On Dec. 28, at 5:30 a.m., Luke Clausen of Spokane Valley, Washington, was on the road, heading for a day of wielding blade baits for the walleye that abide in Potholes Reservoir,Washington. During the hour-and-half trip to the boat ramp, Clausen spent some of that time talking about how, when and where he used Z-Man Fishing Products' four-inch Palmetto BugZ in 2012.
Z-Man introduced the Palmetto BugZ to the angling world in July at the International Convention of Allied Sportfishing Trades, but Clausen began wielding prototypes of it many months before this show.
A goodly number of those Palmetto BugZ endeavors revolved around some of his days on the FLW circuit, where he finished sixth in the very competitive and prestigious FLW Tour's angler-of-the-year race in 2012, and finished 10th at the Forrest Wood Cup Championship at Lake Lanier, Georgia, on Aug. 9-12. In addition to using it at a few tournament venues, Clausen used it at times when he fished recreationally, such as for smallmouth bass in some impoundments and waterways that grace his home state of Washington.
Clausen noted that Z-Man designed it primarily for flipping, pitching and punching applications for largemouth bass. But he has caught smallmouth and spotted bass with it affixed to a skirtless football head jig. What's more, he has worked with it on a Carolina rig. He also likes to dress a Palmetto BugZ on a War Eagle Custom Lure's half-ounce Flipping Jig, and he skips this combo under and around docks, noting that there is something about the ElaZtech material of which the Palmetto BugZ is constructed that makes it a magnificent skipper.
When Clausen plies extremely thick and matted emergent vegetation in some Florida waterways or the thick patches of hydrilla, milfoil and coontail that embellish many of the flats at Guntersville Lake, Alabama, he works with a seven-foot, nine-inch Megabass Orochi XX flipping stick. This rod is called Aaron Martens Flipping Special, and it is an extremely heavy-power rod with a fast taper. His 6:3.1 gear-ratio casting reel on this rod is spooled with 65-pound-testTuf Line XP Braid. Onto the braided line, he slips on a one-ounce tungsten slip sinker, and then he utilizes a double palomar knot to attach a 5/0 extra-wide-gap, heavy-wire, straight-shank hook with a bait keeper to the braided line. The Palmetto BugZ is affixed to the hook Texas style, and the tungsten slip sinker is pegged to the line to prevent it from sliding up and down the line.
If the emergent and submergent vegetation and other objects aren't too dense and snaggy, Clausen opts to pitch and flip the Palmetto BugZ with a seven-foot, two-inch Megabass Orochi XX rod. It is a heavy-power rod with a fast taper. On this rod, Clausen's 6:3.1-ratio casting reel is spooled 20-pound-test Gamma Edge Fluorocarbon line. With this outfit, he slips a three-eighths-ounce tungsten slip sinker on to the fluorocarbon line, and he uses a palomar knot to attach 5/0 extra-wide-gap, heavy-wire, straight-shank hook with a bait keeper to the line. The Palmetto BugZ is affixed to the 5/0 hook Texas style, and the tungsten slip sinker is pegged to the line.
During those times when he is pitching the Palmetto BugZ around open-water lairs, Clausen usually works with a seven-foot, one-inch Megabass Orochi XX rod. This rod is called the Tour Versatile. It is a medium-power rod with a fast taper. His 6:3.1-ratio casting reel is spooled 16-pound-test Gamma Edge Fluorocarbon line. This outfit sports a pegged three-eighths-ounce tungsten slip sinker, as well as the 5/0 extra-wide-gap, heavy-wire, straight-shank hook with a bait keeper to the line, and the Palmetto BugZ is rigged Texas style.
When he is punching, pitching and flipping the Palmetto BugZ on a slip-sinker-and 5/0- extra-wide-gap, heavy-wire, straight-shank-hook rig, he rarely plies water deeper than six feet.
Clasuen works with the seven-foot, one-inch Megabass Orochi XX Tour Versatile rod and a 6:3.1 reel spooled with 16-pound-test Gamma Edge Fluorocarbon line when he has to skip the Palmetto BugZ and War Eagle Custom Lure's half-ounce Flipping Jig under and around docks. He notes that the Palmetto BugZ is more buoyant than other beaver-style and creature baits. This buoyancy factor slows the fall rate of the jig, which can be significant asset when the dock-oriented bass are suspended a foot or two under the surface. Then when the bass are milling around close to the bottom around the docks, Clausen says the buoyancy factor of the Palmetto BugZ comes into play again. He explains that its buoyancy allows this jig combo to tilt at 45 to 90-degree angle off the bottom when he deadsticks and slow drags along the bottom, allowing the Palmetto BugZ's four appendages to undulate and gyrate more alluringly than other beaver-style baits. He notes that the "style of his retrieves vary from place to place and throughout any given day." And he has retrieved this jig-and-Palmetto-BugZ combo into 20 feet of water.
The seven-foot, one-inch Megabass Orochi XX Tour Versatile rod and 6:3.1 reel that is spooled with 16-pound-test Gamma Edge Fluorocarbon line is what Clausen uses when he dresses a Palmetto BugZ on a football head jig. Prior to threading the four-inch Palmetto BugZ onto the jig, Clausen uses a pair of Fiskar-style scissors to trim about a quarter of an inch off its head, and he also uses the scissors to slightly taper both its sides immediately below its new head. It is always affixed to the jig with an exposed hook. Around snaggy lairs, Clausen works with a football head jig that is adorn with a weed guard. He uses three sizes of jigs: half ounce, three-quarter ounce and one ounce. The three-quarter-ounce size is the one he uses the most. The most effective presentation is a drag that is punctuated with an occasional deadstick pause, as he plies depths of 10 to 40 feet of water.
When Clausen wields a Palmetto BugZ on a Carolina rig, he affixes it Texas style to a offset, extra-wide-gap, 4/0 hook. The sinker is a three-quarter-ounce egg sinker made of lead. He uses it on the seven-foot, one-inch Megabass Orochi XX Tour Versatile rod and 6:3.1 reel that is spooled with 16-pound-test Gamma Edge Fluorocarbon line. He has fished in water depths as shallow as three feet and as deep as 60 feet. Depending on the water clarity, the leader on Clausen's Carolina rig ranges from 10- to 16-pound-test fluorocarbon. The average length of the leader is 30 inches, but he has used leaders as short as 16 inches and as long as 50 inches. Clausen says that he wields a Carolina rig when the bass want a more subtle presentation than can be achieved with a football jig. Moreover, it is especially effective during the post-spawn period and when the bass inhabit offshore lairs in the summer and fall.
Z-Man manufactures the Palmetto BugZ is eight colors. Around heavy aquatic vegetation or murky water, Clausen prefers to dark colors, such as black neon or black-blue flake. In clear-water applications, Clausen dresses the football head jig with a watermelon-red model. A package of five can be purchased for $3.99.
For more information about how other top-of-the-line professional anglers use the Palmetto BugZ, see the blog entitled "Bass Anglers' Gear Guide: Z-Man Fishing Products' Palmetto BugZ, according to David Walker."
This photograph reveals professional bass-angler Clausen's versatility. It feature Clausen holding one of the walleye that he and his partner caught on Dec. 28, 2012, at Potholes Reservoir, Washington.