Blackfish Technical Apparel

By Kevin VanDam

Bait matching forage

This is the time of year when anglers are planning trips to year-end championships or fall fishing vacations scheduled outside their local element.

They will be seeking out help from others, hoping to find hotspots and lure choices.

While that may be helpful, knowing the dominate baitfish in the lake you’re about to fish can be an extremely important asset.

It’s really critical during the fall when bass target the most abundant species in a given lake as they fatten up for winter.

Yet, gaining solid knowledge about the baitfish in a specific lake is something overlooked by many anglers who assume “bait is bait.”

By Kevin VanDam

Should You Power Fish…or Finesse ‘em?

When you watch or hear how fellow competitors approach various situations, you can get a different perspective of what works for others.

Some pros opt for power fishing, others with finesse fishing and then there are those who mix the two dramatically different techniques.

It’s no secret that I love to power fish. I feel more efficient when I’m covering water. I believe it increases my odds of finding an area where the fish are numerous and biting, especially on the lakes we fish that are vast and you can’t cover much territory by fishing slow.

On the other hand, I’ve come to realize that there are times when finesse fishing is the most effective way to fish.

By Kevin VanDam

Lure Creation Involves More Than You ThinkOne of the many factors I’ve enjoyed about my relationship with Strike King is my involvement of lure design that I use every day to catch fish.

Company personnel are all serious anglers but they know the importance of using the pros’ knowledge in every step of lure development. The pro staff is deeply involved in lure creation and we all work as a team to create baits that help us be successful on the competitive circuit. We not only have a say in the design of baits but new colors that are introduced.

I’ve been fortunate to be involved in development of some incredible baits. Good examples are the KVD 1.5 Square Bill crankbait and the Red Eye Shad, each of which helped me win back-to-back Bassmaster Classics.

By Kevin VanDam

Rigging Considerations for Drop Shotting

To make a drop-shot rig work properly in Michiana waters, experiment with rigging techniques. Getting the right set-up can make a bigger difference.

Water depth and cover are keys to how I determine the leader distance between my hook and weight and how I rig the lure.

The distance between the sinker and hook is determined by how far off the bottom the fish are positioned and whether I’m fishing vertically or casting the rig.

By Kevin VanDam

Cost-effective Tips for Maintaining Fresh Line

If you don’t want a broken heart this summer, don’t neglect your fishing line - re-spool often to avoid those break-offs when a big fish bites.

The key to remember is use FRESH line that has been stored properly and hasn’t broken down. Buy from a retailer that sells a lot of line and not someone who has old stuff that may have begun to deteriorate.

It’s equally important to stick to a brand that you have confidence in or familiarity.

I’ve used Bass Pro XPS since I started my career. Because of that familiarity, I am intimately familiar with its diameter, performance and tolerance with each technique I use. If you use a variety of brands, you won’t know what’s on each reel and won’t gain the same kind of confidence.

By Kevin VanDam

Be Patient When Patterning Spring Bass

Nothing gets an angler excited more than the early spawning period when the fish move shallow and you start seeing them around spawning areas.

Sometimes we think it’s happening sooner than it really is and that shallow fish are aggressive and eager to bite.

Some fish may move up and they may bite, but you have to alter your presentations to a sneaky, finesse approach and be patient.