(Editor's note: The following is the latest installment in a series of fishing tips presented by The Bass University. Check back each Friday for a new tip.)
In an episode that has already become one of the most talked-about in bass fishing television history, James Watson introduced much of the bass fishing world to the concept of “spoon-jacking” overhead cover.
“If I could keep it under my belt – which I can’t because I have a big mouth – I probably could have made a lot more money with this thing,” he joked. While the opportunity for secrecy may have passed, the memorable catch provided the impetus for the development of his signature River2Sea Worldwide Spoon. He fishes the 1-ounce model when bass are suspended or in less than 15 feet of water, and goes up to 2 ounces when they’re deeper. Either way, he keeps his line taut as it falls, because if you allow any slack “you’ll get your feelings hurt.”
The “Worldwide Spoon” is a flutter spoon, which means that it falls comparatively slowly, has horizontal action and an erratic fall. It’s best in the post-spawn period, when water temperatures are over 70 degrees. By comparison, a traditional jigging spoon, or “slab spoon,” is more compact, falls straighter, and is strictly for vertical presentations – it also works in a wider range of temperatures, including in cold water.
The key to spoon jacking is locating bass relating to overhead cover – whether that be boat docks, tree tops, marina slips or a bridge. That means keying in on changing light angles. “It’s all about playing the shade,” he said. You may see him fishing far away from a bridge, but that’s only because he’s figured out the reach of the shade lines. Alternatively, he may load the boat in a given boat slip early in the day, but later In the day the school moves down a handful of slips. That’s because shade coverage has expanded, declined or otherwise changed.
The best scenario for this technique is not stained or dirty water. “Gin clear, that’s the type of water you want,” he said. “You want to be able to see this a hundred miles.”
His favorite spoon patterns tend to replicate shad, although in the fall he’ll utilize white spoons (and loves the old school “cole slaw” patterns). On cloudy days he’s apt to use gold, but this technique is clearly better when the sun is shining.
Clear water doesn’t mean you should downsize your tackle, though. He’s historically used a 7’6” heavy-action rod and has experimented with longer models. He also typically spools up with 20-pound Maxima fluorocarbon, although he doesn’t hesitate to upgrade to 25 on fisheries like Lake of the Ozarks, where the docks are more “gnarly,” with twice as many big blocks and cables. You can try 15, he explained, but expect to lose a lot of spoons.
If you want to learn some of Watson's additional tips for spoon-jacking global supremacy, including how and why you have to affix your stinger hook for tournament-winning catches, check out his full video, available only by subscribing to The Bass University TV.