Striper fishermen know that a Cotton Cordell Red-Fin fishing lure is without rival when it comes to imitating big gizzard shad wallowing near the surface. The same principle applies to largemouth fishing anywhere the bass grow to jumbo sizes and make good use of big gizzard shad, according to Arkansas trophy bass expert, Mitch Looper.
Looper knows. He has spent many an afternoon wobbling a Red-Fin slowly and steadily across the surface of a big-bass lake – ever ready for an explosive strike. Fishing mostly with a C-10 Red-Fin fishing lure fishing lure, which is 7 inches long, Looper expects every fish that hits the bait to be a high-quality bass, with some genuine hawgs in the mix.
Looper makes long casts across areas where he has seen shad cruising near the surface and reels slowly and steadily. He holds his rod tip high toward the beginning of each retrieve and then moves it closer to the surface as the Red-Fin gets closer to the boat. The idea is to keep the bait on the surface, wobbling back and forth.
A Red-Fin is a very wide wobbler. The broad wobble, when combined with the bait’s large size, creates a big “V” wake that gets the bass’ attention and that is very similar to wakes put out by big gizzard shad when they cruise near the top.
Looper rarely varies his cadence. The only major exception is when a bass blows up on the bait and misses it. He’ll then make a couple quick cranks to pull the bait beneath the surface, and the bass often will nab the bait as soon as it goes under.
The Red-Fin bite can be good any time the bass are shallow and relating to big baitfish. In Arkansas, where gizzard shad cruise the surfaces of many lakes from February through November, Red-Fin fishing is virtually a year ‘round tactic.
Looper will fish a Red-Fin over many types of cover and structure, including stump-covered flats, points, humps, ditches and submerged grassbeds. More important than the cover is the presence of big baitfish, ideally with bass chasing them from time to time.
Looper does most of his Red-Fin fishing with the big 7-inch model, but occasionally he finds that the bass want the more erratic action of a CJ9 Red-Fin, which is a jointed 5-inch model. He fishes the jointed bait the same way, wobbling it slowly and steadily across the surface.
A short, heavy-action rod is critical for solidly hooking and landing big fish on a 7-inch Red-Fin, Looper has learned. He uses a 6-foot, 2-inch Shakespeare muskie rod. Between the time he discovered how much jumbo bass like Red-Fins and the time he figured out the right rod for the task, Looper lost a lot of heavyweight largemouths.
Because of the big size of the bait and of the bass it tends to attract, Looper uses heavy line. He typically spools up with 25-pound-test Silver Thread.
Looper’s colors of choice for Red-Fin fishing are rainbow trout and Arkansas shiner.