In a Bassmaster Elite Series event in March of this year, John Crews from Salem, Va. crashed through the ceiling on the 100-lb benchmark. Joining the Century Club for four days on Falcon, his haul of 103-13, was mostly attributed to flippin’ a subtle, plastic creature bait. The plastic responsible for the bulk of his bass action was a Missile Craw. The bait is near and dear to Crews as it one of those launched by his own company Missile Baits that began biz last year. With proof in the pudding, Crews put the Craw to the test and came out on top at Falcon.
“There are two types of heavy cover,” he began. “First, there is matted vegetation, which is for punchin’. Second, there is heavy wood. Wood is the simplest – it is the nastiest, heavy wood you can find – like a thick, fallen tree. The bass will go into the deepest, darkest spot of that submerged tree. There are also flooded trees and laydowns.” Productive wooded structure can be found in depths from six-inches to 15 or 20-feet. “If you find a flooded tree and you catch one or two or a few fish, you will find the key depth. Then, you can eliminate the wood in deeper or shallower areas. The fish will tell you how deep you should be.” He elaborated on how the fish setup within the wood explaining that there are times that they are on the bottom and other times they are suspended in the structure or under a limb. “A flippin’ bait allows you to give it to them in either place – in both strike zones,” said Crews.
When deciding which mats hold the monsters, he prefers a mixed mat, going with the more the merrier theory. “If there are tules mixed with the matted vegetation, that is good, if there is hyacinth over milfoil mixed in with the tules that is better, but if there is all that plus hydrilla, that is best. The more types of grass that are mixed in the mats, the better.” Crews goes straight to the heart. He described the best places as where the mat comes to a point or the center. “If I’m in practice, I will go right to the middle or thickest part where the big ones are,” he explained. “If I know the area is good, I will slow down and pick it apart. Once you cast to a spot in a mat, you spook the fish that are sitting between your cast and you, so you have to be careful and decide if you want to fish any of that area before you cast past it.”
“For baits, I use a Missile Baits D-Bomb or a Missile Craw,” stated Crews. “There is a distinctive shape and fall and action for these baits. They were developed this way. I use the D-Bomb for a bigger profile. It has more water displacement and a straight fall. I started with this at Falcon. When I didn’t get that many bites, I changed to the more subtle presentation of the Craw. It is thinner with a smaller profile. That makes it fall faster with more of a darting action and a different look on the bottom. Sometimes that is the fish’s preference.” Saying the action and fall rate are more important than the color of the bait, Crews keeps his color choices basic, using red around the spawn, natural shades on sunny days and darker ones in off-colored water. If he finds he is gettin’ bit, but they’re not holding on, he suggests adjusting the color or adding scent. When choosing his weight, Crews opts for a 1/4 to 3/4-oz., depending on how thic k the cover is. “The fall rate can make a big difference,” he noted. He prefers flat black weights.
“When you’re flippin’, the bait will take the path of least resistance,” explained Crews. “Pitch it out there in the heavy wood and the fish will find it.” Patience is a virtue when flippin’ wood. “Don’t get in a hurry,” he warned. “You don’t need to set the hook and land the fish in one motion. You need to give them a two second count, before you give them a good, hard hookset and then hold on. They’ll find their way out. They will follow the line and then you can guide them out.”
In the wood, Crews spools his Vicious line on a high speed, 7.3:1 Pinnacle LTE casting reel and uses a 7’6″ Pinnacle Perfecta DHC 5 rod. “It is medium-heavy with a fast taper,” he stated. “It bends more than most might like. For me, I like to have enough tip to cast well. I don’t like heavy flippin’ with too stout of a rod. It doesn’t pitch as accurately. I also want a great handle for balance, since I’m fishin’ all day.” Crews inspects his water and visually locates the heaviest wood. When he fishes these types of areas he prefers to tie on Vicious Fishing Fluorocarbon in 25-lb-test. “It slips over wood easier than braid,” stated Crews. “You have to keep an eye out for line abrasion, continually monitoring your line, when you are fishing wood like this.” He ties his flippin’ hook on using a San Diego Jam knot. Some call this the Reverse Clinch. His hook is a 3/O or 5/O Gamakatsu Heavy Cover Flippin’ Hook, depending if he using a smaller or larger plastic. Crews reviewed the differences when flippin’ heavy mats as opposed to heavy wood. “I’m using a heavier weight, a 1/2- to 1 1/2-oz,” he stated. “I still want a black weight for a more natural look. When I move up to a 1-oz weight or bigger, I bump my rod to a 7’9″ Flippin’ Stick, because I need a little more backbone for the heavier action. Sometimes, I darken my line a few feet. I use Vicious 50- to 65-lb braided line for vegetation. I use the same hook, but tie it on with a Snell knot. I use the same plastic baits, but use darker colors.
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Crews And The Craws Summer 2013 Bass Angler Magazine (Jody Only pg. 40 – 42)