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Little Baits for Big Bass

Shaw GrigsbyEditor's Note: Shaw Grigsby of Gainesville, Florida, won a gold medal in the ESPN Outdoor Games for fishing in 2002. He's qualified for the BASS Masters' Classic nine times and has won eight B.A.S.S. tournaments and four invitational tournaments. He's also the host of the "One More Cast" TV show on TNN.

Question: Tell me about a time when Strike King saved the day for you when fishing.

Grigsby: There are plenty of times that Strike King has saved the day. One day in particular that I remember was in a B.A.S.S. tournament on Lake Wheeler in north Alabama. I was fishing and using every tactic, technique and bait I knew, and I still couldn't catch any bass. The water was high, and I was fishing over grass beds.

When none of my lures seem to be working to catch bass, I usually down size my lures. I had been swimming a spinner bait above the grass with no success, but I felt like the bass would hit a spinner bait, so I looked in my tackle box and found the small, ¼-ounce Premier Elite spinner bait in chartreuse and white with a gold-front blade and a nickel willow-leaf rear blade. When I fished a spinner bait, I usually fished a ½-ounce Premier Elite spinner bait. But on this day on this lake, the big spinner bait just was not producing.

Strike King SpinnerbaitI told myself, "The water is high; the bass have to be in this grass. I've just got to put a bait in front of them that they can't help but eat." When I tied that little 1/4-ounce spinner bait on and started fishing it just above the grass, the bass turned on so strong I couldn't believe how many fish I was catching. I caught limits of keeper bass every morning of the tournament. Too, the little bait produced some good solid, 3- and 4-pound bass. This little bitty spinner bait saved the day for me.

Question: Why do you think the bass would take the little spinner bait and not the big spinner bait?

Grigsby: I believe the bass were keying in on little shad. I think the big spinner bait presented a bigger target than the bass were accustomed to eating. You never really could know what's in a bass's mind, but another factor could have been that the bass had seen big spinner baits, jigs, worms and crankbaits fished through that grass. But they probably hadn't seen a tiny spinner bait like the one I was casting.

Shaw GrigsbySince that day, this small spinner bait has become my number one spinner bait. Normally you'll carry one or two different colors and sizes of spinner baits in your spinner bait box, but I carry five of these ¼-ounce chartreuse and white spinner baits with me at all times. I believe that many fishermen have convinced themselves that big bass want big spinner baits, and big spinner baits are all they'll cast. But I believe this is a totally wrong philosophy. The biggest bass I ever caught, I caught on a small tube bait.

Small baits, many times, will produce more big fish than big baits because bass know they can catch and eat a small bait much faster than they can catch and eat a large bait. If you're overlooking using small baits when you are fishing for big bass, you may be leaving out the best tool in your arsenal to catch those lunkers.


Go Little For Tidal Water Bass

Shaw GrigsbyEditor's Note: Shaw Grigsby of Gainesville, Florida, won a gold medal in the ESPN Outdoor Games for fishing in 2002. He's qualified for the BASS Masters' Classic nine times and has won eight B.A.S.S. tournaments and four invitational tournaments. He's also the host of the "One More Cast" TV show on TNN.

Question: Tell me about another day when a Strike King bait saved the day.

Grigsby: I was fishing in a B.A.S.S. tournament on the Mobile, Alabama Delta. A big catch of bass would only weigh 6 pounds in this tournament because those Delta fish were really small. We all were fishing hard, but we would only get two or three bites per day. The fish just weren't cooperating.

Most of the fishermen were fishing Snagless Sally spinner baits, plastic worms and tube jigs. And I decided to try a Strike King Series 1XS, a chartreuse crawfish with brown-back color. This crankbait is a X-extra-S-shallow running crankbait. This little bait would swim just under the surface and barely above the grass, and the bass came out of the grass and ate this little crankbait up.

Strike King Series 1XSI really believed that the bass in the Delta had seen the Snagless Sally so much that they were almost immune to it. They had also seen tube jigs and worms so often that they wouldn't react to them like they would to a crankbait they had never seen before. I'm convinced that the more often a bass sees a bait, the less likely the fish is to hit that bait. So I was betting that those bass in the Mobile Delta had never seen a little bitty crankbait like the Series 1XS and that they would take this bait.

Luckily, my bet paid off. I caught limits of bass every day, and I had some really nice-sized fish. I could have easily finished in the top-three because of the size and number of bass that I was catching. However, on the third day of the tournament, when I was coming out of the creek where I had been fishing, I knocked the motor off the back of my boat.

I had 11 pounds of bass in my livewell and most of the other anglers had 6 pounds or less. Since I lost my motor, I wasn't able to get to the loading area and I didn't get to weigh-in my bag of fish. So I didn't place. But I did get to enjoy catching all those nice bass on the Series 1XS. That lure gave me an opportunity to win the tournament if I hadn't have lost my motor.

Shaw GrigsbyThe Series 1 is about the size of your thumb, and that's about the size of most of the crawfish, crabs and baitfish that tidal-water bass usually eat. This lure has a very erratic action, a wide, wide wobble and a good rattle in it. So I believe that this lure allowed the bass to use all of its instinct to key in on this bait, capture it and eat it.

I've learned that when you really have to catch fish, you are more likely to catch them using little baits than big baits. I've also learned I can take this little Series 1XS crankbait and fish behind other anglers to catch bass they didn't catch with their bigger baits. This little bait will also produce quantitatively as well as quality-size.


The Attack of the Zulu

Strike King 3X ZuluEditor's Note: Shaw Grigsby of Gainesville, Florida, won a gold medal in the ESPN Outdoor Games for fishing in 2002. He's qualified for the BASS Masters' Classic nine times and has won eight B.A.S.S. tournaments and four invitational tournaments. He's also the host of the "One More Cast" TV show on TNN.

Question: What did you learn at the 2002 ESPN Outdoor Games at Lake Placid?

Grigsby: I was practicing on a Friday, the week before the Outdoor Games in Lake Placid, New York. The water was clear and most anglers were flipping and pitching. So I set up some tubes and some jigs on my rods and started fishing like everyone else. While I was fishing, I said to myself, You ought to try that Zulu, a soft-plastic jerkbait made from the new 3X material that Strike King has just developed. I'd tried this bait when fishing in New Hampshire, and the small bass just attacked this bait unmercifully.

When we pulled up to the very first place I was going to fish that day in the Outdoor Games, I began to fish the Zulu. When the Zulu hit the water, I jerked it twice. About 15 smallmouth tried to attack it at the same time. I caught one of the smallmouth, unhooked it, and while I was trying to put the fish in the livewell, my son picked up my rod with the Zulu tied on and caught two more smallmouth before I could get him to give me my rod back. I tied the Zulu to his rod, and we continued to catch fish there. Then when we went to my next spot, the first cast we made, we both had on smallmouth.

Strike King 3X ZuluThe smallmouth were eating those Zulus just as though they were live shad minnows. When you twitch that Zulu, the entire body ripples just like a live baitfish. And the smallmouth will just crush that bait. But we didn't just catch smallmouth. We caught quite a few largemouth using this lure. This was one of the most phenomenal fishing days that I'd ever had in my life. I knew that if I fished the Zulu in these two spots, I could blow the competition away. But for some reason, those surefire spots have a way of escaping me.

Just before the Outdoor Games tournament began, the tournament director declared the two spots where I'd caught all my fish off-limits. So my fall-back plan was to use the Denny Brauer tube jig, and I won the tournament on the tube jig. However, the knowledge that I gained from fishing the Zulu taught me the kinds of areas to look for and how to fish for these bass on this lake. The Zulu really saved the day for me.

Although the Zulu may look like many other soft-plastic jerkbaits, it's really quite different because:

Strike King 3X Zulu* it floats and doesn't sink like other soft-plastic jerkbaits,
* you can make the Zulu sink by fishing it on a jig head or putting some lead on the hook,
* the flexibility of the bait is phenomenal. When you twitch most soft-plastic baits, they usually dart either to the right or to the left, but the Zulu ripples throughout its entire body when you twitch it, causing the whole bait to look alive.


Spittin For Redfish

Shaw GrigsbyEditor's Note: Shaw Grigsby of Gainesville, Florida, won a gold medal in the ESPN Outdoor Games for fishing in 2002. He's qualified for the BASS Masters' Classic nine times and has won eight B.A.S.S. tournaments and four invitational tournaments. He's also the host of the "One More Cast" TV show on TNN.

Question: Have you had any salt-water experiences with Strike King baits where a lure saved your day of fishing?

Grigsby: Absolutely. I was fishing on the East Coast of Florida around the Cape Canaveral area. My guide was Shawn Foster. He's accustomed to catching 30-, 40- and 50-pound redfish. He may be one of the best redfish anglers I know. I wanted to see how these Strike King baits would work on redfish.

Shawn said, "To catch redfish, you've got to have some really big baits," and he held out a handful of lures that were really big and bulky. I said, "I really want to try Strike King's Spit-N-King -- a little lure about 3-inches long that spits, darts back and forth and has a really erratic movement. This was before Strike King developed the Spin-N-Mullet.

Strike King Spit-N-KingThe first spot we went to was an oyster bar with rocks on the shore line. Foster started throwing his big top-water lures, and I cast behind him with my little Spit-N-King. I had only twitched the bait about three times when I saw this big wake coming up behind the bait. All of a sudden, I caught this huge redfish. Then I caught three more really big redfish on the next three casts.

Foster couldn't believe that those really big redfish would take that little Spit-N-King. He was so convinced about how effective that little lure was that he asked me to leave him a sackful of them because he had a redfish tournament to fish that upcoming weekend.

Shaw GrigsbyThat little Spit-N-King made the day because I was fishing with one of the top redfish fishermen in the nation, and he was so totally convinced that you had to have really big top-water lures to catch big redfish that he wouldn't even consider fishing with my little Spit-N-King until the bait proved him wrong. But then when he saw the redfish-catching ability of the Spit-N-King, he didn't just want one, he wanted a sackful.

This lure has a lot of action; it makes a lot of noise; the redfish can locate it easily; and redfish can get this lure in its mouth. So, on this day, not only did the Spit-N-King save the day, it gave me an opportunity to say - "I told you so."


Series 3 Crankbait Saved the Day And The Tournament

Shaw GrigsbyEditor's Note: Shaw Grigsby of Gainesville, Florida, won a gold medal in the ESPN Outdoor Games for fishing in 2002. He's qualified for the BASS Masters' Classic nine times and has won eight B.A.S.S. tournaments and four invitational tournaments. He's also the host of the "One More Cast" TV show on TNN.

Question: Tell me about another time when Strike King saved the day.

Grigsby: I was fishing a tournament in Monroe, Louisiana. I'd been catching a few bass flipping and pitching, but I was really struggling to try and catch fish. I knew I needed to catch a limit of bass if I was going to get a check in this tournament. I had four bass in the boat, and I just couldn't seem to get that last bite to make my limit.

The tournament was almost over. I was racing my boat back to the weigh-in site. When I came out of the creek that I'd been fishing and on to the main river, I looked over at a point and said to myself, "That ought to be a place where the bass are hanging out." I was running out of time. So, I just quickly grabbed a rod with a Strike King Series 3 chrome black-back crankbait on it. I knew I had only a minute or so to fish if I was going to get to the boat ramp in time to not be disqualified. But I decided to spend my one last cast on this point.

Strike King Series 3 CrankbaitI made the cast and started to reel the crankbait down. My rod got almost jerked out of my hand. I caught a 2-pound largemouth and barely had enough time to unhook it and put it in the livewell to get back to the boat launch. That fish saved my day and allowed me to take home a check from the tournament that I wouldn't have taken home had it not been for the Series 3 crankbait.

That chrome black-back Series 3 crankbait has always been my fall-back bait, especially in the fall of the year.That bait has allowed me to go down almost any bank anywhere in the country and catch fish after fish after fish on it. When I'm in trouble in a tournament, that's my go-to bait. When I don't have much time to fish, and I have to catch a bass quickly, I'd rather be throwing this bait than almost any other bass bait in my tackle box. In this tournament, that bait saved the day.

Remember, crankbaits are very-versatile lures. They can be fished slow, fast, shallow, deep in open water or in thick cover, over grass and along rocks or logs. There is hardly any place you can't work a crankbait. I believe that if you fish a Series 3 crankbait, you can cover most depths that you want to cover. I think that because you can fish this bait relatively fast, you can often trigger strikes that you wouldn't get if you were catching a slower bait.

Shaw GrigsbyMy favorite retrieve is what I call a burn-and-stop retrieve. I'll reel the crankbait really fast, stop the bait for less than a second, and then reel it really fast again. I'm convinced the fast retrieve causes the bass to chase the bait. Then when you stop it, they can't help themselves; they just have to eat it.