(Editor's note: "Catching Bass with Dustin Wilks" airs five times per week on the Outdoor Channel – 2 p.m. ET Sunday, 4:30 a.m. Monday, 6 a.m. Tuesday, 11 a.m. Wednesday and 5:30 a.m. Saturday. The six-time Bassmaster Classic qualifier provides BassFans with additional insight about each episode in these submissions.)
Last week’s show was a fun one to watch. I watched it twice (Wednesday at 11 a.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m.) as I often do to see all the final edits and see how to improve the next time I go shoot.
It was a big cold front day in May. Under that condition, I prefer to go to a river or the upper end of a reservoir in the river portion. The moving water keeps the fish biting as long as there is no major rain event with too much fresh mud.
I started the day flipping tight to cover and current seams with a 6-inch Culprit Fat Max, which is my most consistent river producer. It's a thicker cut worm designed to go on a bigger hook and has enough plastic to resist snags. I use this on a my standard 7’3’’ Falcon Amistad rod, 20-pound Yo-Zuri T-7 and a 4/0 wide gap hook.
After catching several nice ones with the Fat Max, I started hunting schools and found them stacked up at the mouths of a couple of creeks. One was incredible … on the show we only showed a small percentage of the catches there. I even stopped to let my cameraman catch a couple, since he had never caught a bass. It was fun.
The remarkable thing was that out of many catches, I think I lost only two fish after switching to a Yo-Zuri crankbait. Back in the day, and still some to this day, we are taught to fish flexible rods and light line with crankbaits. I used to lose so many fish with these setups. Now thanks to experimentation and better line and rods, I land a way better percentage of fish that bite treble-hook baits.
I still want some flex in a good crankbait rod, but also backbone. The crankbait rods of old had none. The rod I use most for crankbaits is a Falcon Cara Deep Runner, which is designed for deep cranks and is stout enough to handle the heavy baits. What I've found is this rod is perfect for shallow cranking as well, or really all cranking, unless you have something with really light wire No. 8 hooks.
With this rod, I can get the fish hooked well and away from cover, then it has enough flex to keep them pinned and plenty of power to just swing most in that are under 4 or 5 pounds.
An interesting thing I’m finding too with wide-gap trebles is to not set the hook. Just reeling hard is the best method for hooking them, but if you are using standard-gap hooks that don’t turn inward, go on and set that hook.! I use both depending on circumstances, but I prefer standard-gap as I find you’ll hook more short-strikers. The wide-gaps come through cover better, since the points are turned inward. Sometimes I choose just based on how it fits on the bait, but the factory Yo-Zuri hooks are really good on most every bait. I used the factory hooks in this show and lost next to nothing.
For shallow crankbaits, I use two lines. Yo-Zuri T-7 fluorocarbon is extremely tough and if the cover is relentless, I’ll use Yo-Zuri Hybrid, which is a nylon line with fluorocarbon coating. I usually stick with the 14- to 20-pound range, lighter if I need to go a bit deeper.
The Yo-Zuri Hybrid will allow the baits to float out of cover easier. I prefer the T-7 unless it is so snaggy and shallow that you need the floating line. I also use Hybrid a lot for topwater as well, as I find it extremely tough and it casts well. The T-7 has incredible feel and will help keep your bait deeper, and the feel is important, which is why I used it filming this day.
On the business end of the line I used a cool new color of the Yo-Zuri 3DB 1.5MD called burnt orange. On the clay-bottom areas it looked extremely natural, as I try to match my lure to the bottom if the water is clear. The water wasn’t clear this day, but not bad, and the fish responded really well to it, so I kept on using it. It has gone on to prove its effectiveness in a lot of lakes this past year, earning a spot in the box. This bait sold out after the first couple airings of the show on several major online tackle shops, but will be back in stock soon.
The main takeaway from the show was having the proper cranking gear and flipping gear to capitalize on every bite to enjoy your time on the water.