TackleTour Tournament Interview : John Crews, BASS Elite Series Pro
Location of Interview:
Lake Eufaula, GA
The Premise: TackleTour is going to hold a bass fishing tournament, but in keeping with our tradition, the gear is going to play an active roll in how the tourney is structured. In the past, we've been known concentrate our review seasons around specific techniques or types of baits. We're going to run our tournament in the same manner. Four days, four different themes, and our interest is to see how the pros go about selecting the gear they'll need to fish this tournament.
In the TT Interview Hot Seat : John Crews, BASS Elite Series Pro.
Hot Seat: In our continuing series of interviews, we're sitting down with different pros and going through their tackle selections for each day of our tourney, one at a time. Today, we sit down with John Crews, BASS Elite Series Pro. John Crews's sponsors include Spro, Gamakatsu, Motorguide, Mercury Outboards, Vicious, Lowrance, Stormr, Evan Williams Bourbon, and Cashion fishing rods with whom he signed after our interview. Of course, John Crews is also owner and CEO of Missile Baits.
John Crews is owner and CEO of Missile Baits.
Day One: We're going to give the pros a technique they can use to search out active fish. You know what that means? Yup, it's time to tie one on, toss it out, and crank it up! Cranking is the name of the game on Day One and we want to know what a pro looks for in a good cranking rod, cranking reel, and their preference in cranking line.
Day One - time to tie one on, toss it out, and crank it up!
John Crews : I love to throw crankbaits shallow when I'm searching for fish. The Spro Fat John is my primary power fishing, shallow running crankbait. This bait not only catches fish bouncing off cover, but it catches them in open water too because it has a naturally erratic action. I usually fish it on 14lb Vicious Exact Monofilament spooled on a 6.4:1 reel mounted on a 7' medium heavy powered graphite rod. I like mono for moving baits because its more supple and casts further than fluorocarbon line and with the treble hooks I feel I land a couple percent more fish.
What I'm looking for when throwing this bait are ambush points like steeper banks, drop offs, points, isolated cover. I make repeated casts to these spots at different angles to try and trigger a strike. After three or four fish you start to see a pattern of where the fish are setting up and what angle they are looking for the bait to run.
Crews's crank of choice is the Spro Fat John.
Day Two: Now that the pros know where the fish are, day two is going to be about working through those concentrated schools of fish on their way to a big limit. That's right, it's time to get a little wacky as we allow the pros to punch, drag, dissect, create and fish from top to bottom with craws, lizards, frogs, toads, spider jigs, swimbaits and any variety of other creatures on their way to a hefty limit because day two is all about the fever - Creature Fever. How do the pros approach fishing soft plastics?
John Crews introduces his new bait, the Missile Baits Destroyer!
John Crews : When it's time to start picking structure apart and catching some bigger fish, I'm pulling out my new Missile Baits Destroyer. It's a combination of the DBomb, the Tomahawk, and a creature bait all rolled into one. It's a larger profile bait, even larger than the DBomb. I usually fish it on 20lb Vicious ProElite Fluorocarbon using a 3/8ths to half ounce weight most of the time, with a Gamakatsu Heavy Cover Worm hook in 5/0 all on a 7'6" flipping stick and a 7.0:1 reel. I like high speed reels when flipping and pitching because I can take up a lot of slack before setting the hook.
The Destroyer is built to trigger fish on the fall but also once it hits the bottom, if you fish it slow, in the heart of the cover, the tails fall around and settle to the bottom driving those fish crazy. I've had a lot of hits just popping the Destroyer, letting it sit and having those tails swirl around in the current and pow! So even though I'm fishing slow, the Destroyer lets me cover each laydown or spot more effectively. I make one or two really good casts into these spots, then move on to the next spot instead of making a dozen faster casts in the same spot.
Introducing the new, Missile Baits Destroyer!
Day Three: They've found the fish, and have picked through the schools to fill their limits. The water has been pounded and the fish are feeling pressured. What in the world are the pros going to do on Day Three of our tourney? It's time to turn the "F" word. Downsizing baits and line, switching to light powered rods, slowing down that presentation, you know what all of that means. It's time to declare, "What the Finesse?!?!" Day three of our tourney is all about finesse.
Crews likes to pitch his drop shot rig in shallow cover.
John Crews : When things get tough on Day 3, it's moving day. It's time to move around and do something a little different like finesse. When I think Finesse, I think drop shot. I fish the shakey head a lot, but for an all day, highly pressured situation, I catch more fish on the drop shot. The majority of the time I fish a Missile Baits Fuse 4.4 and the new Aaron Martens Tournament Grade G-Finesse Drop Shot Hook by Gamakatsu. Dude, that thing is ridiculous. I think I've caught between 80 - 100 fish on it since I got it last spring and I've lost one fish on it - ONE. In other words, it's unbelievable as far as hook up ratio. I think the light wire also helps give the bait a more natural swimming motion.
I fish drop shot a lot on 6lb test Vicious ProElite Fluorocarbon. I like the lighter line and will use anything from an 18 inch leader down to a 4 inch leader to the weight (deeper water, longer leader). My favorite weight is the River2Sea tear drop in one eighth to three eighths of an ounce. I used to use mostly lead, but I switched to Tungsten because you really do have a lot more feel with the bottom.
I like a 7' medium action spinning rod and use a spinning reel with a larger spool because it helps with line management. With this set up, I'm pitching my drop shot rig towards cover in shallow water - even boat docks. Once I pitch it up, I drag it into where I think the strike zone is then just give the bait slack, and pick up the slack, give it more, and pick it up again all with my rod tip. It's a real gentle action but the bait is moving around as you release and pick up the slack and triggering the strike.
When it comes down to his Search for One bait, Crews turns to the Missile Baits Missile Craw.
Day Four: It's the last day of the tourney and we're culling our field of pros to the top ten anglers. The lucky ones get to continue our wacky tourney and if they're not ready to protest our format yet, they just might after they learn what we're limiting them to now on day four. The number one question we continue to receive here on TackleTour is if you could just have one... You know the rest. Yes, that's right, we're enlisting the pros in our Search For One campaign and limiting them on the last day of the tourney to one rod, and one reel. What will their combo be? Let's find out.
One more look at the new, Missile Baits Destroyer creature bait.
John Crews : I don't want to just mail it in on the last day. I want to win this tournament. So for day 4, my go to bait is the Missile Baits Missile Craw. I fish it on a 3/0 Gamakatsu heavy cover worm hook and a 1/4 - 5/16 oz worm weight with 17lb Vicious ProElite fluorocarbon. I fish all this on a 7'6" flipping stick with a high speed reel. The key with this bait is it won't sink straight to the bottom. It darts as it reaches the bottom one way or the other and that's what triggers the strikes.
A lot of times, I'll pitch it up under a boat dock and drag it out like you would a shakey head, and then right before I move to reel it in, I'll give the bait a little hop, let the bait dart, and if a fish was following it out, it'll hit. Another way I fish it is to lift the bait up and along submerged structure and let it sit there on the edge of a stump, branch, ledge for a few seconds and let the Missile Craw's natural action trigger a strike. That's exactly what I did on my last cast of a tournament on Falcon Lake, fishing behind people. I was catching all my fish on the Missile Craw and on this last spot, I pitched into a submerged mesquite tree, lifted it up to a branch, and let it sit there for about four or five seconds. Just before I was getting ready to reel the bait in, I felt a thump. I set the hook and managed to get the fish to swim up out of the tree and when it did, I could see it was a giant. It was an eight and a half pounder. I pulled it in the boat, culled one out, raced to the weigh in and ended up in third place.
The Missile Craw can definitely get you big fish, but more importantly, you can fish behind people and still catch them. It's the best combination I can think of for a one day, one bait type of scenario.
TackleTour would like to thank John Crews for giving us a little insight into his tackle selections in what would be a very different, tackle-centric tournament.