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TackleTour Tournament Interview

TackleTour Tournament Interview : Chris Zaldain


Date: 6/4/14
Interview: Chris Zaldain
Interviewer: Cal
Location of Interview: Lake Biwa, Japan

The Premise:
In the past, we've been known concentrate our review seasons around specific techniques or types of baits. We're running 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 only his second year fishing the BASS Elite Series circuit, Zaldain claimed a top ten finish in AOY.


Hot Seat: In what will become a continuing series, we're sitting down with different pros and go through their tackle selections for each day of the tourney, one at a time. Today, we sit down with Chris Zaldain who finished 8th in BASS's Angler of the Year standings for 2013 - only his second year. Zaldain's sponsors include Hi's Tackle Box, Keystone Oilfield Fabrication, Megabass Rods, Power Pole, Seaguar, Skeeter/Yamaha, and Strike King Lure Company. We sit down with Zaldain during a recent trip to Lake Biwa, Japan to talk about our imaginary tourney.


Zaldain getting in some skipping practice on Lake Biwa.


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.


When he's throwing a crank, Zaldain wants the crisp, responsive, and sensitive feel of a graphite stick in his hands.


C.Zaldain: What I want in my cranking stick is something with a moderate action and that I can run down the bank with roll casting with my wrist. I'm probably throwing a Strike King KVD 1.5 SquareBill and pin pointing those casts around structure. When I'm tossing that out, I'm tying it on my Orochi Double X F4.5-70XX Flat Side Special and cranking it up with my 6.2:1 Shimano Core 101 spooled with fifteen (15) pound Seaguar Invisix.


I really prefer a graphite stick over glass or composite blanks because I want that sensitivity and can pick up the line a lot faster with a slightly faster rod. I'm fishing fluorocarbon instead of mono again for the sensitivity but also fluorocarbon doesn't sag as much as mono so when I set the hook, I have less line to move in order to get the pressure on the fish and drive those hooks home.


Zaldain uses the Orochi Double X F4.5-70XX Flat Side Special as his cranking stick.


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?


Most anglers will reach for a casting stick when fishing non-finesse soft plastics.


C.Zaldain: You're making me give away all my secrets! My go to soft plastic setup starts with the Megabass Destroyer Phase 3 F4.5-73XS Beast Hunts rod. Yes, it's a spinning rod! I'm matching this with a 2500 Shimano Stradic Ci4+ reel spooled with twenty pound Seaguar Smackdown Braid topped with an eight pound Tatsu Fluorocarbon leader. I right this combo up with a quarter ounce weighted Strike King Coffee Tube. There's no finesse about this setup. The Coffee Tube is a big chunk of meat and most spinning rods can't handle it.


The Beast Hunts is like a jig rod but configured for spinning. It has a lot of power yet allows me to fish deeper than with a casting rod because of the light line. That all works together to give me better sensitivity when I'm dragging the bottom.


The 2500 sized reel has a good size spool and a really good IPT (inches per turn) to pick up slack line quickly. On my leader, I'm tying my Tatsu fluoro to the Smackdown mainline with an albright knot shown to me by Dean of Hi's Tackle Box. I was using a uni to uni knot before, but Dean's shown me how compact I can get that connection knot with the albright and the way he ties it. I like braid for a mainline on my spinning gear because it's limp and casts better than straight fluoro and has really good sensitivity on a tight line. I put the fluoro leader on there because it increases my bite count over straight braid and Tatsu is a true eight to nine pound test line with excellent knot strength.


Zaldain reaches for a spinning rod, the Megabass Beast Hunts spinning rod.

Next Section: Time to work in some finesse









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