Monday, January 30, 2012

Consolidation and Versatility! (Rods and Reels)

Starting any tournament season as a non-boater means two things...that one must be able to consolidate the equipment that is required for a successful competition day, and to be versatile with the limited amount of gear that is on hand.  

My dilemma now is how do I consolidate 10 rods and reels into 5 or 6 primary combos that will be used on tournament day?  Well, when I think in those terms, I should be looking at all of the lures that I wanted to throw with the combos I have already purchased.

1) Swim Jigs  2) Football Jigs  3) Large Texas rigged plastics  4) Small Texas rigged plastics 5) Spinnerbaits  6) Buzzbaits  7) Topwater  8) Senkos  9) Frogs  10) Carolina Rigs  11) Square Bill Cranks  12) Jerkbaits 13) Medium Diving Cranks  14) Deep Diving Cranks  15) Lipless Cranks  16) Shakey Head 17) Drop-shot  18) Flickshake  

With these in mind, how can I consolidate each different lure into 5 or 6 primary combos?  In order to approach this correctly I need to think of commonalities between all of these lures...starting with the type of hooks used...

Single hook:  1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, 10, 16, 17, 18

Treble hook: 7, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15

The hook type will help me determine what rod action will be needed.  In the case of a single hook I am more comfortable using a fast to extra fast tip to help drive the single barb hooks home quicker.  As for treble hooks I prefer a moderate to moderate fast action to drive the hooks home while also keeping the hooks pinned inside of the bass' mouth during the fight.

So it seems like I only need two rods to do everything right?  Wrong!  The next thing I need to determine is what type of cover I will be using each of these lures in and the weight of each lure

Heavy (Heavy Cover/Heavier Weight):  2, 3, 9

Medium Heavy (Moderate Cover/Moderate Weight):  1, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 10, 11, 13, 14, 15

Medium (Little Cover/Little Weight): 12, 16, 17, 18

Now I have three combos based upon the rod power needed for each how do I expand those out further to make my 5 or 6 combos???  This is the time to implement technique specific categories to correctly define the rod length that will give me the advantage to fish my lures most effectively.  In addition to this, on the water time with each rod will help me understand what setup gives me the most overall "feel" and "confidence".

I) Reaction Baits:  1, 5, 7, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15

II) Senkos/Small Texas Rigged Plastics:  4, 8

III) Finesse Baits: 16, 17, 18

IV) Flipping/Pitching:  2, 3

V) (Surface Reaction Baits) Frog/Carolina Rig/Buzzbait:  6, 9, 10

As you can see, the reaction baits have at least 5 more lures than every other category so this is when I would implement the 6th combo...

VI) Crankbaits: 12, 13, 14, 15

From the combo list that you see on my home page this is how I would assign each rod/reel pair according to their techniques...
** (#) = combos that can be used as backups/alternates for same technique **

I)  1, (3), (4), (8)    II) 9, (10)   III) 10, (9)   IV) 7, (5), (2)  V) 2, (5), (7)  VI) 6, (1), (4), (8)

So even though I have 10 combos, I was able to narrow down to 6 primary combos. This allows me 4 spares to use in case I need a little bit different approach to a technique or if I need a replacement.

The reels that have been paired up with each combo were chosen because of their overall balance with the rod, the specific gear ratio that works best with the rod's technique, and the amount of drag that the combo would need while fighting a fish.  Beyond that, features like flipping switches, twitching bars, and other reel  bells and whistles are all based upon user preference. topic to be discussed will be FISHING LINE for each technique specific stay tuned!

Tight Lines Everyone!


Friday, January 27, 2012

Let's Start from the Top!

This next installment of tournament gear purchases will cover my choice of rods and reels for the 2012 fishing season.  I plan on being thorough with this subject because these tools will become an integral part of my fishing style as the tournament season progresses.  So let's get down to the what's an why's of my gear choices so you can get a better understanding of my thought process while choosing new gear.

To keep it simple for now, let's work from the top to the bottom...starting with my froggin' and topwater rods and reels!  

When I walk into Bass Pro or any tackle shop looking for a new rig, I ALWAYS choose a reel first!  I do this because the reel will become the foundation in creating a well balanced, dependable setup.  Some of the things that I ask myself before I even look at a reel includes...

1) What gear ratio will I need? (7.1, 6.3, 6.4, 5.2???)
2) What is the overall weight of the reel? (Lighter reels will cause less fatigue)
3) What type of internals does it have? (Brass/Aluminum?)
4) How many bearings does it have? (More bearings = smoother retrieve/casting, Less bearings = longer casts)
5) What kind of braking system does it have? (Magnetic, Centrifugal, Dual?)
6) Do I want a small or big profile reel? (Which is more comfortable when I palm it?)
7) How much drag force does it have?  (The more drag force the better!)
8) How fine are the adjustments on the spool knob, drag star, and brakes? (Audible click adjustments?)
9) What type of material and how many pieces does the body come in? (Aluminum, Carbon Fiber?)
10) What kind of warranty do I get with this reel? (1 year, 3 year?)

All of these details are necessary because if you take your time and choose informatively you will end up with a durable, application ready reel!  REMEMBER that all people will have their own favorite don't take any recommendations that I make to heart.  Always go with what is most comfortable with your own personal style!

After you have run through all of these details, the last thing you want to look at is the price.  Normally I like to stay within the 120-250 dollar range because most reels on the market today are manufactured with quality parts and options within this price range.  Most of the gear outside of this price point will end up with you breaking the bank for something that attracts the fisherman more than the fish.  REMEMBER that keeping on a budget when you are just starting out is going to be another essential part of keeping yourself in the game!  And just because a reel is 300 dollars or over, doesn't mean you can't find it for cheaper some place else!

Continuing on...

After all of my decisions were made I decided on the Lew's Tournament Pro Speed Spools (TP1SH) for both of my topwater applications. The dual brake gives me better adjustability for windy conditions, the one piece frame and carbon fiber side plates are simple and well made, the audible click spool knob, drag star and magnetic brake can be tweaked in fine increments, and the reels are VERY lightweight overall!  I chose the 7.1 gear ratio for both my frogging rod and topwater rod because that ratio will allow me to recover slack line quicker, it will help me cover a lot of water more quickly, and will give me the ability to horse fish out of heavier cover faster!

 Price: $179.99

The next piece of this puzzle were the rods that should be paired with these light weight burners!  Some of the things that I wanted to look into first before buying included...

1) What action, power, and length will I need?
2) What kind of handle does it have and is it comfortable?
3) What kind of guides does the rod have?
4) How does it balance and feel with the reel I bought?
5) What type of warranty does the rod have?

This phase really took some thought because a rod has two main functions that need to work in unison with each other before it can be an effective tool.  These two main functions are 1) Bite detection and 2) Fish fighting ability.  Froggin' and Topwater, although both surface lures, will both have to be two very different styles of rods.  The reason why begins with the #2 function and the types of hooks corresponding to each bait.  Frogs usually have a dual split hook with one eyelet.  Since froggin' requires a delayed, full force hookset I went the route of choosing the St. Croix Mojo Bass 7'0 MH fast action rod.  This rod gives me the length needed for longer casts, it has a MH power that gives a great deal of backbone, and has a fast tip reaction.  The blank and the warranty is also really nice on this rod for being at the 100 dollar mark.  A really sensitive rod for this application is not really necessary since frogging is more of a visual strike than a "feel" strike.  As long as the rod allows you to feel the weight of the fish after the strike happens, then you are good to go!

 Price: $99.99

Last but not least is my topwater rod.  In this case I had to take a totally different approach from the the froggin' rod because most surface topwater lures have a set of treble hooks.  In most instances, treble hooks embed themselves on the hookset so having constant "soft" pressure on the fish during the fight is very critical!  So for this route I decided to go with the Shimano Cumara Reaction series 7' 0" MH Moderate Fast action rod.  The key in this whole decision was choosing a rod that had a moderate to moderate fast action that will act as a "cushion" during the fight.  I can not begin to tell you how important the action will be for this and all remaining setups I will talk about.  Keeping that hook in the fish will make or break you in a tournament situation, so you might as well have every odd you can in your favor!  So as a rule of thumb, any instance you are using a lure with treble hooks...always use a moderate or moderate fact action rod!  

 Price: $220.00

The length and the power I chose for this rod is all relative based on what was comfortable for me.  A 7' rod is my "middle of the road" comfort zone and I usually shorten my length if I need more accuracy, and add to my length when I need more casting distance or a greater length for shock load dispersement (i.e. flipping and pitching)...but that will be for a later segment.

I by no means have written down every and all of my reasons for picking this equipment, but instead gave you the spark notes version of what I thought was essential.  Any and all questions beyond this posting is welcome and can be sent to

Look for my next segments coming you can see below, I have ALOT more to cover!!!

Tight Lines!


Thursday, January 26, 2012

It's Time to Suit Up!

Over the last few months I have taken the time to meticulously choose the items that will be a need more than a want before I start my tournament season.  If you are really serious about getting into these competitions you will have to come to grips with the fact that it won't be cheap at first.  No Wal-Mart specials will do the trick. The average angler can get away with the essential amount of gear, so my next few posts will be going over the bare bones basics for choosing necessary equipment.  This will be a learning experience for both myself and my readers because all of my purchases haven't been finalized as of yet, and I would like to get my readers feedback before I make the dive on my purchases!

First and foremost, you need to be prepared for all weather elements you will be fishing in during your tournament season!  The most essential of these is the Rain Suit!  Other items like boots, warm layered clothing, and headwear is all necessary, but if you don't start with the right suit all of these other pieces of essential clothing will be meaningless.

What does a rain/wind suit give me?
- Creates a thin layer, breathable shell that is impermeable to rain and wind
- Adds extra storage on the body

If any of you have been out on a boat before, you know as well as I do that cold air and rain will go right through layered clothing in a heartbeat.  The last thing you want to be doing during a tournament is trying to keep warm and shivering when you should be focusing on the bite and detecting strikes. 

In my search for the best rainsuit, I have turned to two options.  Both suits are made of Gore-Tex material that is THE BEST material on the market for rain/wind suits.  The material is thin and light, which is what you really want.  Insulation is not a necessity, just buy a bigger size so you can layer up. The material is also tough and durable so longevity of the suit is second to none.  These suits are not cheap so the goal is to get the most out of your gear without having to replace it.  So keep that in mind as we continue on with these posts, durability is first and foremost when making any gear purchase.  Unless you are a pro and you get everything free, you want your gear to last!

The two suits that I have chosen to look at is the new Frabill FXE Stormsuit and the Bass Pro ShopsPro Qualifier Gore-Tex Suit. 

Frabill FXE Stormsuit

(Frabill Description) The Frabill Extreme Elements STORMSUIT is the mother of all extreme raingear. It delivers unprecedented degrees of fit, finish, ergonomics, toughness, attention to detail and the all-important shielding waterproof capacity.

 Price: $224.99
    Price: $224.99

BPS Pro Qualifier GORE-TEX Suit;-Pro-Qualifierreg;-GORE-TEXreg;-Rain-Jackets-for-Men/product/10210288/145221?cmCat=CROSSSELL_PRODUCT;-Pro-Qualifierreg;-GORE-TEXreg;-Rain-Bibs-for-Men/product/10210289/121700?cmCat=CROSSSELL_PRODUCT

(BPS Description)
  • 100% waterproof, windproof, and breathable
  • With the Parka or Jacket creates a single dry, comfortable system
  • Two-layer GORE-TEX® fabric construction
  • Double storm-flap-covered front two-way zipper with rain gutter
  • Full hip-length waterproof two-way leg zips
  • Articulated knees with reinforcing patches
  • Adjustable ankle cuffs with inner patches
  • Two large fleece-lined cargo pockets
  • Two fleece-lined chest pockets with waterproof zippers
  • Storm-flap-covered rear zip pocket
  • Elastic waist for snug fit
Battle stormy weather in the full-bore weather protection of our Pro Qualifier Bibs! 100% waterproof/windproof/breathable, the Bass Pro Shops® Pro Qualifier® GORE-TEX Rain Bibs for Men work in concert with the Parka or Jacket to create a single dry, comfortable system. Features include two-layer GORE-TEX fabric construction that includes a double storm-flap-covered front 2-way zipper with rain gutter, full hip-length waterproof two-way leg zips, articulated knees with reinforcing patches, adjustable ankle cuffs with inner patches, two large fleece-lined cargo pockets, two fleece-lined chest pockets with waterproof zippers, storm-flap-covered rear zip pocket, and elastic waist for snug fit. Imported.

BPS Price: $199.99
BPS Price $199.99

After looking at the two side by side there are a few things I want to keep in mind when I go to try them out:
- Is it comfortable and easy to move around in?
- Is it big enough in size to put several layers underneath?
- Does the hood cover a good amount of my face to protect from the elements?
- Is it easy to get into and out of in case I want to take it off during a tournament?
- Does the jacket length go significantly past the top of the bibs so water and wind doesn't get under the jacket?
- How does the pocket storage space differ and what is easier to get to?

These are just some of the things that come into play off the top of my head, but the real question will be how it works out once I try them on.  "If you are ever in doubt, try it out!"

I will be following up sometime next month once I have made my final decision, let me know what you guys think?  Any other options let me know about them!

Tight Lines!


Tuesday, January 24, 2012


Welcome to Bassin' The Midwest!

My name is Alan Wiedmeyer aka "Fluke" and I have been fishing for a little over 22 years!  I am also an active Pro Staff Member for  This blog will serve as an outlet for myself and also fellow DA members that are looking for information to advance them in their bass angling techniques and knowledge.  I am by no means a professional, but my experiences have helped me hone my skills to become a better angler throughout my fishing career.  So now this will be an opportunity for me to give that information back to all of my readers!  My first focus on this blog will be sharing my experiences as I compete in my first active year of tournament fishing.  I am sure many of you have or have wanted to get into tournament fishing, so this will serve as a how to guide to understand how to approach tournament fishing.  This blog will also serve as an outlet for me to document the catches that I have accumulated over the year.  Specific aspects like gear choices, water clarity, water depth, water tempurature, weather conditions, time of day, type of cover/structure, and targeted fish species will be discussed.  This will serve as a guide and a starting point for many of you as you learn how to pick apart a familiar or even a new body of water. 

Some other items that will be discussed during the 2012 fishing season:
  • Gear choices and understanding how to correctly approach buying new and used equipment
  • Understanding lure action and color choices
  • Specific how to videos for using specific lures and techniques
  • Learning the ins and outs of joining a Bass Club and tournament fishing
So I hope all of you are ready for this coming season, because I am excited to introduce all of you to my style of fishing over the coming months! 

Tight Lines!

ARW aka "Fluke"