Every once in a while (not once upon-a-time) but, every once in a while a lure comes along that so dominates its counterparts that the lure deserves attention by itself. The RATTLING CHUG BUG by STORM is such a lure. During a Bassmaster Tournament on Santee Cooper lakes in South Carolina I was paired with a contestant who used the Rattling Chug Bug. I was using hard jerk bait. We were matching each other fish for fish. Sure his bites more exciting with water flying around everywhere and those sucking in noises that big bass make. But, we were fish for fish. Then all of a sudden he was two fish ahead of me. Then he was culling. Sure I lost a bass well over ten pounds but, he was spanking me.
At that point the time came for me to throw my first Rattling Chug Bug. Now I began to do some spanking of my own. We both had some pretty good weight. Convinced this lure would work in Florida I tried it on Stick Marsh. During that summer my clients and I caught more than 15 bass over ten pounds and my clients (not me) caught 36 doubles. That is to say 36 times that summer my clients caught two bass on the same Rattling Chug Bug at the same time.
There are many ways to fish a topwater lure. And all the ways work. What I will describe in a minute is how I like to work a Rattling Chug Bug and how I teach my clients to work a Rattling Chug Bug. The Zara Spook, The Pop-R, and other topwater lures have made techniques famous. Don't make the mistake of using the Rattling Chug Bug like those others (sure the techniques will work) but, use it like a Rattling Chug Bug.
A description on some of the Rattling Chug Bug's assets will help one to understand why I like to fish the 'Bug" like I do. The Rattling Chug Bug is long. This causes it to throw very well. I can be casted a good distance. It is weighted at the tail with internal free floating weights. Yes, this helps it to throw farther! However, it also causes it to float tail down. After pulling, this allows the lure to settle tail down. As it does the internal free floating weight rolls to the tail and makes an extra "boink".
Here is the technique:
Cast the lure out. By cover or over cover the principle is the same. Let the lure settle down. Wait a bit. Twitch the rod tip so the lure splashes. Twitch the rod tip so the lure splashes. I do this while I am standing with the rod tip down. Keeping the rod tip down eliminates the wind from affecting the action of the lure AND keeping the rod tip down allows the angler to have a long way to go when he sets the hook up. After twitching the rod and making the lure splash twice -STOP! Stop means do nothing. Let the lure settle back. You just tried to get a bass's attention and made the lure look like it was frantic. NOW the stopping makes the lure look EASY to eat. As the lure settles back the free floating weight rolls to the tail. After a short period the lure makes a "boink". And that gentlemen is what gets the fish really in a mood to explode on the lure.
STOPPING AND DOING NOTHING IS CRITICAL! So is keeping the rod tip down. Winding in slack will cause the lure to stay up and not settle tail down. A breeze will not allow the lure settle tail down if the rod tip is up. The "boink" is the extra little bit that makes the 90% difference.
Someone once told someone else who was going fishing with me that if I used a Chug Bug he should stop and take notes.
OK, here is a little tip that I used to give my guide clients when fishing the Rattling Chug Bug to help them remember the technique. Just say Chug ......Bug.......Let it Rest....... Chug ........Bug ..........Let it Rest....... Well, I don't give that tip any more because two guys were saying that out loud while they fished the "Bug" all day.
Setting the hook is critical. Scientific studies show that a bass feeding on shad will get the shad on about 70% of their attempts. So it you get 70% of your strikes on the "Bug" you are fishing perfect. WATCH the lure as you fish. Do not set the hook on a splash. Make sure the lure is not on the top of the water. SET THE HOOK!
There are three sizes of Rattling Chug Bugs. I term them small, regular, and large. I start with the regular. If I am catching 50% of my bites I'm happy. If I'm not, or if the fish are missing the lure quite often I go to the small bug. You will find that your hook ups are greater with the small bug. And the fish tend to inhale the small bug. But, some times they won't hit the little bug. Then I go to the big bug. I don't seem to get as many bites on the big bug. The hooks are larger on the big bug and that can some times be an advantage.
Replacing the front hooks with one size larger Gamakatsu round bend trebles will increase the number of strikes turned into bass in the boat.
The lure, we've described. But the equipment is the tools used to make the lure respond in the way we want. Not only to have the lure move and stop correctly but, to pick-up line and set the hook.
Shimano has a new series of rods made in Washington State, USA. The VCA61OMH is extremely effective in "bugging". This rod works all three sizes of the bug very well. The rod is 6' 10" long and medium heavy action. The "A" in the number of the rod indicates the taper is extra fast. This action allows subtle movements of the hands and arms to move the bait and when it is time to set the hook the bulk of the rod is aiding in line pick-up, stretch removal, and hook setting.
Shimano's Chronarch reel will throw farther than any reel on the market. Long casts cover more water. Long casts gets the fish that don't know you are there yet. The larger bass are more wary. The larger bass are the first to move if danger is suspected. Longer casts gets you to the larger bass. The Chronarch is a 6.2 : 1 gear ratio reel. It is high speed. The high speed allows the angler to pick-up slack and get the hook set in the bass that is running at him.
Topwater fishing and bugging in general involves putting the lure by cover or over cover. Once hooked the fish WILL seek cover. A line with some stretch, but not much, is valuable. And the line must have abrasion resistance. The line I use is Triple Fish's Silicone line.
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