How Christie "Rogued"At The Classic
Oklahoma’s Jason Christie rode a Rogue to a seventh-place finish in the 2013 Bassmaster Classic on Oklahoma’s Grand Lake O’ The Cherokees. Grand Lake has long been known as a great wintertime jerkbait lake and the perfect place and time to introduce Smithwick’s latest creation, the Perfect 10 Rogue. Here’s how Christie used it and the shallower-running Suspending Rattlin’ Rogue to finish so high among the best anglers in the world.
“I really thought I could go out and win it on the Perfect 10,” Christie said. “I weighed in about half my fish on it and half on the Rattlin’ Rogue. The only other weigh in fish I caught on something else were two smaller ones on a Bomber Model 5A”
Christie said he used the Firetiger color 5A to dredge a single area after catching a few there on the bait in practice. His main lures were the Smithwick ASDRC1200 Suspending Rattlin’ Rogue in 32OB color pattern (chrome sides/blue back/orange belly) and Blue Herring color pattern Perfect 10 Rogue.
Both baits are 5 ½-inches in length, which is on the larger end of the jerkbait spectrum. He likes that size because all of the shad are big in the late-winter/early spring, and that’s what fish are feeding on. He caught several fish in practice that had big shad-tails sticking out of their throats.
How a pro practices for a tournament is always of interest to anglers whether they fish tournaments or not. At a lake like Grand, Christie has no problem using exposed hooks and catching fish during practice. The lake has plenty of big bass in it, and they were moving around and transitioning.
“Also, if I’d have had my hooks rolled down, I would have thought all of my bites were bass. You wouldn’t believe how many drum I caught,” he said.
One of the reasons Christie felt that he could win the event on the new Perfect 10 is because of the bait’s running depth of at least 10 feet. Getting a Rogue to run that deep has been a project of his for many years and it was key to his confidence. The water color dirtied a little due to heavy rain and snow for two days prior to the Classic, however, and Christie said fish simply couldn’t see the bait at that depth.
“I never really got the deep bite going,” he said.
Christie said that when he pulled up to a spot, if he wanted to fish less than 10-feet-deep he picked up the Suspending Rattlin’ Rogue, but for deeper water he threw the Perfect 10. He likes a 6’6” medium action rod for the Suspending Rattlin’ Rogue and a medium-heavy action for the increased resistance with the Perfect 10 Rogue. He uses a reel with a 6.4:1 gear ratio for all of his jerkbaiting.
Normally, jerkbait fishermen cast as far as possible so they can work the bait in the strike zone for longer periods of time, but Christie said he was making shorter casts and only giving the bait 15 or so jerks before reeling in and casting again. During practice he worked the bait all the way back to the boat but never got a strike during the second half of the retrieve, so tweaked his process to maximize the bite.
Key to effective jerkbaiting is twitching the lure with just the right amount of slack in the line. Twitching on a taut line just doesn’t provide the erratic motion that makes jerkbaits so effective. In most situations, jerkbait anglers cast, crank or jerk the bait down to its maximum depth, then begin a “jerk-jerk-pause” retrieve.
In many cases, the colder the water, the longer an angler should pause the bait. Cold, lethargic bass can move right up behind the bait and look at it while it suspends motionless, then strike when it begins to dart away. Christie said anglers should test different cadences each day to maximize the bite.
“I usually give it a ‘jerk-jerk-pause, jerk-pause” cadence, but I’m always testing different retrieves to see what the bass want,” he said.