By STEVE PENNAZ
The best lures are built to do certain things well. Determining what those "things" are is the key to catching more fish.
Do yourself a favor — go to your tackle box and grab your favorite lure, then ask yourself the following questions:
• HOW does this bait work?
• WHEN does this bait work?
• WHY does this bait work?
If your favorite bait is a Rebel Pop-R, your answers might look like this:
HOW does this bait work? It is designed to be fished on top. A slow to medium retrieve with an occasional sharp pop of the rod tip will cause the lure to spit and gurgle on the surface — just like a wounded baitfish!
WHEN does it work? When bass are feeding on top. Slow retrieves will bring fish out of cover; faster retrieves are better when fishing shallow flats with scattered fish.
WHY does it work? To tell you the truth, I don't really know – and no one else does either! So why ask an impossible question? Because asking the question will get you thinking about what triggers a fish to hit, and the more you think about this, the more you'll understand why certain baits work at certain times.
The Pop-R catches fish for a number of reasons beyond the fact that it does a great job mimicking a wounded baitfish. Bass, in particular, also react well to baits that start and stop, or simply rest for long periods of time, or emit certain sounds, or... Sound familiar?
Which brings me to the Yum Dinger. I was simply stumped the first time I saw this simple, pen-shaped piece of plastic. I had no idea how or when to fish it, and "why" part of the equation was simply incomprehensible.
So I fished it, leaving the dock with a few bags of baits, some hooks, a couple jigheads, a few sinkers and nothing else. The hardest thing for most anglers to do is to give new baits a fair shake simply because it's hard to quit fishing when what you are using is working—your time on the water is simply too short.
So when I want to learn about a new bait, I leave everything else on shore and fish it and it alone.
Here is what I found:
I found the YUM Dinger is more versatile than I ever imagined. It produced when rigged Texas or Carolina-style, off a drop-shot rig and behind a jighead. But the bait really shined when rigged wacky style (hooked once through the middle of the bait) with a small (size 2 to 4 Octopus Style Bait hook) and allowed to sink to either the fish or bottom on a semi-slack line.
In deeper water, say 15 feet or more, especially when fishing in wind or current, I found that a small (1/16-ounce) jig head rigged Wacky style was even more deadly than a plain hook. For one, it sank faster than a bait rigged with a plain hook, putting the bait in the fish zone more quickly. More importantly, weighting the bait in the middle gave it more action. Each end of the bait had a more pronounced wobble as it fell.
I also learned that, unlike other baits of this type, the Yum Dinger is tough enough to catch multiple fish before it needs to be replaced.
When do I fish the YUM Dinger? It really shines in deeper water situations, particularly on smallmouth bass holding on rock humps and gravel bars—fish that I could not get to go on any thing other than live bait. It's a killer bait in clear water, where it pulls fish in from long distances.
WHY does the bait work? For one thing, it's unique. Fish have never seen a bait that moves like the Dinger does. Secondly, it acts like it's alive. It reminds me of a leech undulating in the water, or a wounded baitfish quivering as it falls. The combination is tough for any fish to resist.
Do yourself a favor and take the Yum Dinger out for a test drive. Just remember, first you ding 'em, then you sting 'em!
Steve Pennaz is the Executive Director of North American Fishing Club and host of North American Fisherman Television Show on ESPN.
Buy some YUM Dingers now.