Learning a new technique
By Frank Scalish
Bassmaster Opens pro
When a bass angler hears of a new fishing technique — loaded with the promise of unbelievable catches — he or she can't wait to experience the newfound secret. It has been my experience that the best way to learn a new fishing technique is to designate time for only that specific type of fishing. Leave all other fishing methods at home! You are on a mission to learn and master. Gaining confidence is the only way you will become proficient at a new technique.
When I was in my late teens, there was this new fishing method called Carolina rigging. Not many had heard of such a thing, let alone ever fished one. Since I was honing my skills offshore, this was perfect timing. I emptied my boat of all tackle except for what I needed for rigging. This would dismiss any possibility of falling back to a comfort zone. Off I went, and soon I fell in love with this fish-producing machine. It was unstoppable, and in my early days of local tournaments, rigging accounted for many wins and many checks.
If I hadn't donated all that time to become efficient at Carolina rigging, the technique would have slipped to the side and would have been a second thought. Now, with trying new fishing methods you must apply them when they're applicable. It will do you no good to fish deep structure during the spawn or fish for spawners during the summer. I know that statement is obvious; however, it was just to illustrate a point. In order to be successful and experience reward in a new technique, you must be applying it in the proper circumstances.
Recently I have been privy to a cold-water technique, one which I am desperately trying to master. I don't know the name of it, and I am not the inventor, so I can take no credit for it. I will, however, call it the "Mangus slide."
A very good friend of mine, Greg Mangus, taught a mutually good friend of ours, Ray Halter (owner of the Rod Makers Shop), the Mangus slide. For three years or longer I have been hearing stories of untold numbers of big winter bass being caught with this system, so naturally I am obsessed with mastering it.
What is the Mangus slide? First the tools: (1) a 7- to 7 1/2-foot medium action spinning rod, (2) 6-, 8- or 10-pound test fluorocarbon line, (3) 3/16- and 1/4-ounce Sparkie jigheads with the 60-degree bend eye and — the most important ingredient — (4) Poor Boys Craw Daddy and Erie Darter.
I am very familiar with the Darter. I won a Bassmaster event on it in 2004. The Craw Daddy is honestly something I thought was very ugly and would not throw ... until now!
The technique sounds simple. Just cast to a weed edge, let the open hook jig rigged with a Craw Daddy sink to the bottom. Then, with a slack line, shake the rod tip and pick up the slack while slowly dragging the Craw Daddy 18 to 24 inches. When you contact some grass, slowly pull the bait (horizontally) until it puffs through the grass.
Bam! Fish on!
OK, it sounds easy enough. With our tournament season finally over and being in the early stages of winter where I live, my son Frankie and I decided to go fishing last week and master the Mangus slide. We went to a local grass lake but did not master the slide.
Did we do it wrong? Well, we fished all the proper winter locations. Steep breaks with inside and outside grass turns. What was I missing? I called Greg and told him what I did. Basically, I caught bass flipping a jig in the shallow grass.
He asked why I was flipping a jig in the grass if I was trying to learn the slide. I told him the grass was still green shallow and the lake had been drawn down a couple of feet and the water temp was between 50 and 52. He laughed and said that's not winter. (He fishes Michigan waters.)
Now I was putting the pieces of the puzzle together. A week later, I called Ray and said, "Let's go fishing." We went yesterday. The water temp was in the mid to upper 40s, and the slide was on!
We fished inside and outside grass edges in 7 to 12 feet of water with sharp breaks. The day was sick; we caught 86 bass and had numerous 5-pounders as well as some sixes. Our best five went 28 and change!
When we arrived at the lake, I had all of my sexy craw imitators rigged with Sparkie heads, while Ray had the "ugly" Craw Daddy. After he had me by a dozen bass, I was begging him for a Poor Boys Craw Daddy. Then I started mashing them right with Ray. This craw was king. I also rigged a flipping jig as a backup. I used every craw trailer I had on the jig but still did not catch them. Ray tossed me a Craw Daddy and said, "Put this on your jig."
They were really on the Mangus slide, so why fight it? We killed them! He said just put the trailer on the jig and fish it for a while to see. Oh, my gosh! I caught some giants on that jig. What is it about that craw? The day was awesome! I learned a new technique and now will work on perfecting my skills until ice up.