You don’t have to sport a werewolf mask, but with two quick tips from Kevin VanDam, you can treat yourself to more bites this Halloween.
Here’s the trick:
While B.A.S.S. rules don’t allow anglers to fish with two lures at once in tournaments, as bass begin to chow down on shad with the same regularity that school kids consume Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups this time of year, nothing prohibits VanDam from offering largemouth and smallmouth a 2-for-1 treat full of soft plastic jerkbaits just for the sake of arm-jerkin’ fun.
- Rather than use a 3-way swivel, VanDam prefers two separate 2-way barrel swivels, because often times two fish will get hooked at the same time, and a single 3-way swivel becomes the weak link in the chain as they pull hard against one another.
- Cut two pieces of 20-pound fluorocarbon for your leaders – one 12” long – the other 16” long. You’ll end-up tying a 5/0 swimbait hook to one end of each, and a 2-way barrel swivel to the other end of each.
- Slide the open eye of the barrel swivel on the 12” leader up the mainline toward your reel. Then, tie the open eye of the barrel swivel on the 16” leader to the end of your main line.
- For hooks – you can use a weighted or un-weighted Mustad Grip-Pin Swimbait hook. VanDam uses a 5/0 un-weighted version most of the time because he feels it gives the baits more action, especially when he stops reeling and they begin to fall or flutter downward. Plus the soft plastics he chooses are heavily salted – so they’re exceptionally heavy anyway.
The lures: If the 7-time Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year believes the baitfish are small, he opts for a 4” Strike King Caffeine Shad, but most days he threads a 5” version of the Caffeine Shad on to each of the hooks.
Colors: VanDam matches each of the lures exactly the same color, and opts for a color called Ghost Shad most days. But if the water is stained, he’ll choose Alewife or Glacier.
Reel: If VanDam were trick-or-treating, he’d be the first kid to make a lap around the neighborhood. It seems he does everything fast, including fishing the double soft plastic jerkbait rig. He winds a speedy 7.3:1 Quantum TourKVD reel as fast as he can, then kills it – allows the lures to fall vertically in the water column for a second - then burns the retrieve again. He says most of the vicious strikes occur when he kills it.
How About a Treat?
In the same way a handful of bite-sized candy bars in various flavors provide an appetizing change from the standard Reese’s Cups - VanDam often shelves his famous Sexy Shad colored crankbaits for a color you and the bass have probably seen far less.
“Everybody knows I throw Sexy Shad a ton, but I actually change to a color called Summer Sexy Shad a lot if the water is a little clearer,” says VanDam. “I throw a KVD 1.5 squarebill around laydowns, windy banks - and it’s really wicked around shallow floating boat docks in October and November.”
“It’s all about the shad migration toward the back of major creeks this time of year. But if you’ve had a lack of rainfall, or a lot of zebra mussels to clean up the water, and the major creeks are clearer, then Summer Sexy Shad is a better choice than straight-up Sexy Shad.”