Kevin VanDam is known as a powerbait fisherman, primarily fishing crankbaits, spinner baits and buzzbaits. But one of the reasons VanDam has been so successful for so long is that he knows how to quickly adapt to changing situations. When powerbaits won’t produce bass, he doesn’t hesitate to fish sissy baits (finesse lures).
I always start out fishing with moving baits and reaction baits, because those lures give me a great way to cover a lot of water and find bass. If I can’t see the bass and don’t know where they’re holding, then I believe that powerbait fishing is the best way to locate the bass. Besides using powerbait fishing to locate bass, I also use my Humminbird electronics to see the bass.
I don’t like to cast finesse baits until I know I’m in a good area that’s holding bass. If I’m fishing in really clear water and I can see the bass, then I need to be throwing a finesse worm. Also, any time I’m catching bass and the bass quit biting, I use finesse baits to try to put a few more bass in my livewell. I always have finesse baits tied on my rods when I’m fishing. Finesse baits are just another tool in my arsenal of lures to use to catch bass. But once again, I have to know where the bass are before I go the sissy bait route. Too, if I’m fishing a buzzbait, a spinner bait or a topwater lure, and a bass blows up on that bait, I may pick up the rod with my finesse bait and cast it to the same place where the bass has missed my topwater or subsurface lure. Sometimes I’ll get a short strike on my spinner bait. When a bass misses my spinner bait, I know where the fish is. Then all I have to do is cast to it with a bait that I feel confident it will take like a finesse worm.
Without a doubt, the drop-shot rig with a Strike King Half Shell or a finesse worm are my go-to baits. Next, I like a Strike King Ocho, which is a soft plastic stick worm. This bait requires patience to fish. My third lure will be a small jig.
The lightest test line I’ve used in a tournament would be a 4-pound-test line. But to be honest, I don’t really like to use less than 6-pound test. In ultra-clear water, light line lets finesse baits create the best action they can and allows me to present a light, small lure as effectively as I possibly can. In really clear water conditions, often you’re forced to use that light line. Another advantage to using really light line is that light line enables me to cast super-small lures much farther than I can with heavier line. But for most of my fishing, I try to use the heaviest line I can to help me land as many bass as possible.