It has been a long cold winter and your author has been diagnosed with a terrible case of “cabin fever!” Research shows that there is only one medication available at this time of year and that Rx comes in the form of tackle preparation and organization for the upcoming season. As strange as it may seem, this yearly ritual has revealed something to me – that something is that my tackle collection decreases with each passing year. As I reflect on seasons past, study journals, and try to simplify my fishing, I have noticed that I end up relying on a handful of the same tried and true baits year after year to consistently catch bass. These baits seem to “magically” catch bass no matter where my travels may take me across the country or how tough fishing may be. During the 2009 season, a new bait emerged on the scene and proved itself worthy to be added to my tried and true line up.
I would like to introduce you to my new confidence bait, The Shaky Foot aka “Da Foot” by OMEGA Custom Tackle. The Shaky Foot is not your typical shaky head, which is obviously apparent at first glance of the bait. This bait was designed specifically for baitcasting equipment and for use with heavier line as well.
The Shaky Foot sports a large razor sharp Gamakatsu Hook which is conducive to using larger baits and when targeting better than average bass. Another key feature of “Da Foot” is the bottom of the bait’s head is flat, and that allows me to skip the bait way up under docks and other hard-to-reach places. It also has a very seductive fall similar to that of a tube. Once the Shaky Foot lands in the water it stands straight up in the 12 o’clock position. This presentation has proved to be deadly when the bite gets tough due to fishing pressure or when faced with post frontal conditions. Although “Da Foot” is categorically a finesse style bait, I have found it to be deadly when applied with a power fishing presentation. Having logged hundreds of hours on the water combining and refining the key elements of both finesse and power fishing, I have gained a tremendous amount of confidence in “Da Foot” and the presentation I call “finesse power fishing.”
The Shaky Foot has few limitations as it can be fished year round all over the country in clear to stained water. Starting in the colder weather months, I like to target fish holding on steeper banks close to channels. These are areas where fish will group up during winter time and once you find them, fishing can be phenomenal. I will start my search with 2 baits rigged on “Da Foot.” The first bait is the 5” Yamamoto Hula Grub #297 if I think the fish are feeding heavily on crayfish. I like to carefully roll the bait between my fingers to bring the salt to the surface of the bait, which makes the bait look very natural in the water. I will then take an orange spike it pen and hit the tips of the hula skirt and twin tails – then the bait is ready to be loaded onto the easy load spring. If the fish are keying in on baitfish, the bait of choice is the 5” Yamamoto Senko in #297 (green pumpkin) or #157 (smoke purple flake). The senko is my #1 Go-to Bait as it has produced countless quality fish across the country.
When fishing “Da Foot” in water temps under 60 degrees, I generally do not impact a lot of action with the rod tip as bass are normally lethargic in colder water. I will start out dragging “Da Foot” similar to dragging a Carolina rig. If I am fortunate enough to be fishing during a warming trend and fish become active, I will keep my rod tip up and work “Da Foot” with subtle hops. Another presentation that seems to draw a lot of quality strikes is to gently shake “Da Foot” on slack line while it is resting in the 12 o’clock position.
As spring time rolls around and bass move towards their spawning areas, the Shaky Foot becomes kryptonite to spawning bass. Once again, I will have a couple of rigs ready on deck as spawners can be temperamental and each fish has its own personality. The first bait the bedding fish is going to see is, once again, Yamamoto Senko; however, for this application I rely on the #320 merthiolate color. I depend on this color for two reasons. First of all I can see the bait extremely well in the water, but more importantly is it seems to really get the fish excited and they can’t stand it in their bed. If I can’t get them to go on the merthiolate (which is rare), I will go to old reliable #297 green pumpkin and dip 1 inch of the tail in chartreuse dye to simulate a blue gill nose down in the bed. This combo is a bit more natural and will draw strikes from weary or pressured fish. If one of these two presentations doesn’t work, it is time to move on to find another fish.
“Da Post Spawn”
We have finally arrived to my personal favorite time of the year to pursue bass – post spawn and early summer. The bass have now moved out of the spawning bays and are beginning to school up on structure feed heavily. This time of the year there is one piece of equipment on my boat that is invaluable and that is my HumminBird side imaging unit. Before I ever make a cast, I will scan long extended points, flats, humps, creek and river channels until I find schools of bait on the structure. I may graph 50 – 60 places a day (which may seem like a lot); however, I will not make a single cast until my graph lights up with bait. Once you spend the time with the side scan and learn what to look for and what you are looking at, you simply graph the prospected area, and if the graph lights up – it’s GAME ON! As long as the bait stays on these types of places, the fish will not leave, so you can return to the places time after time and catch fish. It is as fun as it gets as you are catching schools of fish. It is not uncommon to catch a limit and be culling in the first 10 minutes of fishing as the action can be fast and furious! I will normally begin the slaughter by ripping the 7/8 oz. Pro-Mega structure jig and cranking a DB-22 until these structure related fish quit biting. Then it is time to pick up “Da Foot” and catch a few more quality fish before running to my next area. I have caught several quality kicker fish dragging “Da Foot” around out on structure as a clean up bait.
Once again, the bait of choice is the #297 Yamamoto Senko, but I will also use 10 and 12 inch worms during the warmer weather months as well. The big worm rigged on the Shaky Foot is a different presentation than the standard Texas rig, and it has proven to out fish the Texas rig on several occasions.
As Fall arrives and cooler nights begin to cool the water down, bass will begin their migration toward the back ends of the creeks following the bait. These fish are pretty easy to catch when they first move to these locations, but they become lure-shy very quickly due to the tremendous amount of fishing pressure that they receive. This is where they Shaky Foot Senko combo really shines. “Da Foot” and senko rig have a very seductive fall that is similar to the way a tube spirals down. This action draws a lot of reaction strikes on the fall and the hook-up ratio is much better with “Da Foot” than with a Texas rigged tube. When these Fall bass get around docks, I will spool up with 20 lb. Seaguar Invis-X and skip “Da Foot” around docks on a 7’ heavy-action Team Daiway Zillion rod. It may sound like over kill, but you need heavy tackle to winch these dock fish over cables, brush, and other obstructions around docks.
When I approach a dock the first pitch or skip that I will make is to the darkest, shadiest portion of the dock. I will always let “Da Foot” spiral down with no tension at all on the line. I always pay close attention to my line as the fish will often take the bait and swim up under the dock. When this happens you will never feel s a strike. If the bait does touch down on bottom, I will deadstick it for 8 to 10 seconds before shaking it on slack line. I will then aggressively hop “Da Foot” a couple of times before winding the bait in and repeating the presentation. This technique produced several top finishes in the BFL and Stren series events last Fall at Lake of the Ozarks in central Missouri. Anglers in both events gave testimonies of catching limits of fish while fishing docks behind other fisherman in heavily pressured areas.
It is not very often that a bait comes along that I get this excited about, but the Shaky Foot by OMEGA Custom Tackle has proved itself worthy of praise. Although there is no one single bait that covers every situation, “Da Foot” will without a doubt catch bass all year long even in the toughest of fishing situations. You can check out “Da Foot” as well as the rest of OMEGA Custom Tackle’s line of products at www.omegacustomtackle.com.
By Todd Barnes
¼ and 3/8 OMEGA Shaky Foot
5” Yamamoto Senko
12-20 lb Seaguar Invis – X Line
Team Daiwa Zillion Rods
Team Daiwa Zillion Reels
997 HumminBird CSI
20 x HP Triton
225 Mercury Pro XS