by Deitz Dittrich
H-m-m-m-m -- bucktail or swimbait? bucktail or swimbait? Which shall I throw today? Why decide when you can have the best of both worlds? Mepps offers such a lure in the Mepps Giant Killer Sassy Shad! It's a combination of a bucktail spinner and a swimbait, like the always-popular Mister Twister Sassy Shad.
Bucktail lures have been around for decades, if not longer. Their effectiveness in luring the musky and large Northern pike is known worldwide. For years people have reached into their tackle boxes for lures like the Mepps Giant Killer or Mepps musky Killer, or more recently the Mepps Marabou and Magnum musky Killer the newer releases to the Esox line of lures to be made public by Mepps. However, it's been only over the last decade that people have played with the use of larger soft plastics and, more importantly, swimbaits. Someone on the ole Mepps R & D had the bright idea to combine the two, and viola - the Giant Killer Sassy Shad was born.
To catch a musky or large pike one must first be in the right location. Location varies so much from day to day, season to season. For this article I want to concentrate more on the late summer to early fall patterns - I call this Fummer Fishing. It's fun to say, and if you bust it out to your friends, you'll no doubt get a look that will be priceless. Fummer Fishing can be great. I know many enjoy fall fishing the best-but there are great catches to be had right now. Why wait 'til fall?
I seem to do best locating fish during the Fummer pattern on two key locations: inside turns and the tips of longer points. Both places can, and will be, enhanced by including rocks, and green weeds. Coontail is by far my favorite, but cabbage and milfoil (depending on where you are in the country) will be good as well. Weather will determine fish preferences from day to day, but both areas seem to hold the fish. The reason is quite simple: these areas seem to hold the best numbers of baitfish this time of the year. Where the baitfish roam, so do the ones we are after.
Weather also plays a huge role in determining where the fish hold on these structures: sunny days can do a couple of things depending on if its a post frontal sun or a stable weather sun. As with most fishing, stable weather will most always be better fishing. The fish will often roam the deepest weed edges, and often times spend time out away from the edge as well, but still within contact of the edge, as again, that is where the food is. In post-frontal sun, high barometric pressure can often push the fish deep in the weeds, making them more difficult to catch. Pre-frontal and/or cloudy conditions can push the fish closer to the weeds but roaming above and on the prowl. Especially in low light times of the day (early morning and late evenings), the added extra cloud cover extends the good fishing times on both ends of the day.
The Giant Killer Sassy Shad is the perfect bait for the fummer pattern. There are two things I feel are most important this time of the year: color and vibration. Many of our lakes still suffer from an algae bloom this time of the year, and as fall sets in, the lakes will clean up; but until then, the fish often need a little help finding our lures.
Let's talk color first - The Mepps Giant Killer Sassy Shad comes in four great colors: Yellow/Black, Silver/Black, Red/Black, and Firetiger. All four colors have their time and place. Yellow/Black is my favorite for bog-stained water; when the water is fairly clear, yet has a brown tint to it, this color also seems to mimic a sucker the best. Silver/Black is probably the most natural, and the one I would probably reach for first if fishing clear water; even more so, if I knew the lake had a decent population of tulibee, large shiners, or shad. The Red/Black and the Firetiger are more for stained water but also can be used in low light conditions IE: early morning, late evening or heavy cloud cover, on clearer bodies of water.
Vibration is also an important piece of the puzzle. I really feel that weeds are the key this time of the year. This means that often there will be an obstacle between the lure and the fish. A fish's ability to feel the lure through the lateral line can often be the difference between getting a follow or getting your picture taken with a nice fish. Additionally, I also feel speed is important. With water temps quite high, just starting to cool during the Fummer Pattern, speed might be one of the most important triggering cues. The Giant Killer Sassy Shad can solve this problem as well. Its heavy-duty Giant Killer blade is a large willow-leaf style blade, and it produces plenty of vibration. In addition it's easy to fish at fast speeds.
While a normal bucktail has deer hair, which is pretty to look at and pulses realistically in the water when retrieved, it does not expel much, if any, vibration. Visually it's great, and may be what is needed for early season when the weeds are down and the lakes are clearer, similar to fall patterns, but, when you're looking for speed and added vibration, the Sassy Shad addition to the Giant Killer is just that . . . a KILLER! The Sassy Shad tail kicks and flutters on its own, but in the turbulence behind the spinner, it's all that much more exciting. It's my choice for Fummer Fishing.
Give Fummer Fishing a try, search out the inside turns and points. Keep the retrieve speed high, pay attention to the weather and what it is doing, make changes to match those conditions. Use the color and vibration of the new Giant Killer Sassy Shad to lure fish out of the weeds and onto the picture boards of mepps.com. Don't wait for the fall patterns to start. Get out there right now and get a head start. Best of luck and good fishing. While you are out there, set the hook once for me!