By Jonathan LePera
Special to BassFan
It’s no secret that Ish Monroe would spend the rest of his days bass fishing with a flipping stick in his hand and a frog at the ready. While he’s widely known as one of the top shallow-water anglers among touring pros, his tactics aren’t so much.
Recently, he placed third at the Toledo Bend Bassmaster Elite Series, using a strategy he calls “dropping bombs on ’em.”
Outside the Box
Anglers have been conditioned to pitch the lightest weights possible when fishing shallow cover and to be as stealthy and quiet while presenting their bait. If the fish are spooky, covert tactics are useful, but Monroe prefers to pitch and flip heavier weights to create a reaction strike.
At Toledo Bend, he fished a ¾- and 1-ounce River2Sea Junkyard Jig designed by Tommy Biffle to run up the leaderboard.
“I teamed that up with a Missile Baits Destroyer for a big profile,” he said. “I had a heavy weight that made a lot of noise and a big profile. The fish I was catching were big.”
For BassFans who may have watched the 2013 Major League Fishing General Tire Summit Cup at
Chautauqua Lake, Monroe had success fishing behind competitors who had been pitching and flipping lighter sinkers. The lake was in the midst of a mid-summer algae bloom at the time and water clarity was an issue even around docks.
“In dirty water it makes so much noise that it triggers fish into striking,” Monroe said.
Every angler has hit the pilings on a dock or the cross bars or limbs on trees as well as the rocks on the bottom. What anglers need to understand, Monroe says, is that when fish are hungry, those collisions are akin to the dinner bell ringing for bass.
“In clean water situations, when that heavy sinker hits bottom and kicks up muck or dirt, those fish can see that from a distance and can trigger fish into striking,” Monroe added.
Working the Bait
Once Monroe’s bait hits the water, he follows a strict checklist before he reels up and starts over.
“I’ll hop that bait up and down twice, boom boom, pull it out and pitch to the next spot,” he said. “The initial trigger is when it hits the bottom. With one kick of their tail, a bass can swim five feet. If they are in any general direction, they are going to eat that thing as soon as it hits the bottom.”
Setting the Hook
Monroe knows to use a hard-pressure hookset versus a snapping hookset.
“You don’t want a bow in the line when you set the hook,” he said. “When you set on the slack line, the weight hits the back of their mouth and blows their mouth open.”
With a pressure hookset, by pulling hard, largemouth will clamp down on the bait harder eventually letting the sinker to slip through.
“You peg them in the roof of their mouth every time,” Monroe added. He locks his drag down tight to ensure a solid hookset.
Monroe favors a Missile Baits D-Bomb paired with a 5/0 River2Sea New Jack Flippin Hook and a minimum of a 1-ounce River2Sea Trash Bomb weight. He prefers the candy grass pattern when bluegill are present and uses bruiser flash as a back-up. Day in and day out, the latter color is his confidence bait.
“If the D-Bomb isn’t working I’ll switch to the Missile Craw and be sure to match the hatch with both baits,” Monroe said.
> 8’ heavy-action Daiwa Steez AGS flipping rod, Daiwa Zillion HD casting reel (Monroe likes the 100-mm handle and 13 pounds of drag gives him confidence on hooksets), 65-pound Maxima Ultragreen braided line.