By Capt. Steve Chaconas
In spite of tackle razzle-dazzle, pro-anglers are going “old school” putting limits in the boat on highly pressured fisheries.
Many credit pro-angler Fred “Taco” Bland for innovating grubhead shaking worm bass fishing. Bland got the idea 30 years ago.
Elbow operations slowed Bland into using lighter gear. “It’s an old man’s bait, easy to fish. It’s a ‘find a limit’ bait, it’ll also get big fish!”
Light line presentations under Logan Martin docks with light wire, exposed Crappie jig hooks, made bass difficult to land. Tinkering with molds, Bland incorporated a stronger, longer hook.
Able to Texas rig, his presentations were snag-proof and stronger.
Thirteen seasons on the BASSMASTER Tour, including seven Top 150’s, Bland fished his “shaking” head to consistency.
Placing in the top ten and cashing checks, he claims 98 percent of his fish came on a shaking head.
Rooted in Alabama’s deep clear lakes with suspended bass, shaky heads varied according to region: Westerner Don Iovino doodling, Midwest jig and worm walleye fishing, and Charlie Brewer’s Slider Heads were being used back East.
Crème worms threaded Texas-style on round ball heads launched early shaky head fishing.
The technique really pays off in highly pressured fisheries. Baits fall fast, stay put, and can be fished in currents anywhere, anytime of the year.
Bland’s “old man” rig reduces the number of casts. A cast can last up to 20 minutes!
Fishing bulkheads and vertical cover like walls, dams, and rip rap rock, Bland works fast for the first 4-5 feet, then hops it and brings it back straight under the boat. “I can out fish the dropshot by lifting up and shaking.”
Shake the jig hard two or three times, allowing it to fall on semi-slack line.
It’s great for bed fishing, “They can’t stand that thing sitting down on their eggs.”
Heads bury in the bottom, kicking up debris and contact cover, and allow buoyant worms to stand up, attracting attention. In a tree, it looks like a shad eating off tree bark. Shaking down points, a “cast and drag” technique locates obstructions.
Cast to shallow brush, shake the jig to get bites, then change up the casting angles.
Sometimes as the worm settles toward the bottom, it casts a shadow that precedes the bait to the cover, triggering bites by alerting fish something is coming.
Don’t overwork baits. Squeeze the rod handle, transmitting vibration to baits with a steady, slow rhythm. Cover water without casting much farther than 25 feet, targeting current breaks: bridge pilings, wing dams, trees, stumps.
Skipping under docks and shaking the jig is more effective than other techniques because baits can stay there a long time.
The bite ranges from a hard thump to weight or movement. Bites also occur on the fall. Pick the shady side of docks. Don’t ever fish a dock without fishing a ladder, especially with big old wooden steps on it.
Tour anglers and guides use shaky heads, but it’s perfect for back-of-the-boat fishermen. If the boat’s moving slow enough, co-anglers use this technique behind great pro-anglers.
For tackle, it’s a medium or medium heavy 7-foot spinning rod with 10 lb. test fluorocarbon line. Avoid hard hook sets to prevent breaking line. “Reel and sweep” hooksets are best when using fluorocarbon.
“Shaking plastics” are 4-6 inch buoyant straight tail finesse worms.
Longer worms might get bigger fish. Color in clear water is important, otherwise watermelon, green pumpkin or red bud, sometimes dipping heads or tails in chartreuse dye. Darker baits for deeper situations.
Shaky head fishing has revived hand-poured baits. Do-it-yourself supplier, LURECRAFT (www.lurecraft.com), has seen a spike in mold sales. Fishermen who never thought about making baits are hand-pouring shaky worms.
Small baits on light line require quality hooks. Many heads are made with larger and longer Mustad Ultra Point hooks with 90-degree eyes. Brown and black heads are common.
An industry of jig heads, worms, and tackle has been launched nearly 20 years after Bland began to catch fish and cash in on this technique.
Today’s young pros didn’t wait 20 years to start winning by fishing shaky heads – so it’s time you started shaking up your way of fishing!