Tips, Tricks and Tactics From the Pros
Editor’s Note: In the world of bass fishing, Strike King Pro Kevin VanDam of Kalamazoo, Michigan, has set the bass-fishing world ablaze with his winning efforts. He was crowned 2010 BASS Angler of the Year and winner of the 2011 Bassmaster Classic and most recently finished in fourth place at the BASS Elite Tournament on the Harris Chain of Lakes in Florida and 11th on the BASS Elite Tournament at St. Johns River also in Florida. This week, VanDam will tell us what makes him together with the Strike King KVD 1.5 and 2.5 baits as hot as a firecracker.
Part 2: Kevin VanDam Reveals the Secret about the Magic of Strike King’s KVD 1.5 Crankbait
Question: Kevin, what is it about the KVD 1.5 that has made it one of the hottest crankbaits in America today in such a short time? We know you gave some KVD 1.5s to some of the other top-five finishers in the 2011 Bassmaster Classic. What makes that crankbait different from all the other crankbaits on the market?
VanDam: Although the KVD 1.5 may look similar to other crankbaits on the market, it has a completely-different action than other crankbaits. We designed this lure to be unstable and swim erratically through the water. It has great deflection qualities, so when it hits cover, docks, stumps or rocks, it kicks-off that structure in a different way that triggers strikes. Even when you fish it in open water, like I did on the Harris Chain of Lakes where I wasn’t hitting the bottom with the bait, the way that lure swims through the bottom still triggers strikes, even if you’re not hitting the bottom with it. Most crankbaits come back to the boat in a straight line, if you throw them out and reel them in, but not the KVD 1.5.
Question: What type of action do you give the 1.5 to make it catch bass?
VanDam: You don’t have to do anything. Most of the time you want the bait to hit the bottom, if possible, or bounce-off cover. Let it go through the grass, and then rip it out. I catch plenty of bass on a steady retrieve. Let the bass’s mood and the water and the light conditions dictate how the bass want to eat the 1.5. When I’m fishing it through open water, I prefer to stop and start it a number of times. But I’ll continually vary my retrieve until I start catching bass.
Once the bass start eating the bait, I use the retrieve that seemed to trigger the strike. Once I get a bite, I try to duplicate the retrieve I used to get that bite. On different days, I retrieve it in various ways. I’ve learned that if you want to run a crankbait in that 2- to 5-foot depth zone, the KVD 1.5 is hard to beat. Also, Strike King has the colors in the 1.5 to match the water, the weather and the cover conditions. You can fish the 1.5 from gin-clear water to the dirtiest water you can find. We’ve got the colors that match the forage under any water conditions.
Question: If I’ve never fished a Strike King KVD 1.5 crankbait before, and I’m an average weekend fisherman, what colors should I buy, and what type of action should I plan to use?
VanDam: If I only could pick one color, I’d choose the KVD 1.5 in the sexy shad color. I’d probably fish it on 14-pound-test fluorocarbon line, casting it around any type of structure I could find in shallow water where I thought a bass would be holding. But the advantage I have is that I don’t have to choose one lure in one color. I can pick the color that matches the time of year I’m fishing and the water and the weather conditions where I’m fishing. Right now, a number of bass in the South are still spawning.
If the water’s a little clear, I’d fish the natural bluegill color. If the water’s a little stained, chartreuse will be hard to beat. At the 2011 Bassmaster Classic in New Orleans, Louisiana, and on the Harris Chain of Lakes in Florida, the water was off-color. That KVD 1.5 in chartreuse with a black back proved to be the best color. Another color that’s good in off-colored water is fire tiger. With a few natural- and bright-colored 1.5s, you’ll have a crankbait you can use for any water, weather and structure conditions you find.