The Interviews

Article Index

Denny Brauer's Accomplishments

Denny BrauerEditor's Note: Denny Brauer, 53, of Camdenton, Missouri, has competed professionally for 23 years. He won the BASS Masters Classic in 1988 and has had 61 Top 10 finishes. A long-time avid angler of Strike King Lures, Brauer also has helped Strike King design some of the company's lures.

Question: How many times have you competed in the BASS Masters Classic?

Answer: I've competed in 17 or 18 Classics.

Question: Tell me a little about your major wins and accomplishments.

Answer: I've been named Angler of the Year on the F.L.W. circuit, and I've won the BASS Masters Classic as well as the Super Bass, Super Stars and MegaBucks tournaments.

Denny BrauerQuestion: How long have you been with Strike King?

Answer: I'm not even sure, probably about 7 or 8 years.

Question: How did that relationship start?

Answer: We decided to get together and try to build the world's best-selling jig, and we accomplished that goal.


Getting Back In The Game

Denny BrauerEditor's Note: Denny Brauer, 53, of Camdenton, Missouri, has competed professionally for 23 years. He won the BASS Masters Classic in 1988 and has had 61 Top 10 finishes. A long-time avid angler of Strike King Lures, Brauer also has helped Strike King design some of the company's lures.

Question: In 1998, you won the BASS Masters Classic. You were in "Sports Illustrated" and on the "Late Show with David Letterman." Your picture and bio were on the Wheaties Breakfast of Champion's cereal box. You went as high as a fisherman could go and then you hurt your back. Tell me what it has been like coming back from your back injury.

Answer: Getting hurt has been very frustrating. As you can probably tell right now, I'm not too comfortable. I had surgery. I tried to fish with my injured back in several tournaments, but that didn't work. I went in for surgery, but the surgery failed miserably. I had a ruptured lumbar disc. I came out of surgery with a numb foot and a numb leg. The doctors told me it would take a few months for everything to clear up, but it didn't.

Denny BrauerSo the next season, which was 2001, I went in and had another surgery to fuse it. The surgeons tried to fix the area. For about six or seven months, I thought we were moving in the right direction, but in the last three or four months, late spring, 2002, my back got worse. I had a MRI in May, 2002, which really didn't show anything negative. I go in soon to learn if the fusion has collapsed. If that's the case, then I'll have to go back in the hospital and see if I can get it fixed, which I must because I can't stand right now.

Question: Is the pain in your lower back?

Answer: Most of the pain is coming down my leg to my foot. I need to get this taken care of so I can play the game the way I want to play the game of professional bass fishing.

Denny BrauerQuestion: What would you like to do in the fishing industry right now?

Answer: I'd really like to be fishing at 98 percent, but I can't do that right now. I'm competing with guys who are too good. Right now I don't really want to be out there fishing professionally. If someone hasn't ever fished with a bad back, they don't know the pain involved. That was my third back operation. No, this will be the fourth. Hopefully this will be the last one.


Brauer's Tips For Fishing A Jig

Denny BrauerEditor's Note: Denny Brauer, 53, of Camdenton, Missouri, has competed professionally for 23 years. He won the BASS Masters Classic in 1988 and has had 61 Top 10 finishes. A long-time avid angler of Strike King Lures, Brauer also has helped Strike King design some of the company's lures.

Question: You helped develop the Strike King jig and bring the jig to the forefront of fishing. Why are you such a big fan of jigs?

Answer: Well number one, I fish for big bass. You need to catch bigger fish to win tournaments. Most of the tournaments have a 5-fish limit. Going out and catching 2 pounders very seldom is good enough to win a tournament. The jig appeals to the bigger fish.

The jig is very versatile. You can fish it in all different waters and depth zones. It penetrates some of the places where big bass live -- places you can't get to with a lot of other lures. The versatility of the bait and the fact that it represents a crawfish that a lot of big fish like to feed on makes it my favorite bait.

Denny BrauerQuestion: What makes the Pro-Model Strike King jig different from anybody else's bait?

Answer: There are a lot of things different about the bounce where the rattle is placed.

Question: What is your favorite time of year to catch bass? What are your favorite weather and water conditions to fish?

Answer: I like to fish the pre-spawn. I love to fish stained water and water temperatures between 50 to 60 degrees. The spring is a good time of the year to catch bass.

Question: How do you fish in the spring?

Denny BrauerAnswer: I try to get into the pockets that the fish want to move to into spawn. In other words, I'll start to work into the creeks and pockets and the shallower banks and the flats. This time of the year, you automatically can eliminate almost 90 percent of the lake, which really does narrow down where the big fish are going to move.

If you want to stay on big fish movements in the spring, no matter the temperature zone, you really can target the big fish. That is what I like about that time of the year.


Jig-Fishing Techniques To Produce Bass

Denny BrauerEditor's Note: Denny Brauer, 53, of Camdenton, Missouri, has competed professionally for 23 years. He won the BASS Masters Classic in 1988 and has had 61 Top 10 finishes. A long-time avid angler of Strike King Lures, Brauer also has helped Strike King design some of the company's lures.

Question: Give me five different jig-fishing techniques that will produce bass at almost any time of the year.

Answer: There are a lot of different ways that you can fish a jig. In the wintertime, I cast the jig on light line and on the steeper rocky banks and bluff banks where the fish are wintering. You just work it like you do a worm or any other bait -- fish it on very light line. I normally fish it on 12- or 14-pound-test line, which is fairly light for me.

Denny BrauerThen, when the fish start moving toward the spawning areas, I'll fish targets with the flipping stick while using the flip-it and pitch-it technique. In the summertime, I'll go back to casting the jig and fishing in deep water on structure. I really buck it off the bottom. I sweep it to try and get that jig to jump anywhere from 5 to 10 feet off the bottom. You get a lot of reflex strikes that way.

In the fall, I'll swim that jig around boat docks and structures because so many baitfish are up on top of the water. Those jig fish suspend on targets and ambush a lot of the baitfish. If you're swimming a jig, you're gonna be in the same striking distance as those fish.


Brauer's Spinner Bait Tactics

Denny BrauerEditor's Note: Denny Brauer, 53, of Camdenton, Missouri, has competed professionally for 23 years. He won the BASS Masters Classic in 1988 and has had 61 Top 10 finishes. A long-time avid angler of Strike King Lures, Brauer also has helped Strike King design some of the company's lures.

Question: Do you also like to fish a spinner bait?

Answer: Yes, spinner baits work great on the banks.

Question: Can you give me some tactics for using spinner baits?

Answer: In dirty water, I'll use either a big Colorado or an Indiana blade spinner bait. Those spinner baits will disturb a lot of water in the 50-to 60-degree range. Once the water warms up, I'll move the spinner bait real fast and go to a bank with an Indiana blade.

Denny BrauerIn grass I'll go to a 3/4-ounce Strike King spinner bait. I'll use only one blade on that bait. I'll probably just put a No. 5 willow-leaf blade on it and fish it that way down through the grass. In the fall of the year, I'll downsize the blades on my bait. I'll work the spinner bait real fast once again through baitfish and kill it as I work it through the bait.

Question: Tell me about your five favorite crankbait lures.

Answer: Series 1, Series 3, Series 4, Series 5, and Series 6 crankbaits are my favorites. The Series 1 crankbait is probably my most favorite. This very small bait works real good around wood cover. The crankbait falls right in with the style of fishing I like to do, which involves starting on shallow targets.

The Series 4 resembles the Series 1, but the Series 4 has a bigger body size, and it probably ranks as my second favorite. I like the Series 3 crankbait when the fish are a little finicky and the water is still cold. The Series 3 works especially well on riprap banks.

Denny BrauerStructure-wise, the Series 6 is a tough bait to get down there where it needs to get. That crankbait runs very true, it deflects through cover real well, and it has a great sound chamber in it. I primarily use those five crankbaits. Once in a while, I'll use a Diamond Shad type bait, and I'll strictly buzz it in over grass.