|Welcome to the IMA Emailer – June 2011 Issue
The IMA EMAILER brings you news from IMA pro staff members across the USA and worldwide.
It’s summertime, and the crankbait bite is just heating up!
Sure, you started cranking when the bass got into their pre-spawn mode, but at no other time of the year is there such a wealth of different ways to fish a lipped bait as exist right now.
On the TVA lakes in the south, the bass are starting to gang up on ledges, where they’ll absolutely annihilate a deep diver. On rivers like the Arkansas and the Ohio, shallow water fanatics bang the Square Bill into the heaviest cover they can find and prepare to win tournaments. On the coasts – in places like the Cal Delta and the Potomac – anglers violently rip cranks out of the grass where they find fish wadded up and susceptible to reaction lures.
But just because there’s a crankbait bite on your home water doesn’t mean that you’ll be able to unlock it easily, even with the best tools. And there’s no one-size-fits-all lure or specific retrieve that works everywhere, every time.
One of the questions the IMA pros get asked most frequently is which IMA bait should be used in different circumstances. We offer the Shaker and the Square Bill (and we’ll have a few more very soon….more on that later) and while both are amazingly versatile our pros have definite preferences for one over the other at specific times.
ima SHAKER VS. ima SQUARE BILL! When do you choose what to throw and why?
For South Carolina pro Michael Murphy, the basic decision comes down to one thing: “Is the water muddy or clear?” he asked. “It’s really that simple.”
“Of course it’s seasonal, too,” he continued. “In the early spring, before the rains come, I like the Shaker. But when it gets a little dirtier, I switch to the Square Bill.”
At a Beaver Lake FLW Tour tournament this year, he put that one-two punch to good use. It was a brutally tough event and in the early going the Shaker was the ticket, but there was a substantial warm water influx as the tournament went on. “As soon as the mud hit it I picked up the Square Bill,” he said. “The fish had moved up and pulled onto the rocks and the Square Bill deflected better. That fatter body displaces more water, which is important when the baitfish are moving around more.”
Of course it’s not just rain water from tributaries that create muddy water or warming water conditions. Murphy was raised on the tough fishing waters of Indiana and even on the toughest, stillest summer days he found ways to get a crankbait bite going when others couldn’t. Wind, of course, is one means of breaking up the surface, but when it doesn’t exist in its natural state you can seek out the man-made version.
“When the boat traffic kicks up, the banks get mud lines,” he advised. “The water may be completely clear underneath but that wave action has the same effect as a cloudy day, so I’ll target those areas.”
For Fred Roumbanis, who’s having a simply tremendous year of tournament fishing, his biggest weakness is that he doesn’t like to put the Square Bill down.
“I fish it all year round,” he said. “It is absolutely a fish catching machine. I often rely on it for a limit, but I get plenty of big bites on it, too. It’s deadly any place there are bass holding on stumps and laydowns.”
Elite Pro Fred Roumbanis had good results with the Square Bill early on this season.
“On Pickwick earlier this year I caught a quick limit the first day on the Square Bill,” Fred continued. “I was fishing current breaks, any little laydowns I could find with it, even a grassy point of shoreline grass.”
Ohio pro Bill Lowen, an absolute crankbait savant, said that the bite is “a seasonal thing for me. I like the Shaker in the early spring and in the late fall, when you don’t want a big hard-thumping bait. “Of course Lowen also said that there are “no rules in this sport,” so he wasn’t completely surprised that California guide and fishing educator extraordinaire Randy Pringle takes a different approach. He’ll fish the Square Bill any time there are stumps, regardless of season, but he likes the Shaker over the square bill as the water gets warmer. While it has a flat sided body, its sudden darts and veers to one side or the other replicate active baitfish to him.
“When you see more stuff happening – bluegills moving, birds diving down for bugs and lizards jumping from rock to rock – that’s when the Shaker is best,” Pringle said
As noted above, the Square Bill is never far away from Fred’s rod deck, but as the season progresses he’ll often head back toward a flat-sided lure. “I really like the Shaker in the fall,” he said. “It’s similar to fishing a lipless crankbait except it floats back up instead of sinking. You can run it into wood in shallow pockets, hit the wood and it’ll bounce right up.”
This 3D illustration of the ima SHAKER really shows off its flat sides.
One of the main reasons Pringle relies so heavily on the Shaker in his tournament fishing and day-to-day guiding, is the bait’s profile: “It has the same basic shape as the arch-enemy of the bass – the bluegill, brim, sunfish or whatever you want to call it – and that’s like a gumdrop to them.”
Of course, whichever crank you use, forage preferences dictate color patterns under most circumstances. That may mean starting off with the craw patterns in the spring, moving gradually into bluegill-replicating hues, and then relying heavily on the shad imitators in the fall.
Tidal Water bass love the Shaker being ripped through the grass lines.
Lowen said that even when fish aren’t in a chasing mood, sometimes a gaudy Square Bill can get them biting again. “At the St. Johns earlier this year I had a stretch where I was catching some fish flipping,” he recalled. “But eventually they stopped biting, even though I knew there were more fish there. I eventually figured out that you could catch them by banging the Square Bill off of cypress trees. Slamming it through the cover as fast as you can triggered the reaction bite.”
You may have heard it in a thousand previous crankbait articles, but the truth remains the same – deflection is key. Fortunately, the IMA crankbaits have a natural “hunting” action that causes them to violently dart off to the side, then return to center as if nothing happened. But sometimes a little extra angler-imparted action is necessary.
If you haven’t tried the SHAKER & SQUARE BILL first hand yet, get a good look here.
“If you aren’t deflecting off items like stumps and laydowns, you should try some speed changes over the course of your retrieve,” Pringle advised. “And in weedbeds, I pause when I feel the bait hit them. That gives it the darting action that you want.”
They can’t be retrieved too fast – nothing will make these baits roll – but they also maintain the desired action at a slow crawl of a pace.
“The biggest key is always cause an erratic action,” Murphy said. “Most bites come off of the deflection, just after that split second pause. If it’s a cleaner bank, you can achieve the same result with a stop and go.”
One other thing to remember is that these baits run at different depths. With light line and long casts you can get the Shaker down to about five feet. The Square Bill runs shallower than the other members of its class, hitting only the three foot mark. That’s by the design of Bill Lowen, who wanted a bait that could be run over grass or super-shallow silted bottoms without getting mucked up on every cast. If you’re trying to deflect off of cover deeper than three feet, the Shaker might be a better choice. If you’re trying to get either lure to go shallower, experiment with different line types (braid/monofilament/fluorocarbon) and diameters, as well as rod angles, until you’re tick-tick-ticking along exactly where you want to be.
The ima SQUARE BILL offers a shorter fatter profile!
Cranking is both an art and a science, and as Bill Lowen stated above the rules can change day to day, or even hour to hour. The tool you choose – be it the Shaker or the Square Bill – may have to change along with the conditions or the mood of the fish. Fortunately, these are precision instruments, perfectly tuned and with the best hardware and paint jobs available today, so when you do figure out which one the fish want you’re well-equipped to finish the job off.
The annual trade show known as ICAST will take place just about a month from now in Las Vegas, and IMA will be introducing two new lures that are sure to knock your socks off and catch tons of big bass from coast-to-coast. We can’t give you complete details just yet, but we’ll have a full download of info on them in this space shortly after the show.
Fred Roumbanis has been testing one of the two out and said he’s caught 150 bass on the prototype.
“I’ve had unbelievable success with it,” he reported. “I had someone else throw a similar crankbait from a different manufacturer at the same time and I outfished him five to one. Like all IMA products, it’s perfectly tuned right out of the package and has the incredible Japanese finishes.”
“If I had had this at Kentucky Lake last year, I was on the fish to win,” he lamented. “All I can say is that I better have them by Guntersville!”
In addition to using IMA products at the end of your line, you can now wear the company logo proudly. After numerous requests from educated anglers, we’re bringing IMA apparel to a tackle dealer near you.
We have short and long sleeve shirts available in both white and navy blue, boat towels and beanies, along with baseball hats. As with IMA hard baits, they’re only the finest quality and will make a splash at your next bass tournament or out on the town.
As always, we’d love to hear about the bass that IMA lures produce for you, whether on your home body of water or on the trip of a lifetime. Please send pictures of your fish, preferably with an IMA bait in its mouth, and a short description of what made the catch memorable.
Each month we’ll pick one winner who will get to choose the apparel item of his or her choice as a thank you for supporting and using IMA products.