March 14, 2019
Travis Myers is always in search of new soft-plastic finesse bait. This quest has been one of his passions for a number of years.
Myers resides in Paw Paw, West Virginia, and for several years, he contributed a multitude of logs to the Finesse News Network that focused on how, when, and where he caught oodles of riverine smallmouth bass by employing Midwest finesse tactics.
His Midwest finesse days, however, are a thing of the past.
Nowadays, he is on the way of becoming a devotee and expert with some of the finesse tools that are created in Japan.
Since the spring of 2018, his favorite one has been Megabass’ 1/4-ounce Dark Sleeper, and he suspects that it will continue to be as 2019 unfolds.
On Dec. 1, 2018, he sent us an email telling us that he caught 43 smallmouth bass with the Deep Sleeper in four hours and 21 minutes. The conditions on this December outing were less than ideal, and in fact, he described them as being abysmal.
In this email, he wrote many words lauding the effectiveness of the Dark Sleeper, and he ended it by saying that we ought to inform members of the Finesse News Network about some of its virtues.
We agreed, and he sent us a Dark Sleeper to examine and describe.
According to our measurements, it is 2 5/16 inches long.
Its head or predorsal area is eleven-sixteenths of an inch long. It is graced with a pair of three-dimensional eyes. Both cheeks possess a preopercle and a operculum. The features of its mouth are similar to that of a largemouth bass.
It is endowed with two dorsal fins. The first one encroaches upon the predorsal area and almost reaches its eyes. It is seven-eighths of an inch long. It is very soft and pliable and possesses seven soft rays. This fin’s first soft ray has a height of nine-sixteenths of an inch, and the seventh one has a height of a quarter of an inch. This dorsal fin is split in half similar to a hot-dog bun, and this split fin becomes a hook guard.
A space of one-sixteenth of an inch separates the first dorsal fin from the second one. The second dorsal fin is about seven-sixteenths of an inch long with a height of about one-eighth of an inch. It possesses seven soft rays. This dorsal fin is not split in half.
From the end of the second dorsal to the junction of its tail, there is a gap of nine-sixteenths of an inch. This portion of the torso is about one-sixteenth of an inch thick, and the distance from the top of its dorsal area to the bottom of its ventral area is three-sixteenths of an inch high.
From the tip of its head to the beginning of its anal fin, the Dark Sleeper’s ventral or abdominal area is flat and wide. This area is 1 1/8 inches long and about a half of an inch wide at its widest spot, and this wide spot lies between the end of its gill cover and the beginning of its pectoral fin. The ventral area eventually becomes somewhat keel-shaped from its anal fin to the junction with its tail.
The anal fin is five-sixteenths of an inch long with a height of about one-eighth of an inch. It is graced with six soft rays. The distance between the end of the anal fin and the junction of the tail is thirteen-sixteenths of an inch.
Before the torso joins the tail, the ventral area possesses a flange, which is curved. The distance from the top of its dorsal area to the bottom of its ventral area of this curved flange increases the height of the torso from three-sixteenths of an inch to three-eighths of an inch. It is less than one-sixteenth of an inch thick.
The tail is thin and flat. It exhibits somewhat of the shape of a reniform leaf, and in the lexicon of the angling world, it is called either a paddle tail or a boot tail. From the top of the paddle to its bottom, it is seven-sixteenths of an inch long, which is called its major axis. It is seven-sixteenths of an inch wide at its widest spot, which is its semi-major axis.
Each side of its body is graced with a pectoral fin and a lateral line.
The Dark Sleeper’s epidermis is smooth.
A short-shank jig hook that has a 60-degree bend and is festooned with a lead head is implanted inside the head and torso of the Dark Sleeper. The eye of the hook is situated and exposed in the Dark Sleeper’s snout and between its nares. The lead is encompassed within the soft-plastic portions of the predorsal area.
The bend and point of the hook radiate out of the dorsal area. The bend and point are surrounded by the first dorsal fin, lying between the hot-dog-bun-like split of this dorsal fin. In other words, the split dorsal fin covers the point of the hook, making it a hook guard, which makes it virtually snag free.
This Dark Sleeper is said to weigh a quarter of an ounce, which is about the same weight of a 2 1/2-inch stick-style bait that is impregnated with salt and affixed to a 1/16-ounce mushroom-style jig.
They are available in the following hues: Biwako Yoshinobori, Clear Chart, Clear Pink, Dark Shad, Donko, Hanahaze, Haze, Mutsugorou, Shirauo, and Wakasagi.
One Dark Sleeper cost $5.99, and according to Myers, it is snag-free and incredibly durable, exhibiting the wherewithal to endure weeks and weeks of fishing and a myriad of donnybrooks with feisty riverine smallmouth bass.
(1) Here is a link to Megabass’ website: https://megabassusa.com/product/dark-sleeper.
(2) Here are some more of Travis Myers’ insights about the Dark Sleeper that he emailed to the Finesse News Network.
During his Dec. 1, 2018, outing, he caught the 43 smallmouth bass by employing a deadstick presentation with the Dark Sleeper.
From early November into March, when the water temperature ranges from 37 to 50 degrees, he presents the Dark Sleeper to the smallmouth bass on the bottom with a drag or a deadstick presentation, noting that a protracted deadstick presentation with the Dark Sleeper has been a superb method for inveigling riverine smallmouth bass in 37-degree water.
Even though it can be employed as a swimbait with a variety of swimming retrieves and at a variety of depths, Myers quickly came to the conclusion in February of 2018 that it is not an ordinary swimbait. Because of its unique weight distribution, which creates a low center of gravity, and because of its dorsal-fin hook guard, Myers says it is virtually impossible to wedge it in the crevices of the underwater boulders and rocks or snag it on submerged logs and trees. Thus, he has worked with it around, over, and across countless beaver huts, log jams, and piles of boulders without getting it snagged, and when he does this, he is not swimming it. Instead, he is dragging and deadsticking it around, over, and across these potential quagmires of snags.
It has become so effective that it has replaced the classic tube in Myer’s finesse repertoire.
To employ his bottom-oriented presentations, he does not use his rod to move the Dark Sleeper. Thus, his spinning rod remains dead still during the entire presentation. He never shakes his rod the way Midwest finesse anglers do when they are fishing for black bass that reside in natural lakes and manmade reservoirs. Myers says the river’s current provides all the action that the Dark Sleeper needs to entice a smallmouth bass. To move the Dark Sleeper, Myers merely rotates the handle of his spinning reel while the rod remains rigid.
In regard to its durability, he has used the same Dark Sleeper for slightly more than a month, which pinpoints its ability to withstand the beatings that scores and scores of smallmouth bass can administer to most soft-plastic baits, and once again it highlights its snag-free nature.
The Dark Sleeper, in Myers’ eyes, mimics the sculpins and juvenile suckers that abide in the rivers and streams that he fishes, and they are bottom-oriented species. Thus, that is why Myers rather ornately describes himself as a benthic- zone angler.
He prefers hues of the Dark Sleeper that “blend in with the bottom.” Therefore, it is camouflaged and difficult for him to see as he presents the Dark Sleeper to the smallmouth bass. During the cold-water periods, much of the underwater terrains of the deep-water holes that he plies are dark and littered with dead leaves, and he has found the Mutsugorou and Donko hues blend in with the leaves and are the most effective hues.