The First 5 Rods Every Bass Fisherman Needs

The truth is, not every angler needs to own dozens of rods. You don't need to spend hundreds of dollars on combos, and you certainly don't need 5 of the same rod. In this industry, its easy to get caught up in the hype of fishing tackle.

From TV to magazines to websites (including Tactical Bassin) you're bombarded with anglers who own dozens upon dozens of high end fishing rod and reel combos. Its not hard to fall into the trap, believing you need all that equipment to be successful. The great news is, you don't.

If you don't plan to fish the elites this coming year you can probably get by with a lot less tackle than you'd like to believe. For the anglers just getting started, you need even less. Here are top 5 fishing rods that you need to become a well-rounded bass fisherman.

1) 7' Medium Light Spinning Rod: You can use this rod for dropshot, split shot, tubes, worms, even poppers and other very small hardbaits. This is going to be your most frequently used rod when you're getting started. Its also the rod that you'll still have in your rod locker as a back up 20 years later.

2) 7' Medium Heavy Spinning Rod: This rod will cover larger worms, senkos, light texas rigs, and even branch into medium topwaters, jerkbaits, etc.

3) 7' Medium Baitcaster: In no time this will become your go-to rod for everything from a crankbait, to a topwater, to texas rigs, worms, etc.

4) 7' Medium Heavy Baitcaster: You can use this rod for jigs, heavier texas rigs, spinnerbaits, chatterbaits, and other reaction baits.

5) 7'6" Medium Heavy to Heavy Baitcaster: If you even need a 5th rod, this will be the one. This rod is going to let you branch into frogs, small swimbaits, flipping and pitching.

Personally, we use Dobyns Rods for these applications. We recognize that every angler is different and needs vary but these are a great base line for you to make your decisions. In the beginning, consider the Fury or Savvy series then work your way into the higher product lines as you begin specializing at your favorite techniques.

Allen Rated #1 in "California Top 40"

Every Fall California anglers wait anxiously for Kramer's "Top 40"; a list of the top 40 fisherman in the state based on their performance that year. Once its released the list is hotly debated amongst fishing circles. What began as Kramer's personal opinion has morphed over the years. The list has moved from one man's view to the most respected West coast angler ranking. As such, a position on the list is now highly sought after by many anglers.

This year I'd like to congratulate both Matt and Tim for their placement on the list! For the first time, Matt headed the list in the #1 position. Tim wasn't far behind in the #11 position. These two anglers worked feverishly this year to pursue their fishing passion while sharing videos and how-to's in an effort to inspire other anglers to do the same.

Matt's passion for fishing has changed over the years. He first gained notoriety as a trophy largemouth fisherman. Matt still pursues trophy largemouth every year (and catches quite a few) but in recent years has expanded in many other directions, aiding his placement on the list. He is beginning to excel as a multi-species angler, targeting trophy smallmouth, spotted bass, even reaching as far as trophy catfish on occasion. Additionally, he became a fishing guide a few years ago and now thrives on teaching other anglers how to catch giant bass.

Tim, as many now know, is a warden for the Department of Fish and Wildlife. His recent exploits captured national media attention during the Valley Fire. Between work and his young family, Tim's time is extremely limited but he still manages to get out on the water. When he does, he's a machine. From trophy largemouth to trophy spots (including the California State Record Spotted Bass back in January) this guy catches them! Since becoming a partner in Tactical Bassin he spends more time behind the camera than in front but don't let that fool you. When he steps out from behind the camera he is a force to be reckoned with!

38 other anglers made the list as well, all of whom have exceptional talent on the water. Congratulations to all the anglers that made Kramer's Top 40 this year! We look forward to seeing what 2016 holds. Good luck out there!


Treble Hooks: How to Get the Most Out of Every Bait

This is probably the most underrated video we've ever done. On the surface it seems like such a mundane topic but there is no other topic that can make a bigger instant impact on your fishing and your wallet than understanding treble hooks. So what's the deal? Why do we care so much about hooks? You can take a single bait and change how it moves, how it sinks, how fish bite it, and sometimes even where they get hooked, just by understanding your hooks.  If you commit to the next 17 1/2 minutes and make it all the way through this video you will absolutely be a better angler on the other end!

We use hooks every time we hit the water but very few anglers really understand those hooks, how they really work, and how to make them work for you. With some basic knowledge you can learn to switch wire size, hook shape, color, or brand at the right times to drastically increase the number of fish you land!

While this topic seems mundane on the surface, I can't help but get excited about it. There is no other aspect of fishing that have more of an impact on your actual catch rates than your hooks, yet most anglers completely neglect them. When I ask a guy what his favorite hook is I'm invariably met with something like "Triple Grips", "Owner", or "Gami". Very few anglers even consider their options within a brand, let alone branching across various brands to match the different circumstances on the water.

Again, I challenge you to make it through to the end of this video. I know its long but it will change the number of fish you catch in the coming months. This video is about trebles but much of the information applies to single hooks as well.

Hooks are expensive and having a large assortment on hand can get pretty pricey but if you learn how to use them to impact sink rates you can have a single lure do all sorts of different things, saving a lot of money in the long run. Get yourself some quality split ring pliers because you're probably going to start changing hooks a lot more!

My favorite hooks for the various categories are:

River2Sea Whopper Plopper

The latest craze in bass fishing is the Whopper Plopper by River2Sea. If you fish in the West odds are you know exactly what it is, how to fish it, and how deadly it can be. If you fish East of the rockies, you're probably just hearing about how deadly this "new" topwater bait really is.

To the surprise of many, the Whopper Plopper isn't a new bait. Its been catching giant bass and winning tournaments on trophy bass fisheries like Clearlake and the California Delta for years!

When the buzzbait, spook, and frog, stop producing the Whopper Plopper just keeps on catching! Like the Basstrix and A-rig's before it, the "plopper"  is taking the industry by storm and changing the way that many anglers think bass can be caught.

Now garnering national attention with recent tournament wins, anglers everywhere are recognizing the fish catching potential of this unique bait.

In this video Tim explains the different sizes that are available, popular colors like "Loon" and "Monkey Butt", and the gear you'll need to fish them. See the bait in the water and how to retrieve it as well!

Whether you're chasing smallmouth and spotted bass with the 90 size or chasing GIANT largemouth in the South with the big 190, the Whopper Plopper is a topwater bait that every angler should add to their arsenal.

Top 5 Baits for Fall Bass Fishing

I love fall fishing! After a long summer the lake finally feels alive again. The baitfish are schooling, the bass are feeding, and the fishermen are wrapping up their tournament seasons. Whether you want to catch more bass, win the AOY race, or win a new boat, these 5 baits will get you headed in the right direction.

Its never easy to limit yourself to just 5 baits but if I had to choose one season to do it, it would be the fall. As the bass group up and feed they become much simpler to target than they were throughout the summer. In no particular order, my top 5 baits are as follows:

1) The jig: The bass are gorging before winter and one of their favorite meals is a crawdad. Stick to a simple craw profile and you'll succeed. There are a lot of great jigs out there including a plethora of colors, head designs, and colors but if I could only choose one it would be the Dirty Jigs 3/4 oz Pitchin' Jig in "Molting Craw". That color, coupled with either a Sweet Beaver-style trailer or a Twin Tail Grub-style trailer creates a phenomenal crawdad imitation.

2) The Spook: Walking-style topwater baits work great through all the summer months but their effectiveness peaks during the early fall. Bass are gorging on baitfish and baits like the super spook (see our video on the top 5 walking baits for ideas) are a perfect imitation. Choose a color you have confidence in but you can never go wrong with whites, silvers, or even a little chartreuse to draw the bass away from the 1000's of other easy meals swimming around. Try The Super Spook in "Okie Shad" or the Rover in "sooner" if you need a place to start.

3) The Glide Bait: Glide baits have taken the industry by storm the last couple years. If you aren't throwing one this fall, you're missing opportunities for great fishing! I'm particularly partial to the S-waver in the 168 and 200 sizes in "Warden" or "Light Trout" (See our S-Waver Video and S-Waver 200 Video to see why) The S-waver is easy to use and won't break the bank but is by no means your only option. Check out the Gan Craft Jointed ClawThe Slide Swimmer, or if you're in to the custom baits, the Hinkle Shad is hard to pass up. These are all baits that we've seen success with over and over again. They're big, but they get bit and fall is a great time to build your confidence!

4) The Deep Crank: Whether you're throwing a big 10XD, a Rapala DT-Series (because Ike says so), a slim profile like the Deep Six, or my old standby DD-22 you can't go wrong with a deep crank. We throw a lot of the shad patterns including those with lavender, chartreuse, or brown backs. We even branch in to the craws a bit. Whatever it is you choose, the deep crank will let you cast farther and reach deeper to catch those fish other anglers are overlooking.

5) The Lipless Crank: Who could possibly overlook this crank? Whether you're burning through the fading grass, fanning flats, or ripping off the bottom around docks and cover, the lipless is probably the most versatile bait during the fall. Again, stick to the shad patterns. If I could only choose one lipless it would be the Lucky Craft LV-500. Like many Western anglers I've discovered the benefits of the fast sinking, loud rattling bait. Try Chartreuse Shad, Ghost Minnow, Wakin if the fish are really active, or even Crack if the water has some stain to it.

What "Top 5" list would be complete without fudging and including some extras? Because 5 baits really is tough to do, the rest of the baits that really should have made the cut are the Swim Jig (California Swim Jig to be exact), the spoon (both Jigging Spoon and Flutter Spoon, The Jerkbait (ripbait if you live on the west coast), and the paddle tail swimbait (I'd go with the 6" basstrix or 4.8 Keitech on a Dirty Jigs Swimbait head).

Put these baits to work for you and have a great fall. Good luck out there!

Is your favorite bait on the list? Did I miss something? Let's hear what's on your top 5 list.

Texas Rigs: When to Peg the Weight, When to Leave it Free

This week Tim compares the benefits of fishing a Texas Rig with a pegged weight to fishing it with a free sliding weight. We as anglers typically latch on to one method or the other. We all have our favorites and that's okay but when it comes to putting bass in the boat, we need to stay open-minded.  

Understanding when to fish each method can be the difference between a banner day and just putting a few fish in the boat. Pegging the weight on a Texas Rig is a great method in and around cover but if you're fishing an open bottom or around docks and wood, you can't beat the slow falling action of an unpegged rig.

For a pegged rig Tim recommends using bobber stops, his favorite at the moment is the Paycheck baits. He typically pairs this with a tungsten weight. If you prefer your weight have an insert, you can't beat the Reins or River2Sea. If you prefer no insert, we've had great luck with Vike Tungsten lately.

Whether you're throwing an Ol' Monster, a Brush Hog, or a Keitech Crazy Flapper, the next time you're on the water and your fish stop responding to the bait, trying mixing it up, change the weight, and see if it makes a difference. Good luck out there!