Ultra-Vibe River Bassin'
written by Pip (on the FRF board)
Let me preface this
by saying that I’m not being paid by Zoom Bait Company. Also, this
is my first “Article”, so my apologies if its “old hat” for you
veterans, or if I’m not as polished as some other writers you’re
used to. By no means am I an expert on all things fishing, but these
techniques work for me and hopefully they’ll work for you. Ok, with
that disclaimer out of the way, let’s get to it.
For a little
reference, my river fishing is done mostly out of a Hobie Outback
Mirage Drive© kayak. The Outback is a very stable 12’ sit-on-top
(SOT) platform that’s equipped with fore and aft in-hull storage and
4 handy rod holders. This is not a review of the Outback…that’s
coming soon. My “stable” also includes a 10’ Oldtown Loon (sit-in)
kayak, and a 15’ Pelican (Coleman) canoe. The Hobie Outback is bone
stock, but I made a couple of useful modifications. First, is the
addition of a basic Eagle Cuda fish-finder with the transducer
mounted inside the front of the hull. The next modification is an
anchor trolley for the times I do use an anchor or a stake-out pole
(on saltwater fats or on a windy lake).
For fishing rigs I
prefer baitcasting reels mounted on 5 ½ graphite rods. This light
weight combo lets me keep one hand on the steering lever, and the
other hand ready to cast. The shorter rod keeps casts accurate and
not having to worry about overhanging trees. I’ll sacrifice longer
casts for the light weight and accuracy I get with a 5 ½ rod
baitcasting rod. I just buy cheapo Wal-Mart graphite rods for under
$20, but equip them with fairly decent reels in the $40 - $60 range.
An instant “anti-reverse” and a smooth drag (in that order) are the
most critical features of a good reel. With river fishing, the
hook-set is the most important action. An anti-reverse feature
combined with the right line means the difference in landing fish.
Compared with setting a hook on the deck of a bass boat or standing
on the ground (e.g wading), there is a little “give” when setting
the hook in a kayak or in a canoe...the boat moves a little toward
the fish. That’s why 90% of my fishing is done with braided
line…there is NO give, and hook sets are almost always a sure thing
(notice I said almost…).
I only carry two
rods on the kayak. One is equipped with Powerpro 20lb braided line
(6lb dia. green), and the other reel is spooled with 8-12 lb
fluorocarbon (and usually has a small spinnerbait tied on).
Sometimes I’ll attach a fluorocarbon leader to the braided line, but
I’ve been surprised how well the braid works alone. My theory on
river fishing is that fish rarely ever have a chance to see the
fishing line…strikes are almost always a reaction to the “invader”
of their territory. But when fish do get finicky, I’ll be ready with
the fluorocarbon spooled reel.
OK , now comes the
good stuff. The MOST VERSATILE lure I’ve ever fished with! If I was
going to use one lure on a river, this is it. The ZOOM Bait Co.
Ultra-Vibe Speed Worm. Living and fishing in Florida for over 15
years, I know how to fish a plastic worm, but the Ultra-Vibe Speed
Worm is the most versatile worm I’ve ever used!! Compared to other
plastic worms it’s fairly compact, but at the same time big enough
to catch lunker bass as well. If you’ve never fished one of these
you owe it to yourself to try it out. The action of the Ultra-Vibe
tail is incredible…as describes, it vibrates. It screams “Swim me
like a spinnerbait and let my tail catch the fish”! My normal
presentation is casting to my target, let it sink like a worm while
the tail (slowly) vibrates down to the bottom. If a fish is there
the strike will occur on the fall (you’ve heard that before). If no
strike, reel it back like a spinnerbait. Unlike a spinnerbait, when
worked over a log, per se, the blades may or may not rotate to the
bottom where they’ll lie lifeless on the bottom. With the
Ultra-Vibe, bring it over a log and it’ll vibrate all the way to the
bottom and stand up, enticing a strike. In addition it’s deadly when
swimming through isolated lily pads and emergent grass beds.
To get the most
effective presentation use the lightest weight possible. I usually
prefer to use a 1/16 oz or an 1/8 oz sinker depending on the wind,
current, and bottom composition. On the Hillsborough River it seems
no matter where I cast I get hung up in on bottom, so I use a 1/16
oz. weight regardless. I like to peg my sinkers, but have been
equally successful with unpegged sinkers (your preference). As for
hooks, any good 3ought off-set hook will work. I prefer Mustad Ultra
off-set and Lazer off-set red hooks…I’m relying on the Lazer red
hooks these days. GO TO color choices are, #1 watermelon seed/red
flake, #2) plain watermelon seed, # 3 junebug/red flake. I’ve also
discovered that Zoom has a black/red flake and I’m going to try this
color soon. It’s debatable, but I think red is important, whether
it’s a red hook or red flake in the worm.
What I like about
the Ultra-Vibe is that on a single cast you can worm-it on the
bottom, slow roll it like a spinnerbait, or raise the rod tip and
bring it to the surface and it turns into a buzz-bait. Not only does
the tail vibrate but the entire worm vibrates too…just one awesome
effective presentation. I’ll start out fishing with the swimming
technique just under the surface and let the tail occasionally break
the surface. If I don’t any strikes with that I just slow down to a
slow roll past targets. Then if their still not biting, I’ll “worm”
it. There are just some days when the rivers fish like a lake and
the bass hold tight to cover, especially on the slow moving
Hillsborough. The Ultra-Vibe is equally effective for snook on the
Peace River. The action of the tail really entices hard strikes from
snook. My bet too is that it will also catch reds, but I’ve yet to
put that theory to test…soon. I hate to sound like a “live by the
sword” guy, but if the bass aren’t biting the Ultra-Vibe Speed Worm,
I know that they are not likely to bite anything else…it’s time to
breakout the ultra-light and fish a Roadrunner for bluegill. That’s
how confident I am with this thing.
Oh, and if that’s
not enough, do not throw away the used worms (as the only weakness
of this worm is the actual vibri-tail will break off when fighting a
fish, or on a short strike). With the tail cut off, the Ultra-Vibe
turns into a 5-inch stick (Senko) type bait. Tie it onto a spinning
reel weightless or a baitcaster (with a little weight) and you have
a Senko-type presentation. Also, use them on a Carolina rig
18-inches behind a 3/8 oz. Lindy no-snag sinker to fish weed-edges
and sparse hydrilla in lakes…it’s a killer presentation.
It’s my hope this
article will be useful for you. My belief is that it will work on
all but muddy rivers. Case in point, I recently fished the crystal
clear Shenandoah and James Rivers in VA and caught a ton of smallies,
with this rig (rod/lure, anyway). I think it will, work for catching
GA shoal bass too…I’ll have to add shoalies to my growing list.
There are just not enough sick days...
If you have any questions
or comments, please feel free to contact me.
Phillip (Pip on the
FRF board), Lakeland FL