TriggerX introduced its four-inch Goo Bug to the angling world at the 2012 International Convention of Allied Sportfishing Trades in July. They heralded it as a state-of-the-art pitching and flipping bait.
Shortly after that Jacob Wheeler of Indianapolis, Indiana, used the Goo Bug to help him to catch some of the 20 bass that weighed 60 pounds, one ounce and win $500,000 and first-place honors at the prestigious FLW Forrest Wood Cup on Lake Lanier, Georgia, on Aug. 9-12.
Then at the first Southeastern Division Everstart Series tournament in 2013 at Lake Okeechobee, Florida, Wheeler used it again to help him to compete against 176 anglers, inveigle 10 largemouth bass that weighed 30 pounds, seven ounces and garner twelfth-place honors on Jan. 10-11.
And after the Everstart event, Wheeler continued to chase Okeechobee’s largemouth bass with the Goo Bug as he tuned up for the approaching Walmart FLW Tour event on Feb. 7-10. Then as he was has heading home to Indiana on Jan. 17-18, he spent some time talking about how he used the Goo Bug at Okeechobee.
Wheeler said that he wielded it on an eight-foot, heavy-power, fast-taper Dobyns Champion Flipping Rod and a Shimano Core MG reel that was spooled with 65-pound Sufix 832 Advanced Superline. His reel has a 7.0:1 gear ratio. To the braided line, Wheeler slipped on a 1 ½-ouce VMC TF Tungsten Flip’n Weight that was pegged with a Jethro Baits’ Stop-Itz Sinker Stop, and then he uses a snell knot to attach a 4/0 VMC Flippin’ Hook. To the hook, he Texas-rigged the Goo Bug.
The tail of the Goo Bug can be split, creating two crayfish claws, but Wheeler doesn’t split it. By not splitting them, the Goo Bug glides a tad slower as it falls to the bottom, and it executes a distinctive left-to-right darting and gliding action.
In the lexicon of bass anglers, Wheeler spent a lot of time punching the Goo Bug into the matted aquatic vegetation that flourishes at Okeechobee. In fact, there were thousands of acres of submergent vegetation–such as hydrilla, eelgrass and pondweed–and emergent vegetation–such as bulrushes, cattails and maidencane–for Wheeler to explore and punch with the Goo Bug.
When Wheeler searches for largemouth bass abiding in heavily matted vegetation, he looks for what he calls subtle variations or irregularities in the composition of the vegetation, such as points, isolated sections of vegetation, patches that contain a variety of different species of vegetation, or areas where the vegetation is denser. For example, he likes to find maidencane growing inside scattered patches of bulrushes. He also likes to find what he calls islands of vegetation, containing some bulrushes, cattails, eel grass, hydrilla, lily pads and maidencane.
Until Wheeler finds an area of matted vegetation that shelters a concentration of largemouth bass, he executes what he call a rapid pitching routine. After each pitch hits the water and the Goo Bug punches through or penetrates the thick vegetation on the surface, Wheeler allows the Goo Bug to plummet to the bottom with a semi-tight line. He accomplishes this by keeping the reel in its free-spool motif and his thumb lightly feathering the spool as the 1 ½-ounce sinker and Goo Bug fall to the bottom. During the fall, Wheeler holds his rod at the two o’clock position.
Wheeler says 80 percent of the strikes occur as the bait falls. The semi-tight line helps him detect when a largemouth bass engulfs the Goo Bug. When Wheeler detects that a largemouth bass has engulfed the Goo Bug, he engages the reel, takes the slack out of the line and drops the rod to the three-thirty position. Then he sets the hook with what he calls a pull set in which he uses or rotates his whole body rather than executing what he described as a herky-jerky, violent and vigorous hook set.
If he doesn’t elicit a strike during the Goo Bug’s initial drop to the bottom, Wheeler engages the reel, taking it out of the free-spool motif and lifts the rod from the two o’clock position to the 12 o’clock position. When the Goo Bug is at the top of that lift, he allows it to plummet back to the bottom on a semi-tight line by dropping his rod. And if that drop doesn’t engender a strike, Wheeler will execute the lift-and-drop routine one more time. After that second lift and drop, he either hooks a largemouth bass or he quickly reels in the Goo Bug and makes another pitch about five to 10 feet away from the spot where he performed the previous series of drop-lift-drop presentations.
When he locates a section of matted vegetation that exhibits the subtle and irregular features that he is looking for and discovers that that particular area entertains and shelters a few largemouth bass, Wheeler slows down and methodically dissects it. He also adds a third element to his pitch-and-punching routine, and that occurs after the second lift and drop is executed. He accomplishes this third presentation feature by reeling the Goo Bug to the top of the mat while he holds his rod at the two o’clock. Once the Goo Bugs arrives at the top of the mat, he stops reeling and then he shakes it for about five seconds. This shaking tactic is designed to allure the largemouth bass that are suspended immediately below the mat.
During his pitching-and-punching pursuits at Okeechobee, the only time that he reels to move the Goo Bug is when he brings it to the top of the mat to shake it or when he is quickly reeling it in to make another pitch.
As he talked about his punching endeavors with the Goo Bug at Okeechobee, he also mentioned that he has successfully punched some thick submergent vegetation at Oneida Lake, New York, Lake St. Clair, Michigan, and Lake Champlain on the New York-Vermont border, and at these three natural lakes, he has occasionally tangled with some lunker-sized smallmouth bass. He noted that the water that he punches in those three northern lakes is deeper and clearer than the water at Okeechobee. At Okeechobee, the depth of the water he punches can be as shallow as two feet and no deeper than six feet, and at those clear-water lakes in the north, the depth ranges from eight to 12 feet. What’s more, the vegetation is not as dense and matted in those three northern lakes as it is in Okeechobee. He said that when he pitches and punches in those northern lakes, he works with a 7 ½-foot heavy-powered rod. His Shimano Core MG reel is spooled with 20-pound-test Sufix Castable Invisiline 100% Fluorocarbon Fishing Line. To the line, slips on a Jethro Baits’ Stop-Itz Sinker Stop and a 3/4-ounce VMC TF Tungsten Flip’n Weight. He uses a Palomar knot to affix the 4/0 VMC Flippin’ Hook to the line, and the Goo Bug is Texas-rigged onto the hook.
In the northern waters, Wheeler pitches the Goo Bug into the thickest aggregation of vegetation that he can see. Then he holds his rod at the two o’clock position and allows the Goo Bug to plummet straight to the bottom, which he accomplishes by keeping the reel in its free-spool mode and his thumb lightly feathering the spool as the 3/4-ounce sinker and Goo Bug fall to the bottom. He finds that 90 percent of the strikes occur during that initial fall in these clear-water environments. If he fails, however, to elicit a strike on that initial fall, he lifts the Goo Bug out of that clump of vegetation and allows it to plummet to bottom on the outside edge of that clump. Then, if he doesn’t allure a strike on that fall, he swims the Goo Bug back to the boat, keeping it in contact with the vegetation the entire time. Wheeler also shakes the Goo Bug a lot more during the retrieve in the northern waterways than he does at Okeechobee.
TriggerX has 14 colors of the Goo Bug, and they are injected with Ultrabite Aggression Pheromones. Wheeler used the black-blue-sapphire hue for punching Okeechobee’s mats when the sun shines brightly. In low-light conditions or on cloudy outings, he utilizes the delta-black-red color. When he is plying clear-water environs, he works with the hue called blueberry candy. In Wheeler’s eyes, the Goo Bug is a more effective punch bait than similar creature-style baits because its body is narrower, which allows it to easily penetrate the matted vegetation. And once it penetrates the mats, it exhibits an enticing fall that other baits can’t emulate.
A package of eight can be purchased for $4.89.
In future blogs, we hope to explore how Wheeler flips and pitches the Goo Bug at other waterways and around laydowns, brush piles, boat docks, flooded buck brush and timber. Perhaps there will be a jika rig update, featuring the Goo Bug. For more information about the jika rig, see these two blogs: