Ehrler said. “This is a presentation where I’m not making long casts, I’m making short flips and pitches.”
TIP: To decrease the bait’s bulk, Ehrler often removes the bait’s top set of appendages — the ones with the round tips. The remaining two sets of arms, plus the terminal flappers produce plenty of motion, but the streamlined profile is more efficient.
“The purpose for that is to reduce the bulk of the bait for a smaller profile; I almost always like a smaller profile,” Ehrler said. “The other thing is it decreases drag in the water, so as the bait sinks, you get more of a spiraling action; it glides more.
“With all the appendages intact, it does not allow the bait to glide. But when you remove that first set, instead of falling straight, surface-to-bottom like a rock, you’ll add a little bit of spiraling, gliding action.”
Ehrler said this tactic is particularly effective around laydowns. Pitching an intact Flappin Hog can certainly work, but is alteration steps up the presentation. “Every time you pull the bait up and over a limb and it falls, the bait will have some kind of little turn to it,” he said.
#2 TEXAS-RIGGED SENKO
Paired with a 3/0 Gamakatsu EWG SuperLine hook, the Texas-rigged Senko is Ehrler’s all-around utility bait. He’ll use it as a primary bait for a variety of casting, pitching and skipping scenarios, or send it into follow-up duty.
“Day in and day out, I’ll have that tied on at all times, because they will bite it,” Ehrler said. “If you’re catching them on the Flappin Hog, they might bite this one when they start to shy away from (the creature bait). The Texas- rigged Senko has a very good spiral on the fall, and you pull it through a laydown, it resembles something swimming.”
a nano coating for a smooth surface and ultra-sharp point that yields optimal penetration. Also, the titanium weed guard gives him greater comfort throwing the bait around cover.
For deeper spots when he needs a faster fall, Ehrler converts his wacky rig into a Neko rig by adding a 3/32-ounce tungsten weight to the nose. He uses the same hook, but with a different alignment.
“Whenever I’m Neko rigging, instead of putting the hook in the middle of the Senko like I would with a wacky rig, I move it closer to the head — about 1/4 of the way back from the head,” Ehrler explained. “Also, I insert the hook parallel to the bait with the point facing up. This way, I hook the fish in the top of the mouth every time.”
#4 ZAKO SWIMBAIT TRAILER
Ask Ehrler about his use of the Z-Man Jack Hammer ChatterBait and he’ll emphatically tell you he will not use any other trailer other than the Yamamoto Zako. The ideal size and action for this reaction bait, the Zako emits enticing action when fished through grass, around docks and around shallow rocks where bass ambush shad during their fall gorge-fest.
When it comes to colors, Ehrler keeps it simple by applying this formula to all of his soft plastics: Green pumpkin is the go-to, especially when bluegill are present; green pumpkin/pearl belly gets the call if he thinks he needs a little more color; black and blue is best for stained water and white’s his choice for imitating shad. Each color has its time and each of them supports Ehrler’s repertoire of situation-specific baits. •
#3 WACKY/NEKO-RIGGED SENKO
Leaning on the 5-inch Senko, Ehrler uses the wacky setup with an O-Rig for a slow fall in shallow cover and anytime the fish are sitting high in the water column. He’ll throw this is the same places some might use an unweighted Texas-rigged Senko, but the wacky rig’s superior motion earns more bites.
Essential to this rig’s effectiveness, Ehrler uses his signature Gamakatsu Weedless Stinger Hook, which features