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|VanDam and the Wild Thang|
|The Popularity of Creature Baits|
|More About How VanDam Fishes the Wild Thang|
|VanDam's Favorite Wild Thang Colors|
|What Winning the Classic Meant to VanDam|
Editor's Note: Thirty-three-year old Kevin VanDam of Kalamazoo, Michigan, likes to fish with Strike King lures and particularly Strike King's Wild Thang, a creature bait, that he used to win the 2001 BASS Masters Classic in New Orleans, Louisiana. Chosen Angler of the Year on the B.A.S.S. circuit in 1991, 1996 and 1999 and ranked No. 1 in the world of professional bass fishing by www.bassfan.com, which is evaluated on statistics from the tournament bass-fishing trails like B.A.S.S. and FLW, VanDam also enjoys being with his family and hunting deer.
Question: Kevin, tell us about this new series of creature baits made by Strike King.
VanDam: These bulkier baits are made of soft plastic and resemble jigs with their extra appendages, wings and tails. You can pitch and flip these bulky baits long distances. And once they hit the water, their bulky design displaces more water. You can put a heavier sinker on this bait and still get a slow fall. These baits work better in stained water.
Question: How long has Strike King had this bait on the market?
VanDam: The Wild Thang was the first in Strike King's series of new tube technology baits. Compared to most of the others on the market, this compact bait has a bigger-diameter body and big wings on the side that form a curltail-type design. Its tube tail, hollow body and big flappers near the back push a lot of water. Its thick, solid head will accommodate a big hook. Designed to fish in heavy cover with heavy line, this bait works great underneath willow limbs.
Question: Kevin, tell us some of the ways you fish the Wild Thang.
VanDam: With its extra appendages and wings, this bait falls slowly -- even with a heavy sinker. I've used this bait for a swimming-type application by flipping it to isolated clumps of grass and hyacinths and pitching it beyond the target, swimming it up to the target and then letting it fall right beside the target. The wings and the flapping tails give the Wild Thang plenty of action. When I fish the Wild Thang on a 1/4-ounce sinker, it will sink more slowly than most plastics do on a 1/16-ounce sinker. Then the bait will stay in the bass' strike zone a long time. I like a red-shad-colored Wild Thang, which works well in tannic water due to its flash.