Those are the same tools he will use in heavy cover situations, and he will match them to hooks in similar sizes – from 3/0 to 5/0 – but he will ratchet down the grade of the wire. Instead of using a Super Heavy, or even a Heavy straight shank hook, he might be forced to scale lighter to a standard round bend hook.
“The most critical mistake that I see people make is that they don’t skin hook their soft plastics,” he added. “I even do it with my heavy hooks, but it’s particularly important with light line. If you don’t do it, it will kill you every time. That line has a little bit of stretch, so you need to give yourself whatever advantages you can get. I also change the angle of the hook point. Most of them are parallel to the eye or even facing down. I try to open it up to an outer bend of about five degrees.”
The other tool that frequently gets the call in clear water situations from his home in the Ozarks and out to either coast, is a carefully chosen finesse jig.
“You simply cannot use heavy gauge wire, it has to be thinner wire, and I’m also pretty cautious about trimming down the weed guard,” he shared.
His current favorite is the Missile Baits Ike’s Mini Flip.
“I like the wire size and the diameter of the hook,” he explained. “It presents a smaller profile, but it’s still 3/8- or ½-ounce, so you can place it where you want it.”
No matter which jigs you choose, and whether you affix a craw or a chunk or some other trailer to the back, you want to make sure that trailer does not interfere with hook penetration. While a big, bulky trailer can be used to slow down the lure’s fall, it can also create problems. It could flip over and fill the gap of the hook, or otherwise impede a solid hookset. He tends to stay on the smaller size and adjust the weight of his jig to impact the fall rate.
The bottom line is that few of us get to fish on unpressured waters, and whether you’re going behind another boat or forced to fish under post-frontal conditions, you need every advantage you can get. Morgenthaler may have built his name on “well rope,” but he earns a good portion of his living with fluoro.
“I always want to go with the lightest gear I can get,” he concluded. “Lighter line gets you more bites, period.” •
Courtesy of Chad Morgenthaler