Kevin VanDam takes to sprawling Lake St. Clair for a lesson in power fishing bladed jigs for big smallmouth bass. He underscores the efficiency of this approach in targeting both largemouth and smallmouth bass in expansive flats where covering ground is essential to locating fish. But unlike largemouth, bladed jigs remain overlooked for smallmouth. VanDam emphasizes the Thunder Cricket’s ability to generate strikes and big fish due to its sizable profile and unique vibration.
TACKLE USED (retail links)
- BLADED JIG – Strike King Tungsten Thunder Cricket Vibrating Jig, 1/2-ounce: Buy at Bass Pro Shops, Buy at Tackle Warehouse
- TRAILER – Strike King KVD Perfect Plastic Blade Minnow: Buy at Tackle Warehouse
- ROD – Team Lew’s Signature Series Casting Rod – TLS73MH: Buy at Bass Pro Shops, Buy at Tackle Warehouse
- REEL – Lew’s Custom Pro SLP Casting Reel: Buy at Tackle Warehouse
- LINE – Bass Pro Shops XPS KVD Signature Series 100% Fluorocarbon Fishing Line, 20-pound: Buy at Bass Pro Shops
- SUNGLASSES – Costa Del Mar King Tide 8 580G Glass Polarized Sunglasses, lens – Sunrise Silver Mirror: Buy at Bass Pro Shops
Throughout the video, VanDam provides an in-depth look at his approach to fishing at varying depths and cover types, focusing on isolated grass patches and using his MEGA Live and 360 Imaging to understand his surroundings better. As he states, bass are rarely related to just sand. Combinations of sand, weed, and gravel seem to hold the most fish, showing clearing on his MEGA 360 Imaging.
While finesse tactics for smallmouth often excel, VanDam shares bladed jig and trailer selection criteria that add realism and improve success. He favors using tungsten bladed jigs with reduced action trailers to fish the bait more efficiently in deeper water. Bladed jig and trailer color changes also matter. VanDam discusses his shift from a solid white to a silver and sparkling trailer under changing light.
Regarding the retrieve, VanDam employs steady reeling and mixes rod snaps and pulls to make the bait appear erratic, triggering reaction strikes. This isn’t a light rod and line tactic. Instead, he uses a powerful medium-heavy rod paired with a fast reel spooled with 20-pound fluocarbon.
While other power fishing techniques such as cranking for smallmouth work well, VanDam stresses that bladed jigs remain overlooked. Try VanDam’s bladed jig technique the next time you’re faced with smallmouth bass scattered across expansive flats. Check out our Best Smallmouth Bass Lures of 2023 for more proven smallmouth lure options.
ELECTRONICS & BOAT
- TROLLING MOTOR – Minn Kota Ultrex QUEST: Check out at Minn Kota
- FISH FINDERS (bow stack) – Humminbird SOLIX 12 CHIRP MEGA SI+ G3 Fish Finder/GPS Chartplotter: Buy at Bass Pro Shops
- FISH FINDERS (console) – Humminbird APEX 13 MEGA SI+ Fishfinder/Chartplotter: Buy at Bass Pro Shops
- 360 SONAR – Humminbird MEGA 360 Imaging: Buy at Bass Pro Shops
- LIVE SONAR – Humminbird MEGA Live Imaging Transducer: Buy at Bass Pro Shops
- MAPPING – Humminbird LakeMaster Premium VX Digital Map Chart Card (Great Lakes): Buy at Bass Pro Shops, Buy at Humminbird
- BOAT – NITRO® Z21 XL Pro Bass Boat: Check out at NITRO
- MOTOR – Mercury 250hp Pro XS: Check out at Mercury
- TOW VEHICLE – Toyota Tundra Platinum: Check out at Toyota