Tip’s For The Beginner

Old Hickory Lake

ImageOld Hickory can be a fairly tuff lake from time to time. I thought it might be of benefit to those of you that are new to fishing Old Hickory Lake, or maybe your struggling some there, to show you what is working for us right now-June 2005. Are these the only methods to catch fish on Old Hickory now?  No Way! But they are what is working for us! Also this ISN’T a commercial for anyone-it’s just the absolute honest truth! As always take what you want and disregard the rest.

Small Worms-Small Jigs-Strong Scent-Sensitive Rods and Light Line

It’s hard to tell how many bass that the Tennessee Bass Guides Team have caught this year on Old Hickory-Center Hill and Tim’s Ford using this technique. Take a look at the picture to the left…..when we are talking about throwing a little or small worm this is the rig. Some time ago we heard about a company in Alabama that was selling a jig head that was made with a 2/0 or 3/0 long shank hook that would allow you to Texas rig a worm. We got a package and found out that they work great. I decided that with a little help from a good friend of mine we would just pour our own and as they say the rest is history! If I told you how many bass and how many bragging bass we have caught on this rig this year you might not believe me.

We use two different sizes of jig heads depending on the depth of the water. On Old Hickory with all the shallow water we fish we use the 1/16th head almost exclusively.  When fishing deep water on Old Hickory, Tim’s Ford or Center Hill, or when the wind is blowing hard and you can’t feel the 1/16th head we opt for the 1/8th size. But let me also add that there are times on deeper lakes when the bass will hit the worm on the "Fall" and this plays right into the 1/16th ounce size because it sinks much slower. There are a few versions of this jig head on the market now. The best places to look would be at your nearest major sporting goods and discount stores.

ImageNow let’s talk about worm color and scent. June Bug by far has been the best color for us on all the lakes thisImage year. The worm of choice has been the 4 inch Zoom Dead Ringer soaked in a fantastic new product called JJ’s Magic. JJ’s is heavy garlic scented liquid dip that is available in Chartreuse, Methylate-Blue and clear. I first heard of JJ’s Magic this past winter and am I every glad I did. If your looking to get the maximum benefit from JJ’s Magic I suggest that you put your plastic worms-flukes etc in Tupperware bowls and soak them completely with the CLEAR garlic oil. Once again I’m telling you this stuff really works!!

Recently I was fishing with a very good tournament fisherman on Old Hickory Lake, pre-fishing him for a major event that is coming up. We had several telephone conversation prior to our trip where we discussed what I was throwing at the time, presentations, line size, you name it we covered it. We started out strong that morning and then the bite began to get a little tuff mid morning. Now remember we both were using the exact same worm rig I showed you above-with the same exact line size and we stood side by side as we worked several areas with these worms. The only difference was that he was using another nationally know scent and I was in my little Tupperware bowl…….after I had put 8 or 10 bass in the boat to his one he decided "Maybe there is something to this JJ’s Magic". It’s just that good. The best way to get JJ’s right now is off his web site at www.jjsmagic.com  Try it and you will see for yourself.

ImageAnother key element in fishing this rig correctly is having the right rod and line size.  Remember we are using a 1/6th ounce head and a four inch worm, the last thing you would want to do is overpower your lure with a heavy action rod and heavy line. That is why I throw these light baits on a AllPro 7 foot Med action APX Rod and 6 pound test exclusively. The light line gives the jig/worm rig freedom to work almost like it’s swimming free. The 7 foot rod allows me to gain distance on my cast and additional leverage at the boat when fighting a big fish. For me if there is a sweeter set up I don’t know where it is!

This set up is perfect for using this type of technique. The sensitivity in the APX rod is unmatched in the industry. Much of that is due to the graphite rings that are strategically placed on the handle of the rod that "transmit" the smallest of strikes up the line, down the rod,  into the handle and your hand. I know right now that there is someone reading this saying that’s just a bunch of #$@^&*%.  I have had my share of skeptics in the boat with me this year that have read past article on the APX….but after they see the results in the net…and I put a APX in their hands-they just can’t believe the difference. It’s like day and night….it’s like like holding a telegraphing feather compared to the base ball bat they were fishing with.  These are first class rods manufactured and sold by some first class people. Check them out at www.allprorods.com

The next bait that has been producing well for us is the Case Sinking Salty Shad. I always tell everyone that these baits are like putting candy in front of a kid. Fished around weeds-wood-rock -boatImage docks-bridge pilings and bluffs this is one fish catching tool. The bass just can’t help themselves, they have to have it. I want to point out why I believe that the Case Sinking Salty Shad is superior to other nationally known plastic jerk baits.

(1) It is full and I do mean full of salt. Because of the salt the bait little weighs a little more which helps you with longer and truer cast especially when the wind kicks up. As the salt dissolves the bass tend to hold onto this bait longer which also helps with additional hook up’s.

(2) If you notice the Sinking Salty Shad is longer, thinner, the nose of the bait is blunter (is that a real word) and the tail is more of a paddle design than the nationally marketed bait.  What this means to you is simple. Because of the thinness of the bait and it’s nose design it displaces more water and cause the bait to dart erratically much easier. The paddle tail also displaces more water and helps increase additional action as well. I have fished these two brands side by side and the Case bait wins hands down. These baits are available in many hologram finishes check them out at www.madtoms.com

ImageLast but never least nor very far from my heart is the the Luhr-Jensen Speed Traps and the #5 Shallow Shad Rap. I fish these baits on the exact same rod/line combination that we talked about above. It has been my experience over and over that you will have many more strikes on these baits when you use 6 lb test line. Much of that I believe is due to the small size and light weigh of these baits.

It seems that everything we have today to catch bass with is high tech. And the Speed Trap is no exception. These baits are designed with an expensive computerized mold system that creates a "Thin Wall" lure body that increases the action and vibration.

The wide lip and intermediate width body makes them exceptional around wood and rock cover. But one area where I believe they excel is over shallow grass. I have a tendency to move my baits along fairly quickly and the Speed Trap fits in perfectly. Bleeding Shiner-Chrome and Black and Chrome and blue seem to be working the best right now. The Shad Rap is also a tough one to beat as well. I think there are times when a Non-Rattling bait is more effective. I always have two shallow to mid depth crank bait rods ready at all times. One with a Speed Trap and the other with the Shad Rap. Check out the line of Luhr-Jensen baits at www.luhrjensen.com

Well other than marking your map for you there it is…150% truth. I sure hope it helps you on your next trip to the lake. If you have any questions e mail me at rickm@dtccom.net or through our web site fishing reports page.

Rick McFerrin

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