Catch Deep Summer Bass with Kevin VanDam’s New Strike King Series 6 XD Crankbait
Practice Days with the New Strike King Series 6 XD
Editor’s Note: Kevin VanDam of Kalamazoo, Michigan, one of America’s top bass fishermen, has solved a major hot-weather bass-fishing problem for all of us. When the weather’s too hot to breathe, a new lure that VanDam has designed – the Strike King Series 6XD crankbait – will help us catch bass holding on deep ledges. In 2008, on Kentucky Lake, VanDam needed a crankbait to dive 18- to 20-feet deep to win. But getting a crankbait down that deep is pointless unless the crankbait has the right wobble and will run true to attract bass on deep-water ledges during hot summer months. So, VanDam worked with the Strike King lure designers to develop a new crankbait that would deliver the performance he needed for the June, 2009 BASS Elite Series event on Kentucky Lake in Paris, Tennessee. VanDam was willing to gamble $100,000, the first-place prize in this tournament, on this newly-designed bait. Although the Series 6 XD crankbait hadn’t yet come to the market (it should be available in August, 2009), VanDam had six or eight prototypes in factory-painted colors to use in this tournament event. This week, VanDam will tell us about the new Strike King Series 6 XD crankbait, and how he fished it in this year’s tournament on Kentucky Lake.
Question: Kevin, what did you know about Kentucky Lake before this tournament?
VanDam: I knew Kentucky Lake was one of the best ledge-fishing lakes in the nation. This tournament was held during the prime time when the big bass were holding out on main-river ledges. I won this same event in 2008 and planned to fish the same areas as I had then. I planned to run from the Paris Landing down toward the dam where I’d find plenty of offshore ledges to fish. I was betting on Strike King’s crankbaits, its Football-Head Jig and the Sexy Spoon. Too, I thought I’d use giant spinner baits and the 10-inch Anaconda. I felt these lures would rule the tournament.
Question: What did you learn in practice before this tournament?
VanDam: I had a tough practice. I found plenty of schools of small bass. I could pull onto a spot and catch bass all day measuring 10 to 14 inches, but locating schools of bigger bass proved really difficult for me. I knew I had to find several schools of bass thatweighed 4- to 5-pounds each to win, however, I really had a tough time trying to locate those schools of bigger bass. Unlike the 2008 tournament, I found more than a dozen schools of bass in the 4- to 5-pound range. Because there was more grass in 2009 in Kentucky Lake than ever before, the bass population had exploded with tons of little bass in the lake.
Question: What lures did you use during the practice days?
VanDam: The primary lure I fished with during practice was the new Strike King Series 6 XD, a designation that stands for extra-deep. This new deep-diving crankbait is very similar to Strike King’s original Series 6. However, the XD has been designed to run deeper than the original Series 6. I’ve been working on this lure with the Strike King lure designers for over a year. We really began working hard on this lure just before the Kentucky Lake tournament last year. When fishing a crankbait, you must consider more than the depth to which the lure can dive. You have to know what that lure will do when it dives to that deep depth. This new bait not only will reach 18- to 20-foot depths, but it has the right wobble and shimmy to attract bass and entice them to bite. The Series 6 XD casts really well. For a crankbait to run deep, you must be able to cast it a long way. I’ve designed the XD to be balanced, enabling the fisherman to cast a really-long way.
Then, we gave this lure a super-steep dive angle, so it reached the bottom and got in the bass’s strike zone quickly. Most importantly, we developed this lure to have the right action when it hit and dug the bottom or bounced-off structure at the bottom. I was able to easily get this bait down to 18 or 19 feet on every cast. The Series 6 XD has an erratic action when it hits the bottom and then begins to wander off. That erratic action is what triggers bass to bite. I received these prototype lures, actually working finished models complete with factory paint and hardware, from Strike King the week before the 2009 Kentucky Lake tournament. This lure hasn’t yet been released to the market, but it will be introduced at the ICAST Show in July.
Question: What colors of the new Series 6 XD did you take to this tournament?
VanDam: I took the Sexy Shad and chartreuse Sexy Shad, the only two colors I had.
Tomorrow: Day One of the 2009 BASS Elite Kentucky Lake Tournament