The Lure Draft

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Lews Fishing

story by Ken Duke, Matt Pangrac, Dan O’Sullivan and Tom Leogrande – photos by Dan O’Sullivan

Thursday marked the first day of the 2012 NFL Draft. On that occasion, college football players across the country awaited the call that would change their lives forever. The phone call would open the door to potential tens of millions of dollars in earnings and for some, a chance to become one of the athletic elite; a superstar.

General Managers and coaching staffs are pouring over last minute decisions and twists and turns that could dictate the next decision they make. They have looked at their needs, and have put a list of options together that best suit their needs and desires. Some teams need speed on the outside, a new quarterback, or new blockers upfront. Others need a new pass rusher or a shutdown cornerback.

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What if you were a “General Manager” of your own fishing team? What would be your start performers? We’re not talking about picking a roster of pro anglers to go head to head in competition, we’re actually talking about lure selection. let’s face it, there are only so many pro anglers, and we all know that most everyone would all be fighting over a few guys anyway. But, lures; there are hundreds upon thousands of them to choose from, and they have a different effect in different areas of the country.

As outdoor writers, we talk to professional anglers all the time, and in doing so, we get the opportunity to hear what their go-to lures are. In doing that, we get the chance to examine which different lures make a difference for us in our particular area of the country.

In light of the NFL draft starting Thursday, I decided to talk to a pair of my colleagues and come up with who they would draft today as the General managers of their own tackleboxes. Our panel includes Ken Duke, Senior Editor of B.A.S.S. Publications, Matt Pangrac, Senior writer at BASS ZONE.com, Tom leogrande, Associate Editor of Advanced Angler as well as the president of True Image Promotions and myself, Dan O’Sullivan, the Managing Editor of Advanced Angler.com

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Ken Duke – Florida
Round 1 – Stickworm (quarterback)
I live in Florida. There’s aquatic vegetation here that grows like … well, weeds. To fish in that stuff, I need soft plastics and lots of them. If I have to go with just one type, though, I’ll take a 5- or 6-inch stickworm. It’s the quarterback of my team, and I always have one tied on. I can fish it weightless or use it as a punch bait behind a heavy sinker. They’re also great for bed fishing.

Round 2 – Chattering jig (wide receiver)
When I can, I like to fish fast and few baits are better for that in Florida than chattering jigs. They’re my wide receivers. They let me cover lots of water, and when things are good they eat up huge chunks of yardage. Two picks so far, and they’re both offensive choices. I’ll save a later pick for defense. After all, who wants to fish defensively?

Round 3 – Straight-tailed worm (halfback)
Sometimes here in Florida you just have slow down and gut it out. When that happens, there’s nothing better than an 8-inch straight or paddle-tail worm. I can Texas rig it, Carolina rig it or work weightless through the vegetation. Plus, I can cut it down and turn it into a smaller finesse bait. This is my halfback who also has good hands to catch the ball out of the backfield and is a dangerous kick returner.

Round 4 – Beaver-style punch bait (defensive end)
OK, here’s a pick that seems defensive. When the grass and pads get so heavy that they mat the surface, the bass are still under there, but you have to go in and get them — kind of like a defensive end goes after the quarterback. You know how announcers use that cliché about pass rushers “pinning their ears back and going after the quarterback,” well a Beaver-style bait looks like its ears have been pinned back or clipped off.

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Round 5 – Prop bait (cornerback)
It’s not that I like prop baits less than some of my earlier picks, it’s just that I thought they’d still be available late in the draft. Most of the country prefers poppers and walking baits when it comes to topwaters, but here in Florida, the prop bait is king. There are guys here who fish nothing else and win tournaments with these lures. I’m not nearly that fanatical — I’d have taken them in the first round if I were — but I do like them and respect the fish they catch here. Since prop baits make a lot of noise and occasionally come up big, I guess they’re the cornerbacks of my team.

Matt Pangrac – Oklahoma
Round 1 – Jig (quarterback)
Around the central time zone, the number one lure for producing in and out, every season of the year is a jig. Of course there are many different styles of jigs, but since we are keeping it by category; this would be my number one choice. I can Flip, Pitch, Swim or drag a jig on structure; it’s the all
around best producer I have.

Round 2 – Crankbaits (wide receiver)
I know this is also a broad category, but from shallow squarebills to medium divers, crankbaits let me find fish quickly, and I can fish them around a variety of cover or structure. Crankbaits have a great, fish catching reuptation throughout the Ozarks, and a real go-to for me.

Round 3 – Jerkbaits (halfback)
If the central area of the country is known for any one thing; it is jerkbaits. It’s not going to be a lure for every season, but when they are on, they are really good. From Stacy King, to Mike McCelland, Brian Snowden and beyond, jerkbaits have made a lot of careers in our area.

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Round 4 – Topwater (defensive end)
This may seem like an odd pick, but topwaters can be good in my area from April to November. I usually prefer the big cigar shaped walking baits like a Super Spook, but others have their place too. Not only do topwater baits produce big strikes, but they are great for locating bass because they will often show themselves without actually eating the bait.

Round 5 – Shaky Head and six-inch worm (cornerback)
This is a lure that I can catch fish on anywhere. No matter the water color, I can get bites when fish are eating, or when it is tough. This is also a great lure for fishing for any species of bass. Largemouth, smallmouth or spotted bass all eat a Shaky Head.

Dan O’Sullivan – Northern California
Round 1 – Tube on a Jighead (quarterback)
I’d love to say that a jig would be my number one producer because of the ability to draw big bites. My biggest bass, a 10-pound, 1-ounce largemouth came on a jig; however, it was the only fish I caught that day. Jigs can be hit or miss here, and that is why a 3.5 to 4-inch tube on a ball head jig rigged internally is my first pick. I can get bites from larger than average fish on it, and can still catch bass that won’t quite bite a jig.

Round 2 – Jerkbaits (wide receiver)
I love jerkbaits from the prespawn until the summer and again in the fall. Bass on our steep walled canyon lakes will suspend on the walls, or fish will roam flat gravel banks and points. Even lakes like Clear Lake and the California Delta have been known to produce jerkbait fish. The jerkbait allows me to cover water and find the fish, and will produce once they are located. Unlike other areas of the country where an elongated minnow plug is king, I prefer to start with longer lipped baits that will hit in that eight to 10 foot range because of our clear water.

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Round 3 – Crankbaits (halfback)
Crankbaits work on our reservoirs and on the dirtier waters of the Delta and Clear Lake. For that reason, I tend to use a crankbait more than I do spinnerbaits for locating bass. I’m not going to limit myself to any one style, but there are times that the lipless crankbait is great, and there are opportunities for baits that hit the 20 foot mark, so they are always in my boat.

Round 4 – Frogs (defensive end)
I guess this is my one guilty pleasure. There is nothing like a frog bite. I throw frogs from the moment bass climb on beds (yes, they are an excellent lure for bedded fish) and I throw them into the fall. Most people think that frogs are only for cover, but I’ve caught bass on frogs on clear water reservoirs around water resistant willows and under thick mats from spring through fall.

Round 5 – Drop Shot and six-inch worm (cornerback)
This is my go to lure for defense. If the bite is tough, the first thing I turn to is a drop shot rig because pressured bass will eat it. I say a six-inch worm because I prefer to use it to try and appeal to a little larger bass, but i can also bite the worm down if I need to present a smaller profile. While my biggest bass came on a jig, my second largest; an 8-pound, 13-ounce Delta largemouth ate a drop shot rig, so I know I can get the right bites too.

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Tom Leogrande – Northern California
Round 1 – Drop Shot with a 6 Inch Roboworm (Quarterback)
The quarterback has to be reliable, make no mistakes and still have the ability to win a game for you. That’s the drop shot. The drop shot rig always performs in the tough conditions and the wide open bites. It can catch the keepers, yet still has the ability to land a donkey at any time.

Round 2 – Swimbaits (Wide Receiver)
The wide receiver is the position that has home run potential, always has an attitude and isn’t afraid to go up between the linebackers and take punishment for the team. That’s a swimbait. Every time you toss a swimbait you’ve got a chance to put a tournament away, with one cast. It takes a swagger and a little bit of over-confidence to fire this bait all day. The downside is, like going up for a high pass between a couple 225+ line backs it can punish you by coming up empty or leaving you short of a limit come tournament time.

Round 3 – Stick Baits (Tailback)
A good tailback can eat up yards three and four at a time, but has the ability to take it to the house on any given play. A tailback also has to be versatile and be able to take the ball in between the tackles and outside the ends. That’s the stick bait. It’s extremely versatile and it’ll put fish in the boat consistently. A dink her and a keeper there. Mix in a few solid fish and you are having a good day. Don’t underestimate the stick bait as it can catch a lunker on any cast as well.

Round 4- Frogs (Defensive End)
A defensive end generally only gets in half of the plays and a good defensive end see’s less than that because offenses will run the other side more often than not. Defensive ends or outside backers are generally bruisers, keep ’em on the other teams QB to get him out of his element and rushing throws. That’s the frog frog you can only really fish it six months a year in most areas, but when you can it can be deadly. It’s a bruiser, it can be fished in the thickest of stuff and be super effective. Don’t put it down just because there is no “cheese” on the water, fish it in open water and hold on.

Round 5 – Jigs (Corner back)
Playing corner back is the toughest position in all of sports in my opinion. A good cornerback has to have solid fundamentals, the ability to forget getting beaten, be quick and able to adjust to the receivers routes quickly. That’s the jig. A jig is a solid fundamental bait coast to coast. It’s a great bait to turn to when the bite is tough and its so versatile. It can be fished fast, slow, with finesse style or big and bulky. Adjust your jig to the bite to be more successful.