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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