Nico Raffo MS Slammer
Nico Raffo shared two baits that have caught a ton of big ones and are proven in the field. I've never seen a 9" MS Slammer with more wear marks. An indication this bait gets fished A LOT.

The 9” MS Slammer is the first swimbait I ever committed to and was the first swimbait I ever saw fished.  The 9” MS Slammer was developed in Central California, very closely with Lake Santa Margarita.  Mike Shaw, the ‘MS’ in MS Slammer, lived in Atascadero and developed the bait, and tested it by casting, trolling and targeting big striper and big bass.  Rob Belloni, was early on the bigbait scene, got to throwing Mike’s bait because he fished Lake Santa Margarita often as a Cal Poly SLO student.  Cal Poly is where I met Rob, and Rob introduced me to the MS Slammer.  The MS Slammer has been catching trophy fish quietly and not so quietly since the late 90s.

Rob McComas was early on the bigbait scene too, he just lived across the US, and was fishing Mike’s 9” MS Slammer on the trout fed lakes mountain lakes of Western North Carolina in the 90s.  Rob was not only featured, but was a key figure in the ‘go ahead’ and production of Southern Trout Eaters.    His footage is some of the best of the film, incredible topwater bites, big flushes…really capturing how it is with the MS Slammer and how it works and fishes.   Rob has really opened my eyes to wood bait fishing and how to apply it.  He fishes laydown trees and shade lines and focuses  on and thoroughly dissects spots where the fish live.   It’s a slower paced, more thorough approach to structure fishing.

Rob McComas MS Slammer fishing
Rob McComas, 9" MS Slammer fishing in Appalachia. Rob has been fishing the MS Slammer for over 10 years in the South, and has taught me a ton about fishing wood baits.

The 9” MS Slammer is an absolute workhorse.  A bait you can tie on and fish all day and night and never have to adjust or fix.   Its a killer night fishing bait, probably one of the best and the first bait I reach for when night fishing.  It’s literally slaughtered big fish, I mean 12-17  fish in a single night and in broad daylight out West.  It is a staple.  Wood baits are killer. Each bait is unique.  It has its own swim, own vortex, own buoyancy properties and tendencies.   Wood bait fishing is so roots.   The beautiful thing about wood is all the differences in wood and how you get a really bulks and bigbait that doesn’t necessarily weigh that much.   9” MS Slammers don’t weigh but X ounces, and they get an A+ in fishability.  Just easy on you to fish and killer baits, and because it floats, you can fish intimately around wood, boulders, structure of any kind, just stalling and killing the bait along with swimming it along to keep it around the sweet spots longer.

Peters MS Slammer Clarks Hill
Clarks Hill 9" MS Slammer, white. Waking the bait over hydrilla in 10-14 feet of water, the Slammer is part of our blueback herring lake assualt. Why? Because its one of the proven baits, you take the proven baits and apply them to your water. Keep it simple.

There are various retrieves and styles of fishing around the 9” MS Slammer.  The most common method is a relatively slow and steady grind, making the single jointed top water bait swim fluidly and clacky, move a lot of water, throw a big wake, and have a brilliant tail that licks the surface and compliments the jointed swim.   You can stop the bait and walk the dog or just pause it, and the buoyancy of the bait makes it do a 180 or so and it’s a cool way to change it up on ‘em.

You can definitely reel the 9” MS Slammer and fish it 4-12” inches under the surface.  Rob McComas has some excellent retrieves he uses to keep just the top tip of the tail above the surface while the entire bait is under the water swimming along with a small disturbance on the surface for the tip of the tail sweeping along back and forth.     Rob uses the 9” MS Slammer as a deflection bait too, making contact with the wood and rocks and things purposely to draw bites.

Gear for the 9″ MS Slammer:

Rod: G-Loomis 966 BBR or Okuma 7’11” H

Reel: Shimano Calcutta 400 B or Shimano Cardiff 400

Line: P-Line CXX Xtra Strong, Moss Green, 25 or 30#

Hooks:  Owner ST-36 Stinger Treble Hooks, 2/0 front and back

Split Rings:  Owner Hyper Wires, size 7 front and back.

Strengths:  The strength of the MS Slammer is its fishability.  You can use various retrieves and styles of fishing the bait (wake, twitch, slow rolled, etc) and change things up cast by cast as you approach your targets.   The bait rarely fouls up when casting or needs any sort of maintenance.  You will need to change tails every so often, but just find yourself a good swimming 9″ MS Slammer and hang onto it.

MS Slammer Hook Change
Change your hooks and split ring to Owner. The MS Slammer is a workhorse and if you put quality hooks and rings on your baits, you're likely to catch and land most of your bites, even the ones that just slap at the bait. Sticky sharp Owner ST-36 Stinger Trebles and Hyper Wire Rings is what I recommend for all wood and big hardbaits. Once your bait allows you to throw anything larger than 1/0, the ST-36 is the hook.

Notes:  You may fish the bait with a snap. It might change how you fish the bait and might work for some instances. I like to fish without a snap wherever possible, but understand that wood baits are unique and each one a different animal, so don’t be afraid to tinker and find what works best and makes your bait swim best.

Mike Shaw MS Slammer
Mike Shaw, Mr. MS Slammer himself, in his workshop. The 9" MS Slammer is a staple wooden swimbait and set the tone for waking bigbaits in the late 90s as big fish catching baits, day or night.
Ozark MS Slammer fish
The Ozarks proved to be an unlikely place to validate the effectiveness of the 12" MS Slammer, as seen in Southern Trout Eaters

Big Wood.  No doubt about it, the 12” MS Slammer is big wood and one heck of a bigbait.  There aren’t too many 12” hardbaits that get bit, and we showed in Southern Trout Eaters, that the 12” MS Slammer is a standout big wood bait.

Mike Shaw, who now calls Utah home, used to live in Atascadero, CA, which was right up the road from where I went to college.  Mike got hooked up with my good friend Rob Belloni, and Rob was who first introduced me to Mike’s baits.  The MS Slammer is a simple yet effective bait, and one thing is clear, they get bit.

ozark big wood swimbait fish
The 12" MS Slammer, fished in the shade lines and pockets of the bluff walls of the Ozarks, will get you a 20+ pound sack if you execute

Rob McComas has made an art of big wood bait fishing.  Rob showed you how to catch 9” MS Slammer fish in Southern Trout Eaters too, but I got confidence in the 12” MS Slammer after talking to Rob at length about the number of bites and just overall fishability of the bait.   You have to understand that even though the bait is 12” long, it’s made of wood, so it doesn’t weight that much.  Composite and resin baits weigh much more at 12” than do wood baits, so the 12” MS Slammer is extremely fishable.  It won’t wear you out and doesn’t require specialized gear to fish it.

rob mccomas ms slammer fish
Rob McComas, who has spent more time fishing big wood baits in the South than anyone, was where I got confidence to throw the 12" MS Slammer more

Gear for the 12” MS Slammer:

Rod: G-Loomis 966 BBR
Reel:  Shimano Calcutta 400 B  (the B is a slower reel than the 400 TE and is preferred for fishing big wake baits, but either will work)
Line:  P-Line CXX Xtra Strong Moss Green, 30 pound
Hooks:  Owner ST-36 Trebles  (3/0 in front, 2/0 in rear)
Split Rings:  Owner Hyper Wires #7s  (you need #7s because the size of the hardware on the MS Slammer requires a big ring to get around the eye hook your hook attaches to)


The 12” MS Slammer is a noisy, clacky, and super fishable big topwater wake bait.  You can fish it around laydowns, shade lines, man made structures, grass lines and keep the bait near the critical zone for a long time.   It stalls out nicely around structure.   The hanging trebles hook fish and you have a very high hookup ratio on this bait.  The MS Slammer family of baits are workhorses.  You can fish and fish and fish them and rarely do they foul or need care.  That fishability also makes them an excellent night fishing bait because you don’t have to fuss with the bait, just fish it, not to mention the loud clackity clack of the bait helps attract big nocturnal bass.

Mike Shaw MS Slammer
Mike Shaw, the "MS" in MS Slammer, in his workshop. The MS Slammer was a wakebait before wakebaits went mainstream, and they've been catching tournament and trophy bass since the mid 90s. You won't find a nicer, softer spoken man, or a workhorse swimbait like the MS Slammer.

Ideal Conditions:  Rainy and cloudy overcast days are ideal for hunting big trout eaters with the 12” MS Slammer.  Fish the bait slowly around key structure and vary your retrieves from a straight wind to walk the dogs with multiple pauses to get the job done.  Anytime you have a lake with big fish and you are swinging for the fences, the 12” MS Slammer is a good call, and certainly anytime you go night fishing, reach for one of these and beware of toilet flushes and bowling balls falling from the sky style bites.

Notes:  Carry spare tails, you never know when you might rip or tear a tail off on a fish.  Tie directly to the bait and don’t worry about snaps to tie to.

The MS Slammer tail
The tail of the 12" MS Slammer is big, bulky, pushes a lot of water, and produces it's own unique vortex