|Welcome to the IMA Emailer – May 2011 IssueThe IMA EMAILER brings you news from IMA pro staff members across the USA and worldwide.
Throughout the country, our best fisheries are all over the map when it comes to what the bass are doing. For those of you lucky enough to live in the warmest parts of the country, you may already have seen the spawn come and go, but many of you are still recovering from or even digging out from an unusually harsh winter. The fish may be spawning, looking to spawn or they might not even be close, but we know you’re ready to get out on the water and put them to the test. While you’ve been organizing tackle and getting the boat water-ready, the IMA pros have been hard at work – testing lures, strategizing and fishing tournaments all over the country. This is the time of year when fishing is often red hot EVERYWHERE at the same time.
IMA pro Bill Lowen started his year off by fishing the Bassmaster Classic on the Louisiana Delta, his third Classic overall in the young pro’s juggernaut career. While he didn’t win the Classic title – YET – in some respects he was still the talk of New Orleans because the Classic Expo was the site of the release of his signature IMA “Square Bill” crankbait. With the tournament winners relying primarily on square bills, fishing fans were amazed by the IMA product’s attention to detail and top-notch components. They’re on shelves now so be sure to ask your local retailer about them.
Lowen started off the year with three straight Elite Series checks. He was two for two in Florida — 34th at the Harris Chain and 35th at the St. Johns River – and then 31st at Pickwick. “It wasn’t as good as I’d have liked it to be,” he said, but after four events overall he finds himself in 36th place in the Angler of the Year standings, right on the cusp for another Classic slot.
In Florida, Lowen didn’t rely on the dominant sight bite for his strong performances – instead he flipped a little and cranked a lot. “I had the Square Bill tied on at both events,” he said. “My two biggest fish on the St. Johns came on one in chartreuse with a black back.”
Fred Roumbanis, an Oklahoman by way of California, got his year started before Lowen’s Classic appearance – and he started it off right for the IMA crew with a 7th place finish in the FLW Open on Lake Okeechobee. The Elite Series pro wanted to get the year rocking as soon as possible and Florida was the perfect venue for his skills and enthusiasm. Along the way, he set two FLW Outdoors records – the largest Day 2 weight (34 lbs. 5 ounces) and the largest cumulative weight over the first two days (61 lbs. 14 ounces).
Fortunately for Fred, the Elite Series started off with two more events in the Sunshine State, which has lately become his own personal Magic Kingdom. He got this year’s campaign started on the right foot, with a 29th place finish on the Harris Chain followed up by a 27th on the St. Johns River.
While much of the field sight fished at the two Elite Series events in Florida, Fred went against the grain, flipping at the first event and using a variety of frogs, including an Optimum Furbit, at the latter event.
“I prefer to sight fish but everybody knows the same areas,” he said. “This year I decided I was just going to put my head down and fish. I think it worked out for the first two events.”
But Fred’s strong run didn’t stop in Florida. At Pickwick he finished 34th. Then, at Toledo Bend he put together a magical four-day stretch and earned his fourth straight check, as well as his first Sunday appearance of the year. When the scales closed on Sunday, he’d finished fifth overall with a total weight of 67-01. Fred is 7th overall right now in the Angler of the Year standings, on pace not only for his 3rd Bassmaster Classic berth, but also in position to make a serious run at the BASS postseason and the accompanying accolades. He’s a proven closer and it wouldn’t surprise anyone if he claimed his 3rd BASS win before this campaign closes out.
While the few anglers who finished in front of Fred at Toledo Bend are certainly to be congratulated, Fred’s achievement was particularly special because he caught his weight using a technique that it’s pretty certain no one else in the field was utilizing. In fact, most if not all of them have probably never even tried it. He was swimming a 1-ounce Pepper football head jig, paired mostly with an Optimum Double Diamond swimbait as a trailer on offshore ledges and ridges. The big jig was necessary to make long casts, achieve the appropriate depths and mimic the baitfish. The swimbait tail provided the proper “kick” and the appearance of a bluegill. One other critical element of his presentation was the use of 15-pound P-Line fluorocarbon, which also helped him get the bait down and earn precious bites. Watch what Fred was doing HERE.
Fred is a master of figuring out how to incorporate different line sizes to give a particular lure it’s optimum effectiveness. As you’ll see below, it’s something he’s very conscious of when fishing the IMA Rock N Vibe.
From early pre-spawn on through the fall, savvy bass anglers always have a lipless crankbait tied on – it’s a lure that enables them to fish a wide swath of the water column, resembles baitfish closely, and works around a variety of cover types – and the one that’s making major waves these days is the IMA Rock N Vibe. Any lipless crank can catch bass on occasion, when conditions are just right, but this lure is a like a multi-tool, applying the right implement to all sorts of predicaments.
“It has a small profile, but it still weighs a ton,” Lowen said. “It’s easier to fish in high pressure situations when you have to make long casts.” Roumbanis uses it for everything from yo-yoing to burning, and noted that the small size makes it a numbers bait, but he’s continually surprised at how many big fish fall for this baitfish replica.
“Since it came out, I haven’t really thrown any other lipless bait,” Fred said. “A lot of them are too light or you don’t feel the vibrations, but this one you can feel it shaking like a chatterbait.”
FLW Tour pro Michael Murphy says it’s the wide range of depths that you can fish it at that make the Rock N Vibe such a key tool in his tournament arsenal. “Most vibrating baits are for 4 feet of water or less, but this one has a lot more range. It provides the maximum benefit of what a lipless crankbait does. For example, at Guntersville, when the grass is topping out at 6 feet down instead of 4 feet, you can still tick the bottom. I use it a lot on Lake Murray for schooling bass.”
Roumbanis agreed with Murphy’s assessment. In ultra-clear water he’ll sometimes go down to 8 lb. fluorocarbon, which allows him to easily get the Rock N Vibe down into 8 to 12 feet of water. Going that light isn’t something most anglers do with a classic power fishing tactic like a lipless crank, but Fred said if it’s necessary, that’s what he’ll do to garner the bites he needs. Too often we all pay attention to retrieve speed without the appropriate concern for where a particular retrieve puts the bait in the water column.
Last year at the California Delta, Lowen used one of his favorite Rock N Vibe techniques, fishing it like a jig. “You let it go all the way to the bottom on grass line edges and points,” he said. “They you hop it pretty hard off the bottom. The rod will just load up.”
Another trick is to fish it on heavy line in ultra-shallow water. Roumbanis will use 20 lb. test P-Line CXX, which “keeps it more buoyant” and allows him to fish in less than two feet of water with ease. “When they hit it there, they absolutely engulf it,” he reported. In fact, changing line sizes is Fred’s number one way of changing the performance of a lure that he said is perfect right out of the package. When he wants the lure shallow, big mono is key. When he wants to get deeper, fluorocarbon gets the call. When ripping it through grass is important, braid is his meal ticket. Fortunately, the bait has a thumping wobble that can overcome the dulling effects of “rope-like” mono, but it isn’t so powerful that it becomes unmanageable on thinner and lighter fluoro. Be careful, though – on braid it’ll rattle your fillings loose.
The best retrieve may involve no trickery at all: Just cast it out and wind it in – a little bit slower when fish are lethargic and a little bit faster when they’re active. The vibrations, sounds and finishes allow the bass to track the Rock N Vibe carefully and react savagely. Again, you can adjust running depth through the use of a particular line size or type. In fact, there may be times when you’ll need three Rock N Vibes on the deck tied to three different lines to maximize your effectiveness. Fortunately, if you’re that dialed in, you probably won’t need a fourth rod with anything on it.
Chromes, Hot Craw, Natural -By covering the basic color groups, Chromes, Reds or Chartrueses, & Natural Shad patterns
With all lipless cranks, it’s unfortunate but largely unavoidable that you’re going to lose some fish. Those big sows come up, shake their heads, and use the bait as leverage to come unbuttoned. Fortunately, the Rock N Vibe comes with sticky-sharp Owner hooks that minimize this problem. The pros offer other means of reducing your heartbreak. Murphy said that even when he uses braided line, he always prefers to use some sort of non-braid as a shock absorber, “even if it’s just a short leader.” His other key to minimizing loss is that you don’t want to play the fish. Get them in the boat as soon as possible. “I use a worm rod, not a cranking rod,” he said. “You can’t give them a chance to jump or shake their heads.”
Roumbanis uses an Irod IRC704c, a 7′ fast action rod which he says “doesn’t rip the hook out when they engulf it, but still has the backbone to snap the bait through grass.” Lowen uses a 7′ medium-heavy All Pro casting rod for the same reasons.
When it comes to colors, all three use various types of chrome patterns often. “Chrome and Chartreuse Shad are really the only two you absolutely need,” Murphy said. “One for sunny conditions and the other when it’s cloudy.” Given a third option, he’d choose a craw color, an absolute staple in places like California and Texas. Roumbanis also dotes on the Hot Craw pattern. He said Fire Tiger can be “dangerous” when the water is a little bit stained. Under super-clear conditions, he said the Ghost Minnow is his number one draft pick. Lowen, too, said “chrome and reds and yellows are my top choices.”
We’ve established that the Rock N Vibe catches bass from coast to coast in North America, but this picture should leave no doubt that it works anywhere bass swim. This is Jun Shoji, one of Japan’s top pros and a full-time guide on famed Lake Biwa, where a world record largemouth was caught last year. We’ll have more information about Jun in an future emailer.
With Pickwick and Toledo Bend up next on the Elite Series, look for lipless cranks to play a key role, and look for the IMA pros in the check line!
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.
Last months’ winner was Loren Spaulding who caught a nice Spotted Bass from Lake Lanier in Georgia that fell victim to the ima Flit 120 in Ghost Minnow!
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. Send to firstname.lastname@example.org