In Depth with Sam Lashlee
Submitted by Full Limit Outdoor Media
Here in the southeast, we’re in the time of the fishing season that can be perplexing to many. It’s not full-blown summer. It’s not really feeling like spring. Fish are shallow. Fish are deep. Decisions, decisions, decisions.
Growing up on KY Lake, I was taught that the fish are shallow early in the year. In the bushes when they spawn. On the islands after that. Then on the drops. That was the plan, the routine, and the ritual.
Several years ago, I started fishing with a guy that I grew up fishing around. I remember when I was kid (he’s A LOT older than me) this guy was laying huge bags of bass on the scales in the summertime. Meanwhile, my uncle and I would weigh 16 to 22 pounds for 7 fish after what we considered a good day fishing shallow. This guy would have 7 that went over 30. I remember wondering how he could catch big ones like and that, and especially how could he do so consistently. This guy, is Sam Lashlee and he has been consistently the guy to beat on KY, and other area lakes, since I’ve known him.
The past few years have found us spending more time together in a boat and he has been an open book with me about the how, what, where and why he does what he does. One of the things that has always intrigued me about Sam is his ability to be ahead of most everyone else. He has a knack for being where the fish are going. He just seems to “know” when to move. He has almost a sixth sense as it pertains to finding and catching bass. This ability exceeds that of a lot of guys that are household names in the sport. Sam just has that little, extra “something” that most people don’t when it comes to bass fishing.
I asked him today how he made the transition from a primarily shallow fisherman into the ledge machine that he is known to be. The story is pretty cool and it should teach a lot of us a thing or two about how to be better summertime anglers.
“I think it was 1989 and I was living in Nashville. I was winning tournaments everywhere I went from Percy Priest, Old Hickory, Center Hill, Barkley, etc. If I didn’t win, I was at least in the top 5 of every tournament. That year, in the month of June, Bill and Billy Schroeder beat me 3 straight Saturdays in a row. After the 3rd one, I walked up to Mr. Bill and asked him, “what’s it going to take for me to beat you?” I’ll never forget his answer. It was profound and would change my life. He said, “Sam, after May 1st, you better put your flipping stick up.”
“I fished a tournament on Guntersville the following weekend. I had found a good flipping bite. At least I thought it was good until the team of Gettys and Ledbetter brought in a monster bag and blew the field away by fishing deep. I knew then I had to get better. I needed to make a change to put myself in contention to win. I decided the best thing I could do would be to move to KY Lake and learn how to catch them offshore. So that’s what I did.”
Lake and learn how to catch them offshore. So that’s what I did. “I spent hours, days, weeks and probably months learning every inch of the river from New Johnsonville to Blood River. I mean every inch. This was way before today’s technology. I learned by casting. I learned by fishing. I also spent countless hours studying maps. If I wasn’t on the water or at work, I was looking at a map.”
“About that time, Bill Huntley, of T-H Marine, and I decided to fish a tournament together. He showed me a map where he had marked some spots for us practice. Bill then suggested that I mark a few spots for us to check as well. As it turned out, we did really well in the tournament, and caught most of our fish off the spots that I marked. That was a huge confidence booster for me.”
“Since then, I have dedicated more time than anyone I know to learning the offshore fishing on KY Lake. I have refined not only where they get, but where they are coming from and where they will move to next. I have figured out how to trigger them when they aren’t biting, and how to catch the biggest fish when they are. It has been a labor of love and it has never gotten old. I love pulling up to a ledge with the expectation of busting them as much today as back in 1989.”
“Today’s anglers have an advantage over how we had to learn. Electronics are ridiculous these days and have really changed how we fish. Information that we were figuring out on our own because there was no source, is readily available and easily accessible today. Boats, motors, rods, reels and lures are much more efficient and specialized right now than they have ever been. By and large the average angler is much more knowledgeable and better equipped than ever before. But make no mistake, there is, and never will be, a more valuable asset in the game of bass fishing than experience and that only comes from time on the water.”
Sam has been on the Strike King pro staff since 1987. In that 30-year span, he has won an FLW, competed in a Bassmaster’s Classic, won 3 BFL’s and a Costa, and won more open tournaments than you can count. Every single win he credits to a Strike King lure.
“I have been blessed to part of the amazing Strike King Team, or really family, for 30 years. I have seen the company and product line evolve from a small spinnerbait and jig company to what it is today. I know it’s a bait company, but Strike King is about the people. The employees of Strike King and the pro staff are family. That’s the real reason the brand is so successful. That and our baits are made to catch fish. Period. Anywhere and anytime.”
“I have nothing but Strike King in my boat. People don’t believe me when I tell them that, but it’s the absolute truth. Our product line has become so strong and diverse that I no longer need to supplement it with anyone else’s lures.”
“My favorite Strike King baits are the:"
Sexy Dawg - “which I’ve caught more big bass on than any topwater I’ve thrown in my life. The action and sound are different from anything else on the market.”
Series 5 crankbait – “Day in and day out, the Series 5 is unbeatable it has the perfect action. I vary my line size on it and can fish it from 2 feet to 12 feet. If I had to live off the fish that I could catch and could only have one lure, this would be it.”
Denny Brauer Structure Jig – “Not only was Denny a huge influence for me, this jig is insane good. It has an incredible hook. The design of the head and line tie allow for the best hookup to lost fish ratio of any jig I’ve ever used. Plus, you can flip it, pitch it, and swim it shallow. Or, it’s just as good if not better for dragging, or hopping out deep.”
6XD – “This is the best deep crankbait ever. This bait changed the game of deep cranking. It made everything out there obsolete and has been the benchmark of everything that has been built since its inception. It is the best running, steepest diving, best casting crankbait I’ve ever thrown. I have made more money and caught more summertime fish on a 6XD since it was introduced than any other lure.”
Sam has been a tremendous asset to Strike King, but more so as a friend. He is as competitive as anyone I’ve ever met, yet truly wants to share his love and knowledge of the sport of bass fishing. He has made his home on the south end of Kentucky Lake where he has parlayed his passion into his career. He spends his days as a bass fishing instructor. He teaches amateurs all to the way to professionals hard -learned lessons on tournament prep, fish location, time management, tackle, electronics, tournament strategy and of course, fish catching.