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Understanding the YUM FF Sonar Minnow System

Learn why Jason Christie developed The FF Sonar Minnow system and technique and how to use this technique to catch suspended bass.

Jason Christie had intended to reveal the YUM FF Sonar Minnow and the highly effective technique he had developed to coax strikes from suspended fish. He and YUM Bait Company had been working together to develop the bait and accompanying jig heads. Those plans simply got accelerated in March, as the Bassmaster Classic got underway, because this technique proved ideal for targeting the deep, suspended Christie was seeing on his forward facing sonar.

The bass at Lake Hartwell were set up just like the bass at Oklahoma’s Lake Tenkiller, where Christie had been refining the technique and perfecting the bait over several years. It was a perfect storm, and Christie used the FF Sonar Minnow system exclusively for his deep fish on the way to winning the Classic.

Christies FF Sonar Minnow system allows for exceptionally natural baitfish presentations that stay in the prime zone for a long time and coax strikes from suspended fish that won’t commit to other offerings.

FF Sonar Minnow System

“System” is a key word. For Christie, this is much more than a new bait. The system involves a carefully designed bait and jig head, plus his rod, line, knot and leader and the way he uses everything together to present the bait.

Forward facing sonar is vital to Christie’s approach, which is why the bait was dubbed the YUM FF Sonar Minnow. He is watching both his bait and the bass as he fishes, and he’s often targeting individual fish. In fact, watching fish’s reactions to other baits on forward facing sonar led to the development of the bait and system. Christie had watched too many suspended bass follow even the most natural swimbaits and assorted other offerings, only to turn away. He needed something he could keep in the zone longer to coax strikes but that he could cast to fish he was watching and work horizontally.

“You might catch one of those fish with something else, but with this technique, you can catch all of them,” Christie said.

The FF Sonar Minnow is 3 inches long, with a thin, tapering shad profile and a horizontal forked tail and a highly detailed, molded scale pattern. It comes in 10 natural baitfish color patterns. The FF Sonar Jig Head features a sickle style hook for straight hooking and optimized hooksets, a round head and a 90-degree line tie for proper presentations. The heads come in three durable, sparkle paint finishes in 1/8- 3/16- and 1/4-ounce sizes.

Christie’s primary set up for this technique is a 7-foot, 4-power rod with a soft or medium tip, a 6.2:1 reel, 16-pound braided line and a 15-foot, 8-pound fluorocarbon leader. The soft tip is critical for the subtle presentation; the reel speed for control of the bait; the braid for casts, keeping all coiling out of the line and feeling everything; and the fluoro for stealthy presentations.

The Technique

The FF Sonar Minnow presentation is slow, deliberate and precise, getting the bait to the proper level in the water column and then working it at a forward crawl with a tantalizingly subtle quiver.

Christie casts fish he wants to target, allows the bait to sink to just above the level of the fish and then works it by reeling very SLOWLY and steadily while lightly jiggling the rod tip. The rod stays at a 45-degree angle and the jiggling is quick and constant but very slight. The bait doesn’t hop because of the slightness of the motion and the softness of the rod tip. It just quivers as it moves slowly through the water column.

Christie watches his forward facing sonar constantly as he fishes, adjusting retrieve speed as needed to keep his FF Sonar Minnow slightly above the fish. If wind or current make it challenging to fully control the bait at that depth, he’ll go to the heaviest head size. If he can’t keep the presentation as slow as he wants and keep the bait above the fish, he’ll go lighter.

Not just for Winter

Jason Christie with FF Sonar BassJason Christie with FF Sonar Bass

Christie developed the FF Sonar Minnow and technique for targeting fussy, suspended winter fish, and by his own admissions, thought it was strictly a winter technique until this summer. He used it extensively for deeper fish this summer, though, and has enjoyed extraordinary success.

“You need fairly clear water and fish that are a least a little off the bottom,” Christie said. “If you have those things, this is going to work all year.”

In truth, while the specific locations and reasoning differ, mid-summer to early fall often leaves many bass positioned ideally for this approach. Toward the deep ends of lakes that stratify, bass and baitfish alike tend to suspend near the thermocline. They can be fussy because they are suspended and around so much natural forage, making the FF Sonar Minnow presentation perfect for coaxing strikes.

Winter, summer or in-between, the rigging and presentation are the same.

No Forward Facing Sonar?

YUM FF Sonar MinnowsYUM FF Sonar Minnows

Christie fishes this bait exclusively with his Forward Facing Sonar on. He has it and knows how to use it exceptionally well, so there’s simply no reason to not use it when he is targeting fish that are suspended and highly visible on his screen. That said, he considers this bait and technique outstanding for catching suspended bass, whether or not someone has the same technology available.

The slow, controlled, quivering presentation is just as enticing to fish if you are not looking at them, and the traditional sonar that most bass anglers have on their boat will show if the bass are suspended, the level they are holding in, and the areas they are using. Once you determine that holding depth and find some areas that hold fish, this presentation will produce far better results than most lures that would target the same fish.

The key if you are “fishing blind,” is to learn the drop rate of your lure and figure out the retrieve speed that keeps the offering at the same depth as your move it. You can figure out the drop rate easily by casting over a known depth and counting at a steady cadence until the bait hits bottom. Do that at a few depths to cross check, and you can figure out what number you need to count to for any given depth. Learning to keep the bait at the same depth really comes by feel, with experience.

YUM FF Sonar Minnow Colors

FF Sonar Minnow ColorsFF Sonar Minnow Colors
  • Ayu
  • Clear Shad
  • Gizzard Shad
  • Goby
  • Houdini Shad
  • JC Natural
  • Natural Shad
  • Sight Minnow
  • Tenkiller Gold
  • Tennessee Shad