ON BONE CREEK LAKE, Kan. -- Midway through a fishing trip on Bone Creek Lake, Zac Udock had a wacky idea.
The bass weren't biting other baits, so it was time for Udock to go to his secret weapon-- the wacky rig.
"This is my go-to bait," Udock said as he displayed a six-inch-long plastic stick worm that was hooked in the middle instead of the end. "This lake has a lot of bass in it, but it also gets a ton of pressure.
"You have to think outside of the box. You have to figure out different methods that they haven't seen a lot before."
Udock knows his secret weapon really isn't so secret. The wacky rig has been around for years.
Fishermen started by hooking Senko-type plastic worms through the middle so they would have extra action as they slowly sank. Both sides of the worm flutter as they are pulled through cover with a slow retrieve, often persuading the bass to hit even when they aren't in the mood to eat.
Udock has modified that method to use a 1/16th-ounce jig head and a Big Bite Trick Stick plastic worm that he slowly works across the top of Bone Creek's thick weed growth. The bass, often hiding in the shade and comfort of the vegetation on a sunny day, can't resist a natural-looking worm fluttering above them.
Udock proved as much on a recent weekday.
After finding limited success on a large swimbait, he went to a wacky-rigged worm and immediately started catching fish.
He held his rod tip high and worked the dark-green plastic worm over the top of the thick weeds. When he got to a slight opening in the vegetation, he let the bait slowly flutter down. Before the large worm reached the bottom, he raised it slightly, then let it drop again. That's all it took. A bass darted out of the cover and went into attack mode.
Udock set the hook hard and his fishing rod bowed sharply. The fish fought to get back into the vegetation, but Udock also pulled hard and got the arching fish away from the weeds.
It wasn't long before Udock had the fish in the boat and was measuring his catch before releasing it.
"This one is right at 18 inches," he said, referring to Bone Creek's mark of success. An 18-inch minimum length limit for bass is in effect at the lake. "That's a nice bass. But there are a lot of them that size in here.
"They're not always easy to catch. With all the pressure this lake gets, you have to give them something that looks natural. And I think this wacky rig does.
"I can't tell you how many bass I've caught on this rig on this lake. I've won a lot of money (in tournaments) on this rig here and on other lakes."
Bone Creek Lake, a 540-acre reservoir located in southeast Kansas, is perfectly suited for that style of fishing. It has an abundance of cover, both the timber that was left in the basin when it was constructed and the vegetation that has sprouted up. It also has clear water, which makes it easier for bass to spot the bait.
The wacky rig is at its best in 4 to 10 feet of water, when fishermen can allow the plastic bait to slowly sink to the bottom. That means it is most effective in the spring and early summer, before many of the bass have moved to deeper water.
But Udock, 37, who lives in Farlington, Kansas, uses the wacky rig from spring until fall to catch big largemouths. He put on a clinic on a recent outing, catching fish regularly as he worked his bass boat through the thick timber.
"You have to keep that wacky rig fluttering along right above the weeds or they aren't going to hit it," Udock said.
Udock uses other baits to catch bass at Bone Creek. He uses big swimbaits, spinnerbaits and plastic baits. And in the dog days of summer, he will fish a 10-inch plastic worm on heavy braided line and fish creek-channel swings and deep brush.
But when it's money time, you'll often find him using his wacky rig.
Udock has been fishing Bone Creek since it opened in the late 1990s and he can't remember a time when it hasn't produced impressive fishing.
Udock has started a guide service this year with his friend, Jim Zaleski. They guide on reservoirs such as Bone Creek, Big Hill, Grand Lake in Oklahoma and Stockton Lake in Missouri. They also offer a unique service they call "The Tournament Experience."
They show fishermen who either don't have a bass boat or haven't competed in bass tournaments what it is like. Udock takes one fishermen in his boat, Zaleski takes another fishermen with him.
Then they simulate a tournament for the day, all the way from the takeoff to the weigh-in.
"It's a great way for fishermen to find out what tournaments are all about," Udock said. "And these lakes down here are great places to do it, because they are known for their bass fishing."
A WACKY STYLE OF FISHING
WHAT: The wacky rig is a popular form of bass fishing. With the method, fishermen use a straight plastic worm and run the hook through the middle of the bait instead of the end.
ADVANTAGES: Because the bait is hooked in the middle, both ends flutter when it is pulled through the water, giving it a natural presentation.
HOW TO USE IT: Many fishermen throw the wacky rig, while sight fishing. It is especially effective in spring, when bass are on or near spawning beds.
OTHER METHODS: Fishermen such as Zac Udock of Farlington, Kan., fish the wacky rig above heavy weeds and search for holes in that vegetation, places bass use as ambush points.
MODERN DEVELOPMENTS: Senkos were the original lure of choice for fishermen using wacky rigs. But since then, many companies have come out with their ownversions of slowly sinking stick baits. Companies have even come out with special jig heads that add weight but still allow the lures to sink slowly.
MORE INFORMATION: Udock, who has opened a guide service, is an expert at using the wacky rigs. He can be reached by calling 417-850-0044 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
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