By Jeff Samsel

Alton Jones enjoyed a tremendous “northern swing” during 2015's Bassmaster Elite Series, notching a second-place finish at the St. Lawrence River and a third in the Angler of the Year championship at Sturgeon Bay. Jones did the bulk of his best work on northern smallmouths with a YUM Warning Shot fished on a drop-shot rig, and he considers a Green Pumpkin Warning Shot an ideal goby imitation when presented that way.

The Warning Shot was designed primarily for drop-shot applications, and has quickly gained a name as one of the finest drop-shot offerings in existence. However, Jones quickly figured out that the Warning Shot is not a one-trick pony. It also works exceptionally well on a jighead for casting around shallow cover and a Texas-rig for flipping into thicker cover.

Jones showed me both recently on Arkansas’ Lake Ouachita, where a lot of bass were around shallow brush. He rigged me with a Warning Shot on a jighead on spinning tackle while he flipped a Texas-rigged version with baitcasting gear. That provided us a perfect 1-2 punch because I could pitch to the bases of bushes and hit gaps in the cover and he could flip into the thickest stuff.

However it’s rigged, the Warning Shot offers the profile of a small baitfish, and the narrow-based blade tail shimmies as the bait falls through the water column. Jones has found that bass often will attack a Warning Shot when they won’t take a regular-sized flipping bait or worm.

“I really like it for thick cover because it’s so compact that it will go through almost anything,” he said.

Jones uses a round jighead and he rigs the bait weedless, hooking it like a Texas rig, except that he just puts the point of the hook back into the side of the bait instead of burying it in the back. He likes a 1/8- or 3/16-ounce jig head and fishes the rig on 15-pound braid and 8-pound fluorocarbon leader.

For flipping, Jones uses a fairly large straight shank hook, which he snells to the line. Weight varies according to the density of the cover, but often he can get away with fairly small bullet weight because a Warning Shot creates so little resistance as it falls through cover.

For either approach, Jones doesn’t add much action. “When they see it, they usually eat it,” he said.

For flipping, if a fish doesn’t hit a Warning Shot on the initial drop, he’ll lift and drop it once or twice at most and then pull it out and flip to another to another spot.

With the jighead, the whole approach depends a bit on the spot. For fish that are close to cover, like we found at Ouachita, a hop or two after the initial drop or possibly a bit of a shake is all that’s needed. However, rigged in a jighead, a Warning Shot also can be hopped down a point or next to a row of dock supports, like fishing a plastic worm.

Of course, a drop-shot rig shouldn’t be overlooked either, and Jones doesn’t limit drop-shotting a Warning Shot to deep water and smallmouth bass. Any time he wants more of a finesse presentation or wants to present his Warning Shot just off the bottom, he picks up the drop-shot rod.

Because the Warning Shot is so diverse and effective and because each rigging method has its own place, it’s not uncommon for Alton Jones to have three different Warning Shot rods on his deck at once, with each getting regular turns during the day.