Tackling Up DEEP Water
In the May issue we talked about deep water bass hangouts and what to look for, but getting your bait into these areas effectively relies heavily upon your ability to choose the correct tackle.
Two techniques can be very effective for getting fish from deep water, including crankbait fishing and Carolina or Mojo rigging. The tackle required for crankbait fishing in water deeper than 15ft can be substantially different to shallow water fishing and likewise the tackle that’ll give you the best results when using the Carolina and Mojo rigging techniques are quite different too. Let’s take a thorough look at the different strategies and apply the most appropriate tackle to make sure you get more fish in the live-well.
Deep water crankbait fishing
This technique rates very high on my list of strategies for early winter fishing. I’ve had particularly good success in waters around the country and remember specific occasions which stand out above many.
One fond memory was at a fishing event that I was partaking in on Nandoni Dam. The bass, particularly the larger ones, were stacking up against deep flooded timber. It was evident that the fish were feeding on schools of bait in deeper water and there was no other way to present a lure to these fish more effectively than with a crankbait. This was a prime example for me to use to explain the advantages of selecting your setup to suit the
a.) Cranking rod
The rod length is vitally important in deep water for many reasons; Leverage to keep the required amount of consistent pressure on the fish when hooked,
backbone to cast out the large deep
diving lures, flexibility and tip action to maintain and promote the desired diving/swimming action from the crankbait. This is only something you can feel is right once your setup is correct. The lure will swim while delivering its characteristic thumping action to the tip of your rod, while the angler leans into the backbone of the rod during the retrieve to the baits desired diving depth. I suggest a minimum rod length of 7ft, but prefer to select from closer to 7’6” for this application.
b.) Fishing line
Deeper water is particularly difficult to fish in if you’re using the incorrect line; too flexible and you won’t have good contact with your bait, inhibited swimming action from your lure, and potentially insufficient pressure to keep the fish hooked.
I’ve had far better success using fluorocarbon line in depths below 12ft. Fluorocarbon has a number of benefits. Fluoro is less flexible than monofilament and copolymer lines and therefore helps you keep maximum pressure, and improved feel over greater distances. Furthermore, fluoro varieties tend to have a smaller/thinner diameter than other line. This means that your line will not arc as much between your rod tip and the lure because it will cut easier through the water offering less friction.
Unfortunately fluorocarbon line will come at a higher price, but I truly believe you will see a tremendous improvement in your deep water crankbait fishing.
c.) Lure selection
The choice of lure I really must leave to the angler to decide on as there are such a wide variety of deep diving crankbaits to choose from. If it interests you to know my favourites, well I choose two varieties only – the Rapala DT16 and Norman DD22.
Carolina & Mojo rigging
Carolina rigging has taken on a few changes over the years, which has helped anglers use slightly less hardware, which in return promotes a far more natural presentation under the water. This is the reason why I have amalgamated the two different techniques for the purposes of this deep water strategy.
Inanda and Albert Falls Dams both provide excellent opportunity to improve your Carolina and Mojo rigging skills. Excellent deep water structures in these dams are prime examples of where to apply this technique, but again you must try to adhere to some basic ‘rules’ to reduce frustration and increase your catch ratio:
a.) Rod selection
Once again deep water means greater distances and this should immediately channel you to thinking about a longer rod with sufficient backbone. Why? The longer rod allows you to make longer, easier casts with heavier hardware (weights), and the backbone should be sufficient enough to set the hook over a long distance. If the rod were too soft it
will be unlikely that you will be successful in setting the hook, and the ability to detect the bite will also be reduced.
I would select a rod longer than 7ft for this purposes and a medium to medium-heavy action should suffice.
b.) Fishing line
Without having to repeat what was said about crankbait fishing - the line choice is very much the same. Longer distances mean you should be amplifying your ‘feel’ in order to detect bites, set the hook in time and maintain effective contact with the fish.
Fluorocarbon line is again the line of choice here as it will provide all the necessary advantages in deeper water/ over greater distances. Nothing has been mentioned about line breaking strain, as this is mostly dependant on the structure you are fishing in and can vary greatly.
c.) Lure selection
There is hardly a plastic lure that you cannot use for this technique and this is again not worth wasting time discussing my personal favourites. Choose the baits that closely resemble the fodder available in that fishery and you should be 99% of the way to catching more fish.
I hope I’ve guided you towards better deepwater fishing and look forward to seeing you on the water. Enjoy bass fishing!
*Roger Donaldson is an experienced journalist and knowledgeable bass angler who has enjoyed many enlightening hours with many of South Africa’s top, competitive bass fishermen. As a competitive angler himself, he also enjoys sharing his expertise with fellow bass fanatics in the hope that they find the same joy in this unique sport.
David Fryer with 3kg fish caught on a Mojo rig in deep
water at Middle Letaba
David Fryer with a healthy fish of 2,9kg caught on a DD22 at Renosterkop Dam