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Midwest Finesse Gear & Accessories

Finesse News Network’s Gear Guide: Mustad’s 1/0 Grip-Pin Edge and Kevin Van Dam’s Drop-Shot Ways

by Ned Kehde   |  December 13th, 2012 0

 

 Around Thanksgiving, O. Mustad & Sons (USA) began shipping its new  Grip-Pin Edge hook to a variety of retailers across the nation.

In short order, anglers will soon be able to purchase them in the following sizes: 1/0, 2/0, 3/0, 4/0, 5/0, 6/0.  And according to Jeff Pierce, who is  Sales and  Portfolio Manager with Mustad, a No. 2 size one might be in the offing.

It is a  thin-wire, straight-shank, black-nickel and sproat-style hook.  A power coat, which was formulated specifically for Mustad’s Grip-Pin hooks, covers and seals the grip-pin, which anglers traditionally call a bait keeper.  The grip pin is fabricated so that a soft-plastic bait can be perfectly situated on the hook and doesn’t slide down the shank of the hook.  In addition, the grip pin was designed so that it would not tear a soft-plastic bait when an angler affixed it to the hook. The  eye of the hook is coated and sealed with the power coat, too.  The coating around the eye of the hook helps keep the knot that attaches the line to the hook correctly positioned at the top of the eye.

Kevin Van Dam, of  Kalamazoo, Michigan, and acclaimed Bassmaster professional angler,  has been field testing the Grip-Pin Edge since early 2012. Nowadays, when Van Dams needs to employ a Texas-rigged or Texas-posed drop-shot rig, he uses a 1/o Mustad’s Grip-Pin Edge hook. Day in and day out, his favorite soft-plastic lure to affix to the Grip-Pin Edge is Strike King Lure Company’s KVD Dream Shot.

Besides its effectiveness on a drop-shot rig with a Dream Shot, Van Dam says finesse anglers can use the 1/0 Grip-Pin Edge with a variety of other presentations.

The suggested retail price of a package of five 1/0 Grip-Pin Edge hooks  is $5.99

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We thought that readers might be interested in reading a story that we wrote in 2007 about Kevin Van Dam’s drop-shot tactics.

His rods, reels,  hooks and soft-plastic baits were different then than they are now. And at times, some of his reels are also spooled with a different line.  But how, when and where he employs his drop-shot rigs remains virtually the same.

 As noted in the Finesse News Network’s Gear Guide above,  Van Dam now uses a 1/0 Grip-Pin Edge when he Texas-rigs and Texas-poses a KVD Dream Shot. And the Dream Shot is favorite bait. Since 2010, he has been using a Mustad KVD Double Wide Dropshot Hook when he nose hooks a Dream Shot.  Since 2011, he has worked with a Quantum Exo PTi spinning reel.  When he is making long casts,  which he does in the clear-waters of the Great Lakes, he wields the seven-foot, four-inch  Quantum KVD Tour Signature Elite Spinning Rod, which is a medium-action and fast-tapered rod. For making vertical presentations, Van Dam opts for the six-foot, 10-inch Quantum KVD Tour Signature Elite Spinning Rod, and it is a medium-action and fast-tapered rod. Nowadays, some of Van Dam’s drop-shot outfits are spooled with braided line, and he uses 10-pound-test Power Pro Super 8 Slick Line that sports  a six-, eight- or 10-pound XPS Fluorocarbon leader.  He notes that if he is fishing at Sam Rayburn Lake, Texas, he will employ a 10-pound-test fluorocarbon, and in clearer waterways, where the bass aren’t as big as the Rayburn bass, he will opt for either a six- or eight-pound-test fluorocarbon leader. In extremely clear environments, his reels will be spooled with XPS Fluorocarbon rather than braided line with a fluorocarbon leader.
(For more information about the KVD Dream Shot see:  http://www.in  fisherman.com/2011/10/13/van-dam-and-zonas-dreamshot/
And for information about the Quantum Exo PTi spinning reel see: http://www.in-fisherman.com/2012/11/16/finesse-news-anglers-gear-guide-zebco-brands-quantum-exo-pt-and-smoke-spinning-reels/)

Posted below is a copy of the 2007 story that details Van Dam’s drop-shot tactics.

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The drop-shot rig, according to Kevin Van Dam in 2007

Unbeknownst to many observers, Kevin Van Dam has become a dandy at wielding a drop-shot rig.

He estimates that he employs a drop-shot rig and shaky-head jig worm 20 percent of the time throughout the tournament year.  In fact, at all of the Bassmaster Elite Series, Major and Classic tournaments in 2007, Van Dam used a variety of drop-shot rigs.  No matter where he competed, his drop-shot rigs caught bass aplenty. The geographic scope of his catches were impressive, indeed, ranging from Amistad Reservoir on the Mexican border to Lake Erie on the Canadian border, from the California Delta to the Potomac River in Maryland, and all the venues in between those locales. At those 15 events, he placed in the top ten six times, including two first-place finishes. His sorriest finish was a respectable 39th at Smith Mountain Lake, Virginia. According to Van Dam’s assessments, drop-shot rigs helped to propel him to a second-place finish in the Bassmaster’s 2007 angler-of-the-year race.

Besides employing drop-shot rigs in competitive situations, he uses them during recreational outings to have his way with the smallmouth bass that inhabit the many natural lakes near his home in Kalamazoo, Michigan, as well as during the production of several television programs.

Nowadays, Van Dam always has a drop-shot rig at the ready.

He says that its primary limitation is that it’s not the best for locating bass, and the reason for that is that drop-shot rigs can’t be fished as quickly as a spinnerbait, crankbait or jerkbait.  Therefore, he normally uses a crankbait, jerkbait or spinnerbait to cover a lot of territory and find the bass, which in the nomenclature of bass fishing is called power fishing, and when the bass he finds with his power tactics become tentative, Van Dam utilizes a drop-shot rig to entice a few more.

Van Dam also calls it his clean-up tactic. For instance, at the 2007 Bassmaster Elite Series Sunshine Showdowns at the Kissimmee Chain of Lakes on Sept. 13-16, 2007, he said that his drop-shot rig inveigled a number of tentative bass from a small shell bed adjacent to a patch of hydrilla that he initially found with a Texas-rigged worm and slip-sinker. Likewise, in July of 2007 at Lake Champlain on the New York and Vermont   border, he used a drop-shot rig to catch a wad of smallmouth bass around rock piles that he initially found with a jerkbait. Moreover, he has used in years past a drop-shot rig at his crankbait coverts at Kentucky Lake, or whenever his Carolina-rig bite wanes at a various other waterways

Even though most of the largemouth bass that a drop-shot rig allures are small ones, a big bass will engulf it every now and then, and from Van Dam’s perspective, enough big ones can be caught with a drop-shot rig that it should be a vital component in every bass angler’s repertoire.

Van Dam’s favorite drop-shot rod is a seven-foot, medium-action Quantum Tour Edition PT Series spinning rod with a fast taper. But when he is vertical fishing a drop-shot rig on the Great Lakes, he will opt for 6 ½-foot rendition of that rod. Van Dam finds that fast action of the tips of these two rods is what makes them excel as drop-shot rods.

His reel is a Quantum Energy PTi spinning reel, and he prefers  the E40PTi-A model. Even though this big-spool reel weighs an ounce or two more than smaller versions of the reel, he finds that the reel’s big spool is a necessary ingredient in using fluorocarbon line with a drop-shot rig.

On most outings, Van Dam’s reel is spooled with eight-pound-test XPS Signature Series Fluorocarbon line. But when the bass are extremely tentative or the water is shallow and clear or he is using a light sinker, he often uses 6-pound-test. If he is plying snaggy environs or working with a heavy sinker, he will works with 10-pound-test.

A quarter-ounce cylinder-shaped lead sinker that is the one he normally uses around lairs that lie in five to 10 feet of water and are graced with submersed aquatic vegetation or a soft bottom. The shape and weight of  this sinker allows  it to work through the grass better than a round sinker.

On rocky bottoms, however, he opts for a round tungsten sinker, finding that they create a noise that can attract a bass’ attention and provoke a strike.

When Van Dam makes long casts while plying the flats in northern natural lakes that are about seven feet deep and adorned with scattering outcroppings of vegetation, he prefers to use a 3/8-ounce cylinder-shaped sinker.

He works with either a 3/16-ounce or a 1/8-ounce sinker when he is making short casts in shallow water and the wind is nil.

If the wind is harsh and he is probing more than 15 feet of water, Van Dam utilizes a 1/2-ounce sinker, and the bottom composition dictates the shape of the sinker.

Van Dam notes that a heavy sinker often inhibits the proper feel that is an essential element to executing the correct presentation of a drop-shot rig; in other words, a heavy weight can create too much tension on the line.  Furthermore, too light of a sinker can create a bow in the line, which diminishes the tension. To achieve the proper feel, Van Dam selects the sinker that creates just a touch of tension on his line.

He secures the sinker to the line by running the line through the line-gripping eye and executing two half hitches. The two half hitches prevent a smallmouth bass from jettisoning the sinker when it jumps.

One of the many virtues of the drop-shot rig is that even when a humongous smallmouth bass executes one its best acrobatic jumps, the hook stays firmly implanted into the flesh of the bass’ mouth. The reason for that, says Van Dam, is that the sinker is a goodly distance from the hook.

The distance, however, that he places the sinker from the hook varies substantially. Sometimes it is two inches and other times it is as much as 24 inches.  When the smallmouth bass are feeding on crayfish on shallow flats, he will often set the sinker from two to six inches from the hook. Whereas at the 2007 Lake Erie Tournament, the smallmouth bass were foraging upon baitfish in deep water, and Van Dam found that the 24-inch setting was the most effective one.  He says that it is necessary to constantly survey what is transpiring with the bass and their forage base, and then adjust the position of the sinker according to the whereabouts and behavior of the bass.

Day in, day out, Van Dam’s favorite drop-shot lure is a four-inch Strike King Finesse Worm. He is sponsored by Strike King, but even if Strike King weren’t sponsoring him, he said that their four-inch Finesse Worm would be his lure of choice.  Van Dam says that the flexibility of the Strike King Finesse Worm gives it a unique action that can’t be duplicated with other soft-plastic lures

Van Dam finds that his four-inch worm is a better option than a soft-plastic minnow bait when the bass are foraging on shad, smelt, shiners, or gobies.  And even when the bass exhibit a strong hankering for crayfish, his worm is more effective and than a soft-plastic crayfish. He said that he has fished at the Great Lakes and several other venues with talented anglers who have used an array of other soft-plastic lures, and invariably Strike-King’s worm inveigles more bass than the other lures do.

A green-pumpkin Finesse Worm is Van Dam’s favorite. At times, however, Van Dam finds that a watermelon hue can be exceedingly effective in crystal-clear waters, and from the late pre-spawn into the early post-spawn, he has discovered that a watermelon-and-red-flake combination attracts the attention of a considerable number of bass.

Van Dam says that water clarity doesn’t alter the effectiveness of a drop-shot rig, but when the water is dirty, he opts for such colors as June bug or black and blue.

Besides the four-inch worm, he occasionally uses a Strike King Zero, which is five inches long, and a seven-inch Strike King Finesse Worm.

Except when he is fishing snaggy environs, Van Dam normally attaches the four-inch Finesse Worm to a No. 2 Mustad Dropshot Wide Gap Hook. He affixes the hook through the nose of the worm. To do this, the point of the hook enters the bottom or belly of the  worm three-sixteenth of an inch from its head; then Van Dam pushes the point of  hook into center the worm and from there he pushes it forward until it emerges out of the absolute center of the worm’s head or nose. When the worm is rigged this way, it doesn’t twist his line.

Because line twisting is prevented, Van Dam doesn’t have to attach a swivel to his line several feet above the hook and worm. Though a swivel has become a fashionable addition to the terminal tackle of many anglers who work with a drop-shot rig, Van Dam is not a fan of a swivel, explaining that it can adversely affect the feel and presentation of the drop-shot rig.

Throughout most of Van Dam’s outings, he periodically experiments with various presentations and configurations of drop-shot rigs as he searches for the ultimate pattern.

During these experimentations, he has found that the effectiveness of the wacky-rigged worm is at its apex during the spawning period.  Likewise, when Van Dam fished big-bass venues, such as Amistad, he has ascertained that a wacky seven-inch worm bewitches bigger bass than the four-inch worm. Even when he is at Table Rock Lake, Missouri, focusing on spotted bass, he will test a seven-inch worm or Zero, and these bigger offerings will occasionally inveigle a bigger spotted bass than the four-inch worm has been able to allure.

Van Dam nose hooks and wacky rigs the Zero with either a 1/0 or No. 1 Mustad 1X Octopus Beak Fine Wire Hook. He selects the 1/0 when he expects to tangle with a big specimen or two. He uses the same hook when he wields a wacky-rigged seven-inch Finesse Worm, and the only way he employs the seven-incher is wacky style, placing the hook below the worm’s egg sack. When he wacky rigs the four-inch worm, Van Dam uses Mustad’s No. 2 Dropshot Hook.

Around snag-filled lairs, Van Dam resorts to employing a No. 1 Mustad Mega-Bite Hook, and he affixes the four-inch Finesse Worm to the hooks Texas style. He also likes straight-shank hooks with rebarbs for his Texas-rigged worms on a drop-shot rig.

While casting with his drop-shot rig in shallow water, Van Dam’s most productive retrieve is similar to the way he retrieves a shaky-head worm, which was featured in In-Fisherman in June-July 2006.  He holds his rod at the two o’clock position, retrieves the drop-shot rig at a rather fast pace, spicing it with some shakes, lifts and drops. He always moves the rig with the rod, lifting it from two o’clock to about one o’clock.

But as he fishes throughout the day, Van Dam periodically experiments with different speeds and actions of his retrieve, trying to uncover an action and speed that will dupe a greater number of bass.  For example, he occasionally determines – especially during post-weather front situations – that it is best to drag the drop-shot rig for a few feet and then pause it and implement a dead-stick motif for five to 10 seconds.  During these dead-sticking endeavors, he will experiment with the position of the worm; sometimes it will be resting on the bottom, then it will be four inches off the bottom, and at other times, it might be eight inches or more above the bottom.   When he is in the midst of a long pause, Van Dam’s rod is at the two o’clock position, and there is no bow in the line; instead he keeps a touch of tension in the line, which he describes it as “a rather subtle feel.”  According to Van Dam, that subtle feel is one of the critical elements in correctly manipulating a drop-shot rig.

Because a drop-shot rig can’t be skipped under a dock as a jig and chunk or jigworm or tube can be skipped, it isn’t an easy tool to employ around docks, but there are days when it elicits more strikes than other lures garner. Therefore, Van Dam will gingerly pitch it under a dock, placing it next to a post or a piece of brush; then he will keep a bit of tension in the line and delicately shake the worm while keeping the sinker anchored to the bottom. As the sinker stays in place, Van Dam will also position the worm at various depths.

State-of-the-art sonars have provoked a lot of anglers to wield drop-shot rigs. These sonars allow anglers to view their lures, the bass, and how the bass relate to the lures. This phenomenon started a number of years ago at several of the reservoirs in the Western states, and gradually this tactic migrated to Eastern venues. Nowadays it is a way of life around the Great Lakes, where anglers use drop-shot rigs to ply lairs as deep as 50 feet for smallmouth bass with a vertical presentation, and to accomplish this task, they rely upon a  top-of-the-line sonar.

Van Dam, who isn’t sponsored by a sonar manufacturer, works with Lowrance sonars, and they work well. But he says that Humminbird’s Side Imaging sonars has become the sonar of choice for a growing number of anglers around the Great Lakes. Since the advent of Humminbird’s Side Imaging model, anglers have detected the whereabouts of a vast number unique rock piles that harbor a multitude of smallmouth bass.

In addition to the deep-water scenario, Van Dam has found that sonars and vertical presentations play an important role in shallow water at some locales on the Great Lakes, and his description of shallow water focuses on depths of six feet to about 15 feet.

As Van Dam fishes the shallow flats at Lake Erie or Lake St. Clair for smallmouth bass, he often casts and retrieves a jerkbait but always has a drop-shot rig at the ready, hanging over the bow of the bow.  As he works his jerkbait, he simultaneously monitors his sonar, and whenever his sonar reveals a smallmouth bass, he immediately allows his drop shot to plummet vertically to the bottom, and with astonishing regularity, he catches a smallmouth bass. Even though some of  these smallmouth bass are be gamboling about in six feet of water, Van Dam says that many of them aren’t spooked by a bass boat being positioned directly over their heads. He suspects that all of the waves and currents that course  across Erie and  St. Clair play a significant role in keeping the smallmouth bass from becoming spooked and fleeing when a bass boat approaches their lairs.

When he uses a vertical presentation, Van Dam holds his rod at the three o’clock position, and as he shakes and dead-sticks the worm, he keep a little bit of tension on his line. To move the drop-shot rig across a lair while using a vertical presentation, Van Dam does it by moving the boat with his bow-mounted trolling motor or allowing the wind to move the boat.

Whether he is casting or utilizing a vertical motif with a nose-hooked worm, Van Dam sets the hook into a bass’ mouth by vigorously cranking the reel handle and gently lifting the rod.

If he is using a Texas-rigged worm, he will employ 10-pound-test line; therefore, upon sensing that a bass has engulfed the worm, he will briskly rotate the reel handle and engender a more power lift of his rod than he does with a nose-hooked worm.

Van Dam has been setting a drop-shot hook into the mouths of untold numbers of bass at such diverse waterways as Lake Tohopekaliga, Florida,Lake Guntersville, Alabama, Grand Lake, Oklahoma,Table Rock Lake, Missouri, and Lake Oniedia, New York, for the past three years. From that experience, he has concluded that a drop-shot rig has become an indispensable tool in his bass-fishing repertoire, and he suspects that it will be so for years to come.

When Van Dam’s newly acquired expertise with finesse methods, which focuses on  jigworms and drop-shot rigs,  are combined with his great proficiency at employing power-fishing tactics, it is easy to see why he is considered the greatest professional bass angler around. And his commitment to versatility should keep his name at or near the top of the leader boards long into the future.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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