John's Journal...

Why Kevin VanDam Is a Bass Fisherman Who Constantly Wins

Day 4: Never Abandon the Spinner Bait for Bass with Kevin VanDam

Editors Note: Seven Bassmaster Angler-of-the-Year titles, four of those consecutively in the last 4 years, and back-to-back Bassmaster Classic Championships make Kevin VanDam of Kalamazoo, Michigan, one of the most-consistent bass anglers on the professional-bass-fishing circuit today. This week, VanDam will tell us his tips for catching bass continuously.

Click for Larger ViewQuestion: Kevin, in years past, you were known as the spinner-bait kid. However, in recent years, you seem to have abandoned the spinner bait for the crankbait. What’s happening?

VanDam: I fish the spinner bait a lot, depending on the conditions. Remember, the trendsetters in tackle usually come from the Bassmaster Elite Series Tournament circuit. The states, the rivers and the lakes where the tournaments are set-up have a lot to do with the types of lures I’ll fish to catch the bass. For instance, we fish different lakes at various times of the year more now than we have in the past. The last few years, many of the Bassmaster Elite Series Tournaments have occurred after the spawn and in the summer months when the bass have moved offshore. Then we need to fish deeper than we do in the early spring and the early fall. So, when the bass are moving-out to deep water, the crankbait becomes the dominant lure I’ll use to catch those post-spawn bass. Remember that during the first day of the 2011 Bassmaster Classic on the Louisiana Delta in February, the only bait I threw was a spinner bait. I catch tons of bass on a spinner bait all the time.

Click for Larger ViewStrike King has spinner baits that allow me to fish all the depth ranges where bass usually hold. The Burner lets me fish really fast close to the surface of the water, and the Bottom Dweller allows me to get-down in deep water and crawl on the bottom. Strike King has spinner baits for any depth or any speed of retrieve I want to use. Remember Strike King’s name was founded on spinner baits. Much of my early success was with spinner baits, because the tournaments were held during the time of year that the spinner bait was the best tool to use. Those spinner baits still catch tons of bass. In the Bassmaster Elite Series Tournament on the Arkansas River in Little Rock, Arkansas, in June, 2011, I caught a number of bass on the spinner bait. One of the keys to my success is being able to identify and use the best lure to find and catch the bass at the time of year and under the weather and the water conditions we have to fish in each tournament.

Click for Larger ViewSo, I haven’t abandoned the spinner bait, but because we’re fishing more post-spawn tournaments, the crankbait has been a better tool for me out in deep and extremely-shallow water. Also, we fish a lot of lakes where many anglers fish spinner baits. To give the bass a different look, I’ll fish a crankbait in a spot that others may say is a spinner-bait spot. By fishing a crankbait in that area, I’m able to present a lure to the bass that they may not have seen in that location for a long time. This difference in lures may generate strikes that I won’t have gotten if I fish the spinner bait like everyone else. Too, I believe in changing the look of the spinner bait. At the Bassmaster Elite Series Tournament on West Point Lake in LaGrange, Georgia, in May this year, I caught a number of bass using Strike King’s Baby Burner spinner bait. A spinner bait is much like a plastic worm. To consistently catch bass, you’ve always got to have a Strike King spinner bait tied onto one of the rods on your casting deck.

Click for Larger ViewQuestion: What’s your favorite color and weight of spinner bait?

VanDam: I use whatever size spinner bait fits the conditions I’m fishing on that day. At any time I’m practicing or fishing, I’ll have at least 500-different Strike King spinner baits in my boat. I’ve got spinner baits from as little as the 1/4-ounce Burner to the 1-3/8-ounce Bottom Dweller, and all the spinner baits that Strike King makes in-between those two sizes. One of my favorite colors for clear-water situations is the blue shad, and I like the chartreuse sexy shad color also, especially if the water has a little stain or color to it. The number-one selling color spinner bait every year is chartreuse-and-white. But that chartreuse sexy shad color is more productive than the standard chartreuse-and-white. When you talk about consistency, I can’t be consistent without a boat load of Strike King spinner baits.

Tomorrow: Kevin VanDam Enjoys Fishing New Lures for Bass

Check back each day this week for more about "Why Kevin VanDam Is a Bass Fisherman Who Constantly Wins "

Day 1: Bass Fishing Consistently With Kevin VanDam
Day 2: Fishing Ledges for Bass with Kevin VanDam
Day 3: Bass Fishing and Finesse Worms with Kevin VanDam
Day 4: Never Abandon the Spinner Bait for Bass with Kevin VanDam
Day 5: Kevin VanDam Enjoys Fishing New Lures for Bass

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Entry 622, Day 4