I am a huge fan of Owner Hooks. I have had a journey with treble hooks, as most of us have had. You go thru the balance of:   Uber sharp points, short shank/non fouling, hook strength and ability to handle 80# braid or a giant fish, or both.  I came around to the ST-66 Owner Treble Hooks as I refined my 8″ Huddleston rigging.  I like to call it the Southern Trout Eaters rig.  Reality, its a derivative and fusion of others rigs from friends my own flavors.  Super small, sharp, XXX strong and well balanced hook was what drew me to the ST-66 for a small profile that would complement the Hudd vs. stick out and go against the flow. 

The fish have literally beaten the eyes out of my hard and soft baits lately. You are sticking your bites with braid and ST-66. Remember, you gotta match your braid with strong hooks, because you can bend hooks and hook points EASY.

Now, as I’m getting salty, and fishing for saltwater bass, tuna, yellowtail, halibut and bay bass, to name a few target species…I’m going thru my tackle and saltwater-ize-ing it all.    I am putting the 1/0 , 2/0 and 3/0 sized ST-66 on my Triple Trouts.  I am replacing the Owner Hyper Split Rings, with larger Hyper Wire Split Rings.  #8s and #10s in cases.  Big ole split rings that require fatty split ring pliers these to work right:  

I noticed Kevin has ST-66 on his baits too. Gold bar Triple Trout. That other bait is MC Swimbaits’ Slug. Cough Cough. If I fished for big bass in freshwater, I wouldn’t look at that slug for big ones, cough cough. Corey makes some killer baits and has pioneered things that make a lot of sense.

I really believe in the Hyper Wire Split Rings and ST-66 combinations for any baits with hanging trebles.  They are heavy, and tend to make your bait sink a little quicker than lighter wire ST-36 hooks, but they are geared for whatever fishes you encounter (hopefully).   The Slide Swimmer 250 comes stock with big ST-66s, to give you an idea of how well they match w bigbaits.  


Good calico bass fishing is as satisfying as any largemouth bites I’ve ever been on. Great swimbait eaters. You have to search and work. I catch little ones around home, but there are good ones to be had at these local islands, LA County, Santa Barbara, Mexico, etc. That search is what drives me these days.



I will admit it, I was a snob when I saw and heard about swimming worms.  I can think of 3 times the swimming worm was relayed to me as the bait, and I foolishly tried to make it a bigbait / swimbait bite without putting it into context.  When you fish Okeechobee, you will inevitably get around the Speed Worm bite.  Well, as you progress, you’ll migrate to the Magnum Speed Worm, and rig it with a jumbo offset worm hook and 1/4 – 1/2 ounce weight pegged and learn to swim, stroke, hop it thru the various grasses.  The big worm and special tail swim really well, and fish eat the heck out of it.

The Gambler Burner Worm tail.
The Gambler Burner Worm tail.


The Gambler Burner Worm tail (left) vs. the Zoom Magnum Speed Worm tail.  We used to modify our Magnum Speed worms with a small piece of copper tubing to make what is now OEM on the burner worm.  Just saying.
The Gambler Burner Worm tail (left) vs. the Zoom Magnum Speed Worm tail. We used to modify our Magnum Speed worms with a small piece of copper tubing to make what is now OEM on the burner worm. Just saying.

I found the swimming worm to be an effective technique on Okeechobee, Lake Seminole and Lake Dardenelle.  Dardenelle in the shore grass, over stumps and wood, and anywhere I could find grass the was submerged due to river levels.   Gambler doesn’t need my advice to create great products.  This company lives in South Florida and knows grass fishing way more intimately than me.  You have to appreciate the Gambler Burner Worm as a derivative of the Magnum Speed Worm.  The tail has a larger groove cut out of it, and it thumps and flaps better than the Magnum Speed Worm.  It is fatter than the Magnum Speed worm, but only measures approx 7″ in length.  It’s a fatty worm, that swims really good.

Purchase the Gambler Burner Worm from Tackle Warehouse:


I highly recommend you learn how to swim a worm.  You arent’ fishing for 10 pounders.  You are fishing for 3 – 5 pounders.  I really like 50# braid, a 1/4 or maybe even 3/8 ounce weight pegged and a 5/0 Owner Offset Worm Hook Texas Rigged.  You fling your Burner Worm way out and swim, stroke, hop it back much like you would a rattle trap in grass, or a vibrating jig.  The high stick retrieve.  Yo-yo it back while swimming it.  Let it fall and bury up in the grass and then lift up, reel it along and drop your rod tip and let it sink back down.  Fish tend to woof it and there’s no doubt when you’re bit.  The Texas rig nature makes hook ups pretty much 95%.   For those headed to South Florida this Winter, this is a swimming worm I’d have on board for Florida.   Gambler’s colors rock too.

Full worms compared.  Gamber Burner on top, Zoom Magnum Speed Worm below.  Texas Rig, with pegged weight.  Swim it and don't hate.  This is tournament swimbait fishing.
Full worms compared. Gamber Burner on top, Zoom Magnum Speed Worm below. Texas Rig, with pegged weight. Swim it and don’t hate. This is tournament swimbait fishing.


You have to check this thing out.  The flying/swimming V.  I messed around with the Picasso Bait Ball Extreme over the summer.  Talk about a cool derivative of the Alabama Rig.   There is a V4, V6 and V8 Model of the Picasso Bait Ball Extreme.  I fished and filmed the V6 series.  You basically have dummy baits that are coupled with hooked baits at the endpoints of the V.   The fun thing is the shape and inherent light weight/neutrally buoyancy of this rig make it geared toward grass fishing and definitely busting fish/surface breakers that are chasing bait.  You don’t have to reel like crazy to keep this thing up top. You can make the baits pop out of the water, creating your own fleeing school of baitfish or herring.


Can you feel the vortex?  You can bet the fish can sense the vortex behind this rig and will sense it has a different signature than other Alabama Rigs.  V for Vortex.
Can you feel the vortex? You can bet the fish can sense the vortex behind this rig and will sense it has a different signature than other Alabama Rigs. V for Vortex.


Stalingrad.  The Vortex Formation, stalled, has a better fall than the Alabama Rigs with the 5 star clusters.
Stalingrad. The Vortex Formation, stalled, has a better fall than the Alabama Rigs with the 5 star clusters.

Rig from the Above Video:

Picasso Bait Ball Extreme

Picasso School E Rig Ball Head 1/16 ounce

KVD Swim-N-Shiner 4″ Swimbait

1/16 oz Picasso School E Rig with a big ole fat 5/0 hook.  Get there. KVD Swim N Shiner, but whatever you swimbait of choice, I think you can worry more about where to fish than your soft swimmer of choice.  Just match the hatch and get after it.
1/16 oz Picasso School E Rig with a big ole fat 5/0 hook. Get there. KVD Swim N Shiner, but whatever you swimbait of choice, I think you can worry more about where to fish than your soft swimmer of choice. Just match the hatch and get after it.
You have screws to mount your dummy baits.  The outside bait rigged with a 1/16ounce and 5/0 Picasso School E Rig Jig Head
You have screws to mount your dummy baits. The outside bait rigged with a 1/16ounce and 5/0 Picasso School E Rig Jig Head

You can add whatever swimbaits or jigheads you want to this rig to match your application. I can see putting a bunch of Skinny Dippers or even just the same above rig depending on how thick the grass, and go cover some water in Okeechobee.   With braid, you can rip even top hooked swimbait thru grass and effectively fish.  Don’t let top hooks fool ya, they are weedless when fished mindfully and with aid from braid.   If you needed to sink this thing out, I think a more standard Alabama Rig would make sense, unless the flying V gave them a different look than the 5 Star cluster look?    I can see throwing the V6 or V8 version all the way in the very backs of creeks and pockets and creating a fleeing school of bait effect on ANY lake or river system.  You can fish this thing like a spinnerbait and cover water.   I really would fish braid even in the clearest water.   I can see adding a Robo Worm Robo Minnow or Keitech Swing Impact Fat baits in a more Herring pattern and fishing this thing fast n furious up shallow on red clay points, high spots and way offshore sweet spots.  You could up this thing to 6 or 8 bigger 6-7″ soft swimbaits and literally create a good herring ball that might call ’em up somewhere between Keg Creek and the Monkey Islands!

Swimming V.  The V-6 Picasso Bait Ball Elite, swimming along in formation.
Swimming V. The V-6 Picasso Bait Ball Elite, swimming along in formation.


The over under flying V performed by the RAF!  V-6 Elite Bait Ball from Picasso.  Fishes skinnier than your normal a rig and changes your formation.
The over under flying V performed by the RAF! V-6 Elite Bait Ball from Picasso. Fishes skinnier than your normal a rig and changes your formation.

Click to Purchase:

Picasso Bait Ball Extreme

Picasso School E Rig Ball Head 1/16 ounce

KVD Swim-N-Shiner 4″ Swimbait




Just like Dolly Parton’s coat, my 3″ Big Hammer swimbait box, is of ‘many colors’.

The Big Hammer family of swimbaits has some prime real estate in my tackle boxes, boat, and ‘office’.  I spend a lot of time tinkering with the various flavors of Big Hammer swimbaits on and off the water.  The 3″ Big Hammer swimbait is a neat little bait, that fits into the “swimbait fishing with spinning rods” category. You can consider this a tackle review of the 3″ Big Hammer if that is what you’re after.  I score this bait a 9.99  (the only .01 deduction is because at times, a more rounded paddle/boot tail seems to be a better choice of swimbait for super finicky highly pressured fish) and give it an A+.   We shared how we fish bridge pilings with the 3″ Big Hammer swimbait in Southern Trout Eaters…one of the things that ‘just happened’ during the filming window we had.  I put together a little video clip of me fishing the 3″ Big Hammer swimbait on a spinning rod, with braided line + florocarbon leader, fishing the water intakes at the Kentucky Lake Dam.  Here are the highlights:



Get the Lead Out

Swimbaits with an exposed lead head are something you need to pay particular attention to.  Exposed lead, like what the Hammer Head provides in the setup and rigging does some things that baits with internal weighting cannot.  Namely, the exposed lead head of the Hammer Head helps the bait fall straight down vertical, there’s no buoyancy or dampening of the weighting system by surrounding it with soft plastic.  Falling straight down makes a swimbait fish really well next to steep things, for example:  bridge pilings, dam walls, steep walls, man made structure, and fishing deep and straight vertical like you do in winter.   Also, you can fish the bait vertically under your boat and electronics really well, so when, for example, I was on Beaver Lake in the FLW Tour Major in 2011, the fish were in 15-35 feet of water suspended over cedar trees, the 3″ Big Hammer swimbait came thru for me, because I was able to count the bait down and fish it over top of the deep trees and yank the few fish I caught suspended around the tops of the deeper standing trees.   I just read about how the guy who won the BassMaster Southern Open on Smith Lake in Jasper, Alabama was using a small paddle tailed swimbait with exposed lead jig heads on 5# florocarbon…Go ahead and add the 3″ Big Hammer swimbait rigged on a 3/16 or 1/4 ounce Hammer Head ( you want both heads, same hook size, just have both for shallow to medium or medium to deep presentations), to the ‘single top hook swimbait’ conversation too.    The other derivative of the exposed lead jig head, and the fact the 3/16 and 1/4 ounce Hammer Heads were designed to match up perfectly with the 3″ Big Hammer swimbait tails, you get a swimbait that swims on the sink.  I repeat, swims on the sink.  The bait will spin and sorta meander slightly, depending how slack you give the bait on the fall, but in a controlled fall, where you keep slight pressure on bait as it’s sinking, that little square tail is twisting and recoiling and beating along on the sink.  There are a lot of garbage swimbaits out there that swim like crap on the sink….they tend to do nothing at all or sorta just fall like a blob, they don’t swim, they don’t orient nose down and swim on the sink and that is a huge deal, especially when fishing the deep and steep stuff.  You going to be pumping and yo-yoing your rod and bait a a lot.


How To Rig a Big Hammer Swimbait:

Step 1: Eyeball how the Hammer head jig head matches up with the 3″ Big Hammer swimbait tail. You want the top of the jig head/line tie area to match up perfectly with the top of the soft plastic flat top side of the swimbait tail. Pay attention to where the hook will come out of the bait…


Step 2: Use one of the edges of your thumb nail to ‘mark’ where the jig hook will come out of the Big Hammer tail….


Step 3, use the hook point to jab a little mark into the soft plastic where the hook will exit the swimbait, once you thread it on the jig head.


Step 3B, the mark should be dead center, and enough you can see it and use it to guide you as you thread the bait on


Step 5, very important. Insert the hook in the absolute center of the swimbait tail, whereby the top of the jig head lays flat (there’s no step up or down, the jig head and body come together clean and smooth). Use the line tie to touch the flat side of the bait to give you a guide, but pretty much, dead center of the “superman” shaped fat ‘v’ of the Big Hammer swimbait tail


Step 6: In one smooth motion, paying attention to push the hook thru the plastic keeping your North/South and East/West orientation as straight and plumb as possible, push the tail onto the jig head, and let the bait curl up in doing so, and time your exit angle so it comes out at the mark you did in Step 2 & 3.


Step 6 again…make sure you hook point comes out perfectly in the center of East and West, and also assumes you mark was accurate so you don’t have too little or too much length of swimbait tail threaded on the hook.


Okay, you’re done except for glue. Notice how the jig head matches up with the tail, at the top by the line tie perfectly. You can see how the jig head fits into the swimbait tail, thanks to the clear bait and some backlighting. You want things straight, centered, parallel and clean. No bunching or off centered rigging!


Once I’ve made a good rigging, I back the tail slightly off the head, and put a dab of superglue, where it runs down and gravity coats it all from top to bottom, and I push the tail back up and snug it tight to the jig head and let the glue dry.

Braid Connections

One of the more important developments in my fishing in the last year has been the move to braided line, almost exclusively, on all baits, all water clarity, and all rod types.  Not 100% but moving that direction.  The key is using floro and mono leaders at times, choosing the right knots, and matching your hooks and terminal tackle so your hooks and split rings and things don’t bend out or fail due to the power of braid.  I use Power Pro.  It has been really good to me.  I recommend 15# Power Pro Braided line and a 3-5 foot section (5 foot allows you to re-tie a couple times without putting a new leader on) of Sugoi Florocarbon.  I use 6-12# florocarbon leaders paired with 15# Power Pro braid on my spinning rods.  You change your leader sizes based on conditions and baits. I’ll fish 12# floro when fishing a small 3/8 or 1/4 ounce jig but will use 8-10# pound when fishing the 3″ Big Hammer on a 3/16 or 1/4 ounce jig head.   Braid has several advantages, especially on spinning gear.  First and foremost, line management. I find braided line handles and fishes really nicely on spinning rods.  I have 1000 and 2500 sized Shimano Spinning reels that both handle the small diameter of 15# Power Pro nicely.  You can ‘top-shot’ the braid, where you spool up 50-75 yards of 6# mono ( I formerly used 6# P-Line CXX on my spinning rods) and then tie on the braid and spool yourself on a good 75-100 yards of fresh braid, and then tie your floro leader to the end of your braid.   What knot do I use to connect my florocarbon leader to my braide?  The Double Uni Knot.  Google it, YouTube it….I use 6 wraps on each side of the knot, and it’s frickin’ excellent.  However, pay attention here, the Double Uni knot is NOT a good knot for attaching 80# or 65# braid to 25-30 pound mono.   The physics of bigbait fishing comes into play here.  DO NOT USE THE DOUBLE UNI to connect your bigbaits to your braid.  That is a separate conversation.  For some reason, that knot cannot handle the repeated casting/stress of lobbing >4 ounce baits.   I have 110% confidence in that knot though, in the smaller more conventional applications, like 15# braid to 10# florocarbon (my number one most common rig….3″ Big Hammers, Wacky Rigs, Shaky Heads, Jika Rigs, etc)

The Double Uni Knot is great for connecting

Braid provides you some additional advantages, especially when it comes to spinning rods and small swimbait fishing.  The braid is super sensitive, and I can feel my bait, the swim, and control the bait far better on braid than on mono.  When I go back to mono, my bait feels real mushy on the end of the line, and I don’t have the feel that I do with braid.  I can feel the bait swim on the sink and control the sink and depth the bait swims at so much better on braid. I know when I’m fouled up (tail gets stuck in the gap between a rigged bait and the hook), and I tend to be able to unstick myself or straighten out the lighter wire hooks of the 3/16 and 1/4 Hammer Head at times to get a hung bait free.  I re-bend my hook into place of course, and check the hook point to make sure all is well, and feel my floro leader to make sure it didnt’ get damaged too.  The hookset and hooking fish advantages are amazingly improved with braid.  I keep my drag fairly tight with the 3″ Big Hammer and braided main line setup.  A little line might pull off during a hard reel down and come up hard hookset, but not much.   The zero stretch of the braid gives you tremendous hook set capabilities you don’t get with 100% florocarbons or mono/copolymers.

You can use 1000-2500 sized spinning reels with braid, and they both work great. I love this little spinning reel, it just matches up with the tiny diameter of 15# braid nicely. Heck, I trout fish with this setup….Mepps and Roster Tail style with the braid + floro. You can throw light stuff (and heavy stuff) really well.


If you haven’t seen our Alabama Rig Super Nova blog post and video, click HERE to see it.  You want to have 3″ Big Hammers and Hammer Heads (3/8 recommended for the A-Rig based on hook size and strength, so you don’t bend out the 1/4 and 3/16 ounce lighter wire hooks) in your possession for your castable umbrella rig fishing.    Also, carry yourself some Super Glue and get in the habit of super gluing your Big Hammer swimbait tails to the Hammer Head and letting it dry BEFORE you go fishing.  You will make your baits last much longer by doing this.  If you get a good properly rigged Big Hammer swimbait and glue it the Hammer Head jig head, you can get 10-20 fish per bait.  You’ll get into bites where as quick as you can unhook and re-cast, you’ll just keep on catching ’em.

The 3″ Big Hammer was part of the Alabama Rig Supernova that happened on Kentucky Lake, the Fall of 2011, FLW Everstart Championship. Troy Anderson would win on the Co-Angler side on a handful of 3″ Hammers and heads I gave him, following our practice together. Hammers are a very important tools for all kinds of jobs.


The 3″ Big Hammer Photo Gallery:

[nggallery id=12]



When you have a swinging weight that is connected to the eye of a hook by a single solid ring, you get a free flowing rigging system that changes things like:  how baits rig, how they drop, how they fish, how they swim, how well they drag over stuff and the trajectory the baits follow when pulled/hopped and dropped.   All things considered, the Jig Rig from Owner America, is a pretty cool innovation in traditional rigging and small bait fishing.


Green pumpkin blue Netbait Baby Paca Craw on the 3/0 with 3/16 oz Tungsten version of the Jig Rig. Me Gusta.



I know, I contradict myself, talking about simplification one day, and then subjects like trajectory the next.   You have to get into the sophisticated at times to understand why some simple things are so genius.  The free swinging tungsten or lead weight associated with the Jig Rig changes the trajectory of the bait as it falls, drags, hops, etc.   Instead of a bait arching toward you, as you hop it, the Jig Rig falls straight down.  It almost feels like the bait is falling away from you, the drops are so steep.     What this means is, when you pitch your bait next to a stump, the bait is far more likely to be right under the splash.  Or when you pull a bait into a ‘sweet spot’ you can better guide your bait down into the sweet spot without it tending to bias toward you and the angle of your retrieve.


Steep and deep. The free swinging weight system of the Jig Rig changes the fall and overall trajectory of your baits. Not exactly a simple subject to explain, but hopefully you see how steep things that are moving in one direction drop out because of the hinged weight.


When I rigged the Jig-Rig up with a Basstrix Paddle Tailed Swimbait, it was pretty neat to fish a swimbait on a different style of jig head than I’ve ever attempted.  Couple of important things to note about how the Jig Rig influences a single swimbait (and small soft plastic creature baits too).

  • Weedlessness:  Because you are ultimately Texas rigging the hook, you have another viable weedless rig, for grass and wood fishing.
  • Rock-lessness:  Because the weight snugs 45 degrees back under the bait as your drag it, you have a different kind of leverage, as if you are standing right over top of it, when it comes to popping yourself free.  I was able to drag a Jig Rig with whatever bait I wanted to in heavy gravel and chunk rock bottoms, and it was clear the Jig Rig system provides excellence in fishing in rock and hard bottoms because you simply won’t get hung up
  • When you look at the ‘rock-lessness’ it is interesting because you are making bottom contact and creating deflections while your bait is riding slightly above it all, unfazed by a traditional jig head system where the nose and forward part of your swimbait is damped by the weight and hook.  You can drag a swimbait over gravel and rock, and still get an excellent swim, where you get full swim out of your bait and don’t give up action because the swimbait is ‘anchored’ for lack of better term by the nose into a traditional jig head.
  • Drop Bait:  When I was swimming the Basstrix over grass and over holes, it became apparent you can drop your bait right where you want it, and the trajectory doesn’t cause the bait to come at you, because the hinging action pulls the bait straight down at a super steep angle.  It made me think about dropping a swimbait in the holes of grass around Okeechobee around spawn time.  You could have all the benefits of a weedless swimbait, yet added benefit of a much better drop bait.


  • You notice when you pitch the bait, the free swinging weight system of the Jig Rig helps your casting accuracy and lessons the momentum required to pitch.  It is strange, but the hinged weight sorta helps you sling the bait out there a bit easier.  You definitely can cast this thing where you want it, and then drop it where you want it too.
The 3/0 + 3/16 oz. tungsten Jig Rig with a Zoom Speed Craw, gives you a feel for what the Jig Rig looks like when rigged.

Tungsten vs. Lead vs. Hook Sizes

You have a couple of options when it comes to the Jig Rig. You can buy the Jig Rigs with Tungsten weights or with Lead Weights.  The hooks are needlepoint Z-lock shoulder bend hooks and are sharp, solid and rig cleanly.   You have 3 sizes:

  1. A 3/0 needlepoint, Owner sharp, offset worm hook with either a tungsten or lead 3/16 ounce free swinging weight (which is what I used to film and take photos with).  I find this size of Jig Rig extremely appealing because it fits the ‘good’ small creature baits and smaller more finesse pitch baits so well.  You’ll notice I used a Netbait Baby Paca Craw and Zoom Speed Craw to highlight how well the Jig Rig fishes.  That was no accident, those are 2 baits that should be in your tackle box, always, all the time.    The 3/0 hook and 3/16 weight matched up with the smaller swimbaits like the 4″ Basstrix Paddle Tailed Tube very well, and had a ‘spinning rod’ feel to it.  Where I know I could fish that setup on a spinning setup (braid + floro leader of course) or on lighter action casting gear.  The Little Dipper  and smaller 4″ swim senko come to mind too, with this setup.
  2. The 5/0 version has a 1/4 ounce weight available in tungsten or lead.  It rigs nicely with 8″ Zoom Lizards, Brush Hogs, and Skinny Dippers, which to me are a larger, and more bulky offering than the above, but still in the finesse department.   Basically, the 5/0 with the 1/4 ounce free swinging weight are more suited to pitching and small bait style swimbait fishing.
  3. A 1/0 version in tungsten or lead with 3/16 ounce weights.  This would be my small water, small fish, small bait setup.  Like the Tiny Brush Hogs, or super small straight tailed worms, like 3″ Senkos.
A bare Jig Rig. Notice, the solid ring that attached thru the eye of the hook, and the weight is attached to the solid ring via a split ring.


Notice you tie your line onto the solid ring, NOT the small split ring the weight is attached to, and NOT the eye of the hook.


I’m excited about the Jig Rig because it’s going to help me with my pitching and short range  soft plastic and creature baits for sure.  Grass, wood or open water, I think it’s going to give the fish a slightly different look and feel, and certainly will be a top performing system (ie, weedlessness, rocklessness, and steep drops). It’s also a good alternative to a ‘shakey head’, where you are just trying to catch stubborn fish.   The Jig Rig is going to add some color to my swimbait fishing too.   You can better drag and simultaneously swim a bait, which speaks to a spinning rod setup mentality to me in certain situations.  And the drop bait thing, to be dropping swimbait into holes in the grass, or in brush piles when you visually know you are right overhead, well, you just forget I mentioned it!   You can expect some videos of the Jig Rig  with fish catching involved.


Jig Rig Photo Gallery:

[nggallery id=7]







In case you don’t know this, you need to have yourself an assortment of colors of the Skinny Dipper from Reaction Innovations.  The bait catches fish in the grass, and it catches fish in the open water.   Reaction Innovations is owned and operated out of Alabama, but Andre Moore is originally a Californian.  I could tell you a story or two about Andre Moore back in the late 90s, fishing the WON BASS tournament scene, Lake Havasu, and a bar called Kokomos.   I was brand new 21 years old and hanging out with guys like John Murray, Byron Velvick, Dan Frazier, Steve Beasely, etc and just having the time of my life catching fish, killing it as a AAA/Co-Angler, and being a care free college guy.    I’d tell you a story, but then again, like the Tiki Bar in Clewiston, what happens at Kokomos, stays at Kokomos.

White Trash Second Generation. The ‘Dipper as its known, is a grass bait, and White Trash was the cats meow for a time on the Big O. Now, you have to get a little more creative with your colors and fish it smarter because Scott Martin’s place, sells at least 10 tons of these annually, for good reason but the ‘Dipper not only catches fish, it takes your fishing into new directions. The Speed Worm and Swim Senko are in the same conversation, but the Skinny Dipper is a perfect compromise of size, shape, swim, weedlessness, and clearly gets bit, and tends to get the biggest bites of the 3 baits in this conversation.


Andre Moore’s Reaction Innovations makes some killer baits.  The Trixie Shark is a sneaky toad style bait that has a unique sound and gurgle it produces swimming across the surface of the water.  Lots of Trixie Sharks are sold in Florida, Alabama and Georgia, I’ll put it that way. Just add grass and lily pads, and the Trixie Shark is on somebody’s rod.  The Sweet Beaver has so set the mark and bar as a compact flipping/punching bait, it’s hard to be a bass fisherman and not somehow come across the Beaver as a bait that is talked about and used.   And then you mix in the Skinny Dipper, and you have to be like, wow, Andre has made some really good baits that catch fish, and they each seem to have a unique fit or application, or do something different.

The body is short, stubby, and round and the tail is a paddle, and it is well proportioned to the rest of the body. Not a big thumping tail, but a tail that puts a lot of roll into the bait. The Skinny Dipper swims great at high speeds, slow speeds, and most importantly, swims well in the slop which means upside down and in and out of the water. I highly recommend braid.  50# mostly or 65#.  You of course can use good 15-20 florocarbon for open water and should, or use a leader of floro connected to your braid if you are down for that kind of thing.  I’m gonna try the braid to floro thing A LOT more my next time in Florida, for all my baits, not just the Skinny Dipper.


The Money Shot Violet Skinny Dipper was there when bass fishing was interrupted by this thing called the Alabama rig and Chad rode the wave and also did his own thing, see below…
You didn’t see this here. Don’t tell Chad. He will pound me. No, actually, this one and the one below I got permission. The 4th and final bait, his #1 bait for the event was not the Alabama Rig, the vibrating jig (below), nor the Scrounger (the above is a Skinny Dipper rigged on an Aaron Martens Scrounger head),  it was his ‘Stinger’ as he calls it, that one I won’t share, as per his request, back when I took these on the final day of the 2011 FLW Everstart Championship on Kentucky Lake.


Chatter cricket. Chattering Skinny Dipper. Chat-R-Dip. Cheddar Dip?!!!


Chad Prough is from Chipley Florida, which is Lake Seminole country, which also means, Lake Eufaula country. And here he is in Kentucky fishing the Tennessee River with one of his bread and butter baits fished on different heads and rigs. Nice adjustments Chad. On a tournament dominated by Alabama Rigs, Chad made the final day cut and had a strong finish without needing the A-Rig.   Chad is Team Reaction Innovations, and a super good guy, who had an incredible 2011 season all around, and keeps after it constantly.


The Vortex.

The Skinny Dipper on an Aaron Martens Scrounger Head and a vibrating/chatter jig head, sick and wrong. No skirt.  Do you see how this relates to the “Huddleston Vortex” conversation we like to think we broached in Southern Trout Eaters?  The footprint and swim signature of a vibrating jig and Scrounger head when coupled with a swimbait or any softbait for that matter,  is so unique and wild, that they go outside the parameters of the other 99.99% of baits and voila, the fish go nuts about them.  Guys will squeak out one or two more fish on a vibrating jig with a swimbait trailer than someone throwing a traditional spinnerbait at times, and how many times does one or two fish mean the difference between a good and bad tournament?   The fish have seen 10,000,000 spinnerbaits, and so when something that unique comes along with a swimbait attached to it, it gets woofed.  The Huddleston Vortex predicts things like baits with unique, very real, and very odd swimming patterns/footprints/signatures tend to catch more or bigger fish,  better than baits that are just ‘me too’ style baits that are just another jig, spinnerbait, crankbait,topwater bait, etc.   The Alabama Rig proved five baits trump one bait, why, among other reasons, 10 vortexes from (2 vortexes per bait (( <insert Ken’s voice>“one on each side of the tail“)), 5 baits on the A-Rig, stick with me now, we will be doing calculus here in a minute!) 5 little bait fishes has always been safe to eat.  Nothing had ever hooked a bass, that wasn’t trolled, that had 10 vortexes coming off it.    What other baits (besides the Alabama Rig) have crazy unique vortexes/swim signatures/footprints, especially when combined with a simple and effective swimbait like the Skinny Dipper?  Answer:  The Scrounger Head and the vibrating jig.

They pick off fish other baits will not, in the same areas other guys are throwing baits that have been thrown for X amount of years/seasons.  The Scrounger and vibrating jigs are just killer baits when combined with swimbaits like the Skinny Dipper.  What other swimbaits are good?  The swim senko for sure, Lake Fork Magic Shad swimbaits, and Basstrix style swimbaits are all excellent trailers on Scrounger Heads and vibrating jig, just stand alone.  Learn how to fish them.  You can deflect, bump, burn, slow grind, open water suspend, grass snatch, rock hop, and stroke both styles of head, and I promise you, these baits are tied on a lot of FLW Tour and Elite Series rods.  What swimbait they put on, unclear, but the Skinny Dipper is one of them, and the Scrounger and vibrating jig heads are fish catchers.  Big fish and tournament fish style fish catchers.   The Skinny Dipper serves up a simple purpose: being an all purpose, well shaped/proportioned bait, that serves as your full bodied ‘baitfish’ imitator on a number of different rigs and hooks.  It comes in really great colors and options, is relatively inexpensive, and is also weedless so it fits anything from Lake Lanier to Okeechobee in color and applications.  Keep it Soft Stupid.

Larry Mullikin pulling out the in the ‘coup de grace’ to the 2009 FLW Stren Series Lake Okeechobee event Co-Angler Division, out of Roland & Mary Ann Martins Marina. You can see Derek Jeter’s (big guy in the background onstage who would finish runner up in the co-angler division to Larry because of this fish) face as he has to look away from Larry’s fish. Ron Lappin asks, “So what did you catch it on?” Larry takes a minute, laughing…”Skinny Dipper………of course” … This was a month or so after Jimmy McMillan won the FLW Eastern Series on Okeechobee on the Skinny Dipper.  I finished 20th on the Swim Senko on the boater side with 10 pounds per day.



Going Green

I like to fish my Skinny Dipper on 50# braid (would go 65 pound if I was on bigguns in thick grass) with the plastic bullet head, and I tie on a 5/0 Owner Offset Shank Wide Gap Hook with a palomar knot, make sure my braided line is nice and black, and I go to work.  I fish the Skinny Dipper on the G-Loomis 964 BBR on a Curado reel and can fling that bugger quite a ways on that setup.  I get great leverage for casting and hooking up with that rod and reel combo.  You want a long rod to throw the Skinny Dipper.    You want a shallow bend in  your hook so your bait is more stream lined going thru the grass, mag gap and extra wide gap hooks aren’t my favorite, but probably are effective for someone.  The PayCheck Head Case is a great piece of terminal tackle and it really helps your rigging of the Skinny Dipper. It helps hold your baits true and helps your bait bull nose thru thick stuff, without ripping the bait or pulling the hook down the shank.  You’ll notice the bait spins at times in the above video.    The hook generally acts as a keel, keeping the bait oriented right, but the tail and design of the bait makes it roll back and forth, and at times, it will do complete 360 degree spins while fishing it.  Not my favorite, but then I realized this was a blessing and a reason it fishes so well in the grass.   The ability to be sloppy with the bait, and fish it thru super thick stuff, requires the bait swim in all kinds of weird positions, even out of the water.  That is were round baits beat flat sided baits.


The Skinny Dipper with the Owner Hook is a slender profile. I like the 5/0 hook because it reaches way back into the bait when you rig, but isn’t into the tail area where it would mess with the swim. The Owner hook is not a mag gap or super big bend, which help you slide it thru grass.


Reverse ribbing in the skin creates additional roll, drag, and footprint of the bait as it moves thru the water. The Owner Cutting Point hook is great with braided line. Fish load up on the bait, you drop your rod tip, and come up hard and reel like heck and you’ll stick the majority of your bites.


The Paycheck Head Case screws into the nose of the Skinny Dipper, and just helps you bull doze your way thru grass.