Kevin VanDam - How, When, and Where to Fish Heavy Tackle
Editor's Note: Thirty-six-year-old Kevin VanDam of Kalamazoo, Michigan, the BASS Angler-of-the-Year winner for 1992, 1996 and 1999, as well as the 2001 Bassmaster Classic winner, has all-time BASS winnings totaling more than $1,400,000. "I define heavy tackle as when I am fishing 20-pound-test line or larger," VanDam says. "I look for water and weather conditions that will allow me to fish that heavy line." This week, he'll tell us how, when and where to fish heavy tackle.
"There's no reason to not fish with heavy tackle when you're fishing in muddy water," VanDam explains. "When you have muddy water and heavy brush to fish, these are ideal conditions for fishing heavy tackle and heavy line. If you are going to be flipping into treetops, bushes and log jams, besides the heavy line, you are going to need a really-stiff rod. But if you are throwing a spinnerbait in dirty water beside docks or beside stumps or lily pads, you need to use a medium- heavy-action rod so you can get a better casting presentation with your spinnerbait. That medium-heavy-action rod also enables me to cast much more accurately and allows the lures to enter the water softer than if I'm using a heavy action rod. But I'm still fishing with heavy line.
"My favorite lure for muddy-water fishing is a Strike King Pro-Model Spinnerbait with the Colorado blades. That lure and blade combination has probably won more money for me in tournaments than any other lure in my tackle box. That bait gives off a lot of vibration so the bass can find it and can penetrate cover when you make a pinpoint presentation. A spinnerbait is one lure that heavy line doesn't inhibit the action on. So I will fish with as heavy a line as I can possibly us maybe as much as 25-pound-test line when I'm fishing a spinnerbait in muddy water. Any time you are out fishing and you see muddy water conditions, think spinnerbait, and look for cover. Nine times out of 10 that will be the technique that produces bass for you.
"The reason you think spinnerbait first is because if the bass are active, the spinnerbait will get their attention in the cover and often cause them to come out of the cover to take the bait. They don't have to see the lure to attack it. So, the spinnerbait helps you to pull the bass out of the cover before you set the hook on him, therefore you have a better chance of landing that bass. But, if the bass won't bite the spinnerbait, then flip a jig, a tube or a lizard right into the heart of the cover and try to bounce it off the fish's nose. In stained water, these two tactics are hard to beat."