move into their fall patterns until the water temperatures fell back to 70 degrees or less.  You see this premise is based on specific temperatures.  And I would almost bet that there are many bass fishermen today that still live by that same premise. But through these 40 plus years I have found out that this just isn’t true.  You see as well intentioned as it was, this was a myth, information that has been passed down through the years that isn’t always accurate or even sometimes true. A recent example (that can be duplicated every year) is this past spring when I saw huge female bass on the nest when the water temperature was still in the mid to upper 50’s. Like wise my records show that on Old Hickory the key for early fall patterns isn’t 70 degrees but rather an 8-10 degree drop in water temperature. Right now we are running in the mid to high 80’s in much of our water on Old Hickory. So instead of a fall pattern kicking in at 70 degrees they actually can happen in the mid to upper 70’s. And once again this water temperature drop will always occur in the upper end of the lake first verses areas closer to the dam. I really believe that many bass fishermen are missing an early jump on fall bass by not realizing this fact about water temperatures.

 Another ingredient that normally will help push bass into a fall pattern is late summer/early fall rains. I’m not talking about a nice shower, but rather a good hard rain.  In recent years this heavy down pours have drawn the shad population up river into secondary ditches and creeks. I’m not sure what will happen this year because we have the largest shad population in Old Hickory from one end of the lake to the other that I have seen for a long time.  What we need on Old Hickory this winter is a good shad kill, but that is a whole different article.


As we move into this late summer/early fall transition period I can’t emphasize enough the  importance of watching you water temperatures in the upper regions of your lakes not for a specific temperature but rather those 8 to 10 degree drops that will happen it seems in a blink of an eye. Also watch for those heavy rains and bait fish movement.  In my opinion fall offers some of the absolute best bass fishing that most people can enjoy. 

Tip's For The Beginner

Hot Weather Danger

Heat Exhaustion-Heat Stroke

July 2005

Written By; Rick McFerrin





First let me say this. I'm not a doctor, a paramedic or any kind of medical specialist. The symptoms and first aid advice that you read here in this article can be checked out and confirmed by the American Red Cross. I'm not a doctor but rather a full time fishing guide that encounters all types of weather situations throughout the 12 months of the year. My clients and I fish in everything from freezing temperatures to snow, sleet, rain and during this time of the year "Extreme Heat"


I have found that every person is different when it comes to physical tolerances on the water. Some people (like me) can handle colder weather far better than the heat. For others it might be the other way around. I have also found that AGE isn't always the determining factor.  When it comes to this time of the year, my concerns for myself and those with me are heighten greatly. When it comes to age Extreme Heat is no respecter of person. Why? Let me tell you a quick incident that happened to me 3 years ago on a very hot sunny day on Old Hickory Lake here in middle Tennessee.


I was fishing with a medical doctor (thankfully) from North Carolina. True to my normal routine back then I didn't eat anything before I got to the lake because I was always concerned about the possibility of having a upset stomach during the guide trip. No port a potties on the water you know. We started at daylight and by 11:00am the sun was straight up and air temperatures hovered near 98 actual degrees. No telling what it was with the heat index. I was feeling great. I had drank a couple bottles of water through the morning, the doc and I was on fish, and THEN IT HAPPENED!! I was instantly sick!  I turned to the doc and said "Man I don't feel good and then the next thing I knew I didn't have the strength in my legs to hold myself up and I more or less collapsed on the front deck. His first reaction was to ask if I was having a heart attack. I knew it wasn't that,  but I had become pale-dizzy-nauseous-and began to (sorry) vomit. The doc knew right away that I was in the stages of either "Heat Exhaustion" or a "Heat Stroke".  He quickly motored us to the nearest shade we could find, which isn't easy on Old Hickory Lake. He helped me loosen my clothing and since there was no access to cold compresses began to pour water on me from the lake until it looked like it had rained inside the boat. When I was able, he had me drink some water, drove us back to the ramp, helped me to the Tahoe, and put my head directly into the air conditioner vents. Over a hour period I began to gradually feel better but I was still weak and washed out.  What Happened To Me? Heat Exhaustion!!!!! Oh yes, Big Bad Me, the guy that could handle any weather....Wrong! I shutter to think what would have happened to me if I had been by myself that day....I most likely wouldn't be around to write this article.


Yesterday when we launched the Stratos at 4:45am it was already 84 degrees. Temps yesterday reached the high 90's and the heat index was soaring well above 100 degrees. This weeks forecast is much of the same. Please take some advise from someone that had a not so subtle wake-up call-  Stay Safe, Don't Take Chances On The Water. No fish is worth it. I hope the following information will help you.


If Your Fishing During A Heat Wave

First of all a heat wave is what we are going through right now here in middle Tennessee and most of the country.  It's a prolonged period of excessive heat and humidity. Temperatures with the heat index factored in can reach well above the 100 degree mark very early in the day. Let me say that again very early in the day! You don't have to wait until mid day for the danger level to rise excessively, it can happen by 9 or 10 am easily. The National Weather Service has been issuing warnings concerning the dangers of heat related problems. Warning have gone out for everything from humans to animals. Slow down and avoid as much strenuous activity on the water as possible. If you like to fish at night this might be a good alternative. If your fishing during the day start as early as you can and get off the water as early as possible. I know the fish aren't always where we want them to be-but try to utilize the shaded areas as much as possible. Wear lightweight-light colored clothing and head gear. Drink plenty of water regularly and often. Drink fluids even if you don't feel thirsty. Contrary to some national beverage companies advertising campaigns, studies have proven that water is the safest liquid to drink during heat emergencies.  Avoid drinks with alcohols or caffeine, these just make the effects on you're body during extreme heat worse. Eat small snacks several times while on the water. Avoid using salt tablets unless directed to do so my your physician.


What Are Some Signal Of Heat Danger?

(1) Heat Cramps: Heat cramps are muscle contractions, normally in the hamstring muscles in the back calve area of the legs. I have experienced these before and I can tell you that they can be very forceful and very painful. These cramps seem to happen in extreme heat.  Particularly if you are dehydrated or are in poor physical condition. OOP's How many of us qualify there? I always thought that these cramps were due to some type of mineral imbalance, but from all the reports that I have read this doesn't seem to be true.


(2) Heat Exhaustion: This is brought on by excessive heat and dehydration. The signs of a heat stroke is exactly as I described in the paragraphs above. Paleness, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, fainting and a normal to moderately increased temperature.  This increase in body temperature isn't a fever but rather caused by the heat.


(3) Heat Stroke: Folks I can't stress this enough. A Heat Stroke is a life threatening situation. It is the most severe form of heat illness. It can occur even in people who are NOT EXERCISING if the weather is hot enough.  Signs of a heat stroke is warm flushed skin and little to no sweat, rapid weak pulse and rapid shallow breathing. Body temperatures can be very high, as high as 105 degrees and the person may be delirious, become unconscious or go into seizures.


Treatment Of Heat Related Emergencies

(1) Heat Cramps: Get to a cool place and try to rest in a comfortable position. Lightly stretch the affected muscle and drink a 1/2 glass of cool water every 15 minutes. Do not drink any liquids with alcohol or caffeine in them, they can only make things worse.


(2) Heat Exhaustion: Get the person out of the heat and to a cool place. Remove or loosen tight clothing and apply cool, wet cloths such as towels or sheets. If available ice packs and a fan blowing on the person may also help. If the person is conscious, give cool water to drink. Make sure they drink slowly. Give 1/2 glass of cool water every 15 minutes/ No alcohol or caffeinated drinks.  Rest and watch for a change in conditions.


(3) Heat Stroke: Remember this can be LIFE THREATENING! Get the person to a cool location out of the sun. Loosen or remove clothing and pour very cool water on the person if possible. Use cold compresses-especially to the head and neck area, also to the arm-pit and groin areas. SEEK MEDICAL ATTENTION IMMEDIATELY. Do not give medications, do not use rubbing alcohol...DO NOT give them anything to EAT or Drink....Continue first aid until medical help takes over.



We can prevent heat related illnesses. It's important to stay well hydrated to make sure that your body can get rid of the extra heat. Be sensible about exertion in this heat wave that we are currently in. The hotter more humid the harder it will be to get rid of excessive heat. Wear the right clothing, drink plenty of water, stay in the shade and if you begin to feel bad at all get off the water and into a cool place. I hope this will give you some food for thought.........like I said it's just a fish and it's just not worth the risk.

Tip's For The Beginner

Old Hickory Lake

Written By; Rick McFerrin

June 19-05



Old Hickory can be a fairly tuff lake from time to time. I thought it might be of benefit to those of you that are new to fishing Old Hickory Lake, or maybe your struggling some there, to show you what is working for us right now-June 2005. Are these the only methods to catch fish on Old Hickory now?  No Way! But they are what is working for us! Also this ISN'T a commercial for anyone-it's just the absolute honest truth! As always take what you want and disregard the rest.


Small Worms-Small Jigs-Strong Scent-Sensitive Rods and Light Line


It's hard to tell how many bass that the Tennessee Bass Guides Team have caught this year on Old Hickory-Center Hill and Tim's Ford using this technique. Take a look at the picture to the left.....when we are talking about throwing a little or small worm this is the rig. Some time ago we heard about a company in Alabama that was selling a jig head that was made with a 2/0 or 3/0 long shank hook that would allow you to Texas rig a worm. We got a package and found out that they work great. I decided that with a little help from a good friend of mine we would just pour our own and as they say the rest is history! If I told you how many bass and how many bragging bass we have caught on this rig this year you might not believe me.


We use two different sizes of jig heads depending on the depth of the water. On Old Hickory with all the shallow water we fish we use the 1/16th head almost exclusively.  When fishing deep water on Old Hickory, Tim's Ford or Center Hill, or when the wind is blowing hard and you can't feel the 1/16th head we opt for the 1/8th size. But let me also add that there are times on deeper lakes when the bass will hit the worm on the "Fall" and this plays right into the 1/16th ounce size because it sinks much slower. There are a few versions of this jig head on the market now. The best places to look would be at your nearest major sporting goods and discount stores.


Now let's talk about worm color and scent. June Bug by far has been the best color for us on all the lakes this year. The worm of choice has been the 4 inch Zoom Dead Ringer soaked in a fantastic new product called JJ's Magic. JJ's is heavy garlic scented liquid dip that is available in Chartreuse, Methylate-Blue and clear. I first heard of JJ's Magic this past winter and am I every glad I did. If your looking to get the maximum benefit from JJ's Magic I suggest that you put your plastic worms-flukes etc in Tupperware bowls and soak them completely with the CLEAR garlic oil. Once again I'm telling you this stuff really works!!


Recently I was fishing with a very good tournament fisherman on Old Hickory Lake, pre-fishing him for a major event that is coming up. We had several telephone conversation prior to our trip where we discussed what I was throwing at the time, presentations, line size, you name it we covered it. We started out strong that morning and then the bite began to get a little tuff mid morning. Now remember we both were using the exact same worm rig I showed you above-with the same exact line size and we stood side by side as we worked several areas with these worms. The only difference was that he was using another nationally know scent and I was in my little Tupperware bowl.......after I had put 8 or 10 bass in the boat to his one he decided "Maybe there is something to this JJ's Magic". It's just that good. The best way to get JJ's right now is off his web site at www.jjsmagic.com  Try it and you will see for yourself.


Another key element in fishing this rig correctly is having the right rod and line size.  Remember we are using a 1/6th ounce head and a four inch worm, the last thing you would want to do is overpower your lure with a heavy action rod and heavy line. That is why I throw these light baits on a AllPro 7 foot Med action APX Rod and 6 pound test exclusively. The light line gives the jig/worm rig freedom to work almost like it's swimming free. The 7 foot rod allows me to gain distance on my cast and additional leverage at the boat when fighting a big fish. For me if there is a sweeter set up I don't know where it is!


This set up is perfect for using this type of technique. The sensitivity in the APX rod is unmatched in the industry. Much of that is due to the graphite rings that are strategically placed on the handle of the rod that "transmit" the smallest of strikes up the line, down the rod,  into the handle and your hand. I know right now that there is someone reading this saying that's just a bunch of #$@^&*%.  I have had my share of skeptics in the boat with me this year that have read past article on the APX....but after they see the results in the net...and I put a APX in their hands-they just can't believe the difference. It's like day and night....it's like like holding a telegraphing feather compared to the base ball bat they were fishing with.  These are first class rods manufactured and sold by some first class people. Check them out at www.allprorods.com


The next bait that has been producing well for us is the Case Sinking Salty Shad. I always tell everyone that these baits are like putting candy in front of a kid. Fished around weeds-wood-rock -boat docks-bridge pilings and bluffs this is one fish catching tool. The bass just can't help themselves, they have to have it. I want to point out why I believe that the Case Sinking Salty Shad is superior to other nationally known plastic jerk baits.


(1) It is full and I do mean full of salt. Because of the salt the bait little weighs a little more which helps you with longer and truer cast especially when the wind kicks up. As the salt dissolves the bass tend to hold onto this bait longer which also helps with additional hook up's.


(2) If you notice the Sinking Salty Shad is longer, thinner, the nose of the bait is blunter (is that a real word) and the tail is more of a paddle design than the nationally marketed bait.  What this means to you is simple. Because of the thinness of the bait and it's nose design it displaces more water and cause the bait to dart erratically much easier. The paddle tail also displaces more water and helps increase additional action as well. I have fished these two brands side by side and the Case bait wins hands down. These baits are available in many hologram finishes check them out at www.madtoms.com


Last but never least nor very far from my heart is the the Luhr-Jensen Speed Traps and the #5 Shallow Shad Rap. I fish these baits on the exact same rod/line combination that we talked about above. It has been my experience over and over that you will have many more strikes on these baits when you use 6 lb test line. Much of that I believe is due to the small size and light weigh of these baits.


It seems that everything we have today to catch bass with is high tech. And the Speed Trap is no exception. These baits are designed with an expensive computerized mold system that creates a "Thin Wall" lure body that increases the action and vibration.


The wide lip and intermediate width body makes them exceptional around wood and rock cover. But one area where I believe they excel is over shallow grass. I have a tendency to move my baits along fairly quickly and the Speed Trap fits in perfectly. Bleeding Shiner-Chrome and Black and Chrome and blue seem to be working the best right now. The Shad Rap is also a tough one to beat as well. I think there are times when a Non-Rattling bait is more effective. I always have two shallow to mid depth crank bait rods ready at all times. One with a Speed Trap and the other with the Shad Rap. Check out the line of Luhr-Jensen baits at www.luhrjensen.com


Well other than marking your map for you there it is...150% truth. I sure hope it helps you on your next trip to the lake. If you have any questions e mail me at rickm@dtccom.net or through our web site fishing reports page.     Rick

Fishing A Drop Shot In Deep Water

Tips For The Beginner Jan/Feb 2005

Written By: Rick McFerrin

Owner Guide

www. Tennessee Bass Guides. Com




One of the great benefits that we bass fishermen have here in middle Tennessee is that we can chase our prey all year long. Under normal conditions our lakes never freeze over. Most of the time even with the winter draw down we have great boat ramps that are always assessable.  We have shallow water lakes and river type lakes that have a constant current and flow. We have lakes that have hot water discharge plants that keep several miles of water with spring like temperatures all winter.  We also have several clear deep lakes like Center Hill located near Smithville Tennessee in middle Tennessee where the water temperatures will get down into the 40's and offers fantastic "Deep" water Smallmouth-Largemouth and Spotted Bass fishing. How "Deep" is "Deep"? How about consistently catching bass straight down in 25 feet-35 feet-45 feet or even 50 feet of water or more?

There are several techniques that seasoned bass fisherman like Tennessee Bass Guide Billy Campbell (pictured above) uses to reach these deep water bass. But none more enjoyable than a "Drop Sot" rig.  Over the next several paragraphs it is our intention to give you some useable information that Billy passed on to me that will help you immediately on you next deep water bass trip.

What Is A Drop Shot And How Is It Rigged?

Billy explained it this way. A Drop Shot is simply a finesse worm technique that is is rigged with a plastic worm or small shad type bait fished on a #1 wide gap hook tied approximately 18 to 24 inches ABOVE a 3/16th ounce weight attached to the end of the line. The picture to the left is a little deceiving so let me repeat this again. The worm is tied ABOVE THE WEIGHT.

How Is The Hook And Weight Tied On?  Billy stressed the importance of tying the hook on correctly.  I watched as he tied the hook to the line 18  inches above the loose end with a Palomar Knot.  He then took the loose end of the line and brought it back through the eye of the hook-when he did this it left the hook standing straight out away from the line. By using this rigging method Billy believes it increases your successful hook sets. He then attached the 3/16th ounce drop shot weight to the loose end with another Palomar knot. Very simple very easy procedure. Now what do you do?

Choosing You Bait:  I guess the word "Finesse" defines where you start.  As with many innovative techniques it appears that western bass fishermen gave drop shotting it's birth. It is critical much of the time that a "Small" bait be used in their ultra clear lakes.  So you can see how this technique fits perfectly in lakes like Center Hill.  Once again Billy's bait selection is very simple, he stays with 3 and 4 inch worms and shad type imitations. The Case Plastics Company of Clarksville Va. offers many great plastic baits that the entire Tennessee Bass Guides Team uses for finesse technique fishing. (see www.Madtoms.com)  Bait color is dictated by water color. Billy uses watermelon and green shades in clear water and reds and June bug in stained water.

How Do You Rig It? There is basically three methods used. (1) Texas Rigged- where the hook point is buried back into the worm to make it weed less. This is the preferred method if fishing structure such as deep timber and logs.  (2) Hooked directly through the tip of the nose where the hook is left exposed (3) Wacky Style where the hook is placed through the center of the worm and left exposed.  The last two rigging methods work great out in deep open water where the fish are suspended away from structure.

Rod And Line Selection

Lets start with the rod: It's no secret that the All Pro APX Series Spinning Rods in the medium 6 to 7 foot range is our rods of choice for this technique. Why? It's simple. These rods are the most sensitive graphite rods we have ever used. When you have a 4 inch worm with a 3/16th ounce weight hanging in 50 feet of water directly below your boat you must be able to feel even the lightest "TAP". There are times the bass will almost rip the rod out of your hands, but there are also times that the hit is very subtle.  That is exactly why we use the APX series rod. (see www.allprorods.com)

Next lets talk about line:  Billy explained that line weight and color depends much upon water clarity. Under most conditions on Center Hill you can easily use 6 and 8lb test line. Billy had rods rigged with both clear blue fluorescent and lo-vis green high quality line.

Where And How Is The Drop Shot Fished In Deep Water?

Take a look at the picture to the left. What do you see? Much of the time on Center Hill you will find the bass suspended in and around pods of shad out in "Open Water" When this situation occurs it is extremely important that you rely on "GOOD" electronics. Billy's approach to finding shad is to probe various coves and creeks starting with the deepest water and working his way in by zigzagging back and forth across from bank to bank until a good pod of bait fish was found.  Some of the fish were found in 50 feet of water some in 30 feet or less. At that point Billy would man his trolling motor and look for suspended bass (This Is Important) on the out side edges of the pod. Billy would then search out the larger fish and watch his electronics as the drop shot fell into the strike zone. Billy would make the bait "Quiver" as he gently twitched the rod tip. He explained that this presentation is much different from using a spoon where you want to impart a more erratic motion. If you have good electronics you can actually see the the bass move up or down to attack your bait and immediately feel that "Tap" we talked about earlier.  Billy explained that another method of presenting these little baits is  called "Strolling". This method is used when you know which direction the bass are pushing the shad and you simply drag the bait along as you move with the trolling motor, letting the motion and boat movement impart all action.


Will this technique work? I guess the proof is in the picture to the left. A beautiful 4 pound plus largemouth that came out of 55 feet of water (Yes 55 feet) suspended on the out side edge of a pod of shad.

Just a couple reminders if your planning to try this technique on Center Hill or another clear deep water lake near you.  (1) Remember that under normal conditions shad won't suspend around cover like bass do. They prefer open water where they can mill around and travel freely. (2) You have to rely on your electronics to help you find and stay on the bait fish. (3) The Drop Shot method is deadly on both active and not so active fish "IF" you get it in front of his face. (4) Don't over power your finesse baits with rods and line that are to heavy for this technique.  (5) Stay alert watch the birds for feeding action and last but not least don't get discouraged if your results the first trip or two is slim. Like all other effective methods there is a learning curve to this technique. Have fun....enjoy and let us know how you do fishing the "Drop Shot"

Fishing A SpinnerBait: Tips For The Beginner

 Written By: Rick McFerrin Sept/Oct 2004




One of the reasons that I have loved fishing for largemouth bass now for over 40 years is their inbreed tendencies to ambush their prey.  Or to put it a little closer to home, ambush the particular artificial bait that I might be using at the time. I have always leaned toward running type baits such as crankbaits, jerk baits, buzzbaits and spinnerbaits as my main lures of choice.  Having a bass smash a diving crankbait so hard it almost jerks the rod out of your hand is a feeling that is hard to describe. The only thing that could make it better would be if you could “See” the bass hit, which you don't most of the time unless you are fishing clear water.  But on the other hand, there is a versatile bait that can be used not only in deep water, but in mid range and shallow water presentations that will allow you many times to “See” the strike. This, of course would be the safety pin type “spinnerbait”.  Over the next several paragraphs I want to share (1) how I choose a spinner bait; (2) the rod and reel combinations that I use; (3) where and how I fish the bait.

 How To Choose A Good SpinnerBait

 Let’s get this out of the way up front.  The “Price Tag” on the spinnerbaits isn’t always an indication of how well the bait is made or how well it will perform under heavy usage.  “Cheaper” seldom is  “better”.  But, the most expensive” isn’t always the answer either. To me there are seven tests that spinnerbaits must pass to make it a good tool. Some of these elements can be determined with the bait still in the package; unfortunately others can only be determined by using the bait. That is why I would suggest not purchasing more than one until you know it is worth an additional purchase. Now for a little Q&A.

1)     What kind wire is the bait made of and what is the wire gauge? I’m sure there are those that are saying right now, why is this important? It is very simple. I have found that spinner baits made with wire that is less Than  .045 gauge just won’t hold up under rigorous usage. The price on the bait might look attractive when you pay for it at the store, but how good does it look to you when it bends beyond repair after you have used it a time or two and you have to throw it away? The wire in my opinion that holds up the best is stainless steel.  I have used spinnerbaits made of everything from small gauge wire cable to titanium. Wire cable was so flexible that it created too much shaft movement it negated the blade action and Titanium spinnerbaits have a tendency to snap because the compound is very brittle when heated as they are at the head and bends. For my $$$$$ stainless is the best choice.

 2)      Where is the hook point in relationship to the line tie?   This is another test you can do while the bait is still in the package. Again why is this important? Back in the mid 70’s I was burning the roads up between home and the famed Toledo Bend Reservoir on the Louisiana-Texas border when I  made friends with a great fisherman from Monroe Louisiana. He introduced me to Louisiana lakes with names such as “Black Bayou,” Lake Bruin,” “Lake Providence,” and more.  All these lakes are full of cypress tress and custom made for spinner baits. I watched him “open” the hook up on his spinnerbaits  explaining that this was done to get better hook up’s.  What he was saying was the absolute truth. But the reason for having to do this was that the line tie was higher than the hook point which meant when my friend set the hook he would actually be jerking the hook downward and out of the bass mouth. This is why it is so important….and believe me, it will make a difference at the lake. The next time you are in a fishing tackle section just take a few minutes to look at the various spinner baits and you will see what I’m talking about.

 3)      What brand of hook is used on the bait?  Why is this important? Simple! There is nothing worse than having a bait with a hook that won’t penetrate butter. As I said earlier many baits look good at the store. But they loose their looks at the lake when you see a big fish jump and throw the bait because of bad hooks. I would just suggest this rule of thumb. If a spinner bait manufacturer doesn’t list on the package the type of hook used (such as Laser Hooks-Mustad Needle Point and others) I would pass on by. Believe me if they used a premium hook on their bait they would sure want you to know about it! No hook information on the packaging might even indicate cutting corners in other parts of the manufacturing process. Just food for thought.

 4)      Is the spinner bait equipped with a good premium silicone skirt?  How many times in the past have you bought a spinner bait and put it in you boat storage or tackle box to use on your next trip?  Trip day is here... you reach down to get this new bait only to find that the skirt had melted together and is unusable? Now not only do you have an additional expense replacing the skirt-but more annoying is the sticky mess the skirt has made in your tacklebox.  I do believe however that there is a slight difference in the way a 100% rubber skirt will perform in cold water verses a silicone skirt. When that time rolls around and it is necessary, I change the shirts out. But it is very rare that I leave a 100% rubber skirt in my boat during hot weather. It may sound like a small thing,but it isn’t when you have to clean up the mess.

 5)      What about blades? A test for the lake!  Do you buy a spinnerbait with willowleaf Blades, or Colorado Blades, or Indiana Blades? Should the blades be painted, or hammered nickel, or hammered copper, or mirror finished, or metallic finished? Do I need tandem blades or single blades? And the answer is yes! You may need a combination of all of these to effectively fish different water conditions. But no mater what the combination, the blades need to be made of high quality material where they will hold up under heavy usage. The finish on the blades need to last and not discolor or flake off after you have bang it into various structure a few times. And each blade style needs to provide you with maximum vibration  and water displacement for their size.  At the lake, blade performance can be determined rather quickly. The durability test may take a little longer.  To help you understand the difference in blade types look at the attached picture to the left. (1) This is a Colorado blade. This blade will put off more vibration and is the blade that I turn to in  heavily stained to muddy water and at night in deep water. I also like to use it in areas where I’m fishing more wood than grass. (2) This blade is called a “Willow Leaf. “ For the water that I fish the most here in Tennessee it is probably the best over all style. It is good in clear and stained water and will put off a fair amount of flash based on it’s finish. I fish a lot of weeds on Old Hickory and the willow leaf tends to come through them much better that other styles. (3) This is a Indiana Blade. It is a mixture of the willow leaf and Colorado blade/ It also will put off a “good vibration” (little Beach Boys there) and a lot of flash based on the blades finish.  Size of blade is normally dependent upon how fast I intend to retrieve the bait. The smaller the bade the faster the retrieve. The larger the blade the slower the retrieve.  

 6)      This test you unfortunately won’t know until you get to the lake. When you “Burn” the spinnerbait just under the surface (I’ll explain this technique later) does the bait come back straight to you or does it roll on one side or the other? So what if it rolls? If it rolls the blades won’t displace the maximum amount of water possible and your percentages of provoking a reaction strike diminishes. Even with .045 gauge stainless steel wire after you have beat and banged the bait into structure over and over again it will sometimes bend to the point where the bait will roll. When this happens, gently straighten the wire with a pair of pliers the problem can normally be corrected. Other reasons that spinner baits roll is that the blade or blades are too large for that size spinnerbait or the wire gauge is to flimsy. In the last two cases you have just bought a bad spinner bait which more than likely will be added to your “I wish I hadn’t bought that bait pile”

 7)       Another test you can only perform at the lake. The opposite of “Burning” a spinner bait just under the surface would be “Slow Rolling” (Another technique we will discuss later) the bait in deeper water. It seems that most smallmouth fishermen here in the south love to slow roll big bladed spinner baits in deep water. Most of the time they literally “drag” or “crawl” the bait. But that’s hard to do when you continually have to increase your speed just to get the blades to turn. To me a good spinner bait is one where the blades begin to turn immediately upon retrieve, and you can feel the thump of the blades when you slow it down to a crawl. 

 This is my seven tests that I use when selecting a spinnerbait that will perform and last over a reasonable amount of time on the water. I have fishermen ask me what my favorite spinnerbait is and hands down I have to reply Secret Weapon! Why?  Because they pass all 7 tests in flying colors and the value to cost ratio is the best available today! Check out our links page or  www.secretweaponlures.com But we aren’t done yet. Next you need to determine colors and the weight or bait size needed for each fishing situation. We will address that next.


Choosing Size And Colors Of SpinnerBaits

 I’m going to try my best to keep this fairly simple. One of the most important considerations that needs to be addressed in any lake is the size of the predominate bait fish that the bass are feeding on. If I can I try to match the size as closely as possible. But (and there is always a but) there are other factors that need to be addressed as well.  Such as water color, cloud cover density and are you fishing daylight or darkness. If your fishing at night is it the light or the dark of the moon?

 Let’s start with size. Do I use a 1/4ounce, 3/8 ounce, 1/2 oun, e-3/4 ounce or 1 ounce bait? This explanation is going to be very basic. If I’m fishing water that is stained to muddy or if I’m fishing slowly in deeper water at night I will use larger spinnerbaits.  1/2 ounce and up. The reason for this is that larger spinner baits are bulkier and the larger blades will create more vibration which will help a bass locate the bait. If the water is real muddy or if it is pitch black dark, I might even add a big trailer of some sort to add to increase the bulk.  If I’m fishing daytime clear water (or) shallower clear water at night with a moon I prefer smaller baits, 3/8 ounce and down because the bass can see them much easier and most of the time without a trailer.  

 Now what about color? Once again I will try to keep this simple. In clearer water I like to use white-chartreuse & white-off white sliver pepper and a see through silver flaked skirts. If I’m fishing  moderately stained water I will almost always opt for chartreuse and white or chartreuse and blue. If it is muddy I like pure bright chartreuse. At night I like combinations of solid black, solid purple, black & blue, black & purple, -lack & red. And at night if the water is clear with a moon and I’m fishing in shallow to moderate depths I even like pure white or pink.

There is no doubt in my mind that other solid colors or color combination work for other fishermen. But these are the sizes and colors that produce for me most consistently. Now that we have the right spinner bait what rod and reel combo do I use?


 Choosing The Right SpinnerBait Rod/Reel Combo


This will be one area where there will be some disagreement. So I will just preface this portion by saying I’m going to explain what works for me. Having the “right” rod and reel combination for a specific technique in your hands makes all the difference in the world.  I wouldn’t use a flipping stick/casting reel combo filled with 20lb test line to throw a small # 5 Shallow Shad Rap. Nor on the other hand would I use a 5 ½ foot ultra light rod/micro spinning reel with 4lb test to fish a 3/8oz spinnerbait. Once again having the right rod/reel set up for fishing a spinnerbait makes a big difference. The “One Rod Fits All Techniques” just doesn’t work. Over the next few paragraphs my goal is to explain why I use what I use. I hope this will help you.

 I guess I need to go all the way back to my friend from Monroe Louisiana to help explain why I use what I use.  Rods have come a long way over the past 30 years. I can remember getting into Everett’s 14 foot Jon boat and he would have 5 or 6 fiberglass rods rigged with different baits. He swore by those fiberglass rods, and I must admit he sure could put the hurt on largemouth every time he went. Graphite rods were just becoming somewhat popular-but he was dead set against these new rods. More than once I heard him say “Why change something that isn’t broke?” To some degree back 30 years ago he was right. But as time and technology has raced by those new rods have become much more sensitive. Now I use two different AllPro APX Series rods for fishing spinnerbaits.

First is the AllPro APX7MSTN which is a 7 foot Medium action spinning rods for lighter baits and the AllPro APX610MHCA which is a 6 foot 10 inch medium heavy casting rod for my heavier baits.  Both of these rods have soft tips and the sensitivity is amazing. One real point of difference that sets these APX rods apart from all other graphite rods no matter the brand or cost is the “Graphite Rings” on the handle. (See picture to the left) Other graphite rods are made where the graphite blank runs through a cork handle. The cork inadvertently acts as a buffer or insulator which diminishes some of the “Feel” or sensitivity. But the APX is designed where the strike is transmitted from the tip of the rod through the blank and into these graphite rings and then into the palm of your hand. Absolutely maximizing sensitivity. No buffer-no insulator just “Direct Feel”!!!

I have been fortunate to own some very nice rods in my life time. But these new AllPro APX series rods are the best I have ever had in my hands. The APX rod is 100% American made (which is unusual these days) is a light as a feather but extremely powerful and once again very sensitive. They are made of the finest 100% graphite with Fuji ECS Reel Seats and Titanium guides. When you throw a spinnerbait on these rods you can feel the “Thump” of the blade all the way through the rod handle.  Even the slightest bite is magnified. It is so much more sensitive than fiberglass rods which have a very slow response when you set the hook.  I like the longer handles which helps with two handed long casts. I also like the longer rods because they give you an extra advantage fighting a fish right at the boat.  You can visit the AllPro site by going to our links page or by www.allprorods.com .

 Back about 3 years ago I bought a 7 foot fiberglass cranking rod that I thought I just had to have. I used it 4 times and was so disappointed in the “FEEL” that I “WASN’T GETTING” that I hung it up on the wall, and it hasn’t been used since. Another $100.00 that could have been put to better use. I have become so accustomed to the quick hook sets and feel that I get with my graphite rods that the fiberglass rod was just plain disappointing.

I guess for me it just plain comes down to feel.  I want to be able to detect those subtle hit’s when a big fish engulfs the bait and all you can “Feel” is something different. Have you been there before? Not a slashing-bone jarring strike; just a subtle difference. If you can’t feel that subtle difference you are going to miss out on a lot of fish.  I can hear some boooo’s from the fiberglass fans that are reading this right now;that’s why I prefaced in the beginning I just want to explain what works for me.  If you can put a bunch of bass in the boat on a regular basis using fiberglass “Don’t change what’s not broke” But if your having trouble detecting those subtle hit’s you might just want to think about buying a good (let me say it again) good-graphite rod.

All graphite rods are not created equal.  If you buy a cheap rod-expect cheap results. I always urge new bass fishermen to buy the best they can afford. Use it until you can afford something even better then move up. Everyone’s disposable income isn’t the same. But we all have the same ability to use what we have wisely.

 Now to the reel department. As I have said before, I settled in with Shimano reels and just stayed right there. I use a Shimano Stradic ST4000FH on my spinning rod. This reel retrieves 35 inches of line per crank-has 5 bearings-a 5.7:1 gear ratio and weighs 13.4 oz. I fill the reel with 200 yards of 10lb test P-line. The 5.7:1 ratio gives me enough speed when I need it but also works extremely well at a slower presentation.

On my casting rod I use the Shimano Calcutta reel which retrieves line at 23 inches per crank-has 3 bearings-a 5.0:1 gear ratio and weighs 11.1 ounces.  I fill this reel with 200 yards of 12 pound test P-Line. This reel combined with my APX rod gives me a very powerful combination with medium to larger baits. I guess it’s like a guy that will only buy a Ford or a Chevy…you just like what you like and stay with it.


Locations And Techniques

 I have heard it said that you can use a spinnerbait just about everywhere and I believe that to be true. You can fish this bait shallow, mid range or deep water. You can fish it in open water or around heavy timber, grass, rock and other obstacles. You can burn it, slow roll it, crawl it and just use an in-between retrieve. The safety pin style spinnerbait is truly a versatile lure.

Next we will explore where and how I fish the spinnerbait. I’m sure there are other techniques and locations that might work even better for you on your area lakes. To find those it just takes time on the water and patience. Hopefully this will give you a starting place.

1)      Lay Down Timber: One of my favorite places to fish a spinner bait is in and around fallen timber that has several limbs remaining. Some of the limps will be visible while much of it may not. My home water here in middle Tennessee is Old Hickory Lake. This lake has an abundance of fallen timber in all depths of water. Some of this timber will remain stationary all the time. Some of it will move with the rise and fall of the lake level. Some will be in the backs of coves and pockets. Some are wedged in and around docks and piers. Some have come to rest right at or near the main river channel with a lot of current while others are isolated on expansive flats that have little current.  But no matter where the timber is located all of it under the right conditions is prospective cover for largemouth bass.  I would have to say that “Isolated” timber located near or on a channel ledge has historically been the best producer of bass for me. These areas normally will have deep water close by, current, bait washing in and shade on some area of the timber. The more limbs on the fallen tree the more shaded areas that will be present.  I always make repeated casts to the shaded portion of the timber trying to stay as parallel as possible. Bass like shaded areas and truthfully they don’t have to be large areas. Work the timber completely, pick it apart section by section. Let your spinner bait helicopter (free-fall) down in and around intersections of limbs where it is attached to the trunk. Hold on you might just have a fight on your hands.

2)      Visible Logs Without Branches and Stumps:   I approach visible straight logs (one’s without branches) by fishing the shaded side of first. If part of the log is resting on bank I try to cast as closely to the bank as possible and bring the spinnerbait slowly down the entire length of the log. Then I work the other side of the log. If the log is running out into deep water I position my boat where I can cast my spinnerbait well past the end of the log and retrieve it very slowly letting the bait bump the log as I go by. On visible stumps I make my cast on the shaded side beyond the stump. By casting past the stump you can work the side and back of the stump at the same time. Plus it isn’t as likely that you will spook a bass that might be there. Some stumps have very little root system attached, while others might have an extensive system. Here’s a tip beginning bass fishermen. Always wear a good pair of polarized sun glasses. They will help you greatly in visually determining what you are  fishing. Years ago I fished a lake that had the “Text Book” example of stumps situated directly on a creek channel bank. Many of the stumps were 4 to 5 feet across and all had extensive roots still attached.  The base of the stumps was located in 3 feet of water with some of their roots actually hanging over the channel drop into 15 feet of water. I spent many exciting hours working this stump row over and over again. The water was just clear enough that you could see the bass come out of the roots and smash the spinner bait as it bumped and banged along. Early, late,  and on cloudy days the bass would be located up in the shallow water but at other times with clearer brighter sky’s they would be staged on roots right at the break. Areas like these will produce fish over and over again through out the year.

3)      Shallow Water Grass:  Another favorite area of mine to fish a spinnerbait is in standing weeds like the ones in the picture to the left.  Some of these weed lines are in very shallow water-some will extend out into 4 feet of water or more. Some will be located on flats very near channel drops. As you can see in the attached picture there is a sizeable opening between the grass and the bank. Early and late in the day as well as cloudy days this can be your key area to focus on. I make long casts and work the spinner bait back to me always having visual contact with the bait. There are some areas like this that will have patches of standing grass within the opening. These are key areas as well. As the sun comes up I concentrate on the outside “deeper” edges of the grass weaving the spinnerbait through as much of the vegetation as possible.  I have also noticed that on windy days when it is blowing directly into the weeds the bass seem to be staged more to the out side edges of the weed line. When this is the situation I always start there no matter the time of day or what amount of cloud cover I have. Lure speed varies you may have to adjust several times before you find what the bass want.

4)      Bluffs:  I may be wrong, but I believe that many beginning bass fishermen look at bluffs (main channel and creek channel) and think they will have to throw a jig or worm to have a chance of catching bass. Or maybe the thought of the deep water associated with the bluff keeps them from fishing it all together.  But you know there are times, under the right circumstances,  that much shallower running lures can be big producers in these areas. One of first mistakes that many fishermen make is staying too far off the bluff wall with their boats. I have found to fish these areas correctly,  no matter what the water color is,  you have to fish parallel so close that you can reach out and touch the bluff with your hands. By doing this you keep your bait in the strike zone all the way. When the water color is clear you can burn the spinner bait back to you just under the surface. Many times that I have had suspended fish come up from deep water on these bluffs to bust a spinner bait. When the water color is dingier I work the ledges of these bluffs by slow rolling the spinnerbait trying to stay in contact with the rock and wood as much as possible.  I also always look for changes in the bluff wall such as indentations and rock slides. Indentions are recessed areas in the face of the wall that will give you two defined corners for bass to ambush from as well as the recessed area that many times will hold timber or a series of stair step ledges.  Rock slides,  on the other hand are almost always a signal that the water around the side will be shallower. These areas hold bait fish and crayfish continually.  When you get to the end of the bluff you will come to a “Point” much like the one in the upper right hand corner of the picture above. We will discuss this next.

5)      Points: Think about this for just a minute. Some lake are shallow, some are deep. Some are clear,  and some are dingy to muddy. Some have vegetation, and others don’t. Some have an abundance of wood,  while other are void of wood. This could go on and on so let’s get to the bottom line. One feature that at least 90% of all lakes will have in common is that they have “Points” located in various areas of the lake. Some lakes because of size or shape may have more or less, but most will have some.

Using  a spinnerbait on points can be some of the most rewarding trips that you might ever have. Points offer bass a change in depth. And it’s that change that leads from shallow to deeper water that helps hold bass on them year around in many lakes. I like points that extend out into the lake and then take a sudden drop. This type of point seems to hold more and larger fish over all. I try to position my boat deep water but close enough to reach the shallow portion of the point with a long cast. I cast the spinnerbait across the point and drag it back to me making as much contact with the point as possible with out getting hung up. I make repeated casts going a little deeper and a little deeper to ensure that I have worked to area completely. I then move my boat where I can work both sides and the center portion of the point. Points like this can be good all year around-spring –summer-fall and winter.

6)      Boat Docks:  What 3 key features do docks offer bass? (1) Shade (2) Cover (3) Bait Fish.  If you fish older lakes that have docks on them you will find they vary in size-construction and in depth of water. My favorite type of dock is one that is low to the water has openings either between the wood or floatation has submerged cover around them and is close to deep water.  Lower built docks offer bass more shade and the openings give bass a variety of areas to hide in. And the submerged cover (most likely there for crappie) attracts bait fish which attracts the bass. I like to work my spinner bait parallel slowly against outside edges of the dock-letting it drop and then pick back up the speed. I also work inside the covered area of the dock as much as possible. Many times if bass are suspended under the dock the helicopter action of the spinner bait blades will provoke a reaction strike. If the dock has house boats, pontoon boats or jet ski platforms attached to it I treat them as part of the dock and fish them accordingly. Just a word of advice. I have found that some docks “never” produce fish for me-so when I’m fishing a line of docks I only fish those that have produced regularly in the past. No need in beating dead water……..keep moving!

     7)      Rip Rap Areas:  I really like fishing rip rap areas. And although most of these areas may look the same it couldn’t be further from the truth. I like to look for areas of the rip rap that is different from everything else around it. Such as small points that extend out even slightly. Logs that have wedged themselves in close to the bank. Weed growth that extends a foot or more out from the rocks. It’s this type of areas that seem to hold the most fish. I like to work these areas parallel keeping my boat as close as possible to the rocks. I make long cast and start out by keeping visual contact with the spinner bait all the way back to the boat. If the bass aren’t holding that close to the rocks a move out a little deeper but still fish parallel slowing my spinner bait down checking out various depth levels.  Rip rap areas hold bait fish, crawfish and other goodies for a hungry bass to dine on. If the section of rip rap you are fishing has a culvert or bridge on it, be sure to work all four corners that have been created by the bridge. You will also need to determine if there is current coming through the culvert or bridge. If current is present the four corners of rip rap under the bridge can be even more productive.


I hope that some of what you have read above will help you on your next trip to the lake. Spinnerbaits may very well be one of the most versatile baits that you will ever have in you tackle box. A lure for all depths, seasons and weather conditions. Be careful in the spinnerbaits you buy-use the correct rod and reel combo for fishing spinner baits-and be thorough when and where you use them. If you will do these things you will increase your changes greatly of having good productive spinner bait days on the water.  Rick McFerrin www.tennesseebassguides.com


Fall Transition Bass

Tips For The Beginner

 By: Rick McFerrin

Tennessee Bass Guides.Com


 When Mother Nature takes her brush and paints the leaves on our trees orange, yellow and brown.  When Friday night and Saturday afternoons are spent cheering on your favorite high school or college football team. When the air temp gets a little cooler at night and not nearly as high at mid-day. When the water temps in the upper regions of the lake begins to turn downward, it’s a signal that “Fall Transition” bass fishing is getting ready to “CRANK UP”!

 Over the next several paragraphs within this article, it is my intention to share with you some of the techniques and patterns that I look for during this time of the year.   There is one thing you must keep in mind concerning “Season Change”.  It doesn’t always mean that there will be a hungry bass next to every log, under every boat house, hiding in every weed bed or suspended off every creek channel point.  But under normal circumstances it does mean this…Largemouth will almost always repeat the same migration routes that they used in the spring. If you will stop right there, and think about that for a moment it will give you some real insight where you can begin your search for Fall Transition Bass. Let’s examine this fact a little further.

Where Do You Begin?

 It has been my experience over the years that bass will travel in the Fall right back to the same areas that I found them in during the spring spawning season.  I begin to search out creeks and pockets in the upper region of the lake that has a lot of cover and where fresh water runs into the creek. This is an important fact that many beginning bass fishermen either overlook or don’t understand completely.  Remember “Spawn” and “Fall Transition” bass patterns will always appear nearer where the river comes in verses areas nearer the dam. The larger the body of water the truer this fact becomes.

If weather patterns are normal, the fall season will bring us rain and falling temps.  Fall also will bring “Cold Fronts” that we will talk more about later. Influx of fresh water will almost always result in greater oxygen levels, a greater shad population within the creeks, which in turn results in bass following the shad into these areas. Let’s talk a little bit about creeks.


Concentrate on Creeks In the Fall

 As I stated earlier I like to concentrate on major creeks toward the head of the river first before in I attack small creeks, ditches and mid lake creeks. I like creeks that have plenty of cover.  Creeks that are laden with lay down timber along the bank. Creeks with stump rows, chunk rock, sunken brush around boat docks and when possible grass and other aquatic weeds.  I like creeks that have arms that provide multiple points.  The ideal creek would be one where this structure is close to the dominate channel.

 The reason for being close to the channel is four fold (1) Most of your major reservoir creek channels will have “Current” (2) Current means “Oxygen” (3) Current means “Food” “Shad & Bait Fish”  (4)  And “Deeper Water Access” .

 If the creek that I have chosen is a big creek,  that is wide at it’s mouth I always by pass the first portion and head straight toward the back where the creek narrows at it’s source and the channel is more defined. There is three reason for this (1) If a good shad population is present-it is much easier to stay on the bait, which is a vital link in being successful (2) Your chance of being closer to the creek current is much greater, which will help you take advantage of the structure that is available. (3) If your area should happen to experience a substantial rain, the influx of this dingier water many times will ignite bass into feeding frenzies.

 To help you locate creeks and areas like we have discussed above you can use (1) a good topographical lake map (2) GPS with Maps capabilities (3) your electronics or (4) LUCK……I think I’ll try the first three. If you’re serious about being successful on the water you have to do your home work.


What About Fall Cold Fronts And Water Temp’s


 In many respects we bass fishermen are a lot like the bass we pursue. For several months now everything has been more or less the same. It may been hot-but it’s been “Consistently Hot” We learned to adapt to that and so did the fish. The bass found the right depth that provide them with the thermo cline and oxygen that they needed.  If you worked at it, you were rewarded by catching bass in a fairly unchanging pattern. But now change is in the air. Even as I write this article-day time temps are reaching the low 80’s but instead of those 70 degree nights we were experiencing just a few weeks ago the norm is now the high 40’s to mid 50’s.

 Just like you and I feel the temperature change and begin to reach for that sweat shirt or light jacket in the mornings the bass feel it to. Their metabolism and activity levels will begin to slow as we head into the late fall-early winter time frame. Am I painting a picture of “Gloom & Doom for Fall bass fishing? No, not at all.  I’m convinced that everything that I have outlined above can have a “GREATER” effect on the fisherman than it does the bass they say they want to catch. This time of the year it becomes a preparation and mental game. You have to be willing and able to adjust to these changes around you. Let me give you an example.

 Let’s say your lake has experienced several days of cloudy conditions and then a moderately severe cold front comes through and you’re left with no clouds and only blue bird skies. What do you do? Pack up and go home? Watch football instead of fish? Not me! I stick with my creek game plan and work even more closely to the cover nearest the channel and slow my lure presentation down.  But let me also add that in lakes like my home lake Old Hickory in Nashville Tennessee a two or three degree drop in the surface temperature will have little to no effect on shallow fish. Those in 4 feet of water or less. But if the sudden drop is greater than three degrees it can have a negative effect.  This again enforces that fact that you need to know your creeks and where structure is close to the deeper channel areas that has moving water or current so that you can adjust accordingly.

 I guess the worst conditions would be if you experienced a drastic temperature drop that was accompanied by heavy cold rains that elevated the lake level. This cold water instead of pulling shad and baitfish up into the backs of the creek will push them out instead. My suggestion at that point would be to begin to move out further and further in the creek to try to find some stability in water temperature and shad activity. And there are times when you just have to let these situations pass and let the lake settle back down.

 I’ve had days in the Fall that were unbelievable in numbers and quality of fish. And then I’ve had days that I had to remind myself to stick to what I preach and be slow and methodical in my approach and my lure selection. Which brings us to lures for the Fall season.

 Fall Lure Selection

 It will come as no surprise that my first choice for fishing the Fall transition period is a “Small Crank bait”.  I like crank baits in 1/16th 1/8th and ½ ounce sizes that are no more than 2 ½ inches long.  I like those that run 2 feet to 12 feet deep-some with bills and some lipless.

 One of the very first thoughts that enter the mind of many fisherman when I talk about these small baits is that the only catch small fish. If that’s what you’re thinking let me put it to you this way. “You Sir Are Dead Wrong!”  Time and time again through out the fall and early winter months I have caught lunker size Largemouth, Smallmouth and Spots on small crank baits. 

 I like to use the Luhr-Jensen Speed Traps and a local favorite, the Buckeye Shad as my crank baits of choice.  There are some distinct differences between these two types of baits that I need to explain. The Speed Trap as your can see has a bill and are fairly wide bodied floating baits which have rattles inserted inside. The wobble of the baits are wider and therefore moves more water. You also have the ability to stop these baits in mid-retrieve and they will slowly float back up toward the surface. This technique many times is very deadly in the Fall. The Buckeye Shad on the other hand is a thinner bait that doesn’t float or have a rattle and has a very tight wobble. I’m convinced that just like in the early Spring, there are times that bass just don’t want a bait that rattles. I can’t always explain the why, but I have experienced this to be true many times.  I also like to stay with at least 2 different shad colors and a chartreuse or fire tiger combination in that fall.

 One of the reasons I like to use these types of baits is that you can drop your trolling motor and cover water.  Lakes like Old Hickory tend to always have color in the water so I try to stay in a shallow pattern as much as possible covering the structure nearest to the channel current. I like throwing these small baits on a AllPro APX 7 foot Medium action spinning rod with 6lb and 8lb test line and always use a good snap which I believe helps give these crank baits additional action.

 There are times that even with bait fish present the bass seem reluctant to hit a crank bait, or after you have caught several in one area the bite slows down. This is when I pick up a rod rigged with a Secret Weapon Spinner bait. If the bass have been in the cover I will continue to run my spinner bait through the limbs and then just it die in opening, or next to stumps or brush piles. I believe this is where the Secret Weapon really shines.  Both blades on these baits will helicopter down with equal freedom which isn’t true with most spinner baits on the market today.  If the fish have been on the outside edge of the brush I make repeated cast in every direction to make sure that all sides of the cover have been fished.  I like to use the 3/8oz willow leaf model with sliver blades with either a blue/chartreuse, white/chartreuse or a translucent skirt with silver metal flakes.



 I can’t emphasis enough the importance of staying in the creeks and on the bait fish during the Fall transition period. Your chances of loading the boat or having a very few strikes almost always hinges on the presence of shad in the areas your fishing. As Fall begins to give way to early winter and the water temperatures lowers even more I begin to work my way back out further and further toward the mouth of the creeks until the water temperatures reach 50 degrees then it’s winter fishing time and everything changes again.

 But that’s another article and another story. I wish you the best in this Fall season….Good Luck and Good Fishing     Rick McFerrin Tennessee Bass Guides.com


For the Competitive Angler

Written By: Rick McFerrin

November 2005




Recently Tennessee Bass Guides had the honor of teaming up with the Prowler Lure Company which is located in Leitchfield Kentucky due north of Bowling Green. From prior use I knew how good their product was, so I was excited to have them aboard. Prowler is one of the fastest growing soft plastic bait companies in the United States and is owned and operated by the Van Meter family. One of the very first things that impressed me was that Prowler is a fishing lure company that is still operated by tournament fishermen. Mr. Van Meter is an avid tournament bass fisherman and keep a torrid tournament schedule. I really believe this is one of the reasons why Prowler continues to be so successful.  Nothing compares to (1) being in the trenches for years and seeing for yourself what works and what doesn't (2) surrounding yourself with a professional fishing staff that assists in new product ideas and design enhancements.  Unfortunately in many large bait companies today it's the lure designers and marketing departments (which rarely fish) that determine what go's to market and what doesn't.  But not true with Prowler, they only produce baits made by bass fishermen for bass fishermen. With this "on water" approach it enables Mr. Van Meter and the Prowler Pro Team to meet the needs of a ever changing fishing climate. Innovative life like baits that are available in a multitude of colors to meet every water situation. Since the Prowler Lure Company produces such a extensive line of plastic baits it would be difficult for me to cover all of them in one article. So, to do justice to these fine baits and to give you the reader a better understanding of each, there will be a series of articles that hopefully will be of great value you. The Tennessee Bass Guides Team members have personally tested these baits and I can tell you that each guide has been very impressed with the results.  My policy hasn't changed "We only promote items that we use on a regular basis-that works for us" by doing so you get an honest straight forward assessment.


Prowler Chunks


Looking over the reports for the past several months our guide team members have been catching largemouth and smallmouth bass on several different Tennessee lakes and rivers pitching and flipping a variety of jigs. For those of you that are "Jig Fanatics" you know that many times the "Jig/Chunk Size" and bulk in the water can make all the difference in the world on catching or not catching fish. I guess in some respects a bass is allot like us...sometimes we want a "Big Meal" and sometimes we want a "Small Meal" When throwing small jigs and hair fly's that are 1/16th to 3/32nds in weight, on 4lb and 6lb test I like to use a small chunk. This is where the Prowler Eel  and Prowler Small Pro Chunks come on strong for me. I have found that when the bite has been very tough the Prowler Eel is the chunk I turn to. I'm not sure if it's, for lack of better words the "Slenderness" of the bait or the longer configuration of it's tail that makes a difference. It make very well be that it just doesn't move as much water upon entry. But what ever the case this is one great multi-use trailer. Combined with the right size jig it just becomes a snack for a Smallmouth. The Eel also works extremely well on spinner baits as a trailer and inserting into tubes. Both sizes of the Prowler Ell comes in 18 different colors to meet any need.


Then there are times that the Prowler Small Pro Chunk is what I turn to. I like using this size chunk on 6 and 8lb test and a 1/8th and 3/16th ounce jig. I like this size because it adds a little bulk to the jig and the wider tail seems to move more water. This jig and chunk combo is a in between size for me that I like to use in lay downs and in rivers when there is moderate current. There is enough weight not to get swept away but still light enough to have a slower fall.  On jigs 1/4 ounce and up I like the Prowler Medium  (picture to the left) and Jumbo Chunks. These add a little more water displacement and weight. The tails of these chunks are very flexible and have a fantastic action. All three sizes of these Prowler Chunks are available in 20 different colors many of which are unavailable on any other manufactures plastic baits.


Another valuable tool in the Prowler treasure chest is the Pro Craw and the Jr. Pro Craw Chunk. Both of these Pro Craws are Salt and Garlic Injected. The "NEW" patent pending design of the Pro Craw gives a realistic appearance to any jig or spinner bait. Take time to check these baits out in clear shallow water, you will see what I mean. The pinchers create a almost natural defense stance that just begs a big fish to take a bite. Once again just as a personal choice I like to use the Jr. Pro Craw Chunk on 1/8th and 3/16th ounce jigs and the larger Pro Craw Chunk on larger jigs. Experiment, other size and jig weight combos may work better for you. These baits are also fantastic spinner bait trailers and are you have a great selection of 30 colors to choose from.


Prowler Tubes


What a selection for you to choose from. Prowler manufactures 7 different Tubes in multiple lengths and sizes. All Prowler Tubes are a soft double dipped tube with long tentacles that deliver incredible action. These are truly some of the hottest baits in the industry today. From the Super Tube-Big Butt Tube-Stubby Tube-Pro Super Tube-Pro Flipping Tube-Finesse Tube to the Crappie Tubes Prowler has it covered with the highest quality fish catching baits available any where. Some one might ask "Why so many choices of size and colors of the same type bait"? Well lets see how I can answer this.  (1) Bass have varying degrees of taste when it comes to eating.  There are times their pray may be small like crayfish and small bait fish. Other times the may be feeding on larger bluegill-shad and other larger available bait. (2) Water clarity also plays a big part in making your lure choice. In stained to muddy water I like a larger bait like the Prowler Super Tube or Big Butt Tube that creates more water movement which helps the bass zero in on the bait. In clearer water I like to go to the Prowler Finesse and Stubby Tube which has a more subtle movement. (3) Water clarity  many times will help you make color choices. Normally in darker water I try to stay with darker colors like Black-Dark Reds and Deep Purples. In clearer water I like watermelon, smoke pepper, pearls and pumpkin . But sometimes there are glaring exceptions to this scenario. I fish a clear deep lake near my home for Smallmouth. June bug always seems to be my best go to color which defies some of my earlier thoughts. This is where you need to experiment to find out what works best for you. Through years of fishing experience Mr. Van Meter realized the necessity of making multiple sizes (7) and colors (26) available because of the very reasons we just talked about.


Prowler Grubs

Prowler manufactures 5 grubs for you to choose from.  The 4.5 inch Pro Fat Grub-3.5 inch Pro Grub and the Pro Crappie Grub.  All have extra wide tails that vibrates immediately when you begin your retrieve. These baits come in 14 different colors.   There are times just like yesterday when the wind was up to 20mph and the Smallmouth were on the windiest points that a Prowler Grub is hard to beat. You can rig the Pro Fat Grub on a 1/4 ounce jig head and cast extremely well into the wind. The action of the bait begins immediately and many time smallmouth will hammer the grub on the fall. There are also times when a smaller grub and jig head is needed. Those times when the bass are a little more finicky. That's when I turn to the 3.5 inch Pro Grub. Both sizes are great baits and with 14 colors to choose from you just can't go wrong.


 The New C Leggs is a innovative bait that combines twin tails with a flat belly that helps slow the baits fall. The legs of the bait is just a tad thicker which keeps the tails from sticking together. The C-Leggs can be fished alone as a grub. On a jig as a trailer and effectively as a drop shot bait. You will have to see the action of these baits to believe it. Once again being a light line guy I really like the C-Leggs Minus on a 1/16th ounce jig head. This little tid-bit is just a snack for those big brown fish. Two sizes and 26 colors to choose from....This ones a real winner, you need to check them out.



This time around we covered Prowler Chunks-Tubes and Grubs and we didn't get half way through the great selection of soft plastic baits that Prowler manufactures. There will be at least 2 more follow up articles to cover the remaining items. You have many choices when you stand in front of soft plastic sections in your favorite tackle store. Some brands are price driven, some brands are name recognition driven, some brands are quality driven and others are just driven. The next time you need a soft plastic bait give Prowler a try-you won't regret it. As a matter of fact if you buy one item you will buy more they are just that good. Check them out on our web site at www.tennesseebassguides.com scan down to the bottom of the first page and click on the Prowler logo....If you have any questions just send them to me I will be happy to help rickm@dtccom.net    Thanks for reading Rick McFerrin Tennessee Bass Guides.com

Product Review

J.J.'s Magic

Dippin Dye With Garlic

April 2005

Written By: Rick McFerrin





Fish attractants have been around for a long time. Attractants have been manufactured in sprays, liquids, creams, pastes, and gels in a variety of scents and colors. Some work and truthfully some don't. The retail price really doesn't seem to be a valid indication of how good the product will be, so unless you have a good reliable source of information or recommendation from someone buying scents and dyes are a roll of the dice at best. If you are like me all you have to do is look at the baits and equipment you never caught fish on to prove my point. Fess Up! Several hundred dollars worth right?


So in my old age I have become (Rena my wife says cranky) but more to the point very very selective in what I buy and more importantly what I endorse. If you were sitting here in my office with me tonight you would see several boxes of baits-tackle and accessories that companies have sent to me asking for an endorsement on our site. If you click on the Product Archive Tab you will find all the products that I have written reviews on. You will also find that each has earned a positive endorsement. Why? Because they work like they are suppose to. They are good products that I as a full time guide and owner of Tennessee Bass Guides Inc. personally use on a regular basis and find reliable.


You see, if I try something and it doesn't work I simply just won't write a review. I guess it go's  back to how I was raised. You know "If you can't say something good, just don't say anything at all." So any product review you read on my site will be about products that most definitely works for me and my team of guides. As a matter of fact just this week on four guide trips my clients and I caught a combination of 84 Smallmouth-Largemouth and Spotted Bass on 4 inch plastic worms I soaked with this product. We will talk more about this in the paragraphs below.  You can see pictures of the fish on my site. JJ Polak and Alan Summer have formulated a fantastic product that has ALREADY helped me catch more fish and it will do the same for you if you will use it correctly.


Company History


Alan Summer invented a dye for soft plastic baits back in the early 1980's. Alan having a start up business marketed his dye locally and this is when he met JJ Polak. Alan told JJ about the product and urged him to try it. JJ put the product to a rigorous test on the water and determined that if Alan would add garlic oil to the dye it would enhance the product greatly as a fish attractant.  The result was a new formula that would allow the dye to penetrate into soft plastic baits. Let me emphasize this again, it penetrates into the plastic and the scent will remain in the bait. When Alan and JJ tested this new formula they found that their bites increased and that the fish held onto the bait longer. They had other tournament anglers test it as well and the rest is now history. Alan-JJ and JJ's two sons Andy and Marty formed a company that is now known as Fish Chemicals and market the product known as J.J.'s Magic.



What Does The Product Do?


First of all J.J.'s Magic is a dippin dye solution that is designed to let you customize your soft plastic baits which is a great benefit. BUT.....To me the greatest benefit is that it penetrates the bait and the scent won't wear off.  Every since JJ sent me this product I have put it to the test. One of the lakes that I guide here in middle Tennessee is Tim's Ford which is located between Nashville and Chattanooga. Tim's is known for it's Smallmouth population but also has an abundance of Largemouth and Spotted Bass as well. I had been on a fairly good bite on a small 4 inch worm fished on a jig head. Many times the bite was very subtle and I found that some of my clients would have trouble "Feeling" the hit. Well, when JJ sent me his product to test, my attention was drawn immediately to the Clear Garlic scent, and let me explain why. The bass like the little Junebug colored worm that I have been using so I certainly didn't want to alter the color...BUT.....I sure wanted to add the garlic scent to the worm hoping to get the fish to hold on just a little longer.  So I dumped 50 or more 4 inch worms in one of Rena's Tupperware bowls (I hope she doesn't miss it) and being advised by JJ in advance of how strong the garlic scent was I carefully poured some onto the worms. I was like a little kid waiting until the next day to see what would happen on my new JJ's Magic scented worms....What was the results? I can sum it up in one 3 letter word..........WOW! The results speak for themselves.  I can't and won't tell you that I have realized X % of increased bites using this product....but I can tell you this. I have watched my clients hook ups increase dramatically and watched them put more fish in the boat using the same 4 inch worms soaked in J.J.'s Magic than they did before. Folks, when the bass grabs this worm soaked in this product they just won't hardly let go. That's the key-that is the BIG DIFFERENCE-that the additional edge between J.J.'s Magic and other dye type products that I have used in the past. So for a guide-tournament fisherman or just a casual week end bass fisherman it can make a BIG difference on the number of bass you will put in the boat.


As I started to say in the paragraph above J.J.'s Magic is currently packaged in 4 colors. Blue-Methylate, Chartreuse and Clear. All,  except the clear scent is designed to let you customize your baits  But unlike some of the more well known dyes on the market today this product will penetrate your baits and the scent will remain there cast after cast. No additional dipping is needed. I can see where the Chartreuse will be the most versatile, but each will play an important part of my fishing throughout the year when faced with various water colors and conditions. I have also found by doing a double dipping experiment that you can create various degrees of green-orange and purple.  I like to add red many times when throwing a soft plastic jerk type bait-the Methylate is going to be dynamite for that no doubt! I'm sure you have different color combinations that work well for you....now just think of what would happen if the bass would hold onto your bait and not want to let go. Like I said Wow!  Bass truly love this stuff!




I guess I haven't been this excited about a new product and all the possibilities that it affords in a long time. Being a full time guide and owner of a guide service I'm always looking for ways to help my clients catch more fish when there are with us. I really believe that J.J.'s Magic will play a big part in doing just that this year.  I'm sure by now your saying, Rick where can I get some of this stuff? As with all new companies getting product out into the market is a tough situation at best. So the Fish Chemical team decided to aim their initial campaign via the internet. The best way to get this fantastic product is by going to our links page and simply clicking on the J.J.'s Magic logo or ordering over the internet at www.jjsmagic.com . The process is very quick and easy to follow and you have your choice of shipping options.


As I said in the beginning of this review. If I didn't believe in this product and have seen it work time and time again with my own eyes I wouldn't give it my endorsement. But friends J.J.'s Magic is a winner.  Try it yourself and you will see why I'm excited about this product.


Product Review


The Buckeye Shad


March 2005


Written By: Rick McFerrin







It's a well known fact that professional bass fishermen have a tendency to keep secrets when it comes to lures, presentations and just about anything that's working for them. As a matter of fact sometimes the secret can be kept for long periods of time. But, it seems like every year you will read articles that have titles like, "XYZ The Lure The Pro's Tried To Keep Secret" or " The Technique The Pro's Didn't Want You To Know About" or "My Close Encounter With Alien Bass Fishermen". Well maybe the last one went a little far...I just got carried away.


You see, keeping secrets when it comes to bass fishing doesn't just stop with the pro's. I live and guide full time in middle Tennessee. I have the privilege of being around some of the best bass fishermen that I have ever known. Fishermen that have a tendency of keeping everything "Close To The Vest" even with friends. Some of these fishermen have mastered deep clear lakes like Dale Hollow, Center Hill, Tim's Ford and others. Many  have concentrated on river lakes like Old Hickory, Kentucky Lake, Wheeler and Pickwick. And through the years there has been a lure that has remained a regional secret with many of these great fishermen. A lure that works in clear or stained water. A lure that works deep or shallow. A lure that works in rock-grass and wood equally as well. A lure that works in all 4 seasons of the year and that lure is the Buckeye Shad.


When you mention the Buckeye to serious bass fishermen in towns here in Tennessee like "Smithville" " Sparta" "Cookeville" "McMinnville" "Tullahoma" and other you can see their eyes light up, and most will proudly tell you they still have Buckeyes that are years and years old that they just can't bring themselves to use. I think the Buckeye is even listed in some of the Last Will And Testaments of many of these men just like UT Football season tickets.   To my wife I leave my house-car and bank account...BUT....to my son I leave my tuck-boat and my Buckeye Shads.


Folks, you may think I'm going a little to far, but I tell you it is hard to tell how many huge Smallmouth-Largemouth and Spots have fallen victim to this deadly little bait. For more than 50 years now the dream of Robert Richardson and his family has been living up to it's "Legendary" reputation. And for 50 years it has been a fairly well kept southern secret.


What Is A Buckeye Shad?



What makes the Buckeye Shad a very unique lipless crank bait? It's  1 1/2 inches long, casts like a bullet and will sink like a rock. The nose of the bait is more rounded than pointed and the tail is rounded and tapered all at the same time.  The mid portion of the body is wider in it's belly and narrows toward the top. Most lipless crank baits have a tight wiggle-BUT-one big difference with the Buckeye Shad is that it has a VERY TIGHT wiggle and will tack straight as an arrow on every cast and rarely will turn up on it's side and loose track. This true tracking is achieved by the precise positioning of the line tie, which is located just at the crest of the nose where it begins to slope.  The Buckeye has two sets of treble hooks-one positioned on the bottom of the bait almost directly below the line tie and the other in the tail section.  The bait is topped off with either a Red-Silver or Gold reflective eyes that is recessed into it's head that gives off a prism like effect in clearer water.


What Colors Are Available?


I like to call the Buckeye a "Blue Collar Bait".  Not much glitz and glitter-just "Solid And Steadfast". These baits are currently manufactured in the four no-nonsense colors that you see in the picture above.  Chartreuse-Blood Red- White and Black.  Do you ever get tired of throwing a lipless crank bait a few times and the color begins to come off? This won't happen with the Buckeye Shad! The Buckeyes color is molded into the bait so no matter how much beating and banging it gets the color will always remain the same. No sparkle-No translucent paint-No flaking-No loss of color-just one steady rugged bass catching tool.


When Do You Fish The Buckeye Shad?


There is no doubt that the Buckeye Shad gained it's original fame in the cold winter months here in Tennessee.  In low water conditions when the wind and snow is blowing almost side ways hardy souls armed with light line-small hair jigs and Buckeye Shads would (and still do) consistently load the boat with big brown fish. But there is more to the story!  This is not just a winter bait! Let me stress this point again. This is not just a winter bait!  The Buckeye is a fantastic ALL YEAR CRANK BAIT. The Buckeye works in all types of structure. Timber or rock, anytime anyplace all seasons. Anytime you would think about throwing a lipless crank bait the Buckeye Shad will produce hands down.


For those of you that might not be familiar with Old Hickory Lake here in middle Tennessee. It's a TVA river lake that stretches from the cities of Cathage all the way to the city of Old Hickory just east of Nashville. In-between you can find every type of structure and conditions that bass love.  River current-protected bays and flats. Ledges-drops-rock-timber-grass-boat docks-bluffs-islands-boat ramps-bridges-rip rap and more. During the HOTTEST months of the summer many big largemouth will stay in water so shallow that you wonder why you can't see their fins sticking out of the water.  During these times the bass will slam a Buckeye worked correctly around wood and grass in these shallow areas. It's also fantastic for schooling bass that we find on a regular basis in protected bays. Take a look at the dates on the 3 fish pictures October-September and January..... I could add pictures from every month.....Like I said.....It's a All Year Bait!


How Do You Fish A Buckeye Shad?


The best way to fish a Buckeye is to do so fearlessly! I toss this bait in and around every type of structure that I possibly can. I keep in contact with the structure as much as possible. This rugged little bait is designed to slam off underwater rock and wood. It is designed to be ripped through grass and weeds. It's designed to be cranked through and bounced off of everything that you can. Some of the most violent strikes will take place when you use this bait in heavy cover.


There are times when you can't retrieve this bait fast enough. Then there are times that a slow steady grinding retrieve will produce more strikes. I keep changing up until the bass tell me what they want. Choices of rods/reels and line sizes varies by the structure and water color your fishing. But 90% of the time I opt for a spinning rod and no more than 10 pond test line. Remember I stressed Fearless!




The Buckeye Shad has a big winter reputation but it is truly a bait for all seasons. I know there is a lot of hype when it comes to fishing lures-but take it from someone that shoots straight and makes his living on the water. The Buckeye Shad...A one time middle and upper east Tennessee secret----is a secret no more. If you buy one and fish it...you will be as hooked on the Buckeye as a 5 pound Smallmouth. For more information go to our links page or www.buckeyeshad.com      Let me know how you do with this fantastic little bait. Rick McFerrin Owner Tennessee Bass Guides. Com

Product Review

Written By: Rick McFerrin Tennessee Bass Guides .com

May 2004

Company History

 The Luhr-Jensen Company  was created in 1932 by Mr. Luhr Jensen Sr. which produced spinnerbaits out of a backyard chicken coop in Hood River Oregon. Currently the company produces a variety of artificial baits and has a 60,000 square foot distribution center in Hood River and employ’s more than 250 people. In this review we will discuss one of these products the “Speed Trap”.

 Opening Thoughts

 Being a full time bass guide here in Tennessee I make my living on the water. If I don’t produce, if I don’t catch fish eventually there will be no income-no guide service. There are many elements that go into making sure that your clients have the opportunity to catch good quality fish. Most importantly you have to know where the fish are. But after that, you have to know what will trigger them into striking, you have to know what the fish want. What type of lure-what type of action-what depth-what color will produce the best for your clients that day. Any long term guide will tell you that this information only comes by spending hundreds of hours on the water learning.

 In a recent monthly article that I wrote on “CrankBait Fishing For The Beginner” (see Tip’s Archive Tab www.tennesseebassguides.com) I confessed that I have been a “CrankBait Junkie” from a very early age.  There is something about putting the right cranbait on the right rod with the right line and making the right presentation and feeling the bass slam the bait that still gives me a rush. Much was the case on April 21-2004 when I met Jeff Glowacki at Old Hickory Lake here in the Nashville area. Jeff is the area representative for the Luhr-Jensen Bait Company and we had agreed to meet and perform a product review on the new Luhr-Jensen “Speed Trap” crankbait.  Prior to our meeting I had fished the Speed Trap only briefly, so I was able to go into this day of fishing with a completely open mind and with no predetermined opinions.

Beginning The Review

 First order of business for Jeff and I was to take a look at the variety of lures that Jeff brought with him. We separated these baits (Speed Traps-Radars-Hot Lips)  by running depth and color. I then showed Jeff different crankbaits that I had been using to catch fish and the colors that seemed to be working best at that time. Most of the good fish that I had been catching were in very shallow water (2ft-3ft) so that helped us our depth selection. Next was color. Naturally all crankbait manufactures have their own version of particular colors, but we were able to match up a Speed Trap with a shad pattern that had been producing for me. With our Speed Traps tied on we proceeded to the creeks in search of some big largemouth.

 Shallow Water Example

 One of the first things I noticed when I began using the Speed Trap was it’s ability to run true or stay straight even when you are “Burning” the bait. This is not always true with some other crankbaits that I have used in the past. Many other baits can be “Over Reeled” and they tend to loose their track.  This isn’t the case with the Speed Trap. The body action and vibration remained true even at these higher speeds. Many times these big fish even when they are in super shallow water on Old Hickory want a bait that is moving Fast-Very Fast!  Up until now I could only achieve this by using a lipless rattling bait. Another great feature of the Speed Trap is that they float. This feature will pay off in big dividends on lakes where the bass hold in the 3 feet of water or less. The 4 fish that Jeff is holding (we caught over 40) were all caught in the 1 1/2ft to 3ft depth range. We would cast the 1/16oz Speed Trap up into a foot of water then ease it out slightly over the weed growth then burn it back. The buoyancy of the bait allowed us the fish the entire length of the strike zone correctly. It is very difficult to achieve this with a conventional lipless crankbait because of their body weight and lack of buoyancy.

 Mid Depth Example

 The pictures in this  section is of a different fishing trip 5 days later on the same lake. We were  in a different creek and fishing different structure.  These fish (and 18 more) were caught on the 1/8oz Speed trap fishing the sloping side of a long creek point. These fish were holding in approximately 5 feet of water. The young man in the picture is Austin Qualkinbush. Austin's mom gave him a full day guided trip as his birthday present. Austin is holding a 7lb lagemouth in the first picture which is the largest bass he has ever caught. This big fish inhaled the 1/8oz Speed Trap.  The 2nd picture is a 5 1/2lb largemouth I caught off this same point break on the same bait. Another feature of the Speed Traps is their ability to make a sharp dive on your first few cranks.  I truly believe that these baits get to their running depths quicker than any crankbait I have ever fished. This is perfect for fishing sloping points, tapered banks and deeper weedlines.

 I also like the way that the Speed Trap will “Float” themselves back off of snags. Much of this is possible because of the wide lip that is attached to their intermediate sized body. (see picture below) There's one area in a favorite creek of mine that is “Hang City” with a crankbait. Many times it is also full of good quality fish that will hammer a fast moving bait which is beating and banging off the structure. I fished this area with one of my favorite crankbaits on one rod and a Speed Trap on another. The Speed trap out performed the other bait hands down with it’s ability to float back off the snags and allow you to fish the entire length back to the boat instead of disturbing the fish by going in to get free from the snag.  Also several times as the Speed Trap floated back off the snag it created a reaction strike from a bass that was near by. We have covered the 1/16oz and 1/8oz Speed Trap but the lure also come in a 1/4oz size which will dive to 10 feet easily on 10lb test line.  I haven't fished this bait yet since the fish are very shallow, but I have tossed it a couple times and can tell you that it digs straight down and has a deal of vibration and resistance. As fish move out to the mid-range drops I can see where this bait will be very effective.

Final Thoughts

 Each of us have our favorite type lures that we depend on more than any other. Mine to no surprise is a crankbait.  Since the early 1960’s I have fished with many different crankbaits under many different circumstances.  I have a whole wall of them in my boat building that I no longer use because of some flaw in them. Maybe they wouldn’t track right or the action just wasn’t there. But every now a then a crankbait comes along that I know from the beginning that it’s going to be a winner-something that will work for me on a consistent basis. The Luhr-Jensen Speed Trap is a winner.  If you haven’t tried them they are available locally in a variety of colors here in the Nashville area in the larger tackle stores. Buy one of each size and see how they work for you-I know you won’t be disappointed.

 Rick McFerrin Full Time Guide and Owner Of Tennessee Bass Guides Inc

Contact information to book your trip

Tennessee Bass Guides Inc.
134 Jamie Circle Woodbury TN. 37190
(615) 308-9936 or Email:
Rick McFerrin At Rickm@dtccom.net


All Guides Are Subcontractors and independently insured






Contact information to book your trip

Tennessee Bass Guides Inc.
P.O. Box 352 Woodbury TN. 37190
(615) 308-9936 or Email:
Rick McFerrin At Rickm@dtccom.net


All Guides Are Subcontractors and independently insured


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