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Catch Deep Summer Bass with Kevin VanDam’s New Strike King Series 6 XD Crankbait

Final Day of the BASS Elite Kentucky Lake Tournament

Click to enlargeEditor’s Note: Kevin VanDam of Kalamazoo, Michigan, one of America’s top bass fishermen, has solved a major hot-weather bass-fishing problem for all of us.  When the weather’s too hot to breathe, a new lure that VanDam has designed – the Strike King Series 6XD crankbait – will help us catch bass holding on deep ledges. In 2008, on Kentucky Lake, VanDam needed a crankbait to dive 18- to 20-feet deep to win. But getting a crankbait down that deep is pointless unless the crankbait has the right wobble and will run true to attract bass on deep-water ledges during hot summer months. So, VanDam worked with the Strike King lure designers to develop a new crankbait that would deliver the performance he needed for the June, 2009 BASS Elite Series event on Kentucky Lake in Paris, Tennessee. VanDam was willing to gamble $100,000, the first-place prize in this tournament, on this newly-designed bait. Although the Series 6 XD crankbait hadn’t yet come to the market (it should be available in August, 2009), VanDam had six or eight prototypes in factory-painted colors to use in this tournament event. This week, VanDam will tell us about the new Strike King Series 6 XD crankbait, and how he fished it in this year’s tournament on Kentucky Lake.

Question: Kevin, in what place were you during the last day of the tournament?
VanDam: I was in third place going into the last tournament day.Click to enlarge

Question: What was your game plan on the last day?
VanDam: I planned to run to every spot fishing as hard as I could. I knew that Bobby Lane of Lakeland, Florida, had a 9-pound lead ahead of me going into that last day. We had a 2-hour fog delay on Saturday morning. Bobby had been fishing one spot that all the contestants knew. I thought the locals probably would move onto his spot to catch numbers of bass before he arrived during that fog delay. Usually water wasn’t pulled on Saturday, and I knew losing those 2 hours would hurt everyone. Still, I felt I had a chance to catch a 25-pound bag of bass. If Bobby’s spot didn’t hold up, I knew I might have a chance to win.

Question: What was your game plan?
VanDam: When we finally were able to get on the lake, I went to all my best spots. The fishing was tough with no current. On most river ledges where I fished, the bass didn’t pull up until the current started to run. When there’s no current, the bass often will pull off to the sides of ledges and drop down into slightly-deeper water. I learned that instead of being in 14- to 16-foot-deep water, the bass pulled off to the side of the ledge and dropped down to water 19- or 20-feet deep. One school of bass I caught on the last day was in that 19- to 20-feet-deep water. I made super-long casts to get the bait down to where that Series 6 XD bounced off the bottom.

Question: Kevin, what pound-test line did you use to get the bait down that deep?Click to enlarge
VanDam: To get the bait deep, it’s not only important to have the right line, but having the right rod, reel, cast and retrieve technique is equally important. I used 12-pound-test Bass Pro Shop XPS fluorocarbon line because it would sink, which would help get the bait down really deep. With the low stretch of the line, you still could feel the action of the bait even in that deep water. I used the 7-foot, 10-inch Quantum Tour KVD crankbait rod that I designed specifically for this type of deep cranking. That big rod allowed me to cast the Series 6 XD a long way. I was able to make a 70-yard cast with this rod. I needed that long cast to get the crankbait down deep. I used a Quantum Energy PT 5.1:1 gear-ratio reel.

Question: What type of retrieve did you give that big crankbait?
VanDam: To get a crankbait to its maximum depth, I had to start reeling it with a slow-to-medium retrieve. Once I got the crankbait down to 17 or 18 feet, I’d speed up the retrieve because a fast retrieve would trigger the bass to bite. I wanted to make that crankbait bounce around on the bottom to entice the bass to bite.

Question: Kevin, were you kneeling and reeling?
VanDam: No, I wasn’t, but I was putting my rod tip right down on top of the water or touching the water.

Question: When a bass takes a crankbait that deep, how do you set the hook?
VanDam: I continue reeling, but pull the bait, rather than giving the lure a hard, fast hook set. With a fiberglass composite rod, I expect the bass to load-up and take the bait deep into its mouth, so I won’t lose the bass if it tries to jump up and throw the lure. Click to enlarge

Question: When you have a bass coming to the surface from water that deep, how do you stop it from jumping?
VanDam: You can’t keep a bass from jumping, but you can try. When the bass starts to come up, pull it sideways. This is where that soft, slow rod action helps to control the bass’s head, keeps it from shaking its head and absorbs the energy when it tries to jump.

Question: Kevin, you finished in second place in this tournament. How far were you from first place?
VanDam: I was about 5 pounds from first place, but I’d made up half of what I needed to win the tournament. I caught around 22 pounds that day. I caught the biggest stringer in the top 12 on the final day, but I just couldn’t catch the really-big bass I needed to win.

Question: How much money did you earn for second place?
VanDam: I took home a $25,000 paycheck.

Question: Kevin, how does it feel when you cast and retrieve a big crankbait like the new Strike King Series 6 XD for 4 consecutive days without a break?
VanDam: Physically, I’m worn out. I worked hard in this tournament, but I had an opportunity to win.

Question: When will the new Series 6 XD be on the market?
VanDam: It probably will hit the market at the end of July or by fall. I’m excited about this bait. It has all the attributes you’ll need in a really-deep-diving crankbait. It’s unlike any other crankbait on the market today. The Strike King Series 6 XD casts well, runs deep and most importantly, has a good searching action when it hits the bottom in deep water. Even when fishing in shallow water, the Series 6 XD still has great action and makes fishing special. It’s better than other crankbaits.

Question: What makes this crankbait get down so deep?
VanDam: The bill’s design, which is a zero-degree, very-thin bill that can cut the water and the body shape of the XD allows it easily to move through the water and move deep. The internal weight gives the bait its super-quick dive angle and action. Many components were adjusted before this bait became fishable. When you have a chance to test the Series 6 XD, you’ll see why I’m so excited about this lure.

Check back each day this week for more about "Catch Deep Summer Bass with Kevin VanDam’s New Strike King Series 6 XD Crankbait"

Day 1: Practice Days with the New Strike King Series 6 XD
Day 2: Day One of the 2009 BASS Elite Kentucky Lake Tournament
Day 3: Day Two of the BASS Elite Kentucky Lake Tournament
Day 4: Day Three of the BASS Elite Kentucky Lake Tournament
Day 5: Final Day of the BASS Elite Kentucky Lake Tournament


Entry 515, Day 5