Fishing in 3D

REVIEW: Yo-Zuri 3DB Crankbaits
Yo-Zuri 3DB Crankbaits

Earlier this year, Yo-Zuri introduced their 3DB Series of lures. A new, innovative, mid-priced line of baits that includes topwater pencils, poppers, and props; suspending shads and jerkbaits; their signature minnow profiles; and three types of crankbaits (shallow squarebills, mid-diving, and deep-diving). While I was able to get my hands on several of these various offerings, today we are focusing on the cranks.

All three crankbait versions of the bait feature the patented Yo-Zuri Wave-Motion Rib design that sends out an enticing vibration that hits the fish’s lateral line and helps produce crushing instinctual hits; an “injured red eye” that allows gamefish to key in on a distressed baitfish; a strong, wide, wobbly action to induce hard reaction bites; and sticky round-bend black nickel treble hooks to make sure the fish stays buttoned up. Yo-Zuri 3DB BassHowever, what is truly new and exciting about these lures are the patent-pending Internal Prism 3D patterns. The 3D prism creates flash and movement as the bait vacillates through the water. It also allows Yo-Zuri’s designers to come up with some very deep, three dimensional, realistic patterns that the fish just can’t seem to resist.

The real question is, “do they catch fish?”. In a word … YES! My first day out on the water with them was just a couple weeks before Spring. The pre-spawn bite hadn’t kicked in yet and the fishing was very tough. No one around me was managing much of anything. On just my 3rd cast with the Mid Crank (4-8 feet) in the Prism Bluegill pattern, it was like I hit a brick wall when this 4 pound-class beast inhaled the bait. My very next cast produced a 3.5 pounder. I ended the day with 5 fish landed on the lure … no one else could get more than a singleton.

When Spring finally rolled around, I went to the Square Crank (2-4 feet) and found, both, the Prism Bluegill and Prism Crawfish patterns very useful on the shallow feeding fish. Especially when bounced off of rocks, pilings, laydowns, and other structure.

Yo-Zuri 3DB SeriesIn Summer, when the fish went down to find cooler water, the Deep Crank (8-16 feet) in the Prism Bluegill and the Prism Shad were the hot ticket. Allowing me to find those deeper fish, and pull up some very nice ones, when others were struggling to even manage a bite.

Every 3DB bait I pulled out of the box was tuned perfectly and wasn’t in need of a hook exchange. Add in the durable internal finishes of the 3D prisms, the multiple bite-inducing features, the fresh look to wary fish, and the wallet-friendly price point (I’ve seen them online for under $9) and you can see why Yo-Zuri should have another winner on it’s hands … and you should have some of these in your arsenal.

MSRP – $9.99

Cave Club Rating: 5 Clubs
Cave ClubCave ClubCave ClubCave ClubCave Club

Cave Club Scale
5 Clubs = The Missing Link
4 Clubs = Rock Solid
3 Clubs = Better Than Sharp Stick
2 Clubs = Not Fully Evolved
1 Club = Should Be Extinct

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Santa Ana River Trout

“Caught” some Rainbow Trout hanging out in the Santa Ana River. Look closely and you’ll see one of them that snapped me off with my mini-jig in his mouth.

We ended up with 25 fish over the Holiday weekend. Kept 10 for the grill and the smoker. Hot baits were Power Bait and mini-jigs.

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Topwater Time

The night before the Caveboy’s 11th birthday, we decided to head out for a quick 2.5 hour sunset session at Lake Sherwood. It was gorgeous when we arrived: 80°, very light breeze, mostly clear skies – but, enough wispy clouds to make for a fantastic sunset. It seemed perfectly set up for a topwater bite … but, we have seen very similar conditions lately with absolutely no surface action to be found. However, as we walked out onto the dock that was to be our first area of operation, I noticed numerous fish crashing the water’s surface sucking down some of the thousands of fry that had taken up residence there. At that point I only had a four inch 297 senko (Malibu-rigged) tied on. So, I quickly tossed it into the fray. It only sank for about 2 or 3 seconds before the line jumped and started moving to deeper water. I reeled down and set the hook on a nice 2.5 pounder (no pic) that fought well above what his measurements would suggest.

Caveboy's 4+ Pound BassI told the Caveboy to toss his bait into the action. But, unfortunately, as soon as it hit the water the action seemed to die down to a very occasional boil. Even though the topwater bite seemed to have died, I tied on an Ima Skimmer in the Bluegill pattern and started working it through the area where the action had been. It took a few casts before a huge fish totally exploded on the bait doing an inverted 360 in the air while sending the bait a good five feet into the air. When it came back to earth, I let the lure rest on the surface for about 10 seconds before starting to walk the dog again. A few twitches later there was a huge swirl on the pencil bait before the fish came back and sucked it down. BOOM! I handed off the rod to the Caveboy, and he went to battle with this 4+ pound pig that had several more ariels and a couple of line pulling runs in her before she surrendered.

Midnight Rider Topwater BassI nailed one more 2 pounder using a Yo-Zuri Rattl’n Vibe, while my young fishing partner had several massive blow-ups on a big black buzzbait. Darkness had really set in, and we could hear numerous fish continuing to feed on the surface. I decided to tie on one of my Caveman Custom “Midnight Rider” poppers. It didn’t take long to find out that it was a wise choice. On the first cast, there was a huge explosion on the bait and, despite a solid hookset, the fish missed both red treble hooks. Though, a few casts later, this nearly 3 pounder pounced on it and found both hooks to be quite sticky.

I nailed four more of these cookie-cutters, handing several of them off to the impending birthday boy, and had a couple more fish who couldn’t quite connect with the bait in the darkness. We hated to leave them biting. But, with a busy birthday on the horizon we had to call it a night. We can’t wait to get out there and do that again!

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Casitas Revisited

Lake Casitas 2.75 Pound BassDue to a family emergency, it had been a while since I had gotten my line wet. So, when my fellow UFC fishing fanatic, Rick “R2″ Raives, asked if I wanted to get back out on Lake Casitas yesterday on his 20′ Skeeter, I was more willing than a wedding night virgin.

It was a cool 58° under post-full-moon cloudy skies with a slight breeze when we got on the water at 6am, and the shad schools were so thick that you could almost walk across the water. For Casitas, this is a mixed blessing. The shad certainly bring the fish up to feed. But, unless you are dip-netting some of that candy bait and fishing it live, it can be hard to entice a bite. Since we are both committed artificial-baiters, that was not an option.

We threw a variety of topwater and sub-surface shad-like lures to no avail. I decided to try and “match the hatch” with one of my favorite new finesse baits … Don Iovino’s “Little Slugger” in the Jorge Special pattern. It didn’t Lake Casitas 2.75 Pound Basstake long before I got the smell of skunk out of the boat with this chunky 2.75 pounder. By the way, if you’re wondering why I’m still wearing the life vest, it’s more for warmth than safety concerns. ;)

As we moved down the bank, we could see the fish chasing up the shad schools all around us. As my bait came off of a rocky secondary point, it got slammed again by this fat 2.75 pound cookie cutter. Not too long afterwards, I casted my bait to the bank where a fish had busted the surface chasing up it’s silvery prey. Thanks to the ultra sensitivity of my Big Bear rod, I was able to feel the stealthy pick up of another clone (no pic).

All my action was starting to get to my fishing friend. So, R2 rigged up the same bait and started getting some action of his own. At first, it was still a bit frustrating for him as he missed a couple of hits as we continued along the weedless banks and points. But, as we came to a point that had a thick patch of grass on it, his fortune changed in a big way. He casted his offering to the outside edge of the grass and 4 Pound Lake Casitas Bassbefore it had fallen three feet under the surface he was setting the hook on a big fish. At first he thought it was just another model similar to what I had been catching. But, the fight suddenly became heated as the line peeled off his reel. Finally, we got the net under this 4 pound beastly beauty.

We successfully continued with our pattern the rest of the day. Even though we dumped a couple of fish and missed several other opportunities, we ended up with an even dozen fish (six each), with a best five sack around 16 pounds. All of them coming on that “Little Slugger”. As we departed the lake, we were told by gatehouse guard that he was amazed by our fish total, saying that the bite had been tough even for the live bait anglers. We drove away with a true sense of accomplishment … I’m sure we’ll try to remember that the next time Lake Casitas sends us home with a skunk trip!

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Spinning Out

REVIEW: Denali Kovert Spinning Rod
Denali Kovert Spinning Rod Handle
After having such an incredible experience with the new Denali Kovert Flippin Rod, I just had to get my hands on one of the spinning rods they were offering in the new line. Two different models are available. The K863MS, a 7’2″ Medium-Heavy action, Moderate-Fast flex model suited for 10-15 pound test line and 1/4 to 3/4 ounce lures. And, the K822MS, which comes in a 6’10” Medium, Moderate, 6-14 line, 1/8 to 5/8 lure version. I opted for the latter.
Denali Kovert Spinning Rod Info
When I pulled it out of the rod tube, I immediately noticed the signature Kovert good looks along with the sensitive IM-8 flat black blank, Skeleton Reel Seat, 9″ ultra-light EVA handle, trademark stabilized hardwood foregrip, and dimpled aluminum winding checks. This model also sports 13 total (12+1) graduated semi-micro guides. Yes … you heard correct … semi-micros on a spinning rod! I was a bit skeptical at first, too. But, as you’ll see, they really added a new dimension to this rod.
Denali Kovert Spinning Rod Semi-Micro Guides
First I had to have the weigh-in on this very light rod. Surprisingly, it only came in a half-ounce lighter than two other similar rods in my arsenal. Then, I remembered that the other two rods are also very lightweight, but cost more than twice as much.
Next, it was time to get this thing wet! First I tried it out as a split-shot and drop-shot rod. Due to the moderate flex, I wasn’t expecting it to excel with these techniques. Boy, was I wrong! The sensitivity of the rod in this arena was never in question, and it performed extremely well, as expected. But, despite the stiffer flex, the casting distance with the 1/8 ounce weights I was using was nothing short of amazing. Easily going further than my more expensive rods were able to reach. Plus, between the flex and the semi-micro guides, my accuracy was spot on. Best of all, the slightly stiffer blank led to easier, more powerful and consistent hook sets, and the action made fighting a fish to the finish smooth and confident despite the 6-pound test being employed.
Denali Kovert Spinning Rod Graduated Semi-Micro Guides
Second time out with the rod, I gave it a go as a worm rod. I put a Malibu-rigged (weightless T-rig) Senko on the end and began casting, flipping, and skipping it all over the place. Again, the sensitivity, castability, accuracy, and power were evident throughout the session.
Next time, I went with a lightweight T-rigged technique. This is where I feel this rod was at it’s best, and where I will use it the most. Whether I went with an 1/8 ounce weight, or a 1/2 ounce weight, I was able to routinely put my bait exactly where I wanted to, and get it to spots I wasn’t able to previously reach. Even the slightest of pick-ups were immediately noticeable, the heavy-handed hooksets necessary for the technique were readily achieved, and the battles that ensued were handily won.
While you may think that this is an awful lot to expect from a rod priced at only $129, you are correct. It is! But, the the new Kovert Spinning rod delivers just what Denali promises from the entire Kovert line: a rod “designed from the ground up to help you catch more fish and stay on the water longer”.

MSRP – $129

Cave Club Rating: 4.5 Clubs
Cave ClubCave ClubCave ClubCave ClubCave Club

Cave Club Scale
5 Clubs = The Missing Link
4 Clubs = Rock Solid
3 Clubs = Better Than Sharp Stick
2 Clubs = Not Fully Evolved
1 Club = Should Be Extinct

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Belated Birthday Bass

Although my birthday landed this past Wednesday, I wasn’t able to get out and celebrate with some fish landed until Friday. My good friend, and fellow fishing fanatic, Rick “R2″ Raives offered to take me out on Lake Casitas … his home water near Ojai, CA. Even though we arrived at 6:00am to clear skies, no wind, and a comfortable 63°, it didn’t take long for it to heat up to an Africa-hot 93° with absolutely no breeze until early afternoon.

Skunk BusterDespite the warm conditions, extremely low water levels, and the algae bloom that had begun, we were very positive about our prospects since reports were that the shad had recently been coming up and spurring the bite on. We started trying various topwater and reaction techniques, but couldn’t manage any interest. We then started throwing various plastics, but still received no love.

Finally, we came to a rocky point and R2 got back to back hits on a drop-shot worm, but was unable to connect. Shortly thereafter, I got my first tap on a T-rigged Gambler Baby Bacon Rind but, unfortunately, there was no follow through.

When the shad began to show on the surface, I could see that they were the young, small models. I decided to try to match the hatch by rigging up one of the new Little Slugger baits from Don Iovino in the Jorge Special pattern. I dragged it across a rocky point, and quickly got this dinky skunk-buster.

2.5 Pound Lake Casitas BassWe continued working similar points and kept getting short hits. Though, when we came around one of the main lake points, I got absolutely hammered. Regrettably, I was late on the hook set. I quickly redressed the small plastic bait and recast to the same spot. Once it hit the bottom, I only dragged it about three feet and … BAM! Nice fish on!! Throughout the fight on the 6 pound test Yo-Zuri Hybrid, I was sure that the fish was in the 4-5 pound class, as he made a couple of drag-pulling runs, and kept dogging me under the boat. Though, when he finally showed at the surface, I could see that he was only going to be half of my expectations. Nonetheless, it was great getting my first keeper of the day on the boat.

We kept at our pattern, slowly working similar points, and hoping for a breeze. Both, for cooling things off a bit, and for creating a slow drift, rather than having to occasionally engage the trolling motor to create the two. Though, the breeze wouldn’t come until about 1pm, our next fish came rather quickly when Rick got off the schnied with his own Rick's Skunk Busterdinky skunk-buster, which inhaled a 4.5″ Flick Shake worm in Watermelon Candy. We argued about whose fish actually held the title of “the smallest”. But, as you can clearly see from the pics, mine was clearly the dinkiest of them all! ;)

We decided to go hit some flats in search of any bedding Bass. But, the algae bloom was making a clear view of the bottom difficult, and any beds we did find had clearly been abandoned. We dug some crankbaits into the bottom along the deeper ledges adjacent to the flats, but found no willing playmates.

So, we returned to the pattern that was working, as we found a nice double-point with some nice chunk rock. We both got a couple of decent hits that didn’t connect. As we drifted past the far side of the second point, Rick said he was going to crank up the trolling motor to top speed and move down to the next point. But, just as he put his foot down onto the foot pedal, I got a strong tap and gave my rod a lightning-quick, sweeping hook4 Pound Class Lake Casitas Bass set. My Big Bear spinning rod immediately went bendo, and I felt that this might be a good fish … despite being gun-shy of making that prediction after what had happened earlier. However, my suspicions were hastily proven correct when this 4-pound classer did an inverted 360° flip in the air, trying to shake the hook free. Fortunately, she stayed buttoned up, despite several line pulling runs and two more jumps, until R2 could put the net under her, and got this nice “couples pose” on camera.

After moseying down past the next two points, we came to a rock face wall that usually produces a fish or two for us. However, Friday was one of those days that prevents us from saying that it “always” produces a fish. As we came to the last rocky point in the stretch we were working, we started discussingR2's 3 Pond Class Lake Casitas Bass our next plan of action. It wasn’t long into it that we were interrupted by R2’s second fish, which absolutely hammered his Flick Shake worm. Once he landed the 3 pound classer, I offered to take a picture of my fishing partner and his catch. But, he opted for taking a “selfishy”. While he succeeded in getting the fish into the boat, you can see that he didn’t succeed in getting it all into the frame. ;)

We returned to our discussion, once the fish-landing festivities were over, and his catch was literally swimming with the fishes. We decided to head back to a point we had fished early on that had fish on the graph, but all had been infected with lockjaw. Upon our second arrival, we both missed a variety of hits on several different baits. But, again as I dragged that Little Slugger across the point I felt a very soft pick-up and immediately3 Pound Class Lake Casitas Bass gave it another sweeping hook set. BOOM! Another decent fish that gave an amazing account of itself. Once we had it aboard, due to the magnitude of the fight, both of us were again surprised that it wasn’t bigger than it’s nearly 3 pound weight.

We fished for another 45 minutes, but couldn’t manage any other interest. So, we called it a day. While we were initially a little disappointed that we couldn’t manage a better fish total, on our way out, we learned from the Park Ranger that the bite had died down considerably since the weather turned warm earlier in the week, and that our 6 fish total had been the best of the day to that point. Either way, it was still amazing to be out on the water with R2, and a great way to celebrate with some belated birthday bass!

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Finding Fifteen

Between work, the holidays, and the Cavekids’ baseball and softball teams, I haven’t had time to even look at my rods … much less use them. So, when I found myself with a few spare hours, you know where I was headed!
When I arrived at Lake Sherwood, it was clear skies, 86°, fair breeze, and stained water from an algae bloom. I began throwing reaction and topwater baits to no avail. Then, I started pitching a T-rigged Gambler Baby Bacon Rind under some docked boats, and immediately put three fish on the dock, including this 4 pounder.

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I scooted down to another dock and began skipping a 5″ Malibu-rigged Kinami Flash under boats moored on the  opposite dock and tagged two more: a fat young prespawn filly, and this 4+ stager.

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Lost a nice 5+ because I didn’t check for frays (don’t worry, I’ve chastised myself appropriately). Instead of walking back to my tackle bag, which I had left behind on the first dock, to re-tie I decided to start flipping a jig, adorned with a Gambler BB Cricket, around. After nailing a couple of bedding bucks, I started working the dock I was on. I swung the jig underneath and got hammered by this 4 pound-class spawned out sow.

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After a couple more jig fish, I returned to skipping the Kinami. In short order, I was able to pull out five fish from three adjacent boats, including these three 4+ piggies.

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I ended the day with 15 fish, a 20+ five-best sack, and a pretty good sunburn after forgetting my sunscreen (again, I have chastised myself, accordingly). Not a bad way to get back in the swing of things.

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