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How to use a Slab/Casting Spoon

How to use a Slab/Casting Spoon Vertical Method The simplest way to fish a slab (and arguable the most effective) is to fish it vertically. Just let your bait fall straight down under the boat all the way to the bottom. Then simply lift your rod tip (thereby raising the slab off the bottom about 3 feet) and then just lower your rod tip letting the slab free fall back to the bottom again. Do this motion over & over again (just raising your rod tip and then dropping your rod – letting the slab hit the bottom each time, never reeling in until you have a strike). As the slab falls back to the bottom you’ll want your bait to fall as fast as possible to the bottom – BUT – you want to keep in constant contact with the bait. You don’t want there to be any slack line as it falls because most strikes will occur as the slab falls back to the bottom.

Cast & Retrieve Method This technique is also very effective but it takes a little practice to master it. You simply cast your slab out to where you think the fish are, letting the bait fall all the way to the bottom and for the retrieve –bounce (or hop) the slab back off the bottom back to you. (For those that bass fish – you’d fish it as if you were hopping a jig and pig and/or worm.) To bounce the slab back to you just raise your rod to about 11 o’clock (that raises the slab off the bottom and advances it towards you) – Hold the rod in that 11 o’clock position until the slab hits the bottom again (with practice you will feel the slab hitting the bottom again). Then just take up your line as you drop your rod tip parallel to the water and then raise you rod tip back to 11 o’clock again – hold that position until it hits the bottom again and repeat. It’s still crucial to keep in constant contact with the bait (no slack line) as it falls back to the bottom (that when they hit it most of the time – on the fall).

Smoking Method There are a couple different methods to smoking a slab and both are quite effective (especially if the fish are super aggressively feeding and/or suspended) - The first method has you drop the bait vertically under the boat. Let it hit the bottom. Now, crank as fast as you can up to just beyond where the fish are – then stop and release the reel letting your bait free fall back to the bottom – then repeat. You’ll have to be super vigilant and watch for your line to ‘jump’ or ‘twitch’. This is a telltale sign that a fish has grabbed your bait. Quickly engage your reel and set the hook. - The second method has you throwing your slab out to the school and letting it fall to the bottom. You’ll crank your reel four or five times and stop and release your reel letting the slab free fall back to the bottom – then repeat. Again, watch for your line to twitch and/or jump. When it does, engage your reel and set the hook.

Drifting Slabs Method The drifting technique is especially beneficial for targeting hybrids/stripers. Position your boat broadside to the wind and throw out your slab on the upwind side of your boat. To help keep your boat broadside to the wind, either just occasionally bump your trolling motor or use a small drift sock. Let your bait sink to the bottom and as your boat is drifting, let out a little more line. To start the technique lift your rod up to your head or a little past – hold it for a second and lower your rod (allowing your bait to drop back to the bottom – but stay in contact with the bait as it falls). You will not reel in until you get a hit with this technique. This method is beneficial for a several reasons. The first being that hybrids/stripers are a little boat shy, so your slab is being fished away from the boat. The second reason this method is so good – it allows you to cover lots of water. This is especially effective when there are several small packs of hybrids/stripers roaming a flat or large hump and or long points. And a third reason for this method - you (or those that your fishing with) do not have to cast (or even know how to cast) just drop your slab on the wind side of the boat and let out line.

Surfacing fish Methods When you have the fish surfacing – do not hesitate to throw a slab at them. There are numerous techniques that will produce fish in this situation. Here is what works best for me. Throw out your slab to or just beyond the surfacing fish and once it hits the water, immediately start reeling in. You can do this one of two ways. The first being the simplest is a steady retrieve (sometimes, they want it REALLY fast - sometimes a little slower cadence will produce better). The second way involves a crank, crank, pause presentation or just quick rod pumps and then let it quickly drop – working from the surface to about 6 feet down – staying in their strike zone – they still like to hit it on the abbreviated fall). Try both until you find what is working that day. The second method involves throwing out your slab and immediately upon it hitting the water, start pumping (lifting your rod tip up and following it down) your bait back to the boat. I’ve actually been known to work my slab fast enough for it come flying out the water.

Suspended Fish Methods Sometimes the fish are just suspended. Suspended fish can be hard to catch (not really feeding - just rafted all together somewhere in the water column - as seen on your depth finders – normally very lethargic). This can happen anytime of the year. Normally suspended fish are found in deeper waters - 30 to 50 plus feet and normally holding/suspending down about 20 to 35 feet (typically all sitting at the same depth – pretty much like a straight line – not varying much in depth). To catch suspended fish, you can either use the Reel Up Method or the Drop Down Method to put your bait right in front of their face. The Reel Up Method is to go to the bottom and determine how many reels (or cranks of the reel handle) it will take to get the bait at their level (typically each turn of the handle brings in about two feet of line). The Drop Down Method is to pull out line from your reel (best down with Bait Casters) in about 2 feet increments to the desired depth. On my favorite rod, it’s about right at the A part of Made in America. So if the fish are suspending at 21ft of water, pull out about 10 pulls of line to get just about 20 feet down. When doing this it’s better to err on the side of too shallow as opposed to deep. Fish like to look and attack upwards to eat bait. Once you are at the correct depth, fish it just like you would when fishing the Vertical Method - pick your rod tip up and then follow it back down. It’s really that easy, the only difference as opposed to the traditional method is your bait isn’t going to hit the bottom (stay in their strike zone).

Varying Conditions/Weather/Seasons

Winter – Often the fish are glued to the bottom and are not actively chasing baits due to the cold water temperatures. In this situation, you still want to lift the slab off the bottom – BUT – try to only lift it three inches off the bottom. Now, instead of the normal lift and let fall technique – hold it off the bottom. The bouncing of the waves will move the bait plenty. These fish are not aggressively eating and don’t want to have to chase their meals. (Sometimes this method is called Dead Sticking). If you don’t get a hit in about 15 seconds – drop – make contact with the bottom, then lift and hold again.

Spring Ah, the days are getting longer and the temperatures are rising. The first days of Spring may be quite warm – BUT – remember the water is still quite cold. The fish will not be actively feeding as one would typically think. You’ll still want to use the lift and fall technique. Some days the fish want it like they do in winter (whereas you’re almost holding the bait dead still). Others days they want the slab picked up quite a bit and moving. Spring is probably the most difficult season to effectively predict how the fish want the bait to be presented to them. It changes by the day and even the hour (and even the school of fish your fishing) Let the fish tell you how they want it. Pay attention to your fish finders. If the fish are glued to the bottom (and not moving and not chasing baits) – well then fish it SLOW. If the fish are chasing baitfish and are not glued the bottom then fish it faster.

Summer The warm days of Summer often produce the most consistent fishing in regards to how the fish want the bait. Typically the fish are hungry and chasing bait fish all over the lake. This means that you can lift the bait off the bottom the highest and let it fall to the bottom as FAST as possible (still keeping in contact with it as it falls).

Fall This is my favorite fishing season. The fish are gorging themselves on everything they see as they are fattening up for Winter. The fish are often still feeding aggressively. This is kind of just the opposite of Spring in that even on a cold fall day – the water is still quite warm. The fish are still hungry and want that bait moving.

High Pressure High pressure makes the fish feel bad and regardless of the season will affect how much they are willing to chase baitfish (or your slab). When we have high pressure, the fish will often want to fish slab moved much slower (regardless of the season). Again, pay careful attention to your fish finder (try to determine what the fish are doing – moving, feeding or lethargic and not really feeding ?). Often with a high pressure system, the fish will be glued to the bottom or simply be suspended in open water and it requires you to adapt to them. Fish it slower and don’t lift as high (slow down – because they are slow).

Low Pressure Days of low pressure will often be those magical fishing days, where the fish don’t care about the color your slab is, or even how you’re fishing it. It often seems impossible not to catch fish. Enjoy these days.

Specialized techniques for Stripers/Hybrids Often the hybrids and/or stripers want the bait moved much higher and much quicker than their white bass cousins. You’ll want to lift your rod to your head (or even past it – big and faster pulls) and let it fall back the bottom. This works for both fishing vertically and casting out to the school. Additionally, Hybrids and Stripers seem to be little more aware of the boat and you’ll land more of these fish by using the casting to them technique. In Spring and Fall the White Bass and hybrids/stripers often school together. More often than not when you encounter this situation, the hybrids/stripers are sitting a little higher off the bottom than the white bass do. So if you’re wanting to target them, then you don’t want your slab to hit the bottom as much (else you’ll be in the White Bass zone). Again, you’ll be more effective by casting out. Just think of keeping your slab three or four feet off the bottom. This will ensure maximum visibility to your targeted species and minimize the chance a white bass grabbing your slab. Printable PDF Copyright, Roosters Tackle 2012