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.

SA Bass - - Master Class - >> Roger Don­ald­son*

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

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